LOS ANGELES—Thousands of members of the slicked-back-hair community gathered in Hollywood Monday to protest the film industry's longtime trend of depicting men with slicked-back hair as untrustworthy, unlikeable antagonists.
"There have been 4,192 films in the past 10 years in which male characters with sleek or slicked-back hairstyles have been portrayed in a negative light," said Ray Swartz, chairman of the National Organization of Men with Slicked-Back Hair. "Even though men with this hairstyle comprise just 3 percent of the U.S. populace, they make up nearly 80 percent of all film and TV villains, bad guys, and just plain assholes. As a result, thousands of men who enjoy wetting their hair and then combing it straight back face a silent but pervasive form of discrimination every single day."
"I'm just a man with slicked-back hair," Swartz added. "Does that make me a sleazeball?"
According to statistics released by the organization, five out of every six characters with slicked-back hair are cast as the primary antagonist. Of this group, 29 percent are depicted as greedy and manipulative Wall Street sharks, 22 percent as cold, emotionless murderers, 19 percent as evil coaches or mentors, 12 percent as corrupt mafiosi, 8 percent as undead creatures who feast on human blood, and the remaining 10 percent fall into the general category of jerks/pricks/John Travolta.
More alarming, Swartz said, is that certain subsets of slicked-back-hair Americans endure even worse prejudices. He cited men with slicked-back hair who also talk with cigarettes dangling out of their mouths, wear blue button-down shirts with white collars, or place toothpicks behind their right ears as the most victimized.
"Just because I have heavily gelled, jet-black, slicked-back hair does not mean I can't lead a normal, productive life," Kettering, OH native Martin Sutulovich said. "I'm not consumed by an insatiable thirst for power, I know nothing about the high-pressure world of real-estate speculation, and I have a wife and kids whom I love very much. The last thing I want to do is murder them, cut them up into tiny pieces, bag them up, and put them out with the trash, but when strangers look at me, that's all they think."
A recent study conducted by Swartz's group indicates that Americans who slick back their hair usually experience typical development, have life spans equal to those without slicked-back hair, and are no more likely to stoically torture people with medical instruments than the average dry-haired citizen.
"You always see crooked lawyers and politicians with slicked-back hair in the movies, but when was the last time you saw a computer programmer with slicked-back hair, a farmer who built a magical baseball field in a cornfield with slicked-back hair, or a man who defused a bomb at the last possible second to save thousands of innocent lives with slicked-back hair?" Swartz said. "Never."
"The closest thing we've ever gotten to a hero is Steven Seagal or that Spanish neighbor guy on Sanford And Son," he added. "And Seagal's hair is pulled back into a ponytail, so he doesn't even really count."
Swartz also pointed out that even females who appear in films with slicked-back hair often end up transforming into aliens who have sex with people and then kill them.
"I have naturally oily hair. If I leave it dry, it ends up messy by the end of the day, so I slick it back," Doug Roessner of Brockton, MA said. "I sell insurance for a living, so how am I supposed to get my clients to trust me when they all think I'm some money-hungry scumbag? And every time I tell my bosses that I'll 'take care of' a problem, they immediately assume I mean murdering someone. It's pathetic."
"My son hasn't been the same around me since he watched D2: The Mighty Ducks last month," said slicked-back-hair man Mick Romanini, referencing the film in which coach Gordon Bombay slicks back his hair when consumed by fame, then wears it dry again upon realizing the error of his ways. "Is this what we want to teach our children about slicked-back hair?"
Added Romanini, "He should be able to do whatever he wants with his hair when he gets older and not worry that people are going to assume he's the kind of guy who would plot his best friend's death and then seduce the widow to get his hands on the insurance money."
In interviews, studio executives have countered the protests by citing a number of realistic and sympathetic characters with slicked-back hair, including James Bond, Superman, and Data from Star Trek.
But Swartz rejects such claims. After closer examination, he said, Bond's hair is slicked "more to the side than back," Data is not a human being, and Superman has a distinct curl of hair that falls on his forehead, which his group considers a different hairstyle altogether.
Hollywood is facing similar protests from groups such as the National Association of Maniacal Laughers, the American Mustache-Twirlers Coalition, and the Alliance of Gentlemen with Scars and Eye Patches.