If, as I do, you live in London, you will be forgiven for wondering if the Olympics haven’t already been and gone. They have certainly been flogged to death in the capital city over the last few months, even though they are still yet to start.
Londoners will also be aware that here, it is not necessarily Jessica Ennis’ fitness or Andy Murray’s groundstrokes that are on our mind. No, the big question on our lips is – ‘will the tubes be working?’
And, in its pseudo-helpful tannoy announcement kind of way, Transport for London is reassuring us that of course, the tubes will probably be f*cked during The Games, but don’t worry, here are some jaunty cartoons of muscly athletes to distract you. Look! A birdie! (oh no that is just the tfl twitter feed).
BUT, however grumpy I may be about the travel chaos that is about to descend on my city of residence, I actually quite like the TfL olympics ‘public service ads’. Why? Because they are metrotastic of course!
This one of the two hulking weight lifters trying to get off the tube is my favourite. Look at all that naked flesh! Those cute trendy trainers! The coordinated colourful outfits! Who cares if we are stuck for an hour on Finsbury Park station, if we get some international top class eye candy to keep us occupied?
Of course, athletic, muscle-bound men’s bodies on display for the viewer’s pleasure are not a new phenomenon. Back in the 70s and 80s Arnold Schwarzenneger was parading round in next to nothing, showing off his tits and pecs and abs for our delectation. Even The Guardian, in an otherwise body-phobic, misandrous, metro-bashing article about Magic Mike and men strippers, admitted that Arnie was a pin up:
‘It wasn’t until the 1980s that male stripping became a “thing”. Arnold Schwarzenegger had spent most of the 70s walking around in budgie smugglers, and Michael Ontkean went full chilly burlesque on the ice in Slap Shot, but it was only in the 80s that others caught up: a male performer serving up his penis on a tray to Tom Hanks in Bachelor Party, and Michael Keaton getting an eyeful in Mr Mom. ‘
And Transport for London also have a history of metrosexual display. They were one of the first metro companies to put adverts on the walls next to the escalators, and on tube trains, so commuters can look at sexy stars instead of each other’s ugly mugs on the way home. I like this TfL Olympics poster that nods to that tradition:
However it IS a 21st century phenomenon that sports men now cash in on their desirability as a matter of course. The ubiquity of sporno means that sports stars are not just keen to win on the pitch, but also in the box office, on the billboards, on the telly.
And, my guess is that whilst Delicious David Beckham and Nubile Nadal would probably grab our attention much more effectively than these sketchy cartoons, Transport For London couldn’t afford their supermodelling rates.
Just as they can’t afford to improve their services to cope with the demands of the Olympics.
Nobody said the metrosexual era would be efficient though. So long as it looks good we’re all happy.