Most of you may remember Tim Burton’s treatment of Alice in Wonderland from a couple of years ago. It was a…loose adaptation, sort of a sequel-slash-updating-slash-let’s-use-the-name-of-this-classic-book-and-then-make-up-whatever-story-we-want. I found it sort of boring, and am pretty ambivalent towards it. Well, most of it.
I have had my hair cropped very short, and I have grown it out to be waist-length, and let me tell you, Internets, if I was going into battle I know damn well what I would prefer, and it is not the waist-length hair. Why, I hear you ask? Allow me to explain.
Hair is a strange beast. Like many parts of our body, including the heart, lungs, and sex organs, it doesn’t react to conscious thought. We can’t order it to do what we want; instead, we have to control it through outside means such as gel, hot rollers, and combovers. Alice up there is going into battle against this:
She is well-armored, all the way down to her very practical footwear, and carrying a magic sword specifically designed to be wielded by The One Who Has Been Chosen To Fight Ye Jabberwocky (or something; the movie was a touch unclear). She and her allies have seen to all the details, it seems, except for one crucial thing: Alice’ beautiful golden hair, which she is, for some STUPID FUCKING REASON, wearing down. Have you ever been on a roller coaster next to a rider with long hair? Have you ever seen a long-haired metalhead headbanging? Do you remember what happened to their hair? I’ll tell you what happened to their hair: it got in their fucking face. This is a fundamental fact of the universe, right up there with gravity and red lights. My hair is shorter than Alice’s right now, and it gets in my face all the damn time. I’ve never been in battle, but I’ve played one on TV, by which I mean on stage, and do you know what I did with my hair beforehand? I PUT IT IN A FUCKING PONYTAIL.
I am sick to death of Lady Fighters(TM) going into battle with their gorgeous locks flowing down over their shoulders. This ridiculous trope is everywhere: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kill Bill, The Fifth Element, Aeon Flux (with her emo bangs of doom), Electra, every Wonder Woman ever, the list goes on and on.
Having hair in your face is irritating. It gets in your mouth and hurts when it whips around. Beyond that, though, it’s dangerous: it impedes your vision, which is one of those senses that the non-visually-impaired tend to depend on in fighting situations. I get that you have to disguise the fact that the stunt double is the one doing the actual fighting, but you know what? Figure out a way to hide the stunt double that isn’t STUPID. And that doesn’t fly in cartoons, comic books, video games, and other mediums where you’re not actually dealing with real people.
But let’s end this on a positive note. One of my favorite examples of long hair handled correctly is in Tomb Raider: Legend. I actually think Lara Croft’s typcical ensemble is reasonably practical. Pants would be better, but we take what we can get. Anyway, there is a level in Legend where Lara attends a swanky party dressed like this:
It’s not a spoiler to tell you that violence breaks out, because it’s a video game, right? Anyway, when violence breaks out, Lara reacts in a manner that made me so happy I literally cheered: she ducks behind the bar, takes off her high heeled shoes, takes her guns out of her purse and attaches them to their customary place at her thighs, and puts her hair in a ponytail:
It’s not brain surgery. If you are going into a life-threatening situation and you have long hair, tie it back. This applies to fictional characters just as much as the rest of us.