Metrosexuality & the Selfie

Metrodaddy Mark Simpson was recently email inter­viewed by Beverly Parungao for a Sydney Morning Herald piece titled ‘Are Men Becoming Too Metrosexual?’ . Below are his unapo­lo­getic, uncir­cum­cised replies.

Narcissus in the age of the selfie

BP: What is driv­ing the met­ro­sexual movement?

MS: Self-love – and a cer­tain amount of self-loathing – is cer­tainly a power­ful dynamo.

But ulti­mately what we’re see­ing here is noth­ing less than a revolu­tion in mas­culin­ity in par­tic­u­lar and gender rela­tion­ships in general.

Metrosexuality isn’t about flip flops, facials or man­scara, or about men becom­ing ‘girly’ or ‘gay’ – it’s about men becom­ing everything. Everything that they want to be.

Why are men today more con­cerned with their appearance?

Because they’re worth it. As advert­ising has told women for dec­ades. Men make up c. 50% of the mar­ket­place and need to pull their weight in the shop­ping mall if con­sumer­ism is to sur­vive. They cer­tainly seem to have upped their game rather a lot in the last dec­ade or so.…

We’re also liv­ing in a cul­ture in which women have enthu­si­ast­ic­ally taken on pre­vi­ously ‘male’ pre­serves – from drink­ing pints to join­ing the world of work to actu­ally hav­ing orgasms. Men, espe­cially younger men who’ve grown up with all this as the norm, have worked out that they too can now appro­pri­ate products, prac­tises and pleas­ures once deemed ‘gay’ or ‘girly’ and there­fore out of bounds. The much greater accept­ance of gay people has also reduced the stigma asso­ci­ated with men step­ping out of their stereotype.

Most of all, we’re liv­ing in a visual, looking-glass cul­ture of selfies, Facebook, Twitter, real­ity TV and Men’s Health cov­ers. Metrosexuality rep­res­ents men’s adapt­a­tion to this new world order – men can’t just ‘act’ any more they have ‘appear’ too, to be looked at. To be noticed. To be a brand. To be wanted. Male van­ity isn’t empty and indul­gent – it’s a sur­vival strategy.

In our shiny, highly reflect­ive 21st Century the sexual divi­sion of look­ing has thor­oughly broken down, and men now ache to ‘objec­tify’ themselves.

Even and espe­cially sports­men who used to be the embod­i­ment of ‘blokes’ and ‘reg­u­lar guys’ who were sup­posed to be only con­cerned, ‘at the end of the day’, with ‘the team’ and ‘doing their job’, have become glossy, inked, pneu­matic sporno stars.

You might be for­given for think­ing a lad only plays foot­ball or rugby these days as a way of star­ring in those saucy ads for Armani under­wear and those tarty rugby and row­ing calendars.

Manscaping is one the rise, but so too is male cos­metic sur­gery (in Australia and America). Do you view this as trend as part of the met­ro­sexual movement?

Absolutely. The male body, once the last fron­tier of con­sumer­ism, has been totally com­mod­i­fied. Masculinity has been thor­oughly aes­thet­i­cized. I would add to the trend for cos­metic sur­gery and man­scap­ing man-bits the way that men uses tat­toos to shade and emphas­ise their worked-out muscles. The male body has become a liv­ing work of art.

Ironically the total ubi­quity of beards at the moment is proof of that. No longer a sec­ond­ary sexual char­ac­ter­istic or badge of bloke­dom they’re just another sweet male access­ory. Another way today’s chaps ask you to adore them.

Should women be con­cerned that the met­ro­sexual male is now mainstream?

They should cer­tainly get used to it!

Many women I know wel­come the fact that men nowadays are not only bet­ter turned out, more worked-out, sen­sual creatures who are rather bet­ter in bed as a res­ult – but also the fact they’re more inde­pend­ent. Self-maintaining. They might spend forever in the bath­room but they are much more likely to be able to oper­ate a cooker or wash­ing machine and even buy their own under­wear. Which is an advant­age in a job mar­ket where women might be work­ing while their part­ner is not – and where men might be stay­ing at home look­ing after the kids.

Though for some women, per­haps with more tra­di­tional ideas about sex roles and the ‘com­ple­ment­ar­ity’ of the sexes, adjust­ing to the new met­ro­sexual order could be dif­fi­cult. But then, a lot of chau­vin­istic men had trouble adjust­ing to the changes brought about by women’s lib.

In their quest to be desired have men become too sexy, too fem­in­ised and there­fore less desir­able to women?

