The Tonsorial Theory of Development

Hu Jintao is in the US, and as usual Jamie is asking the questions nobody else has the courage to ask.

From a comment I left on that post:

I’ve often wondered if there is a hair dye (or possibly shoe polish) factory somewhere on the outskirts of Beijing that produces dye for the sole use of Politburo members, the way Kikkoman supposedly has vats of soy sauce that are reserved for members of the imperial house. Or is it an open bidding system, with hair dye manufacturers competing against one another for the next Five Year Plan-period contract? Do they try to outdo one another on features — glossy vitality, youthful sheen, yang energy reinvigoration through the follicles — or do they compete solely on price? And further down the supply chain, is there one man somewhere in Zhongnanhai who is hair dyer to the masters of the universe? Because if so, I bet he’s got a hell of a tell-all memoir in him.

Also: whatever’s in that hair dye (or whatever was in that hair dye two Five Year Plans ago) must be some mean stuff: in the pictures I’ve seen of Jiang Zemin since they took him off the dye, his hair has looked orange.

For what it’s worth, I think Jamie’s theory about the jet-black hair helmet serving as an affirmation of the anti-charisma required of political leaders here is probably more or less dead on. As physical representations of social caste go I suppose it’s not quite on the level of ritual scarring or facial tattoos, but there definitely is such a thing as Leader Hair, and it’s immediately recognizable.
One of the best logos in Beijing, I think, is that of Mao Livehouse, live music venue and notable firetrap. No points for guessing whose hairline that is.

3 thoughts on “The Tonsorial Theory of Development

  1. Did you see the posts speculating that Obama’s hair was dyed black sometime that day? I figured it was out of solidarity/deference/requirement for the State Dins that night: http://gawker.com/5739391/did-obama-dye-his-hair

    Really the polar opposite of the Brits and their piss-off poppies.

    PS: Brendan I have not got your phone number and I wanted to call you! Email me.

  2. I’m so happy to see you’re still posting! You’re in the first page of Google results for the sequence “干 fuck” and it was like running into an old friend in real life. (Am trying to decide whether the F-word belongs in a respectable dictionary entry or not, and if so, how high up.) I’ve been to that Mao hairline club – great logo – but it was in Shanghai. It was like a slice of Beijing plonked south, it was cool! Greetings from Kay.

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