Do you know why Arthur is named Arthur?
This is actually one of Lubna’s favourite stories to tell, but I will tell it right now because she’s sick in bed.
Arthur was established as Trent’s student newspaper in 1966, but initially went by a few different names before something really stuck. Some of the names to grace the masthead were “The Stentorian,” “The Foil,” and literally just a “?”
I’m not kidding. You can check the archive.
In Volume 1 Issue 6 of what would become Arthur, the back page featured a tear-out voting ballot on which students were to check “Arthur,” “The Foil,” and “The Stentorian,” or fill in another name. The ballots were to be placed in the newspaper’s contributions box, which was outside the Crypt at Rubidge Hall (now a retirement residence just southwest of the downtown core) at the time.
Evidently, Arthur won, but before it was ever on the ballot, founding editor Stephen Stohn explained that “Arthur” came up because of the 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night.
Yeah, the one you’re thinking of. With the Beatles.
In a now-iconic scene of the film, a reporter asks George Harrison, “What would you call that hairstyle you’re wearing?” Amusingly, Harrison responds, “Arthur.”
Really. This newspaper is named after a haircut.
It’s always been slightly misconstrued that Arthur’s name is related to the Excalibur sports teams, though it’s hard to fault anyone for making that connection. And Harrison’s haircut does look a bit medieval.
So, equipped with this silly knowledge, Arthur introduces The Bowlcut: a space for humour and satire. Because bowlcuts are haircuts too. And they’re goofy ones at that. Get it?
Look: there’s been a growing interest in satire and comedy in recent years, since it’s a form where truth tends to be spoken with the perfect balance of direction, bluntness and insight. Without those ingredients — and the proper framework with which to understand that satire is, in fact, satire — this all falls flat.
The framework is kind of like a playpen, where it’s just so much easier to tidy up the messes afterwards. Someone is going to barf, or shove a block up their nose, and we’ll have to disinfect the toys later — but won’t it be so entertaining while it’s good and everyone gets along?
Okay. Did you get all of that? Are we good here? Is your skin thick enough?