Standing in the doorway to the cinema over Easter weekend I noticed many young men walking past with their tops off and wearing a baseball cap. What is it about baseball caps that make them so popular among teenagers and those in their early twenties? Don’t they understand that only Magnum P.I could truly get away with wearing one?
A baseball cap is a strange piece of clothing because it seems to signify youth (in this country at least), and yet many of these males want to be taken seriously as men. Defining what a “man” is, is a tricky task indeed and I wonder if that is partly because of the lack of initiation rites in our culture. When do boys become men? It can’t be when we breed, because we have 12 year olds doing that now. It cant be when we get a mortgage, because I did that and nothing changed. So it must be something in our behaviour, in our wisdom and in our morals.
For me being a “man” is linked closely to my on screen role models. Put simply, it is doing the right thing. A quick assessment of any strong male role model in cinema will show a distinct lack of baseball hat wearing heroes (okay maybe Kurt Russel in Big Trouble in Little China, but he was more charming baffoon than Hero). There are several far more manly hats than a baseball cap and I have come up with the 7 best which will no doubt stir your ire.
Indiana Jones – The 100% Fur Felt Fedora that helped make archeologists sexy. He fought Nazi’s, saved child slaves, and still mantained a touch of the badboy fortune and glory hunter about him. Shortround wore the baseball cap. Who would you rather be?
Mick Dundee (Crocodile Dundee) The 100% Beaver Akubra hat (I think) with a crocodile leather hatband.
Yes he could kill a crocodile with his bare hands….and a knife, but he was also a genuinely nice bloke who accepted everyone just the way they were, and wanted the best for them all.
John Wayne (Westerns)
John Wayne wore a lot of hats and played a lot of roles which often had this similiarity; they were AWESOME. His characters had integrity, courage and perseverance. He always strove to do the right thing and was loyal to his friends.
Rick (Casablanca) Fedora.
So many good acts under the guise of being out for himself, but it is the ending for which he will always be remembered. Bogart wore a Fedora in many of his films, the stand out ones being The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.
Solomon Kane was a 16th Century badass created by Conan creator Robert E Howard. He was an anti hero that turned to the path of rightousness and now stalks the land vanguishing evil …whilst wearing an absolutely phenomenal hat.
Rocky – (Rocky 1 and Rocky Balboa) Another Fedora.
Rocky may be as thick as a whale omlette, but he has got it where it counts. He is a good man, that is polite and respectful to all and just wants to do his best. No matter what life throws at him he gets back up and gets back in to the fight. Yeah he does.
George Stone – (The Untouchables)
Sure Elliot Ness brought them together, and Sean Connery as Malone is an audience favourite, but it is Andy Garcia as Stone who has the coolest scene by far as he slides across the floor saving a baby, throwing a gun to his unarmed friend and getting the bad guy in his own sights. Yes they were untouchable, but they were also friends, striving to do the right thing against overwhelming odds.
With so many great hats on offer why choose a baseball cap? I suspect it is the desire to fit in. I read somewhere that we comprimise 95% of our personality during our school years, in order to fit in. (I hope thats not true.) A year ago I bought a Fedora, and as I stepped out of my house I hesitated and had a moment when I feared the reaction I would get at work. Isn’t that crazy? A 32 year old worrying about how people will react to a hat? None of the above worried, and so neither will I and neither should you.
So cast off your baseball caps and wear a hat that shows off your desire to me a man – whatever that is.