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

 

Man-Knockers on the London Underground

A funny thing happened to Mark Simpson on the way to the ‘Being a Man’ forum

I almost fell off the plat­form when I saw this body­build­ing sup­ple­ments poster bust­ing out all over the London Underground recently - around the same time as all that indig­nant hul­laba­loo sur­round­ing The Sun’s infam­ous now-you-don’t-see-them-any-more-now-you-do-again lady busts.

There they were, depil­ated man-knockers (and pixelated knack­ers) nakedly objec­ti­fied in the rush hour for all to see: men and women, chil­dren and adults, wide-eyed tour­ists and jaded loc­als. No need to buy a copy of a declin­ing tabloid news­pa­per, open it and turn to page three to ‘exploit’ this model’s tits and abs. Just look up from your smart­phone. Shameless male top­less and bottomless-ness plastered all over the walls for every­one to ‘gaze’ at while wait­ing for the next obscenely over­crowded Elephant & Castle train, per­haps car­ry­ing Laura Mulvey.

Even worse, the poster encour­aged other young men to objec­tify them­selves (‘reveal your­self’), and spend their hard-earned cash buy­ing sup­ple­ments that they hope will help to make them more desir­able, more sale­able, more shag­gable — bustier. Men are the new glam­our models.

The web­site for the sup­ple­ment com­pany includes ‘cover model’ as one of the poten­tial ‘goals’ that their sporno­sexual cus­tom­ers might be inter­ested in:

…lean muscle has become an industry recog­nised term that is now syn­onym­ous with a cover model look. To achieve a cover model body, the key con­sid­er­a­tion is to increase muscle whilst keep­ing body fat to an abso­lute minimum’.

And lib­eral use of Photoshop.

Funnily enough, I was on my way to appear on a panel at the Southbank Centre talk­ing about ‘Being a Man’ when I was con­fron­ted with these man-knockers. On the panel I was respond­ing to a present­a­tion by the artist and TV presenter Grayson Perry. Who is a bit of man knocker him­self — in a more ‘crit­ical’ sense.

Perry’s present­a­tion (along the lines of this piece for the New Statesman) was acerbic, enter­tain­ing and not without insight, but some­times seemed at least thirty years out of date. And I know this because I myself am only twenty years out of date.

My main issue with it was not that it prob­lem­at­ised and patho­lo­gised mas­culin­ity and ‘toxic’ testoster­one and the Sauronic ‘male gaze’ — which it did in spades — but that it reified, pos­sibly fet­ish­ised mas­culin­ity as some­thing unchan­ging, some­thing mono­lithic. Sometimes the biggest crit­ics of mas­culin­ity are its biggest believ­ers — includ­ing cross-dressing fem­in­ist men.

Of course, I tend to notice far too much what some don’t care to see at all — and I began my com­ments by warn­ing the audi­ence that I like men. A LOT. But I was sur­prised how little Mr Perry seemed to under­stand me when talk­ing about the eager self-objectification young men today go in for and the break­down of what I call the het­ero­sexual divi­sion of labour, of look­ing and of loving.

I won­der if he uses the tube? Or even his eyes?

***

The recently-released movie ver­sion of Fifty Shades of Grey has been attacked by some fem­in­ists for set­ting back ‘the cause of woman­hood’ (because it fea­tures female sub­missive­ness and male mas­ter­ful­ness) and for glor­i­fy­ing ‘abuse’ (des­pite being very con­sen­sual). Notwithstanding it is writ­ten by a woman, dir­ec­ted by a woman (Sam Taylor-Johnson), green-lighted by a woman — and of course enorm­ously pop­u­lar with women. Likewise, the rehab­il­it­a­tion of female mas­ochism in the last dec­ade or so seems to have been for­got­ten and replaced by sus­pi­cion of women who like their sex sub­missive and spanky.

I haven’t seen the movie, I’m still recov­er­ing from going to see the last ‘event’ ‘chick flick’, so can’t com­ment on whether or not the women involved in mak­ing it and the mil­lions going to see are suf­fer­ing from ‘false con­scious­ness’. And obvi­ously I don’t know much about woman­hood anyway.

But I have watched the offi­cial trailer. Repeatedly. The mas­ter­ful Mr Grey (Jamie Dornan) is a standard-issue sporno­sexual who prob­ably has a Bulk Powders Gold Card. In the 2.23 min trailer there are 7 top­less shots of his sculp­ted torso, includ­ing a mir­ror shot which gives you a sim­ul­tan­eous, spitroast­ing front and rear view of it, vs 1.5 of Ms Steele (Dakota Johnson), sans nipples in her case. Oh, and one side shot of her panties — with Dornan’s pretty face in front of them.

