Archive for the ‘metrosexuality’ Category

Metrosexual M and S? #metrosexual

Posted: October 23, 2014 in metrosexuality
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If you’ve been anywhere near a UK high street lately you will have found it hard to avoid bumping into David Gandy in his undercrackers. British institution  Marks and spencer, traditionally known for middle aged women and twin sets and pearls, is tapping into the metrosexual market. Its new range of not *too* frumpy men’s underwear, and associated ad campaign is definitely a departure for the respectable department store. I’m not a fully fledged connoisseur of men’s knickers but I think Gandy’s range - and his adverts – are an improvement on David-Beckham‘s pants for H and M. Maybe there’s a slightly overdone attempt to look ‘manly’ on Gandy’s part, with his pecs, frown and stubble. How manly does anyone look in nice white cotton boxers?

The Daily Mail decided to interview a slightly odd selection of people about M and S’s new undies. Jenni Murray from R4′s Woman’s Hour was suitably disapproving, saying M and S are ‘misguided’ to think that ‘sex sells’. Um… But at least she applied her conservative views on women’s ‘objectification’ to men too when she said: ‘Body fascism has become a real problem for a generation of girls and, now, boys are beginning to feel the same anxieties about diet and exercise.’ It is progress of sorts.

Andrew Clover (no I don’t know who he is either) was also sceptical about the move, saying:

‘This whole campaign seems the opposite of M&S underwear: it’s a bad fit. Gentlemen M&S shoppers are homely types. We don’t show off, though we’re quietly proud of our taste in wine. If M&S must advertise men’s underwear, they should have Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville in his dressing gown, or that nice chap Alexander Armstrong from Classic FM in his pants.

But then he went on to admit spending 20 minutes eyeing up Gandy in his pants before finally buying a pair, then parading his new outfit to his wife and kids when he got home! Glover  rather challenges the myth, supported by Claudia Connell (nope! not a clue) that women buy men’s clothes for them these days. She thinks that ‘Gandy is a cold and calculating, Christian Grey character, sending subliminal messages to middle-aged, Middle England housewives to go and buy these pants for their husbands’ According to market research, fashion counts for about 83% of young men’s spending. I think M and S are not appealing to middle aged women but are aiming Gandy’s crotch at younger men. And whether or not the men want to *be* David Gandy or *do* him is probably immaterial to the high st chain, who are just interested in the  - um – bottom line.

I welcome M and S embracing metrosexuality and I tend to agree with Ann Diamond who said a b arely clothed David Gandy  is an improvement on ‘the recent M&S women’s clothing ads, with all those stuck-up high achievers [like Annie Lennox and Emma Thompson!]‘. And who knows, maybe some young men will venture into the shop looking for some boxer shorts and they’ll come out with a middle aged woman in twin set and pearls on their arm…

The previously shocking phenomenon of men wearing perfume, has become mundane in its ubiquity by now. And men looking pretty in perfume ads is not exactly rare either. So the latest Dior Homme ad starring Twilight heart throb Robert Pattinson almost passed me by. The fact I noticed it enough to stop and think about what it is selling, (apart from top notes of lavendar, sage and bergamot), is mainly due to the fab Led Zeppelin track accompanying the images.

The advert, shown above in its uncensored ‘directors cut’ form, expresses something else commonplace, but probably still worth commenting on: metrosexual machismo. The fragance itself might be screaming ‘IM STILL STRAIGHT’ despite the way it has made the lovely Mr Pattinson sensuous, coquettish, even passive (in this version of the ad, his girl straddles him in bed, and then he’s seen lying back looking all come to bed eyes into the camera). Metrosexuality may have gone mainstream quite a few years ago now, but it’s still not quite out.

Some of the motifs of this advert are positively 1970s in their macho symbolism – the beautiful girl on Robert’s arm reassuring us he’s not, you know… the car he drives down the beach in full on phallic pacifier mode, the red-blooded rock n roll Led Zep track. They all try and comfort the audience, and the man in the street about to indulge himself in some Dior Homme, that men’s self love is not gay. The (post coital?) cigarettes in the (ahem) uncut version of the ad didn’t make it to television,  being just too 1970s and against 21st c health and safety guidelines. And, inspite of the ‘uncensored’ tag, the film as a whole is very safe.

Of course wearing perfume doesn’t make you gay, but it doesn’t keep you straight, either. And I for one would like to see a few more media representations of metrosexuality that celebrate its sexual ambiguity. That is what I love most about it after all.

 

metroboy

This week in America (where else?) a 13 year old boy has been suspended from school for wearing a handbag.

The boy, Skyler Davis said: ‘It expresses myself. Everyone else can wear it, so I can wear it as well’

Well quite. It astounds me sometimes that even in the uber-metro 21st century, whilst girls can wear anything from doc martens to tutus, boys are treated as gender non-conforming and therefore suspect, if they go ‘too far’ from a so-called ‘masculine’ norm.

