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.

 

Nadal Strips and Bends Over in the Lift For Armani


Thank heav­ens American fem­in­ists leaf­ing through dusty back issues of Rolling Stone magazine have sci­en­tific­ally proven that men aren’t being ‘sexu­al­ised’ the way that women are.

Otherwise I would have got entirely the wrong idea watch­ing this ad and the way the cam­era gropes Nadal in the grimy lift.

Tip: Paolo

Nadal Hammered Into Sexy, Slippery Pieces by Armani

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

Tarty Armani’s Latest Sporno Spunk

Paolo Rumi in Milano sends this snap of Armani’s latest sporno star, ten­nis player Rafael Nadal, kindly offer­ing his giant but pertly ath­letic arse to pass­ers by in Armani’s home town.

In the early Naughties I described the exhib­i­tion­ism of met­ro­sexu­al­ity as ‘lit­er­ally ask­ing to be fucked’. I’m sure people thought I was being absurd and vul­gar again. I was, of course.  But I was also on the money (shot).

The Daily Mail taste­fully describes this saucy image of the world’s No.1 ten­nis player half-naked, bent over and look­ing implor­ingly at the cam­era over his shoulder as ‘con­fid­ent’. Which is reas­sur­ingly mas­cu­line sound­ing enough for their read­ers I sup­pose. While per­haps imply­ing ‘spunky’.

But let’s not pre­tend that this image is summed up by any other word other than ‘coquet­tish’. Coquettish with knobs on. And in. It could be an image straight out of a Dieux du Stade cal­en­dar (minus the jeans).

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 lats. And the small of his back before the tempt­ing swell­ing bubble of his butt filling out the product so allur­ingly. Along with that ‘come on big boy’ expres­sion on his flirty face — which added all together shouts out: WANT ME!

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, in this cam­paign, sim­ul­tan­eously run­ning an image of a slightly boy­ish look­ing tat­tooed Megan Fox in the same pose. Lovely as it is, it doesn’t have quite the same charge as the Nadal snap, and in fact seems to have been designed to merely draw more atten­tion to the tarti­ness of Nadal’s pose.

Armani5

Male tarti­ness, once con­sidered per­verse and unnat­ural is a very big very global busi­ness these days. Or as Paolo put it in his email to me with the pic attached of Rafael spread all over the wall in Milano: ‘the homo­sexu­al­iz­a­tion of het­ero­sexu­al­ity is complete’.

 

Cristiano Can’t Find His Shirt — But Always Knows Where the Camera Is

Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest for Armani shows him look­ing — not too hard — for his t-shirt.  Do you remem­ber when maids rather than foot­ballers were treated as sex-objects?  No?  OK, I must be get­ting very old indeed.  But of course this tra­di­tion is what the ad is play­ing on — the reversal, or reflection/refraction, of ‘the male gaze’ that has happened in the last couple of dec­ades that is the sig­na­ture style of met­ro­sexu­al­ity.  And like­wise it trumps the tra­di­tional pre­sump­tion of fem­in­ine passiv­ity and sub­missive­ness: the maid is doing the perving.

Now, I’m all in favour of Cristiano wan­der­ing around half-naked, espe­cially the bit where the cam­era zooms in on his aston­ish­ing thighs, but can we please have some­thing just a little more con­vin­cing next time?  I mean, it’s entirely believ­able that he would be more inter­ested in his favour­ite t-shirt than the pretty maid, but are we really sup­posed to believe that he wouldn’t notice someone scop­ing him?

After all, every cell in his breath­tak­ing body is clearly soak­ing up the atten­tion of the cam­era lens.…

Tip: Andre Murracas

Sporno

Mark Simpson on how sport and porn got into bed — while D&G and Mr Armani took pictures.…

(Out magazine, May 2006; expan­ded for The V&A’s ‘Fashion V Sport’ cata­logue, June 2008. Also col­lec­ted in ‘Metrosexy’)

You might think that it was Italy’s greater ball skills, or stam­ina, or team spirit that won them the 2006 foot­ball World Cup. But you would be wrong.

dg2_web

Clearly, expli­citly, thrill­ingly, what won it for the Italians was not so much their sport­ing spirit as their sporno spirit. In the run-up to the tour­na­ment, some espe­cially fit play­ers from the Italian foot­ball team took time off from their train­ing and did some­thing much more use­ful: they recruited Dolce & Gabbana (or was it the other way around?) to pro­duce a spor­no­graphic fash­ion shoot of them all oiled-up and ready for us. In hind­sight, we can see that the world was already grov­el­ling at their feet from that moment on.

