Posts Tagged ‘metrosexuality’

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.

 

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

The+Libertines+lib
Remember the Libertines and that explosive, intense, doomed love affair between Doherty and Barat? This photo of them, topless, sweaty, lips touching over the mic (dick?) sums their homo love up beautifully. I don’t care if they fucked or not, the sexual tension that powered their music was enough for me.
I’m mentioning this because according to tumblr, One Direction that squeaky clean British boy band, have also done some mic -licking recently. You can see the animated gif here.
tumblr_mj5i3oE0Fp1rq4psfo1_500
According to ‘gay academic’ Mark Mccormack One Direction are an embodiment of a new, ‘inclusive’, ‘softening masculinity’ that allows for ‘playing with sexuality’ even if they’re straight.  Softness v Hardness aside, I and @lindygeek reminded Dr Mccormack on twitter, that this kind of homosocial flirtatious bonding between men in pop is nothing new. See Bowie, Prince, Little Richard etc:
mcm
And, who is it who is headlining Glastonbury this year? Yes, some kings and queens of ‘omnisexual’ rock and roll: The Rolling Stones.  I rest my case.
rs
 
Freud might have a field day with this ‘Man Extreme’  ad. The (phallic?) snake, eagle and lion are asking to be interpreted more than I have time for here. And anyway I am a bit preoccupied with the name of this gentle perfume: Man Extreme is a bit, well, extreme for something so fragrant. It’s ok, fellas, you can smell like lavender and patchouli if you want. That doesn’t make you a girl. Or does it?
 
Metrosexuality seems to be so blatant, so ‘out’, so obviously ‘feminine’ in many ways – those tits! those legs! that make up! that hair! – that it is no wonder many men, whatever their sexual identity, are a little bit anxious about giving in to something that seriously puts their ‘traditional masculinity’ into question. Before we blame straight men for this macho reaction to the explosion of men’s beautiful self-love, let’s not forget that the ‘gay beard’ craze is just as uptight and macho as any heterosexual expression of ‘manly’ anxiety. Remember 2011′s popular beardy ‘gay movie’ Weekend? And don’t get me started on GayBros - ‘straight acting’ gays who make the 70s Clones look positively forward thinking!
 
weekend
 
Then there’s Ballet Boyz. On one hand, this bunch of pirouetting peacocks remind us how comfortable young men are these days with a) showing off their bodies, b) embracing their ‘feminine’ side, and c) showing off their bodies.
 
 
On the other hand, there’s some familiar ‘disavowal’ of full on feminine flamboyance going on.  There’s the obvious ‘manly strap on’ in the name – Ballet BOYZ, with an added hard man hip hop flavour. And there’s the slightly ‘laddish’ (No Homo) atmosphere of an all-men dance company, run by two men, that enables a (bearded!) Guardian journalist to say:
 
“[the company] doesn’t do ballet. Instead, it does 21st-century choreography with a muscular and occasionally dangerous edge.”
 
Phew!  that’s ok then!
 
It is within this rather ‘backs to the wall’  21st century context of pretty boy, pretty insecure masculinity that Dove for Men have launched a new shampoo. And in which a Brazilian ad for their metrotastic hair care product has caused heads to turn.
 
 
Dove has traditionally described itself as being For Women. So when they launched their Dove Men cosmetics and toiletries range they needed to set it apart from the girls’ stuff.  And they’ve come up with quite an ingenious way of doing so. Judging by the reactions on twitter and elsewhere, this ad is a hit. But why? The advert involves an office worker who is plagued by long luscious locks, a la Pantene for women, and is only rescued by a colleague telling him how Dove for Men can restore his masculinity. Critics have called it ‘confused‘, as it veers between taking the piss out of men wearing ‘feminine’ cosmetics and celebrating (and of course selling) that very idea. But I think the cleverness of this commercial lies in its willingness to embrace the confusion that many men experience when buying into consumerism and narcissism, but also worrying about whether or not they are ‘still a man’. So the machismo that Dove are obviously espousing and exploiting is also subtly put into question and sent up.  Does shampoo really make your hair grow long and shiny? Of course not. As this tweet shows, the silliness of the premise is part of the ad’s success:
 
And making a man enact the exaggerated, posing, overly ‘coquettish’ movements of a woman in a shampoo ad, a subtle but not-missed message is put across about how ridiculous and unrealistic this version of OTT femininity is, and how gendered marketing for the same products is kind of lame in 2013. But for many men (and maybe women too) watching, whilst they are laughing at the joke, they are also reassured by it. Dove for men is a real brand, selling real shampoo to ‘real men’.
 
nivea
 
You’d think that maybe one group of people who are not convinced by these manly marketing strategies would be the ‘beauty bloggers’ and ‘male grooming’ bloggers who see these gimmicks day in and day out. But  the fact that consumer experts such as Grooming Guru are, despite a few misgivings, convinced by products labelled as ‘For Men’ shows how metrosexuality is still  somehow threatening, even to the most enthusiastic metrosexual men. GG says:
 

‘I’ve personally always found the ‘man’ prefix superfluous and silly (though I still think the “For Men” tag has value for brands like Nivea, Clinique and L’Oreal who need to differentiate their men’s lines (often reformulated to suit men’s skin and its unique needs) from women’s. So come on guys, don’t spoil your perfectly good products with thoroughly daft names okay?’

