Keyless Entry & Male Versatility

“I call him lollipop”

The sexu­al­isa­tion of the male body probes new, perfectly-rounded depths in this European ad pro­mot­ing the ‘key­less entry’ fea­ture on Ford cars.

And pos­sibly the use of Ford key fobs as sex toys.

A remark­ably well-crafted ad, it makes excel­lent use of the increas­ingly blatant mod­ern phe­nomenon of meta­phys­ical — and increas­ingly phys­ical - male ver­sat­il­ity. How men in our sporno­sexual age are now act­ive and pass­ive. Tops and bot­toms. Subjects and objects. Heroic and tarty.

To the strains of an ‘inno­cent’ 1960s bubblegum pop track in which a girl com­pares her boy­friend to some­thing sweet to suck, every­one on the beach, male or female, young or old, gay or straight, is hav­ing a really good look at the worked-out, oiled-up grin­ning hot­tie in the tight trunks saun­ter­ing past.

So far, so nor­mal in a world in which the male body has become bouncy castle for the eyes.

As our beach babe approaches his car how­ever, we real­ise that every­one is sup­posedly star­ing because they are won­der­ing how he’s going to get into his locked, lovely new ride.

The oblig­at­ory, ‘objec­ti­fy­ing’ close ups of his packet and ass served up to us before­hand have only ‘served’ to make it clear that he hasn’t got any­thing down his pants, save his meat and two vege — plus two pert buns.

The car greed­ily unlocks itself when presen­ted with his lunch-packet. Which is entirely understandable.

But we’re star­ing right at his bubble butt strain­ing against his tight trunks when this happens.

And then the kiss-off strap­line spells out the anal­ity of all this:

FORD KEYLESS ENTRY

Where you keep your key is up to you.

So the ad is less about the lol­li­pop and more about the buttered buns. ‘Keyless entry’ is all about male ver­sat­il­ity, if not voraciousness.

Likewise the pop­ping sound-effect on the ‘Lollipop’ track at the end of the ad is now less sug­gest­ive of fel­la­tio than the removal of a car fob from a toned, er, trunk.

Britain’s Got Tarty (& Chris Hemsworth’s Got Codpiece)

I always used to won­der when watch­ing gay porn in the 1990s how the deuce the mod­els man­aged to get their pants over their chunky butch boots without remov­ing them.

Now of course every straight male from South London learns how to do this before they can leg­ally drink in pubs — as ‘Forbidden Nights’, an act audi­tion­ing on Britain’s Got More Talent recently demonstrated.

Note how the camp judge (David Walliams) is con­trac­tu­ally bound to be ‘gay’ — regard­less of the fact he’s straight. And twice the size of the rather lovely pocket-sized strip­per he hugs (no doubt he had to have his suit dry-cleaned of orange body make-up).

Note also how ‘sexu­al­ised images’ of the male body — and extreme close-ups of cotton-lycra mix bulges — are now an entirely accept­able, and enthu­si­ast­ic­ally applauded, part of British prime-time fam­ily entertainment.

Something the American Phalliban suc­cess­fully sab­ot­aged in the BBC’s recent Wolf’s Hall — spoilsport American TV execs insisted the Tudor cod­pieces be toned down.

Hooray for Hollywood how­ever — who gave ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ Chris Hemsworth one the size of, well, the ham­mer of a Norse god of thun­der, in the just-released ‘red band’ trailer for the forth­com­ing remake of National Lampoon’s (R-rated) Vacation.

That’s prob­ably way more phal­lus than you’ll get in Magic Mike XXL.

Tip: Hans Versluys

 

The Blinding Blandness of Wheeled Whiteness

Mark Simpson on the col­our­less cars that hog today’s roads

I recently found myself – inex­plic­ably – in a fash­ion­able nightclub. Or as fash­ion­able a nightclub as Birmingham allows. I was the old­est per­son there, but what struck me about all the bright young things bop­ping around middle-aged me – in those rare moments when they weren’t snap­ping selfies with their smart­phones to post on Facebook  – was how bor­ingly dressed they were. Almost every­one was wear­ing white and black. It was like a cater­ing after-party.

Or, indeed, like the M6 that had brought me there earlier. White, you see, is now offi­cially the UK’s ‘favour­ite’ new car ‘col­our’, account­ing for 22 per cent of sales last year – 550,000 new ghost cars – tail­gated by black at 19 per cent. Grey is in third place with 14 per cent, just pip­ping sil­ver with 13 per cent.