The bag, from designer Vera Bradley, is quite ‘tasteful’ and, going over the shoulder, practical.  It’s difficult to see how it could be seen to violate school rules.

Metro-anxiety is not limited to the States though. In the summer, footballer Gareth Bale made the headlines in the middle of transfer season, not for signing for Arsenal or Man U, but for daring to wear pink!

garethbpink

But metrosexuality is not for turning. Any disapproval or attempts to ‘ban’ young men’s flamboyant self love will ultimately get washed away in the tide. Boys can be beautiful too. The gender police are fighting a losing battle.

holly

It was a grey afternoon on Finsbury park station. All memories of our blazing hot summer had faded with our tans. We were back to griping about the ‘disruption’ to our North London/Hertforshire train service. Signal failure or something. I went to sit in a covered waiting area on the border of platforms 7 and 8.  Beside the railway a building was being demolished – a college I think. The capital can be mundane sometimes like anywhere else.

But not for long. As well as me and a young lad, staring at his phone hopefully, there was a bleach blonde woman talking very loudly on her device. I started to zone in on her side of the conversation.

‘I just thought I should tell you. She can be very difficult’.

‘We would normally travel with her but I’m doing the launch of the Russian one’.

‘ I think she was pissed off the seasons are so close together. They are just back from Australia and they have to start in the UK’.

‘To be honest that’s all the boys who are forever taking their clothes off!’

‘I’ve told her agent, I put strict conditions in the contract – if she doesn’t behave she won’t get her fee’.

‘There’s you know – dynamics have developed between them. Holly and James don’t get on but Scott’s fine, she’ll be fine with him’.

‘I wanted to be up front about it. It’d be awful if you just got landed with her with no warning’.

Now I haven’t really watched the perma-tanned, coiffed, ripped  Geordie Shore since I wrote about the first episode  a couple of years ago. But I twigged that I was eavesdropping on one of the production staff of the ‘reality TV’ show. The North Eastern extravaganza has indeed done a series in Australia. I can’t really imagine what it must be like for the ‘talent’ as the woman on the platform called the participants in the show. They are professionals now, as she said they have agents and contracts like any actor. But not many actors begin their careers by living in front of the TV cameras full time, and continue to do so with the same group of people for years to come. I’m not surprised Holly is becoming somewhat ‘difficult’. I think if it was me I’d have cracked up by the beginning of season 3.

My train finally arrived. I never heard the end of the peroxide production woman’s phone conversation. But one of her earlier comments kept me thinking on my journey home. She said ‘the boys’ (who must be men by now?!) find life as stars of Geordie Shore easier than ‘the girls’ (young women to you and me). She said the lads just settle in to their new pad, and get on with drinking and shagging whoever they can pull. But the ‘ladettes’ don’t necessarily adapt (or ‘perform’) so easily and immediately. I have often wondered if hetero young men tend to have a bit more of a sense of ‘camaraderie’ than women when embarking on sexual exploits, which, lets face it, are the point of Geordie Shore. The ‘homosocial’ bonding of men in groups, that is somehow, ironically bolstered by ‘homo anxiety’, just isn’t the same in groups of women. As I mentioned when reporting on another metrotastic reality TV show, The Bachelor, alone with a group of gorgeous hotties who he had the pick of, Gavin Henson just didn’t seem very happy. He would probably have had far more fun with the lads on Geordie Shore!

As for Holly, I am afraid I am not going to tune in to see if she survives the next series. And I am certainly not going to watch Lake Baikal Shore, or whatever the Russian version is going to be called. But I do note the importance of this metrosexual, morphing genre of ‘entertainment’ we know as reality TV. And even if Holly is miserable she does get to enjoy this cheering view on waking every morning:

boys_GS

music-morrissey-25-live-blue

I wasn’t planning to see Morrissey 25 Live the film of a recent, ‘intimate’ (1800 seat venue) gig at a US school, Hollywood High. But Sara Annwyl invited me  so that was that. The event celebrates Moz’s 25 year solo career, but he still slipped some Smiths songs into the set list . I have never been to a Moz gig. I wondered if watching this, I’d be left kicking myself for not getting it together, in the 30 years I’ve known his music, to see the great man live. But to be honest, much as I enjoyed the experience of having huge close ups of Moz’s sneering eyes and mouth shoved in my face for 90 minutes, I’m now relieved to have kept my love at a safe distance. Why? Well, for all the reasons I loved him in the first place.

