An Interview with Director Morgan Spurlock about “Mansome”

Early on in “Mansome,” writer, director, and in this case, interviewee John Waters offers an apt metaphor for the film itself. He shares the details of a (rough) idea for his own farewell performance: he will shave his pencil thin mustache in front of a large crowd, and then he will eat it.

"Mansome" cultivates and consumes its own male groomer subject in a similar way. Between scenes of Will Arnett and Jason Bateman yucking it up at a day spa, director Morgan Spurlock examines masculinity in the age of manscaping through interviews with celebrities, experts, and everyday people. Paul Rudd comes clean about his love for George Bernard Shaw’s beard, Dr. Allan Peterkin explains that all bearded men are a "Satan" or a "Santa," professional wrestler Shawn Daivari runs through his whole body shaving ritual, and we meet the entrepreneur behind Fresh Balls.

On the eve of its theatrical release, we sat down with "Mansome" director Morgan Spurlock to discuss the modern man's identity crisis in the age of "manscaping." Of course, we also got him to come clean about his own grooming routine. Unsurprisingly, Spurlock is the same low-maintenance handlebar mustache-sporting dude he's always been. Only now he knows firsthand the joys of a pedicure.

BB Man: First off, "Mansome" was hilarious. Funniest moment was Zach Galifianakis saying that whenever someone asks him why he has a beard, he responds by saying, "Would you ask Adrien Brody why he has a giant nose?" Do you think there’s a way to make grooming and taking care of oneself accessible to guys without being silly?

Spurlock: Humor is always going to engage anyone in the conversation. Otherwise, it’s medicine and people tune out. The products that have resonated the most in recent years have stemmed from humorous ads. Mustafa and Old Spice. The Axe guy spraying his body and getting attacked by a thousand women. Through those campaigns came huge boosts in sales because guys watching them weren’t being told to just buy something.

BB Man: True. Reminds us of Hai Karate Cologne. A lot of people in the film make the case that for guys, more advanced grooming practices and self image concerns make sense in the context of evolution and survival. Others, like Adam Carolla, basically think it’s a waste of time and that grooming is in opposition to nature. What do you think?

Spurlock: Centuries and centuries ago, from the minute you woke up, the biggest thing you had to think about was, like, feeding yourself. You found food for yourself and your family and you went to bed. Nobody really cared how you looked. The only hunting you do now is in a grocery store. The stronger guys now aren’t the people who would win in a fight or be able to rescue a woman from some bear. Now it’s a social battle. It’s one of looks, of success, of influence. So now all of those things about how you look play into all that decision making.

BB Man: Do you think men are facing an identity crisis? This is a recurring question in the film.

Spurlock: You can’t put everyone in the same basket. There are guys who are wrestling with the idea—guys like Ricky [a subject in the film] who only see imperfections when they look in the mirror. As much as he grooms and takes care of himself, he only sees things he needs to fix and work on. I don’t look at myself as being that imperfect. All I can do is be the best me I can and do the best I can to take better care of myself.

BB Man: What's your grooming routine?

Spurlock: I'm up and out of the door in 20 minutes. Since making the film I haven’t put any new products into war chest. I put some Kiehl’s in my hair, I shave my face, put on some aftershave, and deodorant, and that’s it. I don’t do any downtown manscaping. I don’t feel the need.

BB Man: What about Arnett and Bateman?

Spurlock: Bateman’s got hair like an 11-year old boy. He’s clean.

BB Man: So nothing changed in your grooming routine in the course of making this film?

Spurlock: I got a pedicure while making the movie, and it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever had happen in my life. When they started shaving the skin off the bottom of my foot with one of those razors and they scrubbed my feet and they started digging stuff out from under my toenails that came from the Reagan administration. I haven’t been back since, but my feet were so soft after it was done.

BB Man: What do you hope people take away from "Mansome?"

Spurlock: Through humor I hope to get people to listen and pay attention, and start to look at the choices they make. What helps you define your place in society and your role within this structure is the extremes. When you see to what end some people go to, you get a better idea of how far you want to go. You start to find where in that spectrum you lay. There will be men who will make choices out of this film. Once you find that extreme and you start pulling back. Some may realize, "Oh my god I’m like Ricky. I take two hours a day to get ready." I don’t know if you need to take 2 hours to get ready. There’s probably such a thing as too much grooming.

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