I can say from experience, I’ve been hearing — and wincing at — the term “Hitler Youth” or “Nazi Youth” to describe haircuts hipster dudes want here in Austin for awhile now. Apparently its appeal is sweeping the farther reaches of the world at large, and it’s not yielding the most understanding of responses. Jezebel recently ran an article about it, which made my ears perk up, since I usually think my proprietary pricklings are just that, isolated to my occupational bubble. Turns out I’m not alone in the discomfort, but where did this begin?
When you find yourself Google-Image searching through old black and white photos of the young and impressionable minions of the Third Reich, it’s difficult not to want to just back away… run and hide. But when The Inglourious Basterds released in ’09 with several big names making detached 1940s-style chop jobs look ruddy-chic, I didn’t expect people not to follow suit. However, the term has become entirely OK within the confines of the hair world, at least in the small scope I have, in that we seem to regard it as a historical reference. It’s like saying “German Military Issue.” We simply exchange it in order to get a cohesive idea of the haircut a guy wants, and try to not to conjure up the disturbing thoughts that its context implies.
The cut is a disconnected tight fade with a deep side part or the top left so long it folds all the way back. It’s flattering and avant garde at the same time. My client, a well-known musician, just came in yesterday with the above picture for this article as his inspiration. Of course Brad Pitt’s character was playing for the “good guys” but the hairstyles have blended in the blurry hindsight of movies and history. The bottom line is it’s an easy style to wear, especially with the rise of sophisticated ready-to-wear for men. Not everyone wants a pompadour, or to bring in a picture of a celebrity. The term translates, but it just sounds bad.
So, what’s right? Is it OK to have a term that isn’t kid-friendly when we’re describing a trend? Is this the same as people’s hangups with “Navajo” print and “Oriental” girl charms on necklaces? Or is this something universally deeper? Or do we all just need to lighten up?