As has been well-documented already, Morrissey is pretty intense. And, it’s not necessarily his introspective, caustic lyrics that produce that intensity. Though they add to the mix. No it’s his performance, his body, and the response he provokes in his adoring fans that make Moz explosive. Scary. Weird. From his first appearances on Top Of The Pops in 1983, when we witnessed opened mouthed, as he waved his gladioli-adorned tush, and wailed that distinctive wail, it was clear that this man wanted our attention. And boy he got it. But even knowing what I know, even being the ‘crazy’, ‘obsessive’ fan I am (not just of Moz), I was pretty taken aback by what I saw on screen in the Curzon Soho last night.
morrissey25liveathollywoodhighflowers

The plain fact is; Morrissey demands to be worshipped, and quite literally. As Morrissey put his hand to his heart, or reached it out in a plaintive plea (to God?) so did the fans. Any ‘extreme’ or ‘religious’ symbolism taken up by the screaming audience was started and exacerbated by Moz himself. It was he after all, who grabbed a very young boy from the crowd in the closing moments of the gig, and held him in his arms, beatific, Christ-like. Earlier, when Stephen gave the mike to a few lucky members of his loyal flock, he was met with utter, complete devotion. As the Evening Standard put it:

‘The inanity of the fans makes a nonsense of the 54-year-old singer’s self-deprecating wit (“I’ll always hold my head up high…in a psychiatric unit”). “Thank you for living,” says a woman and Morrissey, instead of retching, smiles.’

It was that coy smile that got me. Suddenly all ‘irony’ and detached commentary was gone from the 50 something’s expression. He was the cat that got the cream. Morrissey LOVES Morrissey-love. And that love of the love he receives, but only pretends to reciprocate is probably what got Moz through that gig at Hollywood High. As @louderthanwar  explained in some detail, the show was meant to be at the start of an American tour this year, turned out to be one of the last as he fell ill and ran out of funding for the rest of the planned shows. It’s hardly surprising that the way Morrissey performs, body and soul splayed before us, takes more out of him in his 50s than it did in his 20s. Maybe the show is over for good. If so, this film will become more iconic than it seems at the moment. More poignant. We’ll see.

But, I for one can’t finish on the topic of Morrissey without mentioning his tits. And how he has to get them out at any given opportunity. What began as a young slip of a man tearing his shirt off unexpectedly and aggressively at Smiths concerts infront  of flustered teenage boys has evolved into something a bit more mannered. A bit more of a strip-tease. @THEAGENTAPSLEY pointed out rather astutely that towards the end of the gig:

‘ Morrissey ripped open a shirt that he must have intended to sacrifice (unlike the first two [see above-QRG], which he had worn to go offstage and change, and which looked much nicer) at crucial words about those whose physical appearance one despises’.

It just wasn’t like the old days anymore. When Morrissey didn’t care about the state of his (now designer) clothes, and ripped them off spontaneously. Now it’s a carefully choreographed part of the stage show. But with his pretty body still in bloody good nick for his age, nobody was complaining and certainly not me.

moz25live_pink

In our little darkened corner of central London Morrissey 25 Live became a sing-along. It might have been The Sound Of Music or Rocky Horror for the sense of joyous camaraderie (especially the young(ish)man two seats down from me who was in fine voice) and our enthusiastic going for the top notes. I sang Speedway with particular gusto. And I said my goodbyes.

federer

Last year I commented on Rafael Nadal‘s adventures  - not his shock defeat in the second round at Wimbledon, but his panic when a designer watch he was sponsored to wear at the French Open was stolen (and later recovered).  This year, though the metrosexual champ fell at Wimbledon’s first hurdle tennis-wise, he did not make the headlines for suffering any sartorial crises.

But Roger Federer has. In his first round match Federer sported orange-soled tennis shoes but was banned from wearing them in further matches.

‘Tournament rules state that competitors “must be dressed almost entirely in white” and the powers-that-be have deemed that brightly-coloured soles were a step too far.’

Whilst my readers know I am one of the most enthusiastic promoters of metrosexuality there is, Roger does look a bit sad having fussed about with fashionable footwear now he is out of the competition. A question of misplaced priorities? Also I and others have wondered if Serena  Williams’ bright red shorts under her white Nike tennis dress would also break the rules. This picture fails to show off their flamboyance well but when she is lurching for a ball and her dress flips up you can see them bright as day.

serena

So far the Women’s Champion of the world has not been reprimanded for her fancy pants. Maybe there is some sexism here with women being allowed to get away with a bit more glamour than men on court? Or maybe Serena,  unlike Roger who is another casualty of this year’s curse of the top seeds, is allowed to get away with it because she’s so brilliant a player.

Whatever the reason for this (metro)sexual inequality, I think it highlights it’s time for the All England Club to relax its clothing rules. It is making waves with other initiatives such as equal prize money for men and women. And Andy Murray emphasised just how much better women’s tennis is getting when he only half-joked on twitter that he’d like to play a match against Serena. So allowing a bit of colour on court seems the least the Board can do.

If the authorities want to ban something, though, why not those speedophobic long baggy shorts all the men players are wearing this year? I can barely get a glimpse of ass!

nadal

 

I think this video speaks for itself. In ten years this man has got more muscly, more orange, and more coiffeured than his 20 year old self could ever have imagined.

My one question is: what will he look like when he’s 40??

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/via The Daily Edge: http://thedailyedge.thejournal.ie/man-interpretive-dance-with-himself-921651-May2013/?utm_source=twitter_self