Christopher Owens on a chance encounter.
Brexit reaching its apex, Trump further consolidating his position, journalists waking up and realising that this country has not been at peace since the Good Friday Agreement and Taylor Swift is back to dominate the charts.
Oh, and facial hair on men still rules supreme in mainstream culture.
This calls for direct action, and thankfully we’ve had such a response from J. Hackson, in the form of MoUsTachE Chance Encounter.
His manifesto is clear and concise:
It should not be forgotten that a serious attempt to mustachio the entire male population of the UK has been under way for the last seven years…A gripping trend, a real ‘must’, the sort of drift that scares the hell out of me…Like all fads, one is left puzzling how it could have happened so quickly and yet so quietly.
For those of you who are rather bemused by the whole thing, please examine the following paragraph:
Clod Magazine is an independent magazine, first established in 1987. We are not a fanzine; there's no bands, no sycophants, no profiles. Nothing you'd hope for or expect from a fanzine. Clod Magazine is, rather, a satirical publication from Luton influenced by the legacy of punk rock publications and the early days of Dada magazines. The handmade zine straddles fact and fiction and is a mess of observation, bitterness, poor satire, in-jokes, crassness and shoddiness.
A fine mission statement, but does MoUsTachE Chance Encounter live up to such promise?
Such zines can be either well-crafted but incredibly dull or shambolically assembled but great fun. Such is the way with DIY culture and is one of the reasons why it should always be open to everyone, regardless of whether there is genuine talent there. Expressing oneself in some shape or form through art is an important roadmap for an individual. It can either open whole new paths for them or help refine one path that might be better suited for them.
However, since this has been an ongoing operation since 1987, I think it’s safe to say that we’re in dependable hands here. The mission statement may lead some to see the whole thing as merely an amusing enterprise, but it’s worth noting that there is quite a bit of social and political commentary going on here.
The overall theme is just how ill-fitting universal conformity is and how this conformity is used to sell under the guise of individuality. Take a look at this example, the badly placed mute puncturing the solemn portrayal of ‘paradise’ as is the norm in advertising.
Below sees a worker in an animal hospital/shelter and notice how the mute bar carefully conceals her mouth, possibly reflecting the silence that can often take place with such workers who are placed under enormous pressure with little thanks. It also works as a complete contrast to the previous shot: real life is muted for shallow pleasures that are for those who can afford them.
One of the most telling selections was the choice of Richard Hammond and Matthew Wright. Both associated (fairly or unfairly) with so called ‘toxic masculinity’ and ‘lad culture’, the mute functions as a response from the underground and as a call to arms for a dialogue about what constitutes masculinity. It’s also quite telling that a good portion of the stills are from the Movies4Men channel.
Again with Matthew Wright, it’s probably no coincidence that the screenshots from his show contain the by-line “Corbyn: Is this the death of New Labour?” Once again, this is Hackson making reference to the onslaught from the mainstream media about the Labour leader, deeming him incompetent, a national threat, anti-Semitic and an amusing throwback.
At only 50 pages, MoUsTachE Chance Encounter is a humorous, thought provoking zine that dares you to look beyond the juvenile antics and think about the culture that surrounds us.
It also points out that the word ‘mute’ appears, chronologically, in the word ‘moustache’ as well. Whitehall at work again!
J. Hackson, 2018, MoUsTachE Chance Encounter Clod Magazine. Privately Published.
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland.