"Being a man today means being a confident dude with who you are, but also not being afraid to take care," Will Arnett announces as he and Jason Bateman stroll into an LA day spa in the opening scene of Morgan Spurlock's new documentary, "Mansome." The latest film from the "Super Size Me" director takes an up-close look at the current state of the male grooming industry (a booming one, actually), as well as how it's evolved over the decades. By analyzing the genre's different categories -- mustaches, toupees, manscaping, products, competitive beard growing (it's a thing) -- Spurlock employs everyone from the Old Spice guy to Zach Galifianakis to give their personal take on America's growing obsession over facial hair (and the possible identity crisis resulting from that). The latter shared his disapproval for overly deliberate facial hair: "You know a guy with a mustache needs to be a guy with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, working at a factory. I don't like a guy with a mustache who's walking around Williamsburg, listening to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah."
While mustaches and beards are indeed more present in younger, urban areas, it's certainly nothing new. In the '70s every dude had a mustache, in the '80s every dad and professor had a beard... so why is everyone over-thinking it right now? We caught up with Spurlock recently to get a better understanding of why this story needed to be told. His thoughts on the appropriate amount of body hair, facial hair ruts, beard icons and more below. And keep scrolling for our roundup of some epically-awesome facial hair throughout history.
On why men's facial hair is such a topic right now:
"Part of it is because there's a real discussion that's happening around this. There's a question for men: where's our place in society? It used to be you'd go hunting, you'd go gathering, here's what you did to provide for your family. More and more women are in the workforce. The percentage of working women versus working men is greater now --more than it's ever been. So there's a question for men: where are we, what do we do, how do we define ourselves as men now? I think that's a real active conversation that's happening now. Part of it comes from this commodification of manliness."
On men who shape their brows...and why that gives people pause:
"It gives me pause. There are things that are seen as incredibly feminine. A woman has an incredibly-shaped eyebrow that complements the shape of her face and her eyes. When men suddenly start doing things that are associated with being part of a feminine transformation, then again, it starts to question where are we in society. That's where things are started to head, then what is place. Then what is our place, and that's why people have pause. For me, where do I have pause? I have more pause with mantyhose, I think, than with someone plucking their eyebrows. If you have a fantastic unibrow, you should definitely take care of that. But in terms of shaping it so that you always have a quizzical look on your face I think maybe not so much."
On the oddly narrow standard of what is considered an acceptable amount of chest or back hair on a man:
Part of that is also defined by what women like. I think that if women loved men that were covered in hair, suddenly every man would look like a caveman. Suddenly every man would be a neanderthal. Suddenly we'd be doing everything we could to grow out our forearm hair. Like, how do we get hairier? Because that's what dictates the attraction of the opposite sex. I think that is still a real driving force of what's seen as desirable.
On guys becoming dependent on facial hair:
I think people expect you to look a certain way. The minute I would show up somewhere without my handle-bar mustache, people would be like, what happened to your mustache? Who are you now? It becomes an expectation. You know, it's hard to imagine Hulk Hogan without his mustache. Or the guy on "Orange County Choppers." It just starts to become part of their persona. Like, Magnun P.I., can you imagin Tom Selleck without mustache? I don't ever want to see Tom Selleck without a mustache.
On knowing when you're in facial hair rut:
When suddenly everyone hates mustaches, and no one wants to talk to you?
On the flip-side, how do you know what's best for you:
That's a great question. When I was growing up, my mom would always say, 'you're so handsome, you are so handsome.' Which is what you tell your ugly kids. And my mom told me this my whole childhood, and at some point you do start to believe it. And I think that for me as an adult, when I grew out my mustache, and nobody had a mustache like that, it made me feel different. I felt like an individual. It was very different mustache to have this kind of porn star horseshoe. You know who else has this mustache: James Hetfield from Metallica and me! I liked it because it made me feel different. Whatever makes you look in the mirror and feel good about yourself, then that's great.
And his own personal grooming icons:
Abraham Lincoln, that's a fine beard.
Mansome opens in select theaters Friday, May 18th.