You should prob­ably ask women about that.… Though women aren’t always com­pletely truth­ful in their answer to that ques­tion. Quite a few assert that they find a man who spends longer than them in the bath­room – which prob­ably means just as long as them – a total turn off. But then they go com­pletely bana­nas over a guy who clearly spends hours in the bath­room and every even­ing in the gym. Trust me, men have noticed this discrepancy!

The only hope for het­ero­sexu­al­ity is double ensuite bathrooms.

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story is avail­able from Amazon in Kindle form and also in physical/fondle form.

Selfie Narcissus image taken from here

Metroessexual

Dan Osborne, the won­der­fully, shame­lessly tarty star of The Only Way is Essex and now beau­ti­fully brazen under­wear model for Bang Lads, pho­to­graphed deli­ciously by Darren Black.

Dan shows us the girth of his Xmas cracker. Or what we’ll be doing after it goes ‘bang’.
Dan2
Dan, who is clearly a very shy lad, shows us his obliques, his biceps, his tatts and his elbows.

 Write-up by the DM on the shoot here.

Sexy and I Show It: Parading Cadets (& Olympic Divers)

Last year metrodaddy declared the LMFAO dance hit ‘Sexy and I Know It’ an anthem  for the Jersey Shore/Geordie Shore/The Only Way is Essex/The Hunks/Men’s Health Magazine gen­er­a­tion of met­ro­sexy young men and the meta­phor­ical (and not so meta­phor­ical) spangly Speedos they’re flaunt­ing them­selves in.

But I have to say I was a tad ambi­val­ent about the heav­ily ironic hip­ster promo video.

Fortunately, it’s been remade by non-hipsters. In shape non-hipsters. Cadets from the USAF Academy, no less. Now, in case any­one objects that this is con­duct unbe­com­ing future officers (and appar­ently some kill­joys have) per­haps we should remem­ber that one of the lesser known mean­ings of ‘cadet’ is ‘pimp’. Though here of course they’re pimp­ing their own bod­ies. Like the rest of today’s young men.

Not to be out­done, US Navy cadets have also taken up the chal­lenge (see below). Which do you think is sex­ier? And which one knows it most? Air Force or Navy? Or neither? So far I haven’t been able to loc­ate an Army or USMC ver­sion — but some­thing tells me it won’t be long.

Tip: Roger Clarke and  Towelroad

 

UPDATE

UK Olympic diver Tom Daley and his chums have recor­ded their own Speedo-tastic ver­sion (I espe­cially like Tom’s Carmen Miranda moment):

Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag ‘Studio’

English (uned­ited) ver­sion of Q&A with Mark Simpson by Michele Masneri for Italian cul­tural  magazine Studio in which he talks about the Italian roots of sporno, the next stage of met­ro­sexu­al­ity – and the Silviosexual

What do you mean by the word “sporno”?

Mark Simpson: The place where sport and porn get into bed while Mr Armani takes pic­tures. Beckham and Ronaldo’s bul­ging pack­ets rammed down our throat on the sides of buses. Dolce & Gabbana hanging around the Italian foot­ball team’s locker room. That kind of thing. So once again we mostly have Italia to thank.

Metrosexuality, the male desire to be desired, has become so nor­mal now that it’s pretty much taken for gran­ted. So in order to get noticed you have to go hard­core – and prom­ise the view­ing pub­lic a gang-bang in the showers. Hence sporno.

Is Italy the most met­ro­sexual country?

In a sense the wave of met­ro­sexu­al­ity that swept the globe in the last dec­ade or so was really just the rest of the world catch­ing up with Italia and becom­ing a little bit more Italian.

Male nar­ciss­ism is at the heart of met­ro­sexu­al­ity – and in Italy unlike in the Anglo world this has never really been prop­erly repressed. Italy, home of Michelangelo, Marcello Mastroianni and Dolce & Gabbana, never ser­i­ously pre­ten­ded that ‘beauty’ was a word that couldn’t sit along­side ‘male’, and pat its well-formed knee.

In Italy, par­tic­u­larly Southern Italy, young men often have an almost swishy but entirely assured way of walk­ing that few Anglos can ever hope to match. And if we try, it just ends up a silly sashay.

Nonetheless, I think full-throated met­ro­sexu­al­ity does break down tra­di­tional or offi­cial ideas about the sexual divi­sion of lov­ing and look­ing even in Italy by under­min­ing mach­ismo and ‘out­ing’ the queer­ness of it all. The way that women look at men and men look at other men – and how men get very turned on by all the attention.