Sporno, the post-metrosexual aes­thetic that sports and advert­ising are using to sell us the male body is, well, irres­ist­ible. Even for a fine French team – who were, let’s face it, a much plainer bunch. First Portugal dev­ast­ate England because Ronaldo is bet­ter look­ing than Becks and far swoon­ier than Rooney, then Italy trounce France because the punters would much rather cel­eb­rate with the sweaty Italian stal­lions in the locker-room. The best men def­in­itely won.

In a spor­no­graphic age it’s no longer enough for the male body to be presen­ted to us by con­sumer­ism as merely attract­ive, or desir­ing to be desired, as it was in the early days of nakedly nar­ciss­istic male met­ro­sexu­al­ity. This mas­cu­line coquettish-ness, pleas­ing as it is, no longer offers an intense enough image. Or pro­vokes enough lust. It’s just not very shock­ing or arous­ing any more. In fact, it’s just too… nor­mal. To get our atten­tion these days the sport­ing male body has to prom­ise us noth­ing less than an immacu­lately groomed, waxed and pumped gang-bang in the showers.

showers

But of course, because this is sporno and not actual por­no­graphy, it remains just that: a prom­ise. Advertising and fash­ion are less inter­ested in mak­ing a fet­ish of the potent male body than its under­wear: com­mod­ity fet­ish­ism is usu­ally the name of the sporno game.

However, the homo­pro­voc­at­ive nature of sporno is much less easy to over­look than it was in early met­ro­sexu­al­ity, which could pre­tend when it wanted to that it was ‘straight’ and some­thing entirely for the ladies. Where met­ro­sexual imagery stole slyly from soft gay porn, sporno blatantly ref­er­ences hard gay porn.

Sometimes you might be for­given for think­ing sport is the new gay porn. Sportsmen are now openly acknow­ledging and flirt­ing with their gay fans, à la David Beckham and fel­low foot­baller and Calvin Klein under­wear model Freddie Ljungberg. Both of these offi­cially het­ero­sexual thor­ough­breds have posed for spreads in gay magazines (Ljungberg appeared on the cover of Attitude in April 2006, Beckham in 2002), albeit sport­ing more clothes than they usu­ally wear when appear­ing on the side of buses.

Beefy England Rugby ace and mar­ried father of two Ben Cohen has expli­citly mar­keted a cal­en­dar of sexy (PG) pics of him­self at gay men, and talks of ‘embra­cing his gay fans’. Some, like Becks and smoothly-muscled Welsh Rugby ace Gavin Henson have even argued over them (Becks recently admit­ted that Henson had stolen a lot of his gay fans and he wanted them back because ‘I miss them.’).

Being found desir­able by gay men, once a source of ridicule by oth­ers and even viol­ent anger from the desired, now seems to mean you are worthy not just of love but also of large amounts of cash. A whole new gen­er­a­tion of young bucks, from twinky soc­cer play­ers such as Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who has mod­elled for Pepe, and Chelsea’s Fabulous Frankie ‘Legs’ Lampard, to rougher pro­spects such as Joe Cole and A.C. Milan’s Kakà pos­ing for Samsung and Armani jeans respect­ively, and the naked, pneu­matic rugby ‘pros’ of the legendary Dieux du Stade cal­en­dars, seems to be act­ively pur­su­ing Beckham’s and Ljungberg’s male sex-object, more than slightly tarty, status. The sports­man as erotic symbol.

