Has there ever been a moment – in the movies, on TV, or in real life for that matter – where you have seen a guy with a ponytail and said to yourself, “Yeah. He seems like a good guy. He’s a Standup Joe. I’d trust this guy with my car, my bank accounts and my girl.” The answer is a resounding “hell no” and that is why all movie villains need to have ponytails.
You always root against the guy with the ponytail. You can automatically suss him out as the villain.There is no doubt. There is only clarity. That’s why action films in the 80s were so superior to anything else since. In the 80s you had only one enemy – the Russians. Boom. Done. End of story. The same can be said about a guy with a ponytail in any movie or TV show. One look at you can easily assume he is pure evil.* That ponytail says it all. In fact, if you had a villain who had a ponytail and a Russian accent, then you could rest assured that fool was going to die a horrible, painful, and glorious death. And you were thankful such simplicity.
We all love rooting against the bad guy, and when that bad guy has a ponytail you root against him with much more ferocity. You are just begging that he will get his ass whupped. It’s almost like you want him to pay – not so much for trying to destroy the world but for the audacity of having a ponytail in the first place. You know in those silent movies where the bad guy always had a handlebar moustache? You knew he was the villain by sight. Same thing for the ponytail, only better because ponytails on guys are truly obnoxious. Every hipster wants a handlebar moustache. No hipster wants to look like an Eastern European drug dealer.
I actually have a theory on ponytailed villains in movies and TV; the shorter the ponytail, the more of a prick the villain he is. A long-haired, ponytailed dude might not necessarily be bad. He just might need to get his hair out of the way. A short-haired, ponytailed dude is trying to look like an ass on purpose. He is sporting a douche-y aesthetic knowingly. He wants you to know he is out to do the hero harm. It is the short-haired, ponytailed guys that are the most evil. It’s that kind of obviousness that I need and crave.
There is so much uncertainty in the world today and that uncertainty has translated over into entertainment. You don’t know who is truly good and who is truly evil. Yes, that is how the real world works but since when did Hollywood ever feel the need to portray such realism? We are talking about an industry built on the facile and the fantasy. Why be complex now? Let’s keep it simple, stupid. And the best way to keep it simple (and stupid) is to make every villain wear a ponytail. No matter what race, creed, color, put a ponytail on that villain so we can all keep track of his punk ass.
Sometimes it’s just easier to have bad be bad and good be good. As much as I loved me some Breaking Bad, The Wire, and The Sopranos there were times when I just didn’t need to be on a roller-coaster of emotion about the characters. Is Walt good or bad? Do I root for Omar or not? Is Tony my hero or a straight up rat-bastard? There were times when I didn’t have the mental capacity to make a reasonable judgment call on any of these guys. Why? Because I am dumb, that’s why. That’s why I need the ponytail. It simplifies everything.
So lets make things easier again. Lets make it so we don’t have to use our cognitive reasoning so much when we watch a film or TV show. Let’s bring back the villain with the ponytail.
Or, at the very least, let’s have the villain wear a trucker cap.
(*Steven Seagal is the prime example of this. He is a bad guy in real life who plays good guys in movies but his real life ponytail gives his awfulness away. The ponytail don’t lie.)