America — meet David Beckham

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(The Guardian, 13 July, 2007)

America, meet David Beckham. America, meet The Metrosexual.

You’re going to be see­ing even more of both.

As most of the world already knows, today Becks is proudly ‘unveiled’ by LA Galaxy on their home turf. Brand Becks, the ulti­mate met­ro­sexual who trans­formed him­self from a tal­en­ted pro­fes­sional soccer-player with a cute smile into global me-dia, is the not-so-secret weapon in their cam­paign to seduce America into open­ing its arms, legs — and, most import­antly, wal­lets — to that obscure ver­sion of foot­ball played without crash hel­mets, Frankenstein pad­ding or artil­lery bar­rages by the rest of the world.

In case you can’t wait for the unveil­ing, you can find a selec­tion of ador­able pho­tos of Ken Doll David ‘taken’ from every deli­cious angle in his new strip in The Times of London. Or coquet­tishly meet­ing your gaze on the cover of Sports grey America   meet David BeckhamIllustrated, on a red car­pet. Or stripped to the waist on a car bon­net on the cover of ‘W’ magazine flex­ing his tits and tatts in trousers that appear to be pulling them­selves off. Oh, and that ex-ex Spice Girl wife of his is some­where in the pic­ture too.

And, of course, you can always catch Brand Beckham endors­ing major brands like Motorola and Nike. Or is it the other way around?

Spice Boy Becks is the total com­mod­ity who has totally com­mod­i­fied him­self — and turned soc­cer into his per­sonal bill­board. ESPN, the chan­nel tele­vis­ing Beck’s first game in his LA Galaxy strip on 21 July have arranged for an extra TV cam­era to feast solely on David for the dur­a­tion of the entire game, lest we miss any pre­cious moment of his spor­no­graphic body in motion — as well as mak­ing sure that they get their money’s worth. Who said that foot­ball was a game of two teams of eleven men? Or two halves? Becks is all that you could need and all that you could want. The Alpha and Omega of soccer.

ESPN are already air­ing an ad pro­mot­ing the match in which Becks leaves a heart­broken Europe for an ecstatic US, with the Beatles’ ‘Hello Goodbye’ as the soundtrack — ref­er­en­cing a pre­vi­ous ‘Brit’ inva­sion. Some are already talk­ing about ‘Beckmania’. The Beatles may have been big­ger than Jesus, but Becks is big­ger than soc­cer (which is why all those lengthy art­icles debat­ing whether he will or won’t make soc­cer pop­u­lar in the US some­what miss the point).

And after all, in the Sixties the Mop Tops suc­cess­fully expor­ted pop music back to the US, the coun­try of its birth, hav­ing taken it fur­ther and trans­formed it into some­thing even more sale­able. Becks in the Noughties is export­ing met­ro­sexu­al­ity back to the US, and in fact to the very town, which, in the Fifties, came up with the pro­to­type for it in the delect­able, Cinemascoped form of Marlon Brando, Monty Clift, James Dean, and Elvis Presley.

It was also the US that pro­duced pos­sibly the first metro sports star in the form of Seventies NFL star Joe Namath, dubbed ‘Broadway Joe’, an aes­thet­ic­ally inclined quar­ter­back who advert­ised shav­ing cream and… panty­hose. But once he retired, America pre­ten­ded he had never happened — leav­ing the field open to dandy for­eign play­ers like David Beckham.

America and Hollywood, so long at the cut­ting edge of com­modi­fy­ing mas­culin­ity, have fallen far behind. America is today con­flic­ted, fear­ful and hypo­crit­ical about one of its greatest inven­tions: the medi­ated, male sex object. Speedos, the per­fect ‘pack­age’ for the male body and Beckham’s favour­ite beach­wear, are all but banned on US shores because they are seen as ‘gay’. Which, appar­ently, is still the worst thing you can accuse a man of in the US — and the reason why the US, unlike the UK, exper­i­enced a back­lash against met­ro­sexu­al­ity, albeit a men-dacious one.

American mas­culin­ity des­per­ately needs some tarty tips on how to tart it out more. Enter Becks, the tarti­est tart in Tart-Town who rel­ishes being seen as ‘gay’ — and also rel­ishes being seen by gays (‘because they have good taste’). What’s more, he’s a jock not an actor.

Which reminds me, per­haps Becks will offer some friendly advice to his new Scientologist neigh­bour Tom Cruise. Cruise, the All-American Dream Boy gone wrong, who once wooed the world by dan­cing in his under­wear on a sofa in his 80s film ‘Risky Business’, but now jumps up and down on chat show sofas (while President Bush jumps up and down on Iraq), needs Becks more than Becks needs Cruise, who is now glob­ally much less pop­u­lar than Becks.

However much Becks may deny movie star aspir­a­tions, his Hollywood career has already begun.

Copyright Mark Simpson 2007

4 thoughts on “America — meet David Beckham

  1. I was pleased to see Vinnie Jones is still as delect­ably com­mod­i­fied, in a non-metrosexual way, as I always wanted him.

  2. It’s a sport­ing burqa !

    Do American foot­ballers do that shirt swap­ping strip­show at the end of a match ?

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