My favour­ite shot though shows him play­ing his grand piano shirt­less, in a scene that looks a bit Behind the Candelabras - but with Liberace as the toy-boy. I sup­pose that the grand piano rep­res­ents Ms Steele sub­mit­ting to the skill­ful fin­gers of Mr Grey. But it looks like a very camp — sorry, I mean mas­ter­ful — form of masturbation.

 

Objectify Yourself

Mark Simpson on the (self) sexu­al­isa­tion of today’s male body & why straight young men crave gay adulation

(Originally appeared in Out Magazine, February 2015)

Male self-objectification is, as they like to say on social media, a “thing.”

There’s been a rash lately of so-called “gender flip” memes, in which people pre­tend to be impressed by male hip­sters pre­tend­ing to sub­vert sex­ism by iron­ic­ally adopt­ing the clichéd poses of sexu­al­ized women. Although some­times funny and instruct­ive, espe­cially when it involves lick­ing sledge­ham­mers, the anti-sexism of many of these gender flip memes depends on a (hetero)sexist assump­tion that men just aren’t meant to be objec­ti­fied — so it’s hil­ari­ous when they are.

Rather than, say, that the men adopt­ing these cheese­cake poses usu­ally just aren’t very attractive.

It also relies on jam­ming your eyes shut in order not to notice how men who aren’t meme-generating hip­sters prefer to stake their claim to our atten­tion not on faux fem­in­ism but rather on sweat-soaked gym ses­sions, pricey sup­ple­ments, plunging neck­lines, and gen­eral shame­less­ness. And as with sex itself, there’s noth­ing ironic about it. It’s a very ser­i­ous, very prof­it­able business.

At the mul­ti­plex, Chris Evans keeps blind­ing us with his all-American oiled bazookas. Channing Tatum and his bun chums keep whip­ping their pecs and asses out and — who knows? — may even finally deliver the man goods in this year’s sequel, Magic Mike XXL. Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy recently wowed the world by prov­ing that even pre­vi­ously pudgy Chris Pratt (of Parks and Recreation fame) can be a Men’s Health cover girl. And Chris Hemsworth was named “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine on account of his long lashes, big guns, and huge hammer.

There’s even an MTV Movie Award for “Best Shirtless Performance,” which in 2014 went to Zac Efron for That Awkward Moment — but only after he stripped again, onstage at the cere­mony, without being awk­ward about it at all.

True, Hollywood too often still feels the need to jus­tify big-screen male slut­ti­ness with CGI hero­ics, a kind of mus­cu­lar Christianity in span­dex — insist­ing, in effect, that this is virile activ­ity, not gay/girly passiv­ity. And as if to keep that slut­ti­ness fur­ther in check, it often lim­its the nude or top­less male scenes to one per 100-minute movie.

Perhaps because it caters more to women, TV is a rel­at­ively unbuttoned medium when it comes to the male body. Even TV super­her­oes such as Stephen Amell’s Arrow are often costume-optional. Maybe because their male char­ac­ters are already damned, gothic shows like True Blood, Teen Wolf, and The Vampire Diaries are pos­it­ively pulsing with appet­iz­ing boy flesh. It’s enough to make any­one grow fangs. And the young, buff men of real­ity TV — the Jersey Shorettes — are every­where, wear­ing very little, and doing even less. Except demand­ing we look at them.

Dan Osborne gif

The “struc­ture” of struc­tured real­ity TV is usu­ally unveiled male V-shapes. In the U.K., a volup­tu­ously endowed, cheeky, straight(ish) guy in The Only Way Is Essex (the U.K. Jersey Shore equi­val­ent) called Dan Osborne became a national hero in 2014 after wear­ing glit­tery Speedos on prime time on another real­ity show,Splash! — even upsta­ging his mentor, the per­fectly formed Olympic diver Tom Daley.

The 23-year-old Osborne, like a lot of today’s self-objectifying straight men, loves The Gays. Really loves them. Last year he appeared in the U.K. gay magazine Attitude, very gen­er­ously offer­ing read­ers his shapely bubble butt across a double-page spread, with the strap­line “Sex is fun. Be safe and enjoy it.” He told Attitude, “I’ve had a few bum pinches, and I don’t mind that at all. Maybe it’s because a guy knows how hard it is to train, so they appre­ci­ate it more.”

Underwear model and wounded Marine vet Minsky embraces the gaze
Underwear model and wounded Marine vet Minsky embraces the gaze
Here in the States, pumped under­wear model Alex Minsky — the indelibly inked U.S. Marine Corps vet and amputee — is very happy to mer­ci­lessly tit­il­late his many appre­ci­at­ive gay fans with naked naugh­ti­ness. And even a major film star like James Franco can’t seem to leave them alone, post­ing all those semi-naked selfies on his Instagram feed.

