By MIKE VINSON
American culture was forever altered when the Beatles gave their first live American performance on the ever-popular Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964. In addition to a new rock sound, the Beatles gave approximately 75 million viewers a look at "Mod" fashion, all four wearing matching dark suits, white shirts, ties, and what was then considered "long hair," below the collar in the back, bangs just above the eyes.
And faster than an F-5 scale tornado in Oklahoma, "Beatlemania" swept across the United States. At dance clubs on Saturday nights, young men could be seen sporting groovy, Beatle-type haircuts, making them the hub of attention. Twelve hours later, at churches, fire-and-brimstone ministers would denounce the same, labeling it the "Devil's work," etc.
Regarding the Beatle-style haircut, the associative term I best remember is "Mop Head." For the most part, "Mop Head" was used derogatorily: "I'll just pick you up by your feet and mop the floor with your hair, if that's how you wanna look!" On the flipside, though, with interest in the Beatles so overwhelming, to be called a "Mop Head" eventually became a form of flattery, at least in more liberal social settings.
With that let's carefully enter the world of the military-style "high and tight" haircut, for it has certainly placed McMinnville, Tennessee on the international map!
A week or so back, a friend, a former Marine himself, handed me a copy of the "Southern Standard" (McMinnville newspaper) and said, "Hey, Mike, you need to read this." So, I read the article, which was about a seven-year-old boy named Adam Stinnett, who attends Bobby Ray Elementary in McMinnville. March 9, 2015, Adam went to school reportedly sporting a "high and tight" haircut, best described as shaved close on the sides with a bit of length on the top. Adam's mother, Amy Stinnett, said Adam had his hair cut in high and tight style to honor Adam's older stepbrother, who is serving in the U.S. military.
The school's principal deemed Adam's haircut extreme, potentially distracting, and notified Ms. Stinnett Adam would have to alter his haircut before returning to school. Ms. Stinnett complied, altering Adam's haircut, and he returned to school. Having an issue with how her son's ordeal had been handled, however, Ms. Stinnett had gone by the "Southern Standard" newspaper and given her version of the story, which turned into the article I read (March 22, 2015 edition). Actually, I didn't give it much more thought...then BAM...it went internationally viral, thanks, in part, to social networking.
Next thing, I was seeing it all over the major TV news outlets. It appears a majority of both the media and the general public have sided with Adam Stinnett, saying he should've been allowed to wear his "high and tight" military haircut at Bobby Ray Elementary in McMinnville, Tennessee. And, folks, this is most serious business because there have been hate mail, death threats, e-mail accounts removed, increased security, and the list goes on. Fueling the fire is Bobby Ray Elementary is named in honor of a native Warren Countian (McMinnville) named "David Robert (Bobby) Ray", a soldier killed in Vietnam in 1969, and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Still, the gymnasium at Bobby Ray Elementary is named in honor of another native Warren Countian and soldier named Jeremy Brown, killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
Here's my take on this: Before offering any opinion, the following would have to take place: (1) I would have to talk to Ms. Stinnett and son Adam Stinnett. (2) I would have to talk to the principal at Bobby Ray Elementary. (3) I would have to read the dress code guidelines for Bobby Ray Elementary. (4) I would have to talk to credible witnesses, and (5) I would have to talk to the Superintendent of Warren County Schools.
Of a lighter note, little Adam Stinnett just might have popularized the "high and tight" haircut on a Global scale, much the same as the Beatles did the "Mop Head" look!