Being equal oppor­tun­ity flirts, today’s sporno stars want to turn every­one on. Partly because sports­men, like porn stars, are by defin­i­tion show-offs, but more par­tic­u­larly because it means more money, more power, more endorse­ments, more kudos. Sporno exploits the cor­por­ate show­biz dir­ec­tion that sport is mov­ing in, as well as the undif­fer­en­ti­ated nature of desire in a media-saturated, mirrored-ceiling world – and inflates their career port­fo­lio to gar­gan­tuan proportions.

Why is Euro soc­cer star Beckham a house­hold name in the United States, a coun­try that gen­er­ally has less interest in soc­cer than social­ism? Why did his recent move to the US to play for a team most Americans had never hear of pro­voke so much breath­less cov­er­age in the US media? Again, it wasn’t down to his soc­cer skills, but rather his sporno skills. Pictures of him semi-naked in Vanity Fair, or in W magazine, sport­ing skin-tight trousers that nev­er­the­less seem to be some­how pulling them­selves off, or that naked cam­paign for Motorola, in which the mobile phone dangles tan­tal­iz­ingly between his pert nipples, seem to be more ubi­quit­ous, not to men­tion more stir­ring, than images of him actu­ally play­ing football.

And what could be more American? Sporno stars are pushy young hust­lers who are happy to be ogled undressed on Times Square bill­boards or in Vanity Fair – advert­ising a will­ing­ness to put out, or at least get it out, to get ahead. In cam­paigns like Ljungberg’s Calvin Klein unfor­get­table under­wear posters of 2006 or Beckham’s glob­ally gawked Armani briefs ads of 2008, their bod­ies and their bulges, blown up to gigantic pro­por­tions, are rammed down our throats by advert­ising. Most of us don’t appear to be gag­ging, however.

The male body has been well and truly, not to men­tion tastily, com­mod­i­fied. After dec­ades of being fet­ish­ized by gay men, jocks are now fet­ish­iz­ing them­selves. It was prob­ably inev­it­able. Men are tra­di­tion­ally the more visual of the sexes – and by far the greatest con­sumers of porn. So why not cut out the middle-women and pornolize your­self? Because of the fant­ast­ical mas­cu­line potency of sporno mil­lions of boys and men around the world are excitedly buy­ing clothes and under­wear worn or endorsed by their hero. And how could a guy, any guy, not have their head turned by a sporno star? Sporno stars have everything a man could want today: youth, vigour, money, fame, looks, equally beau­ti­ful bosom bud­dies, glam­or­ous part­ners – and the num­bers for top pho­to­graph­ers and stylists.

The people who essen­tially inven­ted sport, the Ancient Greeks, cer­tainly thought the male ath­lete the greatest head-turner. For them, sport was an oppor­tun­ity to wor­ship and admire the beauty of the youth­ful male form, which in turn rep­res­en­ted the free­dom of the human spirit. They thought it nat­ural that men would find the youth­ful ath­letic male form inspir­ing and desir­able, and an essen­tial part of the pleas­ure of sport. Most sports com­pet­i­tions, includ­ing the ori­ginal Olympics, were con­duc­ted naked: clothes spoiled the exper­i­ence, for ath­lete and spec­tator. Much of their mus­cu­lar art was a clas­sical ante­cedent of today’s sporno.

Admittedly though, many Greeks would prob­ably have been scan­dal­ized by the keen­ness of today’s golden young ath­letes to pose for images designed to inflame lust – and cash pur­chases. Plato for one would cer­tainly have been aghast at the neo-classical shame­less­ness of Dieux du Stade (‘Gods of the Stadium’). The phe­nom­en­ally suc­cess­ful, lux­uri­ous cal­en­dars fea­ture the Paris-based Stade Français rugby team and vari­ous well-endowed sport­ing guest stars from around the world re-enacting, you may be for­given for think­ing, the plot of every sports-themed gay porn vid. (Fashion pho­to­graph­ers rather than por­no­graph­ers take the pic­tures: Dolce & Gabbana favour­ite Mariano Vivanco was respons­ible for the par­tic­u­larly strik­ing 2007 images.) Shot in musty locker rooms, the naked, pumped and tweezed ‘gods’, often in full body make-up, clutch stra­tegic­ally placed rugby balls like fat leather erec­tions and gaze long­ingly into the cam­era, or into each other’s eyes.

