from our guest contributor, and king of movies: !Michael K
Hats are icons.
Plain and simple. Not every hat in every occasion needs to stand out, but nevertheless hats have provided iconography to movies and television since… well, movies and television. In the beginnings of cinema, you know, the early 1900s, everyone wore hats both in and out of movies. So literally at the beginning of the moving picture, the headwear game was strong. And this was furthered as folks started picking up on genres like westerns. After all, how are you gonna know if a character in a silent movie has any “yee-haw” if he’s not donning a big flanged cowboy hat?! Hats are icons. Hats MAKE characters.
Not convinced? Take a look at this picture.
Who are we looking at here? I promise the mustache isn’t enough to tell you.
Another no-brainer. In fact, how many 2-piece Halloween costumes can you think of that don’t require headwear?
You get the point. Hats are icons.
But now let’s also consider what happens when movies are made in the modern day. A world where you don’t need to wear a hat to go outside and look presentable. (I mean, that’s subjective) How do we see hats in the movies we can go see alongside our $14 8oz popcorn!? Well, again, hats are used to establish so much of a world and of a person. For example, Is the movie taking place back in “the olden days”? Better slap hats on folks so it has that classic feel. Are you trying to show the audience that this character takes their fashion seriously? She better have one of the most extravagant hats we’ve ever seen or I won’t buy it. Does this character work his butt off day in and out getting his hands dirty? Well, I’d better see some grease or sweat stains on that trucker cap he’s wearing.
There’s an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words or whatever. Well, in moving pictures, you have hundreds of thousands of pictures all piling up visual cues to show the audience character, time, place, all these things. A hat in a picture says an extra thousand words without anyone even opening their mouth.