Revenge of the mustache

Once upon a time, a man like Tom Selleck could walk down the street, any street, without fear of reproach from his fellow comrades. It seems those days are in the past; Selleck and his similarly mustachioed brethren have been relegated to the scrapheap, forced to scavenge for cheap TV movies and ironic cameos in big-budget thrillers.

Millions have secretly wondered to themselves: Is the age of the mustache, indeed, dead?

Until recently, the answer was a resounding yes. Sure, they were deemed tolerable, if not completely acceptable, in more historical, old-fashioned fare such as “Tombstone” or any number of other postmodern Westerns. I mean, who can forget Kurt Russell’s brilliantly fake handlebar when he took the stage as the infamous Wyatt Earp?

But that was all. Mainstream cinema? Primetime television? Mustaches are definitively taboo. As for real life?well, even a finely groomed ‘stache will lend itself to extreme scrutiny, especially around the office. Those who have stubbornly refused to shave their upper lip have been getting cross-eyed looks from their co-workers for more than a decade now.

Was Geraldo the root cause of all this? Did he single-handedly ruin creative facial hair for everyone? I submit that he at least played a significant part. John Stossel may have been involved as well, but I can’t be sure.

Regardless, the fact is that mustaches are so ’80s.

But hark! The facially well-coiffed among you may have reason to rejoice in the coming months. Just look around — no, not at your friends and neighbors, but to the cineplexes, where mustaches are beginning to mount their triumphant comeback.

Now, this oncoming phenomenon deserves some context. I’m certainly not suggesting that mustaches have been removed from the Hollywood scene. In fact, far from it. The problem is that mustaches have been approached from a biased perspective-their existence has been limited almost exclusively to bad guys and Europeans. But beginning this year, that’s no longer the case.

Right at this very moment, two of the most dashing of all likeable B-list stars-Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear-can be seen sporting matching mustaches in the wonderful crime dramedy, “The Matador.”

And let me just say, they look mah-velous.

Next month, we’ll get the chance to see the ultimate guy’s guy, Bruce Willis, with what may be his first-ever screen mustache as he looks to return to form in Richard Donner’s “16 Blocks.”

Denzel Washington has a lovely pencil ‘stache in “Inside Man,” Jake Gyllenhall has one in “Brokeback Mountain” and Johnny Depp returns to the screen as the beautifully mustachioed Capt. Jack Sparrow.

Best of all, Colin Farrell will sport the one and only Fu Manchu as he takes over the role of Sonny Crockett in this summer’s “Miami Vice” (for which I absolutely can’t wait).

And to bring it all full circle, there is a big-screen version of “Magnum P.I.” in the works with George Clooney as the rumored star.

Tom Selleck, redemption is yours.

I don’t know about you, but I’m all for the pending mustache revolution. Perhaps this is because I cannot grow one myself, and I’m simply living vicariously through famous male actors.

Still, I see it as a positive thing. In fact, I’ve been saying that for years. And I’ll take it one step further — what this country really needs is a president with a mustache. Why was it once acceptable — Taft, anyone? — but now considered taboo? Wouldn’t we all have respected John Kerry a bit more if he had a big, burly mustache? Wouldn’t that have made him appear more authoritative and, you know, presidential? Maybe he even would have won the election.

OK, I can always dream.

Certainly the resurgence of the mustache in American popular culture will come as a difficult transition to many. They will renounce such a change to their traditional values. They will kick, scream and fight all the way. But yes, they will submit and realize the destiny of our grizzled, whiskery society.