Posts Tagged ‘strictly come dancing’

 

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Ben Cohen, Calendar Pin Up, anti-homophobia activist and Rugger Bugger, posted this delectable photo on twitter, just before Christmas. He added that he is a ‘gay icon and proud’. This was quite a clever, if a little catty move. And was in response to an interview in the press with Louis Smith, Charleston dancing, hair coiffeuring, boxing winner of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. The issue at hand is Louis’ disavowal of the ‘gay’ bit of his status as new gay icon on the block. Like many ‘straight’ metrosexual men, especially models, pop stars and sportsmen, Louis is happy to receive attention and adulation from wherever he can get it. But he is less delighted by some of the sexual undertones of this attention. The Telegraph reports:

‘After admitting that he has become a “gay icon”, he adds: “As long as gay people can see the line, and that I fancy women, that’s fine. I don’t want to be put in a difficult, uncomfortable situation.”’

These comments, also discussed in the gay press, received a lot of angry responses from (mainly white middle class) gay men. They seem to feel upset that lovely Louis is ‘playing’ with their affections, but unlike Cohen, refusing to play ball. Not only is Louis NOT an anti-homophobia activist like cuddly Cohen, he also has the audacity to throw a bit of a spanner in the works of gay men’s wet dreams about him. This ‘gay icon’ is doing it wrong!

But I have quite a lot of sympathy for Louis, and all men who identify as straight in our tarty, self-loving metro culture. Life is confusing enough, as it slowly dawns on them that they are as narcissistic – if not more so – as their gay brethren, that hair gel and moisturiser matters to them too, without being told they are also expected to be ‘up for it’ with homos as well!

Yes, metrosexuality is ‘well gay’. But more importantly it marks the ‘end of sexuality as we’ve known it’. And so gay men have no right to put the new generation of men pin ups in a ‘gay’ box. These boys won’t be fenced in and don’t have to be! So maybe the older gay generation are just jealous.

As for Cohen, I think he gets away with being an out and proud ‘gay icon’ because he looks more ‘butch’ than Louis. He seems to be maintaining his ‘straight’ status more successfully than pretty Smith, despite the oiled up calendar shoots and naked exhibitionism the rugby player displays. The irony is of course, that another reason the gays go easy on Cohen is he looks just like a gay bear with his gay beard and big muscles! He’s one of them!

But I vote for Louis in this stand off. We will be seeing a LOT more of him in the  future. He may be a gay icon, but mainly he is his own metrosexual man.

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I recently pointed out how the popular UK TV show, Strictly Come Dancing, has been an excuse for some feminist journalists to spout a whole load of misandry.

Judith Woods for example claimed the programme is ‘sexist’ because it shows men in dominant, leading positions and women as submissive followers. When really, according to her, in real life, it is women who are leading the way, whilst ‘emasculated’ men meekly follow.

I took this question of the gender roles in the spangly Ballroom dancing TV show to Mark Simpson, unrivalled expert on men, masculinity and popular culture (if not ballroom dancing).

He made some pertinent points:

‘SCD favours women contestants because they never have to lead, and are led instead by their professional dancer partners. All the male contestants have to lead.’

This makes sense to me, as I had noticed on previous series that the men contestants often were made to look quite stupid, as if they had ‘two left feet’ and their dances (remember John Sergeant?) were often played for laughs. And so this was possible because it is harder to lead a dance, so the men were bound to slip up more than the women.

Simpson also said:

‘SCD treats men as ‘sex objects’, making the sportsmen take their tops off.’

I watched SCD last night, to see if MetroDaddy was right. And I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. Not only the sportsmen such as Audley Harrison and Robbie Savage, but also the male professional dancers were followed around by the cameras, both in training and performance, like supermodels. As you can see in the photo above it is the male dancer who is showing off full cleavage and muscular arms, not the woman.  The men are undoubtedly the ‘sex objects’ of the show, and this is emphasised by how some of the women contestants such as Edwina Currie and Anita Dobson are ‘older women’ paired off with a buff young ‘hottie’.

Considering the amount of tans, teeth, tits and abs I saw on display last night, I could be forgiven for thinking I’d stumbled across an episode of Geordie Shore. It was metrotastic!

So forget crabby feminist journalists and their claims of SCD being a nostalgic glimpse of a time when ‘men were men’. It is very much a programme of the moment. And it is all about men showing off their bodies.

 

Strictly Come Dancing is not what I would consider a bastion of machismo. Ballroom dancing is flamboyantly camp, and has been a realm dominated by gay men and  very pretty, dainty straight ones. But Judith Woods in the Telegraph is making out the show is a last ditch attempt by men to regain some of their lost power over women:

‘If you look beyond the cheesiness, you have to admit it’s a tragic indictment of 21st-century manhood that such formulaic role-playing – assertive chap bends pliant, pretty partner to his will, and to a syrupy syncopated beat – is so darned appealing. Like it or not (and I’m donning my tin hat right now), with our empowerment has come their emasculation.

Yes, I know it’s their own fault. It’s always their own fault. But the fact of the matter is, women end up having to shoulder even more of life’s burdens as their supine, self-pitying, over-domesticated menfolk grow ever more paralysed by their apparent obsolescence in a society where women are able to hunt, gather, sweep out the cave, rear children and assemble flatpack furniture. We always could, of course, it’s just previous generations were less obvious about it.’

This echoes Hannah Rosin’s triumphalist declaration of  The End Of Men!

As Rosin has done, this journalist is not content to document the changing gender landscape, where men and women are much more similar than they used to be in their activities and interests, and earning power. She has to use it as an opportunity for some blatant man-bashing, emphasising as she does men’s ‘obsolescence’ and their ‘emasculation’ as a result of women’s increased potency in society.

But what is Woods really saying? Is she bemoaning the loss of ‘real men’ to these new breeds of metrosexual sissies? Or is she criticising the ‘traditional’ model of dominant masculinity as symbolised by ballroom dancing where the man leads and the woman follows? It looks like, in a typical feminist contradictory ‘double bind’ she is doing both. She is telling us that Strictly is ‘sexist’ in its Tarzan/Jane roleplay, but that this sexism is understandable due to the fact men have become pussies. And it is ‘all their own fault’.

Woods finishes her article by saying:
‘Yet the irony is that women want real men every bit as much as men want real women. So maybe if we pretend, they will, too. Just look at Strictly, where the secret of happy togetherness is give, take, rictus smiles and a tacit agreement that sometimes it’s a man’s right and responsibility to lead – if only for three minutes at a time.’
As Mark Simpson, who has identified misandry as the acceptable prejudice said to me recently: ‘Men can’t win’. They are either macho misogynists or emasculated  losers. And if they challenge that representation they are treated as a joke.
Strictly Misandry, the most popular show in town.