Posts Tagged ‘Armani’

The most metrotastic moment of the Olympics Opening Ceremony last night wasn’t Becks in his boat, or Daniel Craig and his Bond routine, it was the entrance at the end of the athletes’ parade of Team GB.

The 500+ strong team, with cyclist Chris Hoy bearing the flag at the front, entered the stadium in a sea of white and gold. Their tracksuits were retro-metro stylie, like something Ali G might rock up in!


With the TV camera often lingering on Tom Daley, the young high diver with a perfect tan and winning smile, metrosexuality finally seemed to be taking centre stage as it should. Actually, Danny Boyle’s extravaganza seemed a bit more dowdy and old school in comparison to these sporno heroes. Paul Mccartney and Kenneth Branagh are not exactly pin-up hotties these days.

But there were two nice links between the contemporary metro imagery of Team GB and the music, film and pyrotechnics. One was that the tracksuits the athletes were wearing (with men and women all wearing trousers unlike some of the other countries and their ‘traditional’ gendered fashions) reminded me distinctly of rap culture, which WAS featured in Danny Boyle’s show.


Kanye may not have been there to outdress and outbling the British sports stars, but Dizzee Rascal’s performance of Bonkers was great, and showcased urban rap, youth and pop culture brilliantly. Also the song Bonkers could be seen as a bit of a ‘metrosexy anthem’. Because he is singing about being a young man doing what the hell he wants, regardless of how ‘society’ and other people see him.
Some people think I’m bonkers

But I just think I’m free

Man, I’m just livin’ my life

There’s nothin’ crazy about me

The second link between the metrosexual styles of the British team, and the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony is the technological and ‘social media’ phenomenon they both display. All through the parade, athletes were taking photos and videos of themselves(!) and the stadium. The video at the top is TV footage taken on someone’s phone from the comfort of their living room, and uploaded onto youtube within hours of the ceremony finishing. And in Boyle’s set there was a tableau featuring young people and their relationships being played out on facebook and mobile phone technology. Not to mention the fact that Tim Berners Lee, the ‘inventor of the world wide web’ also had a cameo role in proceedings.

So, my verdict is that the Opening Ceremony WAS a showcase of metrosexual talent. But it was the fashion-conscious and self-loving athletes who really made the metrosexy grade. Team Italia were indeed decked out in Armani, but the sheer bling and bravado of Team GB means MetroAuntie awards them GOLD.

Rafael Nadal has got into some shallow water over at Armani. I think he has been kidnapped by the Italian fashion house and is being slowly, sensually tortured for our viewing pleasure. First there was the poster campaign:

and now a video advertisement that leaves the Spanish tennis ace swallowing fluid and spluttering for breath. As Mark Simpson (Yes him again), the ‘spawner of sporno’ has observed:

‘As if the tarty Armani poster of Rafael Nadal offering his arse to the world wasn’t slutty enough. Along comes the video.

The tennis ace is being shoved up against the (unplastered) wall and then thrown down and hammered on the builder’s bench. Twice.

By the camera. Which chops up his body into sexy, slippery bits and pieces. Tits and ass and abs. Total, rampant, ruthless objectification. Which Mr Nadal – like many young men today – appears to relish.

And that liquid he’s half-drowning in. Is it bodily fluids? Or is he being water boarded by our gaze?

Could this video in fact be any sluttier, without actual penetration? Then again, wouldn’t your actual, standard-issue penetration diminish the sluttiness by making it both ‘hard’ and banal?  Instead of the grainy non-specific sluttiness that drips off everything in our mediated, metrosexy world’.

Finally don’t we have enough evidence now that men are objectified in our visual culture as much as women are? That men’s bodies are cut up and packaged for our delectation, with very little thought for their status and feelings as human beings?

When women are given this treatment the feminists are up in arms:

And yet I expect this latest metrosexual display of  physical  ‘excess’ will go unremarked by feminists, who cling onto the idea that it is women’s objectification that is dominant in culture, and that is a key aspect of contemporary women’s  ‘oppression’. I would happily ignore them except that their perspectives are affecting how women see themselves, and men, and how even governments make policy around gender and sex. The recent government research and report on Sexualisation for example, included consultation with feminists including feminist academics. The result was it focussed on the way girls and young women are ‘sexualised’ not boys and young men. And when it talked about that hateful term ‘pornification’ it referred to pornography primarily as that which is viewed by boys/men and that objectifies girls/women, turning them into nothing but  pieces of meat.

I keep returning to the work of Mr Simpson because it is the only example I can find of a critique of the ‘pornification’ of culture that takes note of how boys and men figure in this picture, not merely as consumers/voyeurs and potential sexual ‘predators’, but also as objects. For the feminist discourse on this subject is used to emphasise how a ‘sexualised culture’ is a ‘rape culture’. It is a discourse which leads to sentences like this being uttered, (and left unchallenged) by influential feminists:

‘Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant.’

Which renders consent irrelevant .

It’s a chilling phrase, isn’t it? We are already raped it says. It is irrelevant whether or not we want to have sex or not. It is almost irrelevant whether or not we do have sex. Women, according to this discourse, are raped by (male) culture.

The Armani ad can be looked at as just another way of selling jeans. Or it can be used as a way of fighting back against the lies told by those who wish to keep women as victims of the ‘patriarchy’.