Such brazen beha­viour has only enhanced the careers of these rug­ger bug­gers. Frédérik Michalak and his hyp­not­ic­ally tat­tooed and geode­smic butt’s star­ring role in an early DVD show­ing the mak­ing of the Dieux du Stade cal­en­dar, has helped land him mod­el­ling con­tracts for Christian Lacroix, a French con­dom line endorse­ment deal, as well as becom­ing the expens­ive face of Biotherm Homme and the sport­ing pack­age for a skimpy under­wear line.

No doubt the Greeks would have been shocked even more by the way that women are openly enjoy­ing these homo­pro­voc­at­ive images too. In fact, the Dieux du Stade cal­en­dars were ori­gin­ally part of a mar­ket­ing plan to update and widen the appeal of French rugby, par­tic­u­larly for women, and have proved massively pop­u­lar: the 2007 cal­en­dar reportedly sold 200,000 cop­ies. But the sporno-graphic eye of Dieux du Stade is quite delib­er­ately, quite flag­rantly un-straight. Partly because some of today’s women are being turned on to the voyeur­istic charms of male-on-male action (in an echo per­haps of their boy­friends’ interest in female-on-female action), partly because it gets atten­tion – ‘whatareth­ose­guys­do­ing!’, and partly because, as we’ve seen, the ador­a­tion of gay men is the key to the suc­cess­ful mar­ket­ing of the male body. But mostly because this all-male exhib­i­tion­ism, whomever it’s dir­ec­ted toward, gay, straight or bi, female or male, is so charm­ingly, sub­missively keen to please. Especially from guys who live through action and the urge to dominate.

Check out the DDS ‘Making Of the 2004 Calendar’ DVD, or the ‘Making of’ DVD from any year really, and see them obed­i­ently adopt­ing the gay porno poses reques­ted of them by the pho­to­grapher, head placed on buddy’s shoulders, or head at buddy’s waist, hands on his per­fectly formed buttocks.

The unin­hib­ited­ness of the rugby play­ers, in part a func­tion of the phys­ical intim­acy of the game itself, ends up being deli­ciously suited to the visual unin­hib­ited­ness of our times. How things – or rather, thighs – have changed. In the United Kingdom rugby tra­di­tion­ally was the sport of hairy beer mon­sters with nowhere else to go on a Saturday. But with pro­fes­sion­al­iz­a­tion, play­ers, par­tic­u­larly the more stream­lined backs, have become younger, fit­ter, and self-consciously sex­ier and their dance-cards are as full as their biceps. Blond, buffed, green-eyed, square-jawed, England International player Josh Lewsey, has been deployed to interest rugby fans in bul­ging lycra. A giant, god-like blow-up ‘bronze’ statue of him in his shorts was erec­ted out­side Twickenham rugby sta­dium in 2006 by his spon­sor Nike. Rugby fans queuing for their tick­ets had the dis­tract­ing pleas­ure of gaz­ing up between Josh’s tower­ing, flared thighs and at his ‘divine’ abs and pecs burst­ing out of a skin-tight Nike top.

Meanwhile the England rugby strip itself has been given some­thing of a Queer Eye makeover. Banished forever are their baggy, shape­less beer-towel rugby shirts, replaced by a form-hugging strip that might well have been designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. Understandably, England’s new sporno kit dazzled the oppos­i­tion: in 2003, the year the team deb­uted it, England won the Rugby World Cup for the first time ever. The latest ver­sion of it, intro­duced for the 2007 World Cup, saw them achieve second place des­pite being writ­ten off before­hand by pundits.

No doubt this aston­ish­ing turn­around was down to their new strip being being even tighter than before and includ­ing a saucy red arrow/swoosh from armpit to the edge of the oppos­ite thigh, reportedly designed to con­fuse oppos­ing play­ers. Too right – they won’t know whether to tackle them or kiss them. A con­fu­sion that seemed to be exploited, albeit unwit­tingly, by the ‘C’est so Paris’ humor­ous advert­ising cam­paign pro­mot­ing the 2007 World Cup, which fea­tured snog­ging scrum­ming rugby play­ers and the jokey tagline ‘Paris: City of Love’ (the only far-fetched aspect of the cam­paign was the unat­tract­ive­ness of the ad’s faux rugby play­ers com­pared to the ‘real’ Dieux du Stade thing).

