Jimmy Fallon’s Beard: Fashion or Power Statement?
By Martha Rivera-Mijes
San Francisco Informer
#THEBEARD, that was the hashtag that dominated twitter at the beginning of January, when popular TV show host, Jimmy Fallon, decided to show off his facial hair on national television. Even though it only lasted for a record-breaking four shows, the fact that his beard made it into the show represents the not so powerful influence NBC has over its top employees. The network regulates most, if not all of the content that makes it into the nightly shows, however, the bold fashion statement Fallon decided to make on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon earlier this year was most likely anything but the network’s idea.
Throughout the history of various NBC talk shows, no hosts have ever let their facial hair mingle with the camera; it’s part of what gives the network its sharp and professional image. Therefore, the fact that Fallon’s hiatus beard made it into national television is really surprising considering that not even Saturday Night Live (SNL) performers (who are paid to pretty much be outrageous) can sport facial hair. Obviously some characters on SNL require fake beards and other artificial components in many sketches, however, by the end of every weekly show we see the cast say goodbye to the audience wearing everyday clothes, but beards and mustaches are yet to be seen. So how is it that the network let one slip for Fallon? Well, the man is actually pretty recognizable, not to mention popular among most teenagers, college students, and a large portion of middle-aged Americans who know him from his SNL days. So if Fallon wants to try out something new on his show, he will try out something new on his show. No matter what happens in the program Fallon’s solid fan base will not stop watching, besides they already made it past midnight, one silly little thing wouldn’t make them turn off the TV and go to sleep instead.
Ironically enough the only other famous host who has conducted a program with a fully grown beard on his face is Conan O’Brien. Previous to his famous feud with Jay Leno, O’Brien used to host Late Night with Conan O’Brien, before Fallon took over it. During his days with NBC, he never actually grew a beard in front of his audience; however, once he moved to the TBS network almost three years ago, his shaving routine got canceled during random periods of time. Although significant because he broke the standard image rules; it’s not as significant as Fallon because his “protest” to the network’s regulations was on the actual network he was protesting, which happens to be one of five major television broadcast networks in America (the other networks are considered basic cable, premium cable or satellite only).
Whether it was a simple fashion statement, or a flat out week of laziness, Fallon’s facial hair caused an outrage in social media sites like Tumblr and Twitter. The majority of the responses were positive and accepting of the beard, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Fallon used them as an excuse to once again break the network’s rules and let his inner hipster out for all of America to see. Besides, four more days of beard wouldn’t hurt the show’s image, considering the fact that the show is already known for having one of kind creative segments that don’t assimilate to any other late night talk show; so a little bit of beard wouldn’t really hurt anyone.