I put ‘favour­ite’ and ‘col­our’ in quotes because, of course, white is not anyone’s favour­ite col­our. It’s not even a col­our. Nor is black. They are an absence of col­our. Grey/silver is an achromatic mix of both absences. Which is pre­cisely why people choose them. You can go wrong with col­ours. Glaringly wrong. So 68% of new car buy­ers avoid them.

Today every­one, like the young­sters in the nightclub, is ter­ri­fied of being taste­less. Or not being ‘cool’. Of giv­ing too much away. So every­one is being drear­ily sens­ible. Which isn’t actu­ally very cool at all. This may also explain why the UK’s top-selling car mod­els last year were Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Corsa, VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra. Want a por­trait of the UK today? Here’s a white Ford Fiesta.

White cars, pre­cisely because they have no col­our, are bet­ter at dis­guising dings and chips and dirt – their bland­ness blinds you to their imper­fec­tions. They also reportedly hold about five per cent more of their value from new than the mar­ket aver­age for used cars; which can be sev­eral hun­dred pounds after three years. In aus­ter­ity Britain this seems to be a ‘primary’ factor in new car purchases.

But then, every­one is now liv­ing in a house with white walls, white bath­rooms, white kit­chens and white bed linen. It seems we’ve all been vis­ited by one of those bossy TV ‘house doc­tors’ that tell you to dump your per­son­al­ity in a skip.

People choose a white car because it ‘doesn’t clash’ with their white lives. Forget White Van Man, here comes White Goods Man.

Some have sug­ges­ted that the phe­nom­enal rise in pop­ular­ity of white cars – back in 2007 they accoun­ted for just 1.1 per cent of sales – is down to Apple and the min­im­al­ist white­ness of their ‘cool’ products which have invaded our lives over the last decade.

Perhaps a gen­er­a­tion has been brain­washed into believ­ing that white is ‘cool’ (rather than just cold). But it rep­res­ents much more than this – a chan­ging atti­tude towards cars them­selves. They’re now accessory-gadgets rather than vehicles. ‘Mobiles’ rather than motors. Their Bluetooth func­tion­al­ity more import­ant than their engine capacity.

While at least sil­ver, last decade’s favour­ite ‘col­our’, recog­nised and cel­eb­rated cars as machines, white cars seem to sug­gest digital boxes with wheels. Or very expens­ive iPhone holders.

True, ‘neut­ral’ col­ours are kind of where we began with our love affair with the mass-market motor car. Henry T Ford fam­ously dic­tated you could have any col­our so long as it was black. But he only made that stip­u­la­tion after dis­cov­er­ing black took less time to dry – and, in the earlier part of the 20th Century, car painting/varnishing tech­niques were labor­i­ous, tak­ing many coats and even more days. Less time meant less costs which meant cheaper cars which meant more sales.

But even Mr Ford only made this mono­chro­matic stip­u­la­tion from 1915 until 1926, when demand and also increas­ing com­pet­i­tion saw him rein­tro­duce col­our to his cars. The 1920s were a flam­boy­ant, flap­per time for car col­ours. Depression and then war painted the 1930s and 1940s dull. The rock­ing 1950s saw the intro­duc­tion of pas­tels and two and three tone colours.

The swinging 1960s wore shiny metal­lic paints, includ­ing groovy gold. The glam 1970s were verd­ant with greens, browns and, er, mus­tard orange. The power-mad 1980s were sig­nal red, metal­lic black and cobalt blue. And the rav­ing 1990s were… metal­lic teal. Which may help explain why, by the Noughties, sens­ible sil­ver had become dom­in­ant.

Today’s paint tech­no­logy, hav­ing evolved spec­tac­u­larly from the horse and car­riage var­nish­ing tech­niques employed on early cars, is able to deliver breath-taking, vivid col­ours of hyp­notic depth and clar­ity, along with impress­ive dur­ab­il­ity and afford­ab­il­ity. Which makes it bit­terly ironic that col­our has appar­ently become some­thing you can only afford to risk if you’re an Oligarch, a pro­fes­sional foot­baller or Katie Price.