In the more moneyed world of foot­ball, which has been a much big­ger busi­ness for much longer, the eye-catching potency of a sporno star seems to have dis­or­i­ent­ated even the tough no-nonsense guys who man­age foot­ball clubs – until you look at the bot­tom line. Despite some­what incon­sist­ent per­form­ances on the pitch, David Beckham is the world’s biggest-earning soc­cer player and the best known – because of his off-pitch pout­ing (most recently con­firmed by his 2007 £20 mil­lion Armani under­wear deal). His pur­chase in 2003 by Spain’s Real Madrid made them the most prof­it­able soc­cer club in the world – repla­cing Manchester United: Beckham’s pre­vi­ous club. Beckham is an object of global desire, and his mer­chand­ise moves even faster than his hips – his body is worth more on bill­boards than on the pitch. After mak­ing what was billed as the biggest sports deal in his­tory at £128 mil­lion, American team LA Galaxy is his new sporno stu­dio, and he their Number One box cover star.

There is, how­ever, another way in which British soc­cer play­ers are find­ing them­selves and their ath­letic prowess paraded on the front pages. A slew of kiss-and-tell art­icles have appeared in the tabloids in recent years about the pen­chant our young sports­men have for shar­ing a young female groupie with sev­eral other team mates. Simultaneously. Often video­ing the pro­ceed­ings. Sporting gods in naked, adult video action with other sport­ing gods. No won­der the tabs and the pub­lic got so excited. In recre­at­ing the more than slightly homo­erotic straight ‘gang-bang’ porn that they, like many other young men today are down­load­ing from the Net, foot­ballers are, wit­tingly or not, real­iz­ing the fantasy under­pin­ning sporno itself.

Things reached their logical, if slightly Footballers Wives con­clu­sion – their spor­no­graphic money shot – in 2006 when lurid stor­ies were ‘splashed’ across the tabloids about a ‘secretly shot film’ allegedly show­ing sev­eral glob­ally fam­ous (but unnamed) English soc­cer stars enga­ging in a ‘gay sex orgy’, in which expens­ive lim­ited edi­tion mobile phones were sup­posedly used as ‘sex toys’. Regardless of the fact or fever­ish fantasy of this story, no one seemed to be able to get enough of it. Except per­haps the foot­ballers them­selves – who were not only not mak­ing any money out of this par­tic­u­lar sporno spin-off, but also faced the threat of los­ing earn­ing poten­tial as a res­ult of the scan­dal (British libel laws how­ever quickly came to the res­cue provid­ing at least one player with a large, undis­closed sum). The response of many fans on the ter­race in the form of vicious anti-gay taunts and the con­tin­ued absence of any openly gay pro­fes­sional foot­ballers, sug­gest that cas­ual homo­pho­bia is as rampant in the cul­ture as sporno itself – which is more than slightly ironic.

A gen­er­a­tion of men may be entranced by images of glam­or­ous, sport­ing males who so clearly, achingly, desire to be desired by all and sun­dry, but it seems the expli­citly homo­erotic implic­a­tions of that still give quite a few of them the wil­lies, espe­cially in the highly-strung world of foot­ball.  Though this is per­haps merely a time-lag issue: atti­tudes take longer to change than underwear.

Sporno stars them­selves, mov­ing in their celebrity circles, prob­ably don’t care two hoots whether a fel­low player likes bed­room part­ners with the same-shaped tackle, and may even be as pan­sexual as their advert­ising and fash­ion tastes por­trays them, but they worry very much about what their fans will think. After all, this is show busi­ness, darling, and you can’t afford to ali­en­ate your audi­ence – or, para­dox­ic­ally, those homo­erotic spor­no­graphic endorse­ment deals. While the state­ments of gay-friendly soc­cer stars such as Beckham and Ljungberg (and Cohen and Henson in rugby) have been sin­cere, thus far, actual homo­sex, or even bisex, rather than the faux vari­ety proffered by advert­ising appears to still be bey­ond  the pale. Sporno stars may pose gay but until now all of them have had to be offi­cially totally het­ero­sexual – as do all pro foot­ballers and, with one or two excep­tions, all rugby players.

