marksimpson.com

The 'Daddy' of the Metrosexual, the Retrosexual, & spawner of the Spornosexual

Menu Close

Metrosexmania: How America Lost Its Mind Over Metrosexuality

By Mark Simpson

(Originally appeared in Out magazine, October 2017)

 

The US had a national nervous breakdown over male beauty in the early noughties.

It seems ridiculous now – and actually it was fairly ridiculous at the time – but it’s simply an objective fact that the US went completely fucking berserk over the metrosexual – my insufferably pretty offspring with the really great, hydrated skin. Not since the Beatles had a British import caused so much screaming – and so much moral panicking.

In 2003 – only a year or so after I’d introduced the him to the US in an essay for Salon.com that went virulently viral – ‘metrosexual’ was proclaimed ‘Word of the Year’ by The American Dialect Society. Handsomely beating SARS.

The same year, the networked animated cable TV series South Park devoted a whole episode to him satirising his stunning popularity, called ‘South Park Is Gay!’. We are told that all the straight men and boys in South Park have turned ‘metrosexual’ – which here seems to mean ‘effeminate’. The ‘Fab Five’ swishy gay male grooming and lifestyle experts from Queer Eye For the Straight Guy – that year’s new, smash-hit makeover show – are blamed for the epidemic of preening. They turn out to be alien monsters and are executed by the men’s angry wives, who explain: ‘men need to be masculine!’.

Strangely, this disturbingly silly cartoon spoof  pretty much predicted/incited how America ended up reacting in non-animated real life to the scary sexual ambiguity of metrosexuality.

The uptake of ‘gay’ beauty concerns by men along with the ‘feminine’ desire to be desirable by men in general, was something well underway by the noughties – without an intervention from the Fab Five (I’d originally written about metrosexuality for a British newspaper back in 1994, predicting the future of masculinity was moisturised).

In hindsight, I wonder how many of the straight men in NYC the Fab Five rescued from flaky skin, cheap chinos and TV dinners were just slumming it for the sake of a free facial, some product and plenty of attention.

For my money, Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, which was often described as the ‘metrosexual reality TV show’, had a typo in the title. It should have been ‘Queer Eye OF the Straight Guy’. But then it wouldn’t have been commissioned.

Queer Eye was entertaining, mostly safe fun precisely because it restated the already blurring boundaries in a reassuring way: straight men were hopeless at appreciating male beauty and gay men were fabulous. The queer eye belonged to the queers. Despite this, Queer Eye still managed to outrage some at the time – including apparently the makers of South Park.

My own definition of the metrosexual from my Salon essay had though been carefully inflammatory about the sexual ambiguity of the metrosexual:

‘He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference.’

Though of course the US marketers who tried to appropriate – and spay – the metrosexual after my essay went viral, vehemently insisted that the metrosexual was always straight. And never vain. Just ‘well-groomed’. No one really bought this. His ambiguity and out-and-proud vanity was the only reason anyone was interested in him.

And it’s also why America, which really wasn’t ready to face up to this stuff back then, ended up having a full-blown backlash against metrosexuality by 2006, when the full, horrifying implications of metrosexuality began to sink in. Anti-metrosexuality became the 21st Century ‘Disco Sucks!’ campaign, but with even more pronounced gay panic.

The US media now aroused itself talking up hilariously butch reaction-formations such as ‘machosexuals’, ‘retrosexuals’ and a ‘menaissance’. Lots of books with annoying, anal lists of ‘manly’ do’s and don’ts were published. Most of all, the MAN word was hysterically over-deployed, often as a reassuring manly phallic pacifier strapped on the front of something that so wasn’t: MANdates, MANscara etc.

Metrosexuality of course, along with hyper-consumerism and visual culture, continued conquering the world. But in the US it wasn’t polite to mention it: metrosexuality was now on the downlow. As the South Park wives had put it in 2003: Men need to be masculine!

Or at least we needed to pretend they need to be.

All of which was of course way camper than the metrosexual ever was.

Queer Eye itself was axed in 2007 – the same year that the legendary cable TV drama series Mad Men first aired. But the star of the show, and the apple of the camera’s eye, the very dapper Don Draper (John Hamm) was essentially a late noughties metrosexual daydream of what a 1960s retrosexual looked like.

Either way, he certainly didn’t need the Fab Five to pick out his shirts.

Andreassean’s Bare Ass Footie Strip(Tease)

Cristiano Ronaldo is definitely no longer the only spornosexual in the football village.

Aleksander Melgalvis Andreassean, 28, ‘shredded’ defender for Norwegian soccer team Lillestrom, seems to be after the Portuguese striker’s exhibitionist crown.