Do you know the Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne? 

I’m afraid I had to look him up. Are you sure he’s Italian? He looks like Jeremy Clarkson’s dad. Do you think he has a ward­robe at home with 365 identical shape­less jump­ers and shirts?

Hummersexuals are guys who over-emphasise their mas­culin­ity with ‘manly’ accessor­ies in a way that makes you won­der what they’re cov­er­ing up. Retrosexuals are merely pre-metrosexual.

Sergio seems more ret­ro­sexual than hum­mer­sexual. Partly because Fiat cars aren’t ter­ribly pop­u­lar with the US mil­it­ary or Hollywood action her­oes  – too small and ‘faggy’, I expect – but mostly because he reminds me of my old chem­istry teacher.

And how about former Prime Minister Berlusconi?

He’s quite some­thing, that Berlusconi! But at least, as he keeps remind­ing us, he’s not queer. Even if he does look like a drag queen.

I don’t think any of the cat­egor­ies really fit Silvio. He’s far too spe­cial. He’s in a cat­egory all of his own. Silviosexual.

Mind you, his old chum Tony Blair, our former PM and rock star man­qué, shared the same drag queen smile. But ulti­mately Silvio is a reminder to an Anglo like me of the mys­ter­ies of ‘mach­ismo’. How some­thing so camp can ima­gine itself some­thing so butch.

Perhaps we need to go way back in time to loc­ate Berlusconi’s painted, dyed, stretched, ter­ri­fy­ingly cos­metic look. Back to the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.…

Is David Beckham still the epi­tome of the metrosexual?

Yes, albeit the age­ing met­ro­sexual. In English we have an expres­sion, ‘mut­ton dressed as lamb’.… But then there are lots of men his age and older who also don’t want to give up their sex-object status – so they look to him for inspir­a­tion. Though he’ll have to offer them some­thing a lot sex­ier than those daggy H&M pants and vests he came up with recently.

Beckham’s met­ro­sexual crown has of course been usurped by younger, pret­tier play­ers such as Cristiano Ronaldo – who also fam­ously stole his Armani undies. At the same time you have a new gen­er­a­tion of tarty male real­ity TV stars, such as Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and his ‘gym tan laun­dry’ metro man­tra from Jersey Shore. And at the movies you have stars like Tom Hardy, with those pouty, Brando-esque lips, muscles and his openly admit­ted bi-curious past telling us ‘Don’t be a afraid to dream a little big­ger, darling.’

Is met­ro­sexy the “next stage” of met­ro­sexu­al­ity? The word ‘met­ro­sexual’ was born in the Nineties. What happened to male nar­ciss­ism since then?

Funnily enough Justin Bieber was born the same year as the met­ro­sexual. They’re both sweet sev­en­teen. In other words, met­ro­sexu­al­ity is still wait­ing for its voice to drop.

That said, men’s nar­ciss­ism has become much so main­stream and accep­ted in the last dec­ade or so, to the point where it is often taken for gran­ted, espe­cially by the younger gen­er­a­tion who has grown up with it. Hence the word itself is likely to become defunct at some point in the not too dis­tant future. To some extent Metrosexy is about a post met­ro­sexual world.

However, there are still reaction-formations and kinky back­lashes against met­ro­sexu­al­ity, par­tic­u­larly in the US which, because of a pas­sion­ately Protestant his­tory and an equally pas­sion­ate denial about its own scream­ing gay­ness, con­tin­ues to work out her issues. E.g. those hummersexuals.…

Essentially ‘met­ro­sexy’ is the tarty male sens­ib­il­ity that met­ro­sexu­als have injec­ted into the cul­ture. Metrosexuality has gone from being a ‘type’ – ‘the met­ro­sexual’ –  to be spot­ted and poin­ted at, to being a per­vas­ive ‘feel­ing’. A way of see­ing and being seen.

Also, a glance at the news­stand, the bill­board, the TV, and the queue at the bus stop tells us that with many young men the desire to be desired and embody male beauty has taken an increas­ingly phys­ical, sen­sual form: their lov­ingly, painstak­ingly sculp­ted and shaved muscles and their elab­or­ate, expens­ive designer tattoos.

Following the cues of sporno, many seem to aspire to be sexual ath­letes. Hustlers. Porn stars.

What’s the rela­tion­ship between hip­ster­ism and metrosexuality?