But per­haps penny-pinching eco­nom­ics, and safety con­cerns, will change the col­our of cars again – or rather, rein­tro­duce col­our. And what a col­our! Light yellow-green is the most vis­ible tint for vehicles in all-weather con­di­tions, par­tic­u­larly for that vital WHAT-THE-BLAZES?! peri­pheral vis­ion. Cars in this ‘wince­some’ hue are, unsur­pris­ingly, much less likely to be overlooked.

People will­ing to endure it may end up with lower insur­ance premi­ums. Or maybe a future gov­ern­ment, look­ing for fur­ther reduc­tions in road acci­dent stats and hav­ing noted that the pub­lic has already given up on choos­ing col­ours for their new cars, might offer drivers VED reduc­tions for adopt­ing it. In which case, the future might be chartreuse.

And everything is going to clash with it. If not actu­ally crash into it.

But it’s still bet­ter than white.

Originally appeared on Hitachi CVS

Well-Oiled, Precision-Engineered German Spornosexuality

This recent German ad caught my eye. Or rather, some silky smooth, highly-grabable German glu­tes leapt out of my mon­itor and rammed them­selves in my face.

My German is rather poor, but the ad would appear to be for lady’s body-cream called Aldo Vandini. Expensive body-cream, judging by the size of that obscenely lux­uri­ous bath-living room the shame­less young man is oil­ing him­self and his precision-engineered but­tocks up in. I don’t know about you, but I found myself rather dis­trac­ted by it. Perhaps I’m deeply shal­low, but I couldn’t decide which I wanted more. His bum or the bath-fittings.

Butt’ I think it’s pretty clear what the real product and object of desire is here – as it so often is in advert­ising these days: The tarty male body.

The ad is shot voyeur­ist­ic­ally. We, the viewer, appear to be loiter­ing in the door­way, breath­ing heav­ily, our eyes linger­ing on his nicely-lit back and but­tocks – but we’re listen­ing to opera, so we’re not being sleazy – while he bends over to sniff the aro­matic body-rub, which we’ll assume isn’t actu­ally poppers-infused. He’s not afraid of the fem­in­ine product, just likes the way it smells and how it feels.

Likewise, he’s not afraid of the ‘fem­in­ine’, ‘pass­ive’ pos­i­tion of being looked at – from behind. Towards the end, the finely-featured scamp looks over his shoulder, clocks us per­ving over him, smiles and just car­ries on rub­bing him­self up. Deliberately or not, this German ad, aimed appar­ently at women, has spoken in the lin­gua franca of the delight­ful, play­ful, sen­sual ambi­gu­ity of mod­ern, sporno­sexual mas­culin­ity – and the assert­ive sexual appet­ite of mod­ern femininity.

And also, as I’ve shown with my drool­ing, the ambi­gu­ity of just who is watching.

Smoking Wheels of Fire

Mark Simpson on why the dis­mal pleas­ure of smoking in cars should be stubbed out

This may sound a little strange, but I can smell if the people in the car in front are smoking. Even if my win­dows and theirs are up.  I do have a keen sense of smell, but I think the reason I can detect fag fumes so well is that I’m over-sensitised as the res­ult of child­hood aver­sion therapy.

Both my par­ents were chain-smokers. And they didn’t smoke any old sissy cigs, no sir­ree, they smoked hairy-chested, unfiltered Senior Service – so high tar they could have powered battle­ships. When our fam­ily under­took long car jour­neys to see in-laws, or to Cornwall for our sum­mer hols, it would be in a Rover full of sweets and tobacco by-products.

Perhaps I’m a par­tic­u­larly del­ic­ate flower, but four dec­ades on I still remem­ber how much I hated it. How much it made my eyes smart and my nose recoil every time one of them lit up. I dreaded the satanic red glow of the elec­tric cigar­ette lighter.

But my par­ents, like most people back in the 1970s, had no idea of what second-hand smoke (SHS) can do to children’s health, and prob­ably were in denial about what it was doing to theirs. If they had known about SHS I think they would have stopped back then – instead of three dec­ades later because they wanted to be able to con­tinue breathing.

A burn­ing cigar­ette pro­duces 4,000 chem­ic­als, most are pol­lut­ants and irrit­ants, 69 of them are known car­ci­no­gens. For chil­dren, we now know, SHS sig­ni­fic­antly increases the risk of asthma, chest and ear infec­tions, men­ingitis and cot death. Smoke in your fam­ily car and it becomes eleven times as pol­luted as a smoke-fugged bar – some­thing which was, mer­ci­fully, largely made a thing of the past when smoking in enclosed pub­lic spaces was banned in 2007.

