Posts Tagged ‘The situation’

I interrupt my blog break momentarily…

The latest series of Celebrity Big Brother is upon us in the UK. I am not watching, but I am getting the gist via twitter. I am kind of suprised anyone watches the granny of reality TV shows these days. With young bucks such as Geordie Shore and TOWIE having upgraded and spray-tanned the genre, the BB franchise is looking a bit old and tired.

So are some of its contestants. Julie Goodyear is an old dame of soap, but not really delivering the goods these days. And Julian Clary, another old dame, though still witty, is just not cutting it for me.

One comment by Clary quoted a number of times approvingly on twitter demonstrates clearly how out of touch he and his fans are. He asked Mikey The Situation Sorrentino,

‘What’s your function?’

Well, darling, it’s obvious! The Sitch, star of Jersey Shore, the  show that brought reality TV preening and plucking into the  ‘teenies’, and which spawned imitators like the orange-tastic Geordie Shore, has a very clear function. One that he carries out extremely successfully.

The Situation’s function is to get his tits out and look pretty.

As you can see in the photo above, from the opening night of CBB, he is performing his function to the letter.

One reason Julian Clary and those who still fawn at his middle aged, camp schtick, is behind nos jours, is that now, in metrosexual  culture, young, heterosexually -identified men can get away with being as camp as Christmas without having to be ‘gay’, or even considered ‘unmanly’ by their bros.

In a new book, entitled ominously ‘How To Be Gay’, the middle aged gay author David Halperin tries to save the dying swan that is ‘gay style’, and though I haven’t read it yet, seems to fail.

As this rather critical review  says:

‘Back in the 1960s, Susan Sontag – whose Notes on Camp articulated in a few fleet aphorisms most of what Halperin spends more than 500 pages paraphrasing – welcomed a new gay formalist style in criticism by declaring: “In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.”

Having trudged through Halperin’s tract, I have a proviso to add: what we definitely don’t need is an academics of Eros.’

I agree. Because Mikey Sorrentino and metrosexy young men are giving us all the ‘erotics’ and ‘style’ and ‘aesthetics’ we need in the 21st century. In HD.

This is the ‘end of gay’ and the continuation of metrosexuality.

And I am rooting for Mikey to win CBB. He already has won. Game Over.

Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salavador Dali

According to sources in America, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is due to be removed from the DSM – the diagnostic and statistical manual of clinical psychology and psychiatry in America. NPD will be taken from the psychologists’ ‘handbook’ along with four other ‘disorders’, when the document is published next in 2013.

In an article in the New York Times, we have been told:

‘Narcissists, much to the surprise of many experts, are in the process of becoming an endangered species. Not that they face imminent extinction — it’s a fate much worse than that. They will still be around, but they will be ignored.’

But I don’t think any narcissists out there need to smash their mirrors, cancel their self-help book orders or close down their blogs just yet. Because, as Mark Simpson has told us, ‘ours is the Dorian Grey age’ or rather the Patrick Bateman age. The reason narcissism has been taken off the list of psychiatric diseases is not that narcisssists are being ignored, but that they have become the norm. How can a culture that reifies self-love and self-regard, treat it as an illness?

This news would come as no surprise to Christopher Lasch, who, over thirty years ago, wrote The Culture of Narcissism.

In it he pretty well predicted the postmodern world we live in now, including Sports celebrities, therapy culture and soundbites, where the neo-liberal individual trumps the socialist ‘community’ at every moment:

‘Even as he dug deep into psychoanalytic and social theory and American history, Lasch took in a remarkable range of contemporary experience, making many observations that, if anything, ring more true today. In a chapter called “The Degradation of Sport,” he lamented the way big money and free agency were turning the athlete into a mere “entertainer” who “sells his services to the highest bidder,” bound to his team only in a spirit of “antagonistic cooperation” (a term borrowed from David Riesman). Noting how self-help experts make us feel that success or failure is at stake at every moment, he seemed to anticipate the calculating side of social networking. “The search for competitive advantage through emotional manipulation,” he wrote, culminates in a sociability that functions as “an extension of work by other means.” And long before Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness,” Lasch perceived that “the air is saturated with statements that are neither true nor false but merely credible” — which only makes it easier for the narcissist to see the world as an extension of his desires.’

I’m not going to say anymore. Mike Sorrentino says it all really, with his mantra of ‘GTL’.

In contemporary culture, then, the narcissist, far from being a sociopathic pervert, is the model of the healthy individual. And by healthy, of course we mean profitable.

