Have you seen Django Unchained yet? I hope you have, because I thought it was glorious; if you like revenge flicks and buddy comedies and seventies aesthetics and Roy Orbison and so much blood, then you’re going to love it just as much. But listen up, friends- because I have a point that needs to be made that struck me about a third of the way through the film.
In this ‘period’ piece, there are a lot of terrible things. There are a lot of things that obviously are no longer relevant or appropriate. There are also things that are completely bad-ass, will push you along towards getting finished, and are totally applicable today. Those things are Stetson cowboy hats. And manners. Yeah, you’re probably confused- but I promise, I’m going somewhere with this.
Cowboy Hats and Courtesy: Doff Yon Hat, Ye Knave
During the filming of Django Unchained, everyone was wearing Stetson hats. In virtually every second of every scene where a person is visible, someone is wearing a Stetson. Outside of looking bona fide bodacious (being Jamie Foxx helps,) and being totally practical, written right into the dialogue of the movie are the inherent manners that used to come along with being a hat loving gentleman. I won’t spoil any of the plot, but I can point out that at the second Django bucks the chains of slavery, he’s given his own hat; in every scene onward, that hat becomes an extension of the man- it showcases his efforts to become something more. Something better. This sharp accessory and all the manners and habits that come with it is something that we’ve lost sight of in today’s world.
It’s easy to be rude, disrespectful, crass, and obnoxious, especially when popular culture is pressing the Bro on us as the ideal. Realistically, Stetson hats won’t save you from the fate of the damned and douchebaggerous, and there are certainly god awful redneck cowboys out there as a counterpoint. However, the fact remains that more often than not, polite is a word that comes to mind when you think of a good old fashioned country boy. At one point Django drawls, “Even I know you take your hat off indoors, white boy.” If you can ignore the dripping venom, racially loaded wording, and clear asshole (let’s face it, lovably asshole) tone of the line, what he’s pointing out is that manners do matter.
Clearly, cowboy hats are not going to work for everyone. In fact, these days most guys really aren’t into that sort of thing, despite most spending years dreaming of looking like Clint Eastwood and charming the pants off of ladies like Mel Gibson’s Maverick. You may not realize that Stetson makes a whole lot more than cowboy hats, and while they’ve been moving forwards with style, men (and women too, but that’s another story) have been moving backwards with manners. So go browse, and find yourself a poor boy cap, a toque, a bowler, a fedora, a pork pie, an outback, a flapped or an aviator… and make a pledge to yourself. Look good. Be functional. And be polite. Let your hat be an expression of yourself, and of respect. Wear your hat to look sexy, to just cover your head, and let it be a reminder to you to bring back your inner gentleman. Open a door or two, shake hands, address people with honorifics. And if you haven’t seen Django Unchained yet, for god’s sakes go- just make sure you take your hat off when you enter the theater.