But des­pite the know­ledge we now have about the danger of second-hand smoke, and des­pite nation­wide edu­ca­tion cam­paigns, too many adult smokers still insist on shar­ing theirs with their chil­dren when driv­ing. According to the BMA more than 430,000 chil­dren are exposed to SHS in cars every week. The Department of Health says that there were 300,000 GP vis­its and 9,500 hos­pital admis­sions in 2011 as a res­ult of chil­dren inhal­ing SHS.

So, from 1 October this year, drivers in England who con­tinue to smoke in cars with pas­sen­gers under the age of 18 could be fined £50. Which obvi­ously, as a bit­ter, former uncon­sen­sual car smoker, I regard as very wel­come, if some­what belated, news. Several other coun­tries, includ­ing Australia, Cyprus and parts of the US and Canada, already have a ban on smoking in cars with minors.

Simon Clark, dir­ector of the smokers lobby group Forest, is less happy how­ever. More sul­phur­ous, per­haps. He told the BBC there was ‘no jus­ti­fic­a­tion’ for the ban and that ‘the over­whelm­ing major­ity of smokers know it’s incon­sid­er­ate to smoke in a car with chil­dren and they don’t do it. They don’t need the state micro-managing their lives.’ Apparently writing-off those 430,000 chil­dren a week chok­ing on Mummy and Daddy’s driv­ing nicot­ine addiction.

He also claimed that the police won’t be able to enforce the ban, and ‘will need a small army of snoop­ers to enforce it.’

Not to worry, Mr Clark! Help is at hand! This spring the police plan to intro­duce unmarked lor­ries to patrol motor­ways and A-roads nation­ally. A three-month trial last year, where a police­man videos drivers’ illegal activ­it­ies from the lofty vant­age point of the HGV, led to the detec­tion of 462 motor­ing offences. These were mostly tex­ting or phoning or fail­ing to wear a seat-belt – but also included a driver brush­ing his teeth while at the wheel and another read­ing a news­pa­per while in slow-moving traffic.

So spot­ting and record­ing adults smoking with chil­dren in the car should be a breeze.

Though per­haps the man from Forest has a point. It would be much sim­pler to ban all smoking in any vehicles alto­gether, as the BMA has argued.

Apart from elim­in­at­ing the prob­lem of estab­lish­ing whether the pas­sen­gers are under age or not, and solv­ing per­sist­ent breaches of smoke-free legis­la­tion by shared work vehicles, refrain­ing from smoking while driv­ing when chil­dren or pas­sen­gers are present is not enough to pre­vent the harm­ful effects of tobacco smoke being passed onto others.

All those lovely, rich tox­ins in tobacco smoke are impreg­nated – along with the lovely, rich aroma – in the plastics, car­pet and uphol­stery of the vehicle, ready to share their love with who­ever rides in that car. It’s not just my obsess­ive­ness talk­ing – it’s a recog­nised prob­lem with a name: third-hand smoke.

What’s more, smoking behind the wheel is poten­tially dan­ger­ous to oth­ers in itself. Looking for and light­ing cigar­ettes can be a major dis­trac­tion, even without the burn­ing stick fall­ing into your lap; smoking while driv­ing may be as dis­tract­ing as mobile phone use, which is of course already banned. A study in 2008 found that smokers are twice as likely to be involved in a crash as non-smokers, inde­pend­ent of demo­graphic factors and risk-taking.

A total ban would also help rein­force the mes­sage about smoking. Even after all these dec­ades of know­ing what cigs do there are 79,000 deaths in the UK a year from smoking.

Even bet­ter, it would mean that I never have to smell the car in front’s fag smoke again.

I real­ise though that it may take some time for the British pub­lic to be per­suaded of the need for a total ban on smoking in cars. After all, it was once one of the nation’s favour­ite, if most dis­mal, past-times. Perhaps I should move to Taiwan, which plans to ban smoking while driv­ing a car, rid­ing a bike or walk­ing on a sidewalk.

Which seems per­fectly reas­on­able to me.

Originally appeared on Hitachi Capital Vehicle blog