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"I'm a Believer"
Aud and I are graduating real soon here so kinda hectic. So please excuse the absurdity of this newsletter. It's actually my final anthropology paper. Granted, I did some major editing and switched references from that of an African tribe to the name Andrew. Okay, really I just rewrote the thing. It looks nothing like my original paper, thank goodness! Professor woulda been horrified. Also just a disclaimer, this is all in fun and not at all appropriate for academia. It's just nice to look back on four years of papers and just... write a parody of your own paper. :-)
Oh and next issue will be devoted to our next holiday which is the Commemoration of the Murder Trial that Wasn't. We'd like to do a list of people's reactions if Andrew really had been arrested for murder. So if you'd like to be involved please email me. Thanks!
Andrew: What's with His Hair?
An anthropological treatise using the ideas of Hallpike and Ortner
Written while under the influence of Claritin
May 1, 2004
Many cultures through out the world devote much time and thought to hair. Different styles may denote various occupations, social ranks, age, and religious roles. Some anthropologists, like Edmund Leach, hypothesized that long hair symbolized unbridled sexuality....
THIS SECTION OF THE PAPER HAS BEEN REMOVED. NO ONE WANTS TO THINK ABOUT ANDREW LIKE THAT!
However, C.R. Hallpike contends that hair length has nothing to do with sexuality (or lack there of). His theory is that hair length and style, instead, shows a person's level of conformity to a social system. In much of modern Western culture, short hair on men equals conformity. Long hair equals rebellion. So what does this have to do with Andrew you might ask? Let me tell you...
Through seasons two to four, Andrew had long hair. These seasons are often regarded by fans as Andrew's glory days on "Touched by an Angel." In these seasons we find a fairly spirited and even, at times, confrontational individual. The Andrew of early seasons is decidedly not a conformist by human standards. After all, how many people do you know that dance with their umbrellas in a graveyard? In season two Andrew had an earring, often regarded as a mark of rebellion for young human males. But the better question is does Andrew at this point conform to the norms of his angelic peers? In season three we find Andrew angrily storming into a workshop and then skulking off after a confrontation with a bitter father of a dying man. Afterwards he is sternly (but lovingly) corrected by Tess. When assigned to an obnoxious magician, Andrew openly complains about the man. We also see him mouth off about an adulterous husband that same season. Only the intervention of Sam keeps our long haired friend from walking off the case. Rebellion, even to the small extent it is demonstrated by Andrew, is not part of the "angelic code." It is the epitome of nonconformity for angels.*
By season five we see a definite shift. And a new haircut. This is a more sedated Andrew. Emotional outbursts of the type witnessed in "The Violin Lesson" are largely lacking. Granted, episodes like "Til Death Do Us Part" and "The Sign of the Dove" do suggest that there is still something of the rebellious spirit in the angel. However, I would argue that in these cases his behavior was guided more by sadness and disappointment than passion or indignation that seemed present in season three.
By season nine Andrew's hair has begun to grow back. By late that season, he had also begun sporting facial hair. So what does this mean (other than that Jenni spent the whole of season nine staring and sighing)? With the return of the longish hair did Andrew return to a state of lesser conformity? Barring his temporarily leaving an assignment in "A Feather on the Breathe of God," I think not. But I really like that episode so I wanted to mention it. Although I would like to hypothesize that Andrew's lack of an ability to keep his shirts buttoned in some season 9 episodes may suggest a bit of rebellion from the straight-laced, buttoned-up image of angels. Or that Leach was right...
THIS SECTION OF THE PAPER HAS BEEN REMOVED. NO ONE WANTS TO THINK ABOUT ANDREW LIKE THAT SO WHY DO YOU KEEP BRINGING IT UP!? NO MORE LEACH!!
Having established that there is some precedent for Andrew's hair length being a determinate of his behavior, I'd now like to examine the effect his hair had on the fandom utilizing Ortner's methods for finding important symbols in a culture. Some of her methods include the symbol being repeated in several ways in a group, the ferocity of feeling regarding the symbol, and the elaboration of the symbol. I argue that all of these elements are present in JABB and through out the larger fandom.
The symbol of hair is repeated through out JABB and in the myths of its members. At least two different myths are tied to Andrew's hair. One suggests that John Dye was forced to cut his hair after it witnessed a crime. Andrew apparently followed suit. That hair was then transplanted onto a hairless Chihuahua that became JABB's mascot. Chiwawa currently appears several times on the JABB website as well as at least one member's home office. The second myth describes a mysterious being named Kiwi cutting his hair with sheep sheers for her own purposes. JABB's ethnographic data (aka their encyclopedia) lists well over 40 newsletters in which the hair is alluded to. The presence of these myths and the myriad of ways the hair is discussed (top tens, conversations, poems, etc.) are just a few of the ways the symbol of hair was elaborated.
Ferocity of feeling regarding Andrew's hair is immediately apparent. In interviewing JABBers for this paper I got the following reactions:
"I wish he'd grown his hair back. I miss the long hair!"
"I actually think the short, spiky look was much nicer on him."
"His wig in 'The Sign of the Dove' was flipping hilarious!"
"I actually think the facial hair was kinda creepy."
As you can see, while the remarks vary from positive to negative, they all exhibit definite strong feelings regarding Andrew's hair. Not one person interviewed expressed complete lack of opinion or feeling on the matter. One member even went so far to chop off several inches of their own hair only weeks after Andrew did. Assumedly in a show of support. Or just because she's crazy.
As this paper has demonstrated:
1. Andrew's nonconformity is directly proportional to his hair length.
2. His fans really, really obsess over his hair.
3. Jenni really needs to graduate because this paper makes it apparent she's bugging out.
Hallpike, C.R. "Social hair," in Reader in Comparative Religion, Harper & Row, 1979. Pp. 99-105.
Ortner, S. "On key symbols," in Reader in Comparative Religion, Harper & Row, 1979. Pp. 92-99.
*The author does not want to suggest that Andrew was a raging nonconformist. Regardless of the season, she would argue that for the most part Andrew conformed to the appropriate behavior for angels. She only means to suggest that he diverged from this more in season 3 than in any others.