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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 FOR A RIDE!!??’

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.

35 thoughts on “David Beckham’s Package: Don’t Handle The Goods, Madam”

  1. again @straightonlyinchurch
    “Doesn’t that signal some cultural relativism. IF so, why is YOUR position right and the more physically liberal position (of the states or perhaps latin nations), wrong? Can’t you just say this makes you uncomfortable but it doesn’t have to make everyone so?”

    Um, if you actually believed in cultural relativism than you would not be trying to argue a position. You ARE trying to argue that this is not sexual abuse and therefore don’t even believe in the point you’re trying to make. Nice one.

    And in case you forgot, it’s not just I that this makes uncomfortable, it also made clearly made Beckham uncomfortable/angry as well. Just because you’re okay with it, does everyone else have to be?

  2. @straightonlyinjest

    I’m going to answer your first batch of questions last.

    “If this was close to ANYTHING, it was rogerto benigni accepting his european film award, not merely embracing irene jacob as she gave it, but lifting her up in a full body press (he touched her BOOBIES! NO!), or perhaps Adrien Brody pressing his kiss upon the unsuspecting (but next to becks, far more improvisationally talented) Halle at his oscar victory.”

    These are extremely poor comparisons. The determination of sexual abuse involves different criteria than other more straightfoward crimes like theft and murder. Such things that need to be considered are the relationship to the people involved, the intent of the perpetrator, what it is reasonable to expect a person ought to know regarding personal boundaries, and the nature of the acts committed. A man spontaneously grabbing his wife’s behind is different that a stranger doing so to a random woman. A co-worker complimenting someone’s new clothes in order to boost their confidence is different than complimenting someone in order to make them feel like a sexual object. An american upon cannot be expected to know all the sexual mores of a Japanese person and therefore is not as culpable as another Japanese person who should know better. A handshake is not the same as groping someone’s genitals. Starting to get the picture? What Roberto Benigni did was obviously not malicious and hugs are in most contexts a gesture of friendliness. The boob squashing is not pertinent because hugs are about genial closeness, any boob touching is incidental to the act. This is diametrically opposed to what that woman did to Beckham. The video clearly shows that not only did she know that Beckham would not welcome a grope, she actually was banking on it. His humiliated look was the “money-shot” needed to create the yuks and controversy she was striving for. If he had reacted with humor it would have completely deflated the prank. And that’s what pissed me off so much about people trying to excuse it. Here we have a instance of a well-publicized case of sexual abuse that’s completely unambiguous due to the fact that the woman open owns her malicious intent, and yet people still want to excuse it.

    “Or perhaps scarlett johansson getting “molested” by a gaydar target and E network employee:”

    This is a much better comparison. I get the feeling that Johansson was not okay with the feeling up as she appeared. I remember reading an interview where she pretty much reiterated the female commentator’s point that if Isaac Mizrahi were straight, she would have slapped him. I’m guess that she was taking by surprise and the fact that Mizrahi is well-known to be gay made it difficult for her to know how to respond at that moment and so decide to laugh it off. That’s her choice, but if she had punched him out I would have completely supported her.

  3. @arctic_jay

    You’re seriously calling this sexual abuse?

    I mean, seriously, sexual abuse.

    Can’t you hear yourself?

  4. @arctic_libido

    I’d accept to let this die, but if it’s your thing today to determine what is and is not sexual harassment, I suppose the next step you could take would be quoting the laws of britain for specific examples to prove your point

    But on the pop cultural front, I know this is a bit of a stupid location, but what do you make of ashton kuchner in the U.S. with his “punked” (or unhiply spelled “punk’d”) mtv show, where he not only gropes, humiliates but assaults (both sensorially with infantile screams in celebrity ears, like ’twere toddlers in the sand box, and sexually with many an inappropriate grope or clothing torn from the body, AND physically with raucous body checks, bumps and trips and jumps) not to mention the invasion of privacy with hidden cameras and all the other sometimes delicious and sometimes disgusting, silly vulgarities of modern gizmo-oriented, insensitive, artless, modern times?
    Doesn’t seem to many people in the states, gay, straight, men or women, are either bothered or even distracted by his antics.
    Doesn’t that signal some cultural relativism. IF so, why is YOUR position right and the more physically liberal position (of the states or perhaps latin nations), wrong? Can’t you just say this makes you uncomfortable but it doesn’t have to make everyone so?