Although most hip­sters would prob­ably rather die than admit it, hip­ster­ism is a form of met­ro­sexu­al­ity. But a very middle-class and ener­vated – or ‘ironic’ – one. It’s pat­ently nar­ciss­istic, but usu­ally regards the body and ‘sex­i­ness’ as ‘vul­gar’. Which it is of course – if you’re lucky.

What’s the “gay bomb”, Abercrombie & Fitch or American Apparel or Apple?

Abercrombie & Fitch were per­haps the det­on­ator – Apple and iPhones were the explo­sion. iPhones are of course the ulti­mate van­ity product – they’re really MEphones. The app that comes gratis with every smart­phone is dumb self-obsession. And they’re also a great way to take a pic­ture of your­self top­less in the gym chan­ging room mir­rors to upload to Facebook, or per­haps a more ‘dis­crete’ ‘social network’…

Are the social net­works, i.e. Facebook and espe­cially Twitter, a form of a sub­lim­ated metrosexuality?

Inasmuch as they’re all about MEEEEEE! yes. They’re where people com­pete for atten­tion and try to turn them­selves into brands and com­mod­it­ies and mar­ket them­selves, a hall­mark of metrosexuality.

In the case of Facebook, often the met­ro­sexu­al­ity isn’t even very sub­lim­ated. Young men can and do upload hun­dreds of top­less pic­tures of them­selves, appar­ently audi­tion­ing for that Men’s Health cover.

You’ve writ­ten that “in some ways Obama is the first US President to be his own First Lady.” Is there any met­ro­sexy can­did­ate in the Republican party?

Not in the cur­rent line-up of hope­fuls. Though Mitt Romney does look like a man­nequin in the win­dow of a par­tic­u­larly bor­ing depart­ment store.

Aaron Schock on the other hand, the Republican Congressman who stripped off for Men’s Health magazine pos­it­ively drips met­ro­sex­i­ness – for a politi­cian. He’ll prob­ably end up President one day. Him or Justin Bieber.…

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy is avail­able for down­load from Amazon.

 

 

David Beckham’s ‘End Result’ — Can You Handle It?

Better order some indus­trial strength lip balm and prac­tise sup­press­ing the gag reflex.

Shameless sporno star and über-metrosexual David Beckham is ram­ming his eye-popping lunch­box down our col­lect­ive throats again. This time with a media ‘offens­ive’ for his own line of men’s undies – and strangely shape­less vests – from Swedish-owned high street fash­ion chain H&M.

I always want to chal­lenge myself and this was such a reward­ing exper­i­ence for me. I’m very happy with the end res­ult and I hope H&M’s male cus­tom­ers will be as excited as I am.”.

It’s true, you do look very pleased to see us again, David dear. But I worry that my ‘end res­ult’ might not look quite so excited/exciting in your pants.

But Beck’s own palp­able, prom­in­ent excite­ment is entirely under­stand­able. He saw the humong­ous wads of cash Mr Armani was covered in when he brazenly pimped Beck’s designer cotton-clad tackle to the world a few years back. Becks was paid very hand­somely for his ser­vices him­self of course, but seems to have decided he can make even more filthy lucre by design­ing his packet him­self and flog­ging it to the global punter (H&M is the second largest retailer in the world).

Last year he explained:

I have had the idea of doing a body­wear col­lec­tion for some time now. The push to do some­thing of my own really came as a res­ult of my col­lab­or­a­tion with Armani. They told me that their gross turnover in 2007 was around €16 mil­lion, and after the cam­paign in 2008 it went up to €31 mil­lion, in 2008. It proved to me that there is a real mar­ket for good-looking, well-made men’s bodywear.”


Whether or not his fin­ished pants and vests are that kind of body­wear I’ll let you be the judge of. Bear in mind they are a lot more afford­able than Mr Armani’s. I think proud-father-of-four Goldenballs is here going for ‘volume’. Metrosexy dad­wear. Hence the emphasis he puts on comfort.

And as we’ve seen again and again in the last few years, there is def­in­itely a real mar­ket for good-looking, well-made, fam­ous, well-packaged men’s bod­ies. Advertisers, real­ity TV and Hollywood have prac­tic­ally had our eye out with them.

Regardless of his advan­cing years (he’s a fright­en­ingly well-preserved, carb-free 37 this May) and con­sequently fad­ing foot­ball career, Becks will always be fondly iden­ti­fied with that met­ro­sexual revolu­tion and will very likely get his money shot yet again.

He and his endow­ments, nat­ural and Photo-shopped, always seems to wangle a way to attract the eye. Whatever you may think of his vests.