HOXIE, Arkansas. This town in Northeast Arkansas is drawing an unusual amount of attention for this fall’s elections with the announcement by the Department of the Census that it has become the mean center of the nation’s mullets, a hairstyle that is short in the front and long in the back.
“Knob Noster can kiss my grits,” said Hoxie Chamber of Commerce President Herman Orthwell, referring to the Missouri town that previously held the distinction.
Mullet-wearers, long derided as unreliable employees and unattractive marriage prospects, are being viewed as an untapped resource by both Democratic and Republican Party elders seeking any edge they can find given the anti-establishment mood revealed by Tuesday’s New Hampshire presidential primary. “Mullet-wearers represent a huge pool of potential voters that has hardly been skimmed for pond scum,” says Charles Collins, a principal of Electoral Strategies in Washington, D.C. “There are over four million of them, but only 3% have ever cast a ballot for any public office other than dog-catcher. Eighty-one percent have never registered, and the remaining 16% are convicted felons who can’t vote.”
The mullet center of America is defined as the point at which an imaginary, flat, weightless, and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if weights of identical value were placed on each of the nation’s mullet-wearers. “It really is an approximation,” says Clyde Tillotson, a demographer who follows population trends for the Census Bureau. “We tried putting weights on mullet-heads, and they punched our lights out.”
The golden age of the mullet began in the 1970′s and ended in the 1990′s, but its impact on American life and culture continues, according to Arthur Widoff, Professor of American Culture or Lack Thereof at St. Olaf’s College. “The mullet goes by as many nicknames in this country as we have states,” he notes. “It is called a ‘Kentucky Waterfall,’ a ‘Missouri Compromise,’ a ‘Mississippi Mudflap,’ a ‘Tennessee Tophat’ and a ‘Louisiana Purchase.’ It is probably the only shibboleth that can reliably be used to identify both Billy Ray Cyrus fans and lesbian bartenders on their day off.”
It is believed that the mullet was first developed by Jean Baptiste Prosper Bressant, a 19th century French actor who persuaded Florence Henderson to wear the style in the opening credits of The Brady Bunch in 1973. Among high school dropouts who go on to sell wholesale auto parts, the look is known as “Business in the Front, Party in the Back,” because of its versatility in a variety of social settings.
Mullet heads tend to be anti-gun control and thus unlikely to vote Democratic, but GOP candidates say they can’t take the mullet vote for granted. “Too many mullet heads have a sense of resentment towards the upper classes,” says Republican Party chairman and Scrabble bonus word Reince Priebus. “We’re going to try and change that by allowing them to take home the scraps when they bus dishes at our country clubs.”