TRULY, MY FRIENDS, the following is obvious: Film critics are defined by their hair! Who can say they are not disgusted by the vulgar sight of an unkempt judge of the cinema, peering lazily through too-long bangs, perhaps hiding eyes already drooping with sleep? Indeed, the best among us (Sarris, Cheshire, Kathleen Murphy) are close-cropped and shampooed, not unkempt and tangled.

Yes, critics must lead with their hair if they are to find respect in this field. Thus, I have made a decision to allow you, the rabid readers of this tawdry, sensationalistic journal of highbrow film scholarship, to temper my critical aplomb by cutting my hair--which, as the photo below easily demonstrates, reeks of unprofessionalism.

By cutting my ugly mop, know that you will be doing a great service to me. However, know as well that you will be doing a great disservice to my parents, in-laws, and relatives, all of whom must suffer your handiwork for the holidays. Conservative elders, religious siblings, and impressionable young nieces and nephews all will be affected by your vision. Thus, I would encourage potential participants in this contest to devote some significant mental energy toward sculpting a haircut of the highest expressive standards: What would a blue-tinted chemotherapy look say to feebleminded Grandma? How would a fire-engine red pentagram go over with the born-again? Does the Trusty Ol' Mohawk still drive the mother-in-law crazy?

The deal is this: The first "barber" (or specific "barber team") to find the "Golden Shears" and bring them to The Stranger's corporate headquarters will be granted the unrestricted rights to cut my hair in any manner his or her heart desires. This haircutting will be beamed to the universe in a LIVE INTERNET WEBCAST sponsored by ATOM FILMS scheduled for Monday, December 18 at 7 p.m.


1 · The "Pauline Kael"

"Criticism is just opinion acting snooty," this hairstyle seems to say. "Don't make me think--just entertain me!" Note the distinct lack of bangs that might get in the way of the action.

2 · The Moralist

This outraged critic cannot seem to believe that the movies are nothing but sex and violence. Where are all the nice "stories"? What about having decent characters? This guardian of the public interest remembers the days when actors were gentlemen and actresses "kept their shirts on."

3 · The Academic

This brainy connoisseur of Le Cinema sports a roll-over coif that screams erudition. A little Grecian pomade completes the effect--and the smell drives female college students just bonkers!

4 · The Intern

This hairstyle, while conveniently blocking the views of critics sitting behind him, marks this reviewer for what he really is: a hack, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Note: this is the "preferred" hairstyle of most Stranger critics.

The Golden Shears are hidden somewhere in our fair city!! But I can't simply tell you where they are--that would be unsporting!! No, you fool, if you only had a brain, you could figure it out on your own. Then, you would just go there, and look for them. But, or course, despite the best intentions, you will probably fail, miserably. You will whine and moan, and think "what have I done to deserve this?" Ah, well, dry your eyes, child. Nothing is ever found by looking for it directly--you must read between the lines! So sharpen that razor, grab that shampoo, and bring those Golden Shears on down to our office. And, by the way, congratulations.

(1) The haircut shall take place between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m. on Monday, December 18, at a location to be disclosed.

(2) The haircut may take any form that can be conceived of by the "barber."

(3) Any implement may be used to cut my hair, provided it does not endanger my life, cause permanent visible damage to my person, or result in undue amounts of physical pain.

(4) In the event that a change of color is desired, only name-brand products may be used. Examples of name-brand products include Manic Panic, L'Oreal, Clairol; examples of unacceptable products are pig blood, soot, and magic marker. Henna is acceptable. Products are expected to be applied with a modicum of common sense, and, as per item 3 above, should not endanger my life, damage my person, or cause undue amounts of pain.

(5) Hair extensions are permitted. However, the costs of the extensions are the barber's responsibility.

(6) The "barber" must be in full control of his/her faculties at the time of the haircut. You may not be drunk, tripping, on "E," etc.

(7) The "barber" is expected to clean up all hair from the haircutting area and dispose of it properly in a garbage can.

(8) While slight lesions to the scalp and ears may be expected with any haircut, excessive sloppiness on the part of the "barber," resulting in a larger than average number of nicks, cuts, and abrasions, will not be tolerated.

(9) Upon completion, the haircut may not be altered by ANY PARTIES WHATSOEVER (including the "critic") for a period of no less than 14 days. (Note: The "critic" agrees to honor this commitment by taking a photo with his parents on New Year's Eve showing the haircut to be intact at the turn of the new year. This photo will be mailed to the "barber" the following day.)

As always, employees of The Stranger and Ruth's Chris Steak House are ineligible.