    I can’t stand the kind of pointless, asexual intimacy which east asians, moving to the west, display. Used to greater crowds and less personal space, they often “invade” my personal space in bathrooms, locker rooms, line-ups. But before I feel outraged, I limit it to annoyance, realizing that they may have an attitude that I might consider. If they’re pretty and I’m in a “gay” old mood, I may find it flattering, even. Alas, it is never the anime-looking pretty boys who display such awkwardness.
    As to “sexual harassment” in the workplace, the 1990s are over and we should try as hard as possible to keep away a resurgence of the clarence thomas hearings, where the mention of a can of “coke”, suggesting a sexualized rhyme (you can guess) will warrant a national investigation.
    The woman wasn’t Becks’ boss, or coworker, or employee, or anything. If anything, they were two clowns, surrounded by the eye of the media and hence on a stage (not alone in some dark passage).
    If this was close to ANYTHING, it was rogerto benigni accepting his european film award, not merely embracing irene jacob as she gave it, but lifting her up in a full body press (he touched her BOOBIES! NO!), or perhaps Adrien Brody pressing his kiss upon the unsuspecting (but next to becks, far more improvisationally talented) Halle at his oscar victory
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4kzceTpmAY

    Or perhaps scarlett johansson getting “molested” by a gaydar target and E network employee:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aHeWDN2SMc

    oh that poor becks. no straight man should ever have to put up with the pain of a pretty girl grabbing him.
    Let the lawsuits begin!

  5. “…a faggoty thing to say”?

    Your silver-toned oratory has convinced me of the sheer righteousness of your argument. Aided, of course, by your exquisite use of phrase. I am sure that Mr Beckham is glad that his testicles are safe from satirical Italians with you on the case.

  6. @Mark Walsh

    Your comments manage to somehow be both banal and ridiculous. First of all, the “sexual” in sexual abuse does not always refer to erotic gratification felt by the perpetrator. Much of the sexual harassment that occurs in, say, the workplace is not committed for the purpose of gratification but if often used to control or dominate its victim. “Sexual abuse” can simply refer to the character of abuse itself. She groped his genitals and then tried to humiliate him sexually. That’s both abusive and sexual. Hence…

    “The neurotic proportions of this opereta can best be assessed by giving due consideration to the brave reporter who performed the daring act as defiance of commercialism, star worship and substantially overblown ego tripping. ”

    Oh, lawds. She’s the host of a prank show. Her job is to garner ratings by pulling ridiculous stunts in order to sell ad space. She’s every bit as wedded to commercialism as Beckham, only she operates more parasitically and yet somehow you want see her as a modern-day Jonathon Swift. Please.

    “If American reporters had half as much “balls” as she did, we’d live in a very different world”

    She showed no “balls” whatsoever. I assure you she was quite confident that she would suffer no consequences for her abusive act. It’s the opposite of daring to humiliate someone with no threat of reprisal. A male prank show host groping Julia Roberts would be showing far more balls since he would very likely be arrested or suffer a beat down. All this woman has to worry about is a lot of publicity and better ratings.

    “I’m a little disappointed in Mr. Beckham. Kind of a sissy.”

    What a faggoty thing to say. Does it really make you feel macho calling a straight athlete a sissy for not enjoying an unsolicited grope?

  7. The neurotic proportions of this opereta can best be assessed by giving due consideration to the brave reporter who performed the daring act as defiance of commercialism, star worship and substantially overblown ego tripping. For dumbies who think that their was some sort of personal sexual gratifacation going on, note not only that she was a woman (not very inclined to taxctile stimulation of that sort, and that she had rubber gloves on, as stimulating as a shower with a raincoat , even if she had been.

    She was engaged in political satire, which Becks might have responded too with humor, not like some little girl on the playground being groped by a bum. After all, he was hardly endangered. There were not even any sexual motives.

    I’m a little disappointed in Mr. Beckham. Kind of a sissy.