I am sure Professor Simpson is staring into his pool as I type, looking for some more profound things to say on the matter. But just as the ‘homosexual’ was taken from the psychiatry books and launched himself, preening and mincing onto our dancefloors and shopping malls, so the ‘narcissist’ has found his way from the wards of the sanitorium, onto our TV screens, into our bedrooms and our, er, shopping malls.

And these days, if you don’t like shopping, then really there could be something seriously wrong with you.

Update December 2011: Narcissism is back in the DSM as a disorder (NPD):

‘The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,

The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,

The natural, perfect, varied attitudes—the bent head, the curv’d neck, and the counting; 

Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother’s breast with the little child,

Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with the firemen, and pause, listen, and count’

From I Sing The Body Electric by Walt Whitman.

Was Whitman a Macho Fag? He certainly celebrated the perfection of the male athletic form and I think he contributed to the fetishising, especially in gay culture of the muscular, ‘natural’ masculine body.

On Mark Simpson’s blog, in a  discussion of macho nachos- the advertising of fast food products aimed at ‘macho’ men in America, a very Whitman-esque statemement was made:

‘Well, have you ever observed the pure joy that so many non-human ani­mals exhibit when they are out run­ning free; E.g. dogs, horses? The ampli­tude of their exer­tions depends on their con­di­tion of course. But their is a release of endor­phins which floods the sys­tem almost like the effects of heroin, which has caused peo­ple to address exer­cise as “healthy addictions”.I was in pretty good con­di­tion, since I was fairly young work­ing on the farm on which I was raised so due to that and per­haps a genetic pre­dis­po­si­tion, activ­i­ties like work­ing and run­ning were very happy expe­ri­ences.’

And in case we were in any doubt as to the ‘manliness’ of this healthy athletic ideal, the commenter made allusions to how women could never fulfil it, as they are busy ‘sitting around cleaning and having babies’…

‘The desire to be healthy, in the respect that I use it has nothng what­so­ever or min­i­nally to do with what any­one else thinks; it has to do ath­let­i­cally to do with the release of endor­phins; just the pure which occurs with phys­i­cal activ­ity. Also, in rela­tion to other peo­ple, that chid­like joy got­ten in play­ing. I really doubt e,g., that soc­cer play­ers would do what they do unless it was fun.
Women have been taught to just sit around to clean house and have babies, so it’s uncer­tain to me how much they like for their own sake ath­letic activ­ity. I say this from per­sonal expe­ri­ence, hav­ing taken up run­ning before it was fash­ion­able here, just to relax.’

Our current culture has to come from somewhere. And gay intellectual men have fetishised the poetry of Whitman, Carlos Williams, Ginsberg, and the prose of Lawrence, Isherwood, Wilde, over the years, to the extent that these images of perfection must have influenced the contemporary version of the ‘ideal’ gay man’s body to some degree. And with metrosexualisation of masculinity, this ideal has become the ‘norm’ for all men to aspire to.

Maybe I am bitter because I find it harder, as I get older to meet men who fit this ideal of youthful athleticism, or because if I do meet them, they are often narcissistic bores, or gay (or both!). Or maybe I am jealous, because I will never be one of these adonises. And I won’t fulfil the flip-side of the macho ideal, of being a macho-matriarch. I haven’t produced offspring from my loins. So what was this body for exactly?

Oh I admire from afar those muscled backs and shoulders, those curved necks and tight buttocks. What sentient being wouldn’t? But it doesn’t sit easy with me. And I know most of these beauties won’t even have heard of Whitman.

The old-style intellectual queer is dying out. I genuinely believe that. I don’t think there will be any more, not in the way I know and love and also sometimes hate them. The thing I do love about those queer men of letters, is how they brought to life stories and portraits of men loving each other, and being ‘men’ in a tender and sensuous way. Without them there’d probably be ‘no homos’. Gay men would probably not be so accepted, as people and as sexual beings in society. I love those writers for making manlove visible.

But their vision of beautiful, built buff young men, bounding across sand dunes, wrestling in the hay and leading the march across wastelands in army uniforms, I am afraid has become a rather frightening hyper-reality.

It is  shinier, buffer, slicker, more urban, more mediated, more mediocre, more homogenous, more horrific.

Less lyrical than any of those lyric poets could have or would have imagined.

Be careful what you wish for it might just come true. But it might not look or sound quite like it did in your literary dreams.


‘Life is not so bad if you have plenty of luck, a good physique and not too much imagination’