Pushing products ‘for men’ may of course in one sense be a wheeze to make more money – it creates two markets where once there was one – but I don’t think this is the whole story of Dove for Men, Or Man Extreme, or Ballet Boyz. Because the ‘market’ of men’s vanity and self-love (not to mention dance) has been growing and going strong for a long time now. I don’t think anything, not even – gasp! – gender neutral packaging would stop the tide of metrosexual consumerism.  But while that phenomenon is here, it may as well also do the job of soothing men’s troubled, but oh so moisturised brows, about their anxiety over what it means to be a ‘man’ in the modern age. Going back to Freud, I think that in the early part of the 20th century, he was exploring how the gender binary is a form of ‘neurosis’. Now, in the 21st century, I would like us to admit that as long as we split people into this arbitrary division between ‘men’ and ‘women’ and try and flatten out human complexity and the many many ways of expressing our identities, we will be stuck with silly, complicated but ultimately macho ads like the Dove for Men one.

The gender binary, unfortunately, seems to be a winning formula. But I’m not buying.

leland-bobbe-half-men-women%20(20)_preview

We already know Denmark is pretty Metrotastic. But it’s not just ‘gay’ game shows that set it apart from other, slightly more dowdy countries. Now, the Danes are bringing metrosexual gender equality right into the heart of the beast, the hair salon. In a recent court ruling, Denmark authorities have decided that the higher price women pay for their cut ‘n’ blows is illegal. Whilst we could argue that this is taking anti-discrimination ‘too far’, and that there is an objective justification for women paying more at the hairdressers – the fact it takes longer to cut and style their hair – I am quite intrigued and amused by this news.

The main ‘finding’ I am taking away from this equal opportunity tartiness, is that men’s beautification is now seen as if it is as normal,  and as valuable as women’s. When car insurance in the UK got the same ‘euro’ equality treatment, nobody was surprised that rather than making men’s car insurance cheaper, women’s tended to go up to match what men pay. The same I expect will happen with this hair directive.  Salons, that were previously giving men cut price cuts, maybe as a way of playing down men’s metro-narcissism, will probably now charge top price. I am not an expert in this field, but judging  by some of the barnets I see on metro boys these days, I think it is possible they are in the salon as long as women anyway. And with more and more unisex hairdressers, why should one group of customers pay less for the same product/service?

It seems likely that it won’t be long before ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ hair and beauty parlours will give way to the blurring and mixing of  these gendered spaces, with universal ‘pampering’ available for all. But what I think is also on the more distant horizon is the end of ‘men’ and ‘women’ altogether. We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto. The future is Metrosexy.

h/t Laura H

article-2249647-168D2348000005DC-172_634x409http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2249647/EXCLUSIVE-How-little-joy-Romeo-Beckham-kept-Burberry-team-entertained-modelling-job.html

My favourite aspect of this now well-documented story about little Romeo Beckham modelling for the (sometimes dismissed as ‘trashy’) label Burberry, is that now it is NORMAL for a boy to follow in his father’s footsteps, not as a footballer, but as a pin-up.

You Go Romeo!

brad-pitt-for-chanel

Get out the red carpet, it’s awards season, dahlinks! Over at Grooming Guru HQ, a veritable metrotastic emporium, ‘Lab Series’ has won the male beauty – sorry I mean male grooming – brand of the year 2012. Not being one for facial scrubs, I know nothing of this product. But I have an award for metrosexy brand of the year myself.

In the autumn, I discussed the merits and problems with Brad Pitt‘s appearance as the new ‘face’ of women’s perfume, Chanel No. 5. Overall I thought this marriage was almost as successful as Brangelina.

And now I am going to come all out and say that Chanel is my metrosexy brand of the year. The tagline for Brad’s ad is ‘Inevitable’. And the reason Chanel is my winner is that Brad for Chanel underlines just how inevitable it is that one day an iconic ‘manly’ movie star would represent an iconic women’s perfume. That in time, metrosexuality would permeate the whole of our culture. Chanel are not being pioneers here. With men already having been ‘cover girls’ for Men’s Health, Gay Times, X Factor, Nivea for Men, etc, the ‘passive’, ‘feminine’ man model is nothing new. But for such a huge brand as Chanel to embrace the zeitgeist secures metrosexuality as THE ‘brand’ of masculinity today.

