In movies and TV, stubble on a man used to mean one thing: here was a man who was too down and out, too busy saving the world, to shave. Indiana Jones would be a prime example.
Now, every character on TV, in every movie, has a thin coating of hair, perfectly trimmed, on his face. It’s not a beard, or a mustache; it’s stubble.
These are not all men who are in the middle of saving the world, or who are obsessed with perfecting a cure for ebola, or who have retreated to the mountains to train with their sensei to avenge their murdered family.
They have stubble at their own weddings, stubble at company board meetings, stubble with freshly-cut hair, stubble while wearing tuxedos, and stubble when running for office. Not scraggly stubble that goes down to their collarbone in streaks and clumps, but perfectly trimmed stubble.
The stubble is supposed to imply seriousness, thoughtfulness, and an inability to stop their important work for mundane stupid stuff like shaving. Well, they are shaving sometimes, because they don’t have beards, they’re just taking the time from their glorious, enriched lives to rein in the stubble when it’s poised to beard the heck out.
Stubble has jumped the shark. It’s a stubble bubble.
And no, I’m not envious of this stubility. I could grow some stubble on some parts of my face, and look like a radiation-poisoned man. Growing a beard, yeah, I wish I could do that. But wanting a thin coat of bristles, perfectly sculpted on my cheeks and neck? No.
I don’t begrudge Indiana Jones stubble. He’s been in the jungle, running for his life, and he hasn’t had time for hair care. But a guy who has perfect hair, all dressed up, but who has a mug full of stubble? It’s incongruous. It is the mullet, the curly perm for white guys of this decade, to be laughed at by future generations.
Friends don’t let friends stubble.