Over the past 3 weeks I have been burning through the Viceland show, Hate Thy Neighbor. If you haven’t seen it, its amazing. Basically a British comedian travels around the world engaging with some of the most hateful ideas imaginable. That of course means interacting with the people who hold them. But what gives it an added element of danger is that the host, Jamali, looks like amish Kanye and rarely holds back on a quick witted jab.
The topics are broad, but the gist is that people seem to have trouble being nice to those who aren’t like them. I know, I was shocked too. Between nationalists, racists, and homophobes, it’s enough to make you lose some hope. That has been written about ad nauseam though and to be honest, it was depressing enough to watch it, so instead I want to talk about beards. Jamali has a really really sick beard. The kind that you can use to smuggle stuff into a concert.
Now I am extremely biased on the topic of beards because I was genetically blessed with the facial hair traits of Michael Cera. It’s one of those things where I want a beard more than the average guy, just because I can’t grow one. So every 2–3 years, I spend a few months looking like a 14 year old who delusionally believes he’s going to buy beer by the time summer rolls around. It’s not a great career move and it’s definitely not good for my marriage, but what can you do. Maybe the next time will be different?
The line between persistence and idiocy is razor thin and is only really confirmed after the polls close and the hairs are counted. In my case, it’s Al Gore for life. So today I am offering a concession speech. I am declaring defeat and giving up my pursuit of the impossible dream. It’s difficult to fail and it’s hard to put into words how disappointed I am. But mostly, it’s just incredibly painful to know that Jake Gyllenhaal is better at something than me. Because he really is shockingly average in every concievable way.
That being said, the time has come to accept my place in the world. To do so, I will paraphrase from one of the great concession speeches of all time, delivered by Senator John McCain after his 2008 Presidential bid.
“In a contest that has been both short and non-existent, Jake Gyllenhaal’s success alone commands my respect for his one single ability and talent. That he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that a white man couldn’t play the title role in whatever the hell Prince of Persia was, is something I deeply resent.
“I’ve always believed that facial hair offers opportunities to all who have the industry and family name to seize them. Jake Gyllenhaal believes that too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from Donnie Darko and Bubble Boy, the memory of them still has the power to wound.
“Jake Gyllenhaal has achieved a great thing for himself. I applaud him for it, while I offer my sincere sympathy towards both the late Heath Ledger and the rest of the Brokeback Mountain cast, who suffered the injustices of Jake’s casting which deprived them from a Best Picture Oscar. But we aren’t here to talk about what Mr. Gyllenhaal didn’t recieve. We are here to recognize him for what he did recieve. Genetics and a connected parents. Those are things he contributed to in no way shape or form, but I think it’s about time we recognized him for them. They have meant a great deal to his success.
“What you may not know about him is that Mr. Gyllenhaal came from an extremely humble upbringing. The son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, Jake had to overcome tremendous obstacles like waking up for take your kid to work day, something his sister overcame as well.
“I urge all of the men and women who supported me on my quest to grow a beard to join me in not just congratulating Jake Gyllenhall, but offering him our good will and earnest effort to find ways to not laugh at his next movie. We need to find the necessary mechanisms to stomach average acting in a high budget film, to bridge the gaping void he leaves with poor facial cues, and to help restore the confidence that we once had in the abilities of those with such extraordinary beards. Our goal must be to unite and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better world than we inhereted. One where Jake Gyllenhaal is taken seriously. Not for his skills, for he has none. But for his facial hair, which provides inspiration and hope to us all.
“Good night. God bless you. And god bless Jake Gyllenhaal’s beard.