And, whether you love or hate Brad’s TV advert, you have  to admit that if something can be spoofed it usually means it’s not a total failure. And this spoof by an American TV show is really metrotastically funny!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/2012/10/19/team-coco-conan-spoofs-brad-pitts-chanel-no-5-ad/1644589/

So well done Brad and Chanel, you’re QRG’s Metrosexy Brand of the year 2012! Pass me the Babycham I am going to celebrate in style.

Often overshadowed by its big-pecced pert-assed cousin, Abercrombie and Fitch, the all-American ‘Preppy’ brand Tommy Hilfiger has come back fighting with this metrotastic advert.

And MetroAuntie can’t help but feel warmed in the cockles of her voyeuristic heart.  Partly because the slightly hipsteresque twee yet easy on the eye ad from Hilfiger is a great example of the self-admiring, omnisexual,  metrosexy ‘gaze’. This is what has been blatantly ignored by a recent ‘eye tracking study’ that I linked to on twitter on December 2nd, 2012, saying:

‘plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0047870 … The study this piece is based on on men, women, the ‘gaze’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9715256/Revealed-women-are-the-secret-oglers.html … only had 52 participants! #BadScience

https://twitter.com/Notorious_QRG/status/274840475255586816

Forget the uptight, homoanxious science academics, we know men love to look at each other and themselves, and so does Tommy Hilfiger!

TOM+DALEY+IN+HEAT

The Olympics may have been over months ago, but Tom Daley hasn’t stopped since.  Is he training for Rio 2016? Is he diving for his life? Well maybe, but only inbetween photoshoots, ad gigs and… er… this little self-promotion pic.

Ostensibly Tom’s ‘cheeky pic’ is inviting us to follow him on Keek, yet another social media site which involves sharing photos and videos. But MetroAuntie gets the impression that the bronze medal winning diver has another aim in mind. He, like many fit young metro boys, takes any opportunity he can to show off his body. And why not?

Well, as Nadal who was nowhere to be seen in the Olympic tennis competition has done, Daley could be seen to be prioritising his rampant narcissism and self-objectification over his sport. And though the results are lovely to look at, one does wonder why a top tennis ace is advertising a poker gambling company when he could be practising his backhand.

Back in February this year, Tom’s coach warned that the young diver’s media career and metrosexual antics could cost him a gold medal in the Olympics. The lad seemed happy with his bronze, and maybe he has weighed up his options and decided he prefers to be a world-beating tart and forgo some sporting gongs.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/diving/9082415/Tom-Daleys-media-work-could-harm-chance-of-gold-medal-claims-British-diving-chief-Alexei-Evangulov.html

I am interested in the ongoing tension between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ masculinity, a tension which Daley embodies quite poetically.  But which one will win through? Only time, and a few more sponsorship deals will tell.

Brad Pitt is the new ‘face’ of Chanel – a signature women’s perfume brand. The ad itself is nothing to write home about, and has a definite whiff of a ‘wanabee’ cool. It looks to me like it is emulating  that famous Guinness one, also in Black and White with a man’s voice speaking. But the words, the words in the Guinness ad are a lot more memorable than this vague mumbling from Chanel.

Joanna Schroeder at the Good Men Project has identified why even though it is stylistically dull, this advert is worth commenting on.

http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/brad-pitt-is-hocking-chanel-no-5/

She writes:

‘I think, as Pitt explains with an emo gaze into nothingness, the world does turn, and we do turn with it. Which perhaps means that life as we know it is changing.

Is this Chanel’s way of saying that the idea of what is “masculine” is blurring with what is “feminine”? That a man may wish to wear a soft, thoughtful, delicate fragrance as opposed to Axe Body Spray, and that’s just fine? Or are they just using a hunk to hock expensive stuff to fangirls?

Either way, I think it’s an interesting choice to cast a man to sell ladies’ fragrances, and am very interested in how the market will react and in what (if any) way the costumer base of Chanel No. 5 may shift.’

Exactly. Now men are pin ups, and men use products as much as women, having a man advertise women’s perfume seems natural.

Though of course the macho metro-denying  ‘male grooming’ industry may disagree. Grooming bloggers such as Lee ‘Grooming Guru’ Kynaston are still desperately clinging onto gender difference and the important distinction between men’s ‘fragrance’ and women’s ‘perfume’, ‘male grooming’ and ‘women’s beauty’.

http://groomingguru.co.uk/2012/10/17/new-fragrance-round-up-whats-hot-whats-not/

It’s all Greek to me. I don’t wear perfume, or fragrance. But I know metrosexuality when I see it. And for the sake of that blurring of gender lines that Schroeder mentions, I like Brad’s ad.