When it comes to endless publicity-generating controversy, "The Da Vinci Code" is the Ann Coulter of movies. You have members of the Roman Catholic organization Opus Dei calling the book "a gross distortion and a grave injustice," religious leaders threatening to boycott the film and two authors claiming that "Da Vinci" scribe Dan Brown stole their ideas.
Yet somehow, the most alarming question surrounding Ron Howard's forthcoming film has received no press. We're talking about a vast real-life global conspiracy, possibly involving the Vatican and perpetuated by some of the most powerful people in the world.
Why is Tom Hanks' character wearing a mullet?
It's no coincidence that just a few years after the much-derided haircut was eradicated from civilized society -- even Billy Ray Cyrus trimmed his beaver paddle in favor of a more layered look -- the most popular actor on the face of the Earth shows up wearing one in the most anticipated movie of the summer.
Worse yet, Hanks and his puppet masters seem to be quietly building an army of disciples. You can also see a quasi-mullet on Kyle MacLachlan, star of the new ABC legal show "In Justice." Cars front man Ric Ocasek has returned with a new solo album and the exact same mullet he was wearing during the "Candy-O" tour in 1979. The A&E network is producing a show called "Dog the Bounty Hunter," where Duane "Dog" Chapman proudly displays the most blatant mullet since Andre Agassi and Patrick Swayze were in their prime.
The return of the mullet to popular culture goes against everything that's great about being an American. For all of this country's faults, when we have a really bad idea, our nation's satirists mock it to the point where the fad in question slinks away forever. This explains why beehive hairdos, the Edsel and Dustin Diamond will never come into style again.
The mullet appeared to be headed for a similar fate, with a birth and death that spanned three centuries. Here is the American history of the mullet, in less than 150 words:
1845: James K. Polk is sworn in as the 11th president of the United States, and the first public figure in the nation's history to sport a mullet.
1954: Michael Bolton is born.
1972: David Bowie adopts his mulleted Ziggy Stardust persona, launching the haircut into popular culture.
1991: The mullet hits its cultural peak, with the biggest movie star (Mel Gibson), biggest television star (Jerry Seinfeld) and most popular singer (Bolton) all wearing the haircut.
1995: The Beastie Boys go on an anti-mullet campaign, making fun of the haircut in interviews and with the song "Mullet Head."
1996: Metallica releases "Load," revealing new short haircuts. Chaos in the mullet community ensues.
2005: Lanky fastballer and mullet holdout Randy Johnson joins the New York Yankees, and cuts his hair. This leaves former Journey front man Steve Perry as the last celebrity in the world with a mullet.
Johnson's haircut is considered by many the end of the mullet in Western society, but it was effectively eradicated in the late 1990s, when the mullet went from popular celebrity hairstyle to completely ironic almost overnight. The 2001 David Spade comedy "Joe Dirt" was basically a one-note mullet joke, and UPN in 2003 created a whole TV series, "The Mullets," based on lampooning the haircut. About the same time, several mullet-taunting Web sites went dormant, and the few civilians left with mullets went into hiding. (More specifically, they moved to Concord.)
The sudden return of the haircut, which was on full display when Hanks appeared at the Academy Awards earlier this month, was as shocking as it was subversive.
The hairstyle of Hanks' Robert Langdon character in "The Da Vinci Code" is definitely a mullet of subtleties -- more akin to the less obvious "The Unforgettable Fire"-era Bono mullet than Michael Keaton's "Clean and Sober" hair or Gibson's mane in the first three "Lethal Weapon" movies.
And there is evidence in some recent "Da Vinci" publicity photos that Hanks' hair might be merely slicked back, making it more of a Steven Seagal 'do than a mullet. (An explanation that, quite frankly, has even more sinister implications.) One of my colleagues says Hanks' "Da Vinci" hair is closer to a bob, like the haircut favored by fashion editor Anna Wintour, vagina monologuist Eve Ensler and San Francisco police chief Heather Fong.
We can parse the various dictionary definitions all day, but the fact remains that Hanks' hair appears to be much longer in the back than it is on the front and sides. And this haircut is clearly no accident. To prove there's a conspiracy afoot, one needs to look no further than Brown's book for the physical description of the Langdon character. It reads as follows:
"The past year had taken a heavy toll on him, but he didn't appreciate seeing proof in the mirror. His usually sharp blue eyes looked hazy and drawn tonight. A dark stubble was shrouding his strong jaw and dimpled chin. Around his temples, the grey highlights were advancing, making their way deeper into his thicket of coarse black hair." (Italics added for emphasis.)
Notice that Brown didn't write " ... making their way deeper into his thicket of coarse black hair that appeared to be shorter on the sides and longer on the back." Or " ... his thicket of coarse black hair that looked exactly like Wayne Gretzky's right after the Edmonton Oilers traded him to the Los Angeles Kings."
With no other explanation, Hanks' haircut can mean only one thing -- a covert attempt by the biggest players in Hollywood to return the mullet to prominence, quite possibly at the behest of the Catholic Church.
Still confused? Follow this logic:
Where do a lot of people with mullets end up? In prison.
What was the only movie where Hanks played a prison guard? "The Green Mile."
Who did Hanks' "The Green Mile" co-star Michael Jeter play in "Sister Act II: Back in the Habit"? Father Ignatius.
And who, ultimately, gave Father Ignatius his orders? The Vatican.
Could it be any clearer what is behind this? The Vatican, after hiding for centuries the true story that Jesus had a mullet, conspired with hundreds of celebrities in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to make the haircut popular so they could reveal the truth.
When the Beastie Boys thwarted this plan, the Roman Catholic Church forced Ron Howard to direct "The Da Vinci Code," knowing that it would become a hit movie, where the much-loved Hanks could bring the haircut to new heights of popularity.
(And if it's really not all that clear, is the above explanation any more outlandish than the content of any of Brown's books?)
I still haven't figured out where Mary Magdalene fits into all of this. But I'm pretty sure she had hair like Nancy McKeon in the seventh season of "The Facts of Life."