Hair Cut Man, Hair Cut Woman
As an experimental project, Jason Britski’s ‘Hair Cut Man, Hair Cut Woman’ does not even attempt to tell a story or structure a coherent plot for its audience to follow. Instead, it provides a mix of snapshots, frames and moving images of Thailand, while proposing a different kind of experimentation than normal tourist footage. Its central themes hint towards a mild culture clash and exhibit a two-way pattern: the locals trying to behave in a more Westernised manner, while the tourists themselves attempting to adapt to and understand the local culture.
Mannequins are the main recurring visual theme of the short film, often showcased as either a photo slideshow or juxtaposed with moving imagery. Their different hairstyles, hair colours, poses and at times idiosyncratic facial expressions encompass the dreamy process of discovery, of encountering something new and unexpected. The will of the locals to embrace Western standards is equally represented through a recurring motif, that of big brands, such as McDonald's, Pepsi and 7-Eleven, as well as music and the use of English language itself.
‘Hair Cut Man, Hair Cut Woman’ does not unilaterally target the tourist perspective, but it also deals with the manner in which these temporary visitors are seen from an outside view, bringing their world along in the process. Most of the footage, whether it is filmed downtown, in shopping districts, food courts, nightlife alleys, nature or by the water, features tourists in the background, who are simply ‘touristing around’. One evoking shot is that of a tourist who is filming the cameraman back – thus suggesting a dual perspective, a view within a view.
Taken as a whole, however, the film does not hold much value. The type of footage it uses is standard tourist footage which can be found on a variety of video-sharing platforms, and its combination with elements representing the recurring themes it displays is neither genuine nor particularly evoking. The home-produced video feel is there and is complemented by a stylistic unevenness regarding the images: varying quality and shooting styles. This is to be expected from an experimental product, and yet none of these elements succeeds in creating a differential allure and expressing the desired trains of thought.
‘Hair Cut Man, Hair Cut Woman’ revolves around an intriguing idea, but is ultimately too experimental for its own good, and relies too much on how the mannequin theme will resonate with the audience.