Informant: The informant in question was a sophomore screenwriting major at USC. White, female, and a Los Angeles native. She attended the Archer School, an upper-class girl’s private school in Brentwood.
Last year in Reality Starts Here, a class that all of the freshman film students had to take once a week for a lovely learning experience and hear from very important guest speakers. Two people had a conversation about whether or not girls would still look good with a mustache on. And then they photoshopped a picture of a girl in the class with a mustache onto her face. And during lecture everyone started photoshopping mustaches onto each other’s faces. And they called it the “transmustache infection” because we learned about something in class called “transmedia” which was a way of saying of learning ways to tie differing media practices together. Most of which don’t cater to screenwriters. Umm. What else? And then one day a guy came to class with a pack of thirty-something fake mustaches and passed them all around. And we gave one to the teacher and she wore it too. And I took a selfie with two other screenwriters with our mustaches and Instagrammed it. And it was a big deal because it was a cool picture with my cool college friends. (laughing)
Why was that significant to you?
Because it was teambuilding. And it was kind of a shared joke that spread among a lot of people and it was a fun way to get through class.
Analysis: This piece of folklore proves very interesting as something done my members of a particular class in a direct attempt to thwart the class itself. The primary purpose of the “transmustache infection” was to distract the students from the actual course material being presented. Because of the existence of social media, the “transmustache infection” was able to be disseminated with the teacher being none the wiser.
This folklore took a turn in its transformation between weeks from cyberlore to tangible folklore. By making the change into a physical format, the secrecy of the joke was lost. And ironically, what started as a rebellion against the authority of the professor wound up being adopted by the professor herself.