I sometimes wish Mr Sporno Daddy himself would go even further in taking on the feminist dogma. I sometimes wish he would discuss this issue of how objectification is not just a feminist issue, beyond showing us how bodies like Nadal’s are becoming the bodies – rather than women’s- we see draped all over billboards, oozing with sweat and water and…

But I know he has done his bit.

Maybe I am here to bridge the gap, between analysing metrosexuality and challenging  feminism, between looking and looking and looking at male bodies, and talking about why women’s are just not that special anymore. And why feminists want us to think they are.

But sometimes I too feel like I am drowning, in all this shiny pumped up preening (metro) male sexuality. And however much I may enjoy that feeling, I think it is a dangerous distraction.

It is a distraction from the pernicious, misandrist approaches to objectification that lead to ‘macho’ campaigns like this:

Someone called me Mark Simpson’s ‘sock puppet’ the other day. I was actually very flattered. But if I was his sock puppet, I think my writing and pictures would look a little sexier than they do, a little more metro, if you see what I mean? I think I would have finished this post a long way up the page and left you with the image of Nadal’s pert ass and his fine shoulders, and the thought of his chest, rubbing against that wall until his skin chafed and…

But I am nobody’s sock puppet. I have my own ‘agenda’ to pursue. I still want to know how men’s and women’s objectification fits together, and how feminist discourse on ‘pornification’ and ‘rape culture’ is allowed to co-exist with the blatant spornographic homoerotics of campaigns such as Armani’s. I want to know how we  can actually do something to stop the tide of misandry the waves of  ‘women as victims’ culture that keep crashing against our rocks.

Any ideas folks?


We all know Sporno is more interesting and seductive than regular porno right? Well the leaders of the rat pack at the moment in the genre seem to be those Italian Stallions, Armani. And who better to be the face and body of the brand but that wonderfully bronzed and buff tennis player, Rafael Nadal? Move over Ronaldo there is a new kid in town.

As Mark Simpson, the spawner of sporno himself, says, this ad campaign is even more homo erotic than some of the most butt clenchingly homo images from other years and companies:

‘It isn’t just the fact that a half-naked Rafael is apparently offering himself on a prop from a porno movie set (‘Builders’ Big Erections’); it’s the smoothly inviting, defenceless musculature of his prone shoulders and back; and the small of his back before the tempting swelling bubble of his butt; along with that ‘come on big boy’ expression on his flirty face that shouts WANT ME! It could be an image straight out of a Dieux du Stade calendar (minus the jeans).

As with much of sporno the dynamic of the image is the deliberate provocation of an athlete who lives by ‘masculine’ ‘activity’ flaunting his flagrant ‘feminine’ ‘passivity’ to the world. And in case anyone refuses to get the message, Armani are simultaneously running an image of a slightly boyish looking tattooed Megan Fox in the same pose. But one without quite the same charge as the Nadal image’.

I am interested in why there is less of a ‘charge’ in this photo of a woman, Megan Fox, than the picture of Nadal in all his glory.

Look how Megan is clasped round the wooden ‘shelf’, holding on as if she may fall. Whereas in the photo above, Nadal is perched manfully on his piece of wood, resting his elbows and stretching up to fill the frame. He looks down at us, sure, a little ‘coquettishly’ as Mark said. But he commands the picture. Megan is in a much more ‘submissive’ pose, and her look is more that of a traditional female model: doe-eyed, sort of vacant. If, as Simpson says, Nadal is screaming ‘WANT ME!’, Fox is only asking, ‘want me?’

There is also something different about a topless man and a topless woman. I’d say that in general, a topless woman, especially one like this, hiding her breasts, is more vulnerable than a topless man. Neither model is totally nude, but Megan is covering her ‘assets’ in a moment of modesty. There is nothing modest about Nadal’s pose however, and you get the impression he’d feel and look just as potent if he completely stripped off.

Talking of assets, as Mark Simpson has said, there is something potent too in how the active sportsmen of sporno transform themselves into ‘passive’ ‘feminine’ objects of desire. Megan Fox has always been a ‘passive’ object of desire, both as a porn and a film actress. Her modelling role is not a departure, a surprise, but just what we would expect of her. I don’t know which of these two is the richer, in purely financial terms, but Nadal has more avenues, more revenue streams at his disposal I should think. Maybe that adds to the puff of his chest as he poses for Armani. The fact his name is emblazoned at the bottom of the ad shows that Nadal is indeed a ‘brand’, as well as Armani (and Beckham and Ronaldo) in a way that Megan Fox is not.

Returning to the idea of nudity, that is never far from either of these model’s minds it seems, maybe that is partly it. The naked man and the naked woman still mean something different to us. After centuries of seeing both depicted in art, but in quite contrasting ways, it tends to be the nude woman that we think of as the ‘victim’ or the ‘object’ of the gaze. There is something about the male form that manages to always be looking back at us. Nadal knows this as he looks back over his shoulder with his come to bed eyes. Megan, she is not so sure that she can escape the camera’s trap.

I am grateful to Armani for something: the way their adverts feature men and women has meant Mr Simpson’s sporno gaze has had to become (briefly maybe) ‘bisexual’. I think it throws up some fascinating questions about the objectification of men and women in visual culture (that I have looked at in relation to that Ronaldo ad). I am pretty sure Mark only really has eyes for Nadal in this particular campaign, but by featuring both photos on his normally very gay blog, he has created a bit of an unusual ‘charge’ , for this reader at least. But despite my moment of excitement I am left wondering, in relation to photography and visual culture in general, and sporno in particular, why can’t a woman be more like a man?