  8. oh dear. I am old and obsolete (at 38!) and bow before your wisdom artic_jay. Despite Mr Beckham’s personality, his courting of the media, and the use of his supporting corporations to use his fame to sell products must still give him immunity to any form of reading except for your own.

  9. @straightlineonlyinbed

    I’m not sure if either of your comments are meant to be taken seriously. Your prose seems a bit too overcooked and over-seasoned to be entirely in earnest, but if they are…

    “If that seems unfair, well yes. But so’s life, duh! A beautiful face and any lady will get away with more, especially in situations like this, of little to no consequence (as her investigation revealed it to be, indeed.)”

    Yes, life isn’t fair; that’s the reason societies develop rules: to ensure fairness whenever possible. Rape, terrorism, and theft are not fair either. Should we just ignore them?

    “The only discomfort and violation I can think of is not the violence of the gesture but the exposure it symbolizes. Proud as a guy may be about his gonads, to have them sized up so directly reveals how little his stuff can stand up for him in the world.”

    Sorry, but the discomfort comes from the fact that most people expect to have sovereignty over their own bodies and unsolicited groping is a breach of that. It really is that simple; no need to come up with some unique and unintuitive reason dressed in floral language. Your explanation is contradicted by the video anyway, since Beckham’s angry reaction happened directly after the grope before the woman made her commentary.

    “But I bet the real reason that gays may cry wolf, calling this sexual assault, is to further their respectability and propagandize how helpless and innocent they are in this bad old world.”

    Huh? How does gay men coming to the defense of a straight man sexually assaulted by a female prove that gays are “helpless.” In fact, as an openly homosexual man, I feel more empowered to not tolerate female sexual aggressiveness and hypocrisy, since I’m not nearly as constrained by male gender roles as straight men are.

    “The forces of puritanical self repression are much harder to defeat than free thinking,”

    Not wanting to be groped is not self-repression. In fact, quietly tolerating sexual harassment is the actual self-repression since you’re repressing the objections you feel compelled to make.

  10. @sisu

    “Oh girls, stop clutching your pearls and get a fucking grip.”

    This type of response makes you seem very old and very obsolete. Maybe try a little contemplation and reasoning next time?

    “Beckham is a public persona; this is not sexual abuse but an expose of the patheticness of marketing.”

    Nope. It’s sexual abuse. Just because someone is a celebrity does not mean you are allowed to treat every aspect of their life and person as if they were public domain. That’s just common, adult sense. Beckham posing half-nude for a billboard allows you to gawk at a racy image of him; it does not allow you to grope him when he’s fully dressed and not giving you any sexual attention. Grow up.

    “If Becks was not a public persona, if he did not promote his “goods” then he would not be in the public sphere and not be the subject of satire.”

    Satire would be someone recreating one of his famous ads in a way that mocks it. Groping is not satire. Conflating sexual abuse with an art form in order to make it seem okay makes you seem creepy. Just thought you’d like to know.

    “Besides, us queers should know that it is only sexual abuse if, after we say no to an unwelcome attention, then we have continued attention.”

    What a useful nugget of queer wisdom. The hets ought to be informed of its usefulness. The courtship game would be far more efficient if a man made his interest known with a casual hand up a lady’s skirt. But ceased immediately if the lady politely informed him of her disinterest, of course.

    “The first grope is interest. Only the second would be abuse.”

    The first grope is abuse, and so is the second.

  11. Sisu: The second (grope) could be warmly anticipated, me thinks.

    Beck’s I’m sure can take care of himself, and probably welcomes the odd tug just for validation if not plain stimulation. God knows there has to be a subconcious need in play with his flaunting which he doesn’t get on the soccer field . Rarely have I seen a set of goods expire from use! In truth, the contrary is more often the case. Only an overexpanded ego would take offense.
    Really, many of us could use such a friendly unoffensive greeting now and again from strangers. I remember a time when that was welcomed as a sign of community. What a pleasant way to start the day!

    We’ve all gotten too stingy in this era of marriage and pay as you go.

  12. Oh girls, stop clutching your pearls and get a fucking grip.

    Beckham is a public persona; this is not sexual abuse but an expose of the patheticness of marketing.

    If Becks was not a public persona, if he did not promote his “goods” then he would not be in the public sphere and not be the subject of satire.