Earlier this week he achieved global fame by giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘football strip’ when he got starkers onstage, treating his teammates and fans to an impromptu – yet impressively professional – Magic Mike style sexytime dance. Using the silver Norwegian FA Cup as a somewhat uncomfortable flesh-lite for his ‘climax’.

As you can see, they seemed to love it.

Note how before ‘owning’ the trophy, AndreASSean repeatedly offers the (mostly male?) audience his naked, smooth, well-rounded, trophy-winning butt – apparently riding their roaring approval. Male versatility and an eagerness to please is the hallmark of spornosexuality.

Not everyone however was appreciative of his generosity.

“Winning the cup is a big thing and obviously it should be celebrated, but it is very possible to do so in a manner that shows the cup a bit more respect” said Norwegian FA communications director Yngve Haavik.

By which I suppose he meant that Melgalvis should have bought the trophy dinner before-hand and texted it the next day.

Niceties aside, I find it difficult to disagree with the approving verdict of Melgalvis’ buddies:

 

‘INSIDE THE SORDID PORN SCANDAL THAT’S ROCKING THE ARMY’

That was the salacious front-page block-capitals headline the (now defunct) heavily-fragranced men’s magazine Details gave my exclusive ‘undercover’ story for them in May 2006.

I was reporting on the globally-covered scandal involving US soldiers from the elite 81st Airborne being courts-martialed for appearing in gay porn – from inside, so to speak, a US Army paratrooper at Fort Bragg.

The story is not available online, but now lucky Mark Simpson Patrons can now read the UNCENSORED – and uncircumcised – version of my SCANDALOUS and SORDID and decidedly un-fragranced adventures with NAKED PARATROOPERS at Fort Bragg here.

Just one of the many exciting exclusive benefits of being a Mark Simpson Patron – for as little as $1 a month.

My Details editor insisted on taking out ‘the gory bits’ to save his readers’ sensibilities – so you’ll be glad to know I’ve put them back in, and out, and in again. The piece has also got bigger – and now runs to 5000 words of sordidness.

A long, but hopefully not too hard a read.

Thor Ragnarok is Cosmically Camp

The latest outing for the totally ripped Aussie God of Thunder and his big swinging hammer was was quite the campest film I can recall seeing. At least that is since Guardians Of The Galaxy (not the second one, which was just shit).

Basically Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok is a cinematic version of this norty lollipop: ‘With real fruit taste’.

Thor, love him and his guns to bits, is essentially a very dull, earnest, ponderous character – especially with that ‘Norwegian’ accent Hemsworth gives him which sounds like the Swedish chef from The Muppets trying to do Arnie.

And this despite the big hammer, lightning and the sporno bod  – displayed in the nowadays obligatory topless, sexily-lit-from-below-scene.

Short of getting naked and oiled up for the whole movie — which would make the action scenes a little slippy — he desperately needs camp relief. Tom Hiddleston, playing his ‘Trickster’ brother Loki (with an RSC accent), has provided it in previous iterations, but perhaps because of the camp competition in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy, here he’s got serious backup in the form of Cate Blanchett & Jeff Goldblum (he dubs Thor ‘Sparkles’) – and the GG style art direction provide that in glittery, dayglo spades.

In fact, it’s difficult to decide who is the campest out of this bunch of campers – though perhaps Blanchett wins because of those horns and the fact that as she reminds us,  repeatedly: ‘I’M THE GODDESS OF DEATH!’.

“Does my hat slay ya?”

But probably the campest scene in a supercamp movie is when Thor and his brother Loki visit Earth (image at top), apparently disguised as a bickering gay couple on their way to The Eagle to use separate back rooms.

There is also another twisted bromance – between Thor and Hulk. At one point they are basically living together in a jock penthouse (owned, like their asses, by the hyper-camp Goldblum character). They bond, but are rather competitive, in a bro-ish way.

“Size isn’t everything, dude. Sorry, I lied. It is.”

This competitiveness obviously has a sexual dimension. After solo soaking in the hot tub, Hulk moves to step out and the  God of Thunder who is full-clothed, is apparently terrified at the prospect of seeing Hulk’s penis and protests ‘No! No!’ But to no avail. He then complains ‘that’s in my brain now’. Though it seems it was there all along.

Perhaps Sparkles – sorry, Thor – is especially preoccupied because a) Hulk’s tool is probably bigger than his hammer and b) His hammer has already been crushed to painful smithereens in the hand of a cackling Cate Blanchett/Goddess of Death.

Thor’s reaction to seeing Hulk’s monster meat is played for nervous laughs, and gets them, but perhaps depends on a very American disavowal. Of course, everyone wants to see Hulk’s mutant, green, CGI penis.

We don’t, alas. But I guess there’s always the next instalment.

A Disturbing Documentary on the State of Heterosexuality Today

And here’s another one:

Copyright © 1994 - 2017 Mark Simpson All Rights Reserved.