The way straight young men chase and hustle gay atten­tion today rep­res­ents a major, mil­len­nial shift in atti­tudes. Part of the reason that men offer­ing them­selves as sex objects were frowned upon in the past was that they could be objec­ti­fied by any­one — includ­ing people with pen­ises. They were queered by the pen­et­rat­ing queer gaze.

Now they beg and plead for it. They instinct­ively know that male objec­ti­fic­a­tion is about enjoy­ing and cel­eb­rat­ing male passiv­ity, even — and espe­cially — if you’re straight. So get­ting the gays proves not only your hot­ness, and cool­ness, but also your meta­phys­ical ver­sat­il­ity. It proves that you are a proper, fully fledged, all-singing, all-dancing sex object.

Blame the met­ro­sexual, who was born two dec­ades ago, out­ing male van­ity and the mas­cu­line need to be noticed. In just a gen­er­a­tion, the male desire to be desired, or “objec­ti­fied,” to use that ugly word — which the met­ro­sexual exem­pli­fied — has become main­stream: It’s regarded as a right by today’s selfie-admiring young men, regard­less of sexual ori­ent­a­tion. In a visual world, men want to be wanted too — oth­er­wise, they might dis­ap­pear. They also need to look a lot at other men in order to bet­ter under­stand how to stand out.

Second-generation met­ro­sexu­al­ity is very obvi­ously more body-centered and hard­core — or sporno­sexual. Young men today want to be wanted, not for their ward­robes, but for their bod­ies. Bodies they spend a great deal of time, effort, and money fash­ion­ing into hot com­mod­it­ies down at the gym, tan­ning salon, and designer tat­too par­lor — and then upload­ing to the online mar­ket­place of social media for “likes,” “shares,” and cut­throat com­par­is­ons with their pals.

It shouldn’t be so sur­pris­ing. Today’s young men are grow­ing up with a dif­fer­ent idea of “nor­mal,” in which European and Australian pro­fes­sional rugby play­ers are happy to strip down and oil up. The highly homo­erotic, highly pro­voc­at­ive Dieux du Stade cal­en­dars of rugby play­ers in the buff became only slightly less homo­erotic when adap­ted by Dolce and Gabbana in their mega­bucks advert­ising cam­paigns star­ring the Italian World Cup soc­cer team. David Beckham and then Cristiano Ronaldo offered sim­ilar favors for Armani, fol­lowed by lithe Spanish ten­nis ace Rafael Nadal, who is cur­rently filling out the Italian designer packet. And former Australian rugby league player Nick Youngquest is now the body and face — in that order — of Paco Rabanne.

Gays are no longer a des­pised or mar­gin­al­ized niche — they’re lever­age. If you get the gays pant­ing, you even­tu­ally get every­one else.

David Gandy, pos­sibly the world’s only male super­model who isn’t a pro­fes­sional ath­lete, has a darkly hand­some, model-perfect face. But his sen­sual, ath­letic, beau­ti­ful body is his call­ing card. So it is entirely apt that he was “made” by Mr. & Mr. D&G, who cast him in their fam­ous 2007 “Light Blue” cam­paign, in a boat off Capri, wear­ing scan­dal­ously abbre­vi­ated D&G swim trunks, glisten­ing in the sun and lying back, hands behind his head, await­ing our atten­tion. He was accom­pan­ied by a foxy lady (Marija Vujovic), but he was the unques­tioned object of the camera’s gaze.

Seven years on, it’s still his trade­mark. In a clip for Gandy’s recent Autograph under­wear cam­paign, the cam­era, in extreme close-up, licks down his naked torso towards his naked, shaved groin — then fades out just in time.

It’s clear to any­one who wants to notice that in the sporno­sexual 21st cen­tury, the male body has been rad­ic­ally redesigned. With the help of some “objec­ti­fy­ing” blue­prints from Tom of Finland, it is no longer simply an instru­mental thing for extract­ing coal, build­ing ships, mak­ing babies, fight­ing wars, and tak­ing the trash out. Instead it has become a much more sen­sual, play­ful thing for giv­ing and espe­cially receiv­ing pleasure.

Or as the young men of the Warwick University row­ing team put it in a pro­mo­tional quote for the 2015 ver­sion of their now fam­ous nude char­ity cal­en­dar, ded­ic­ated to fight­ing homo­pho­bia in sports and rammed with arty ass shots: “Regardless of gender or sexu­al­ity, we are invit­ing you into that moment with us.”

GandyCoverx1000