    Besides, us queers should know that it is only sexual abuse if, after we say no to an unwelcome attention, then we have continued attention.

    The first grope is interest. Only the second would be abuse.

  13. Um, to moralize means to cast a moral judgement upon a situation. I was criticizing the implication in your post that it was permissible for the women to grope Beckham, since he poses and dresses provocatively in ads. That’s in essence a moral judgement. If you hadn’t moralized and simple reported what happened, I would have not responded.

    And nobody wants you to support sexual harassment for the opportunity to feel the outrage it would provide. I’d much rather agree with you, like I did concerning Larry Craig, than disagree with you. The post just reads like an excuse for the groping. If it’s not that, then that means that you believe what this woman did was wrong and Beckham is not to blame for it, right?

  14. straightlineonlyinbed

    And if there are a few hets in the UK who see it as sexual assault, then either that’s just anglo anti sex serum taking effect (as it does whenever encountering pro sex silliness) or else what remains of celebrity has, in its weakened state, become a sanctified and spoiled, sickly old son: unbreachable and often pretentiously, protectively touted as ambassadorial symbol for the glories of the land. Not only should you receive it only in formal dress, but for sure don’t tell it that it’s penis isn’t quite as you like it. Lest the whole family faint, fearing for his happiness.

  15. straightlineonlyinbed

    As a straight metrosexual, this clip is not only funny but seductively appealing, simply because the Italian woman is so pretty. She’s not someone to dream about all day and she’s even a bit trollish. But she’s cute and pleasant. In Italy and other latin cultures, men get away with pinching ladies bottoms in the street. They either get away with it or they get told off. A gentle, hip lady has to be even more pleasant than that.
    If that seems unfair, well yes. But so’s life, duh! A beautiful face and any lady will get away with more, especially in situations like this, of little to no consequence (as her investigation revealed it to be, indeed.)
    The only discomfort and violation I can think of is not the violence of the gesture but the exposure it symbolizes. Proud as a guy may be about his gonads, to have them sized up so directly reveals how little his stuff can stand up for him in the world.
    But I bet the real reason that gays may cry wolf, calling this sexual assault, is to further their respectability and propagandize how helpless and innocent they are in this bad old world.
    I can’t help but sympathize with their attitude, as much as I hate it.
    The forces of puritanical self repression are much harder to defeat than free thinking, free sensuality that relies on physical interaction to exist. Safer to cow-tow to the fanatics than to stand up for the sexy lightweights.

  16. OIC. You do seem to dwell on the more loathing side of that ambivalence though. But it’s not just you…and I think I’m reacting particularly to the comment that if this had happened to poor Tiger it would quite another matter. Anyway I’m inclined to regard David with pity to think that anyone with all that clout would chose posh spice. How can you expect anything of such a man beyond kicking a ball around?

    I really don’t get this equation copping of a little feel with rape.

    Mark, what is your profile name on gaydar? The “portraiture” section of this site has been mysteriously out of order for some time.

  17. It never occurred to me to ask why I like Becks, which I do, although I have an extremely limited exposure to him. Clearly it’s because while I’m an American, Soccer is one of the only sports I like, and it warms the cockles of my heart to see his crotch hoisted above one and all not only in recognition of soccer but of male tartiness as such.

    Trust me when I say that most American athletes are not only so unsightly but crassly religious that it would be a sheer embarrassment all around to put any of them in a remotely similar position.

    Granted, it goes without saying, that anyone so proudly troting around with his handle so exposed is liable to provoke the odd fondle, especially amongst the passionate Italian croud, long taught in grade school to avoid the dreary fate of Tantalous.

    Truth be told, it can be quite the delightful experience to be grapled by the right hand; and dragged henforth away. He can’t be so grand a lady. as to cry rape at that inadvertance. If he is, it’s all the more humerous.

  18. Simon: Like Artic Jay, you appear to be ‘outraged’ that I don’t share your moralising response to this incident. You’re welcome of course to be as outraged as you like, especially since you seem to enjoy it so much, but I’m afraid my actual post doesn’t say what you seem to want it to say.

  19. This little exchange does remind me of “Salo” I have to say: the musical language, the taking of liberties by libertines.

