Archive for the ‘metrosexuality’ Category

 

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??

—————

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

david-beckham

As David Beckham hangs up his custom-made designer football boots for good, I would like to say a few words in honour of the metrotastic sporno star.

becksend

Terrible pun headlines aside, most of the response to this news has been kind to the ageing footballer, remembering Becks as an honourable captain of England and a committed team player. One journalist did say that at times he could be a petulant peacock, but can’t we all?

However if you thought this is the last we will see of the man of many hairstyles, on our TVs, in our newspapers, and in our underwear, then think again. For Beckham isn’t retiring at all. His main ingredient in his career portfolio over the last few years has been his tarty metrosexual display. When he was given the illustrious job of carrying the Olympic torch to the London stadium last year, it wasn’t in recognition of his passing skills, but rather for his untiring service to metrosexuality.

beckhamsport

David-Beckham-HM-2

I think it’s interesting that in the same week a much loved star of pitch and beauty parlour has been celebrated, journalists and a certain Labour politician have been going on about a so-called crisis of masculinity.

I will write a proper response to that soon. But I think it’s worth pointing out that one reason sports journalism doesn’t completely annoy and depress me unlike most mainstream media output, is that it is positive about men and what they do. Beckham has been a perfect subject for all those lovely long column inches, and will continue to be so for many years to come. I’ll only get maudlin if he hangs up his hair gel for good.

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.

robbierogersmodel

Hello Campers! I’m continuing to develop my thoughts on that thorny topic of  sporno, anti-homophobia and metrosexual-machismo. While I do so I thought I’d show you an apt illustration of the theme.

Last week a professional  footballer came out as gay! Oh. Em. Gee. But before anyone could get the babycham out it was also revealed that he was giving up professional football. According to the Graun,

‘The former Columbus Crew and USA winger Robbie Rogers has announced that he is gay, and that he has decided to “step away” from his career as a professional footballer.’

So, although on  twitter Robbie said he was touched by how supportive everyone was to this ‘news’, and ‘gay academic’ Mark McCormack fitted this event into his thesis about ‘declining homophobia’ especially in sport, I was not so jubilant. It seems a shame to me that a young man coming out does so just as he is leaving the career for which he is well known. He’s not exactly becoming an ‘ambassador’ for gay and bisexual players by putting his boots on the shelf. I’m not blaming him. I believe that football, by its very sweaty, physical, passionate, sexy nature is already ‘well gay’. And until the ‘beautiful game’ ‘fesses up to that fact, out gay or bi players will be few and far between. But before I get down and dirty and grapple with this complex subject, I want to point out something else about Rogers’ announcement that I think is worth a mention.

Apparently,  ‘Rogers is starting a new position with Men’s Health Magazine  in the UK and he is also part of the ownership group for the clothing company Halsey.’ So the side of himself that he is finally openly celebrating is not necessarily his gayness, but rather his metrosexuality!  From what I can see, football is as conflicted about this contemporary tarty display that its stars like to indulge in as it is about sex itself.  Taking your kit off with your  mates and posing for Gay Times is all very well, but if you are actually… you know….gay or bi, it makes the whole exercise a little bit more threatening and destabilises the ‘macho’, ‘heterosexual’, camaraderie of most sports teams.

I am glad Rogers is now free to be himself. But that self, and the culture he inhabits, is a little bit more nuanced than most people will have us believe.

ClassA_GT_Large

It seems some how so inevitable that Gay I mean Guy Ritchie would direct Beckham one day, that this H and M knickers ad is not exactly world-changing.

But it shows off The Body nicely, and reminds us that whilst metrosexuality likes to adorn itself with fashion labels, it is really all about tits and abs.

And as Mr Ritchie  knows, Becks’ bodywork is still holding up pretty well, even as he becomes an ageing star. When Beckham moved to Paris recently and promised to donate his salary to charity, the Mirror named him ‘Saint Becks’. It is not easy to find, but I would like to think of him as having a bit of bad boy in him somewhere, like those other Sainted stars Saint Morrissey and Saint Genet. However, Becks is certainly an icon.

tom daley

article-2266009/Tom-Daley-knocks-David-Beckham-spot-annual-poll-hottest-men.html

It’s hardly surprising an 18 year old, who is currently – er – splashed all over our TV and media, would usurp ageing David Beckham as the king/queen of metrosexual masculinity. So Heat’s latest list  of ‘hottest hunks’ is just reflecting public opinion. But, the Daily Mail, which I find much more positive in general about metro boys than other papers (especially the Graun) has felt the need to frame this event in a very ‘heterosexist’ way. According to the Mail:

‘And it seems that Tom Daley’s grueling work-out regime has paid off in more ways than one after coming top of Heat Magazine’s annual ‘Hottest Hunks’ poll.

The 18-year-old has toppled heartthrob David Beckham from the number one spot after gaining a legion of female followers thanks to his toned torso.’

I guess it is also not surprising that the story of Daley’s ascendance would be accompanied by some metrosexual denial. But following the #Splash twitter hashtag, it is clear that Daley has plenty of men fans, and that even if young men are not lusting after him but rather aspiring to be like him, it is his tits and abs they are emulating, not his backwards pike.