Perhaps this is also the reason today’s soc­cer stars, who appear, way ‘gayer’ than their pre­de­cessors – accord­ing to The Sun, Manchester United’s locker rooms have recently had to be mod­i­fied to make room for play­ers’ ‘man­bags’, because ‘they use more cos­met­ics than their wives’ – no longer kiss one another pas­sion­ately after a goal is scored as they did just a few years ago. They have to main­tain the impres­sion, like many gay porn stars, that they’re only gay for pay.

As for the pay­mas­ters them­selves, the fash­ion brands, while they cer­tainly wish to con­tinue chan­ging main­stream mas­cu­line atti­tudes towards clothes and the male body, it could be argued that a cer­tain amount of homo­pho­bia works to their bene­fit here: mak­ing sporno advert­ising more arrest­ing, more power­ful – and also help­ing to dis­place any homo­erotic feelings/anxiety they pro­voke into com­mod­ity fet­ish­ism: buy­ing the product instead of try­ing the fantasy it’s wrapped in. ‘Of course I don’t want the athlete’s desir­able looks/face/body/packet’, the hetero male viewer/voyeur of sporno per­haps says to them­selves – ‘I want his pants’.

Nevertheless, these are inter­est­ing if some­what con­flic­ted times. We shouldn’t under­es­tim­ate how far we’ve come and how dra­mat­ic­ally tra­di­tional male past-times such as foot­ball and rugby have changed in the last dec­ade as a res­ult of their col­li­sion with the worlds of fash­ion, celebrity and con­sumer­ism. Sporting male her­oes have enthu­si­ast­ic­ally taken up shock­ingly exhib­i­tion­istic sex-object poses in the global media that once were ana­thema for most men because they were seen as ‘girly’, ‘slutty’ or ‘homo’. Or, what was much the same emas­cu­lat­ing taboo in the male mind: pass­ive.

Sports starts have become sporno stars – play­ing enthu­si­astic power bot­toms to the public’s ima­gin­a­tion.  Stripping off, lying back, and think­ing of England… lust­ing over them.

 

Unsurprisingly, this flag­rant passiv­ity rep­res­ents a taboo too far for some. As one out­raged middle-aged male (and, it prob­ably needs to be said, some­what plump and plain) BBC sports presenter thundered recently in a pop­u­lar British tabloid about Beck’s Armani lunch-box ad: ‘You’ve got money, status, respect and fame – then someone says: “Armani want you to do a pic­ture wear­ing tight white pants with your legs as wide open as the hole in England’s defence.” Why would you say yes?’

Actually, in a spor­no­graphic age, the ques­tion should rather be: Why on Earth would you say no?

© Mark Simpson 2010

This essay is included in Simpson’s latest col­lec­tion: Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story

Visit the Facebook sporno gal­lery here.

 

David Beckham’s Package: Don’t Handle The Goods, Madam

After all those ads in which Becks thrus­ted his giant Armani wrapped pack­age in our faces if not down our throats, an Italian satir­ical TV show decided to do a little con­sumer product test­ing.  You know that in Italy they like to handle the saus­age and toma­toes — and haggle over the price — before they part with their Euros.

Both parties are clearly unimpressed.

For those who don’t speak the most beau­ti­ful, most musical lan­guage in the world: the rubber-gloved lady shouts at a hooded, glower­ing Beckham driv­ing off in his (ridicu­lously large) car full of mind­ers: ‘HOW COULD YOU TAKE US FORRIDE!!??’

The incid­ent has caused some anger in the UK, and some see it as out­right sexual assault.  But if you are paid very large wedges of cash to put your lunch­box on the side of buses to sell over­priced under­wear to the masses then per­haps the only shock­ing thing is that more punters don’t cop a feel of the goods.