    There is a not so great Spanish film from 92 “Jamón, Jamón” that has a really great opening scene which reminds me a bit of this incident. Rent it just for that sometime.

    I don’t really get the antipathy to Becksy-poo. I mean as villains go these days he’s pretty lightweight.

  20. I am outraged at the very notion that anybody could even think that this was somehow acceptable. Wether he is a model in his pants or the worlds best porn star, he has the same right not to be sexually violated like the next man.

    To allude to the acceptability of this sexual violation as somehow a result of the fact he models underwear is akin to the notion that a man can be raped because he is wearing erotic or seductive clothing.

    As a gay man, I spend much of my time in total disbelief at the totally outrageous double standard in our society with such regard. More disappointingly how the double standard comes from gay men who are seemingly so penis obsessed that we have the likes of Tom Ford demonstrating an unbelievably infantile correlation between breasts an a mans genitals and you Mark, somehow finding this acceptable as though it was a passage of rites for him a consequence to his modeling career. like somehow he deserved it because he is rich, adored and seemingly gay public property.

    I’m ashamed of you. This kind of behavior serves only to keep gay men in a certain place that many ill informed and biggotted straight men wish to keep us. In the realms of ridicule and a hated figure. And I am beginning to understand why.

  21. What happened is not right. If it had happened to another footballer, we would be shaking our heads and calling that women a pathetic bitch who has not only invaded a person’s body without their consent but is also degrading to women for assuming this behaviour was acceptable.

    However it happened to Beckham, he courts the media (this wasn’t a passer by, they aren’t allowed near him) Beckham and the press are bed partners, he scratches their backs by allowing them to exploit him with interviews and photographs 24hrs a day and for that they suck up to him with words and money.

    If this had happened to Tiger Woods even after his recent sexual dalliances, I would be horrified that someone could be so vuglar and disrespectful but for Beckham, I feel nothing…..no sympathy.

    As for Cristiano Ronaldo, “He’s just too good-looking……We’re gonna kill this pretty thing.”

    He refused to play the media game and for that they mocked and ridiculed his every move.
    That’s what they do, try to destroy the ones they can’t contol and manipulate.(too many good people) Cristiano must be happier in Spain.

  22. Really? So you think that what she did was a crime then, correct? Because your last paragraph seems to be making an excuse to defend her against those that would accuse her of sexual assault.

  23. The Italian clergy has been reported making scads selling indulgences to Catholic ladies, who feel unclean since Becks.

  24. I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that the ad appeals to several levels of meaning. Of course, up front it’s a scoffing at Becham for being up staged by Ronaldo in the commercial world. On another level, probably an appeal to the Roman Catholicism of Italian consumers, it implies that nice Italian ladies would rather twiddle a pretty mona lisa like Christano and keep their chastity intact than risk rutting with a roughian like David and his concupisant uncatholic dick. . . risking the Il Papa’s displeasure and a trip to hell. The Madona or Satan?

    I’ve always been impressed with Becks being a great Soccar player ; and he looks a lot more studly and less of a princess. My instincts aquiver, tell me: “Christano’s a bottom! ” even the ladies can tell , they’re safe.

  25. Are you fucking kidding me, Mark?

    You can dislike Beckham all you want, but this is clearly sexual assault. By your logic, every female celebrity is fair game for having their goodies groped by any curious male passersby.

    You’re dehumanizing him for basically aesthetic reasons and it’s not witty or brave, nor is the italian lady, who is deserving of a stint in jail or a serious kick in the twat.

  26. I’ve always been ambivalent about Beckham, for much the same reasons you mention – but have always been absolutely decided on one thing: I don’t fancy him in the least. And I don’t care how much it upsets him to know that.

    Ironically he’s much more deserving of the vicious criticism levelled by the Brits at Cristiano Ronaldo, but his fake humility and mediocrity save him from that.

    But the murderous look he gives the woman that handled his goods without paying first as he’s bundled away by his minders is definitely real.

  27. I’ve always detested this man. All Brand and no soul. He’s been completely marketed. A robot who eat, sleeps and breathes money. Who speak and act in the best way to win over the media.

    Give me a human being not a media whore. Yes to Carragher, Gerrard even Joey Barton.
    They, thankfuly, have their own opinions and minds.

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