These reports just in….
In the Far East young men continue their rush headlong towards a totally metrosexed society. According to the Korea Times, South Korea, young men, including soldiers, are now wearing ‘colour lotion’ (a messy combination of foundation, ‘lotion’ and sun screen). Over in Japan my spy on Japanese metrosexuality Daniela K informs me that many Japanese men are wearing skirts and dresses on a daily basis. Similar things are reportedly happening in China.
Over here in the UK, skirts are less common, but a blog at so-called ‘lads’ mag’ FHM admits that their readers are metrosexual – along with, in fact, most young men today. I happen think the conflation of dandies with ‘new men’ and both with ‘metrosexuals’ in the piece is mostly specious, but it’s a refreshingly direct and honest piece that you would never find on the Men’s Health website. Unless they were hacked.
But slowly, slowly even America, the country that gave the world the oiled male tits of Men’s Health, seems to be finally recovering from the gigantic national nervous breakdown it had over metrosexuality a few years back. But this being the God-fearing USA where Bush won an election on an anti-metro/anti-fag ticket in 2004, make sure you don’t use the ‘m’ word, especially if you’re an American marketer marketing metrosexual products. ‘Metrosexual’ makes too many Americans think of ‘homosexual’. And that’s not good when you’re in the holy business of selling things. Besides, marketers are happier with euphemism. When they’re not just lying.
Nevertheless, it turns out – surprise! – that the market for male vanity products has continued to grow very strongly indeed in the US, even during the anti-metro ‘menaissance’, and the subsequent recession. To try and cash in Madison Avenue is about to unleash a record-breaking ad blitz – to persuade American men that what they’ve really been missing in their lives is Dove and (manly, techno-styled) buff-puffs.
One of the more interesting things to emerge from the Advertising Age feature is that Marlboro, as a filtered low-tar cigarette, was originally designed for women in the 1920s, but when evidence mounted in the 1950s that tobacco caused cancer Philip Morris commissioned Leo Burnett to change the ciggie’s gender.
American gays did this again themselves in the 1970s when they appropriated the clone look, modelled on the butch Marlboro Man ads, perhaps unconsciously picking up on the slightly camp, er, drag king quality that it turns out the Marlboro man had all along.
Re; coal mine attire(above )”skirts’, not “shirts”. Re; religion/culture. Jesus didn’t wear trousers, or have a butch cut, any more than Budda or Confucious. or the Sufis. Actually, come to think of it, I wonder if Quetin Crisp woudn’t have been a paradigm apostle.
Offhand, it’s been pretty clear since and even before WW2 that the Japanese have shown an extraordinary proclivity to adopting western customs and technology and that being a very conformity driven culture, everything moves with the demands of industry and comercialism, even much moreso than the U.S.; . After all they have exceeded the West: at least the U.S., in Capitalistic/technological development in approx 50 years in what it took centuries for Westerners to evolve. Same to a degree with segments of China. Of course, thanks to Milton Friedman, the Chinese have developed a form of Capitalistic totalitarianism which is the envy of twits like Reagan and Thatcher. In that they can literaly command cheap labor and conformity to styles which make every one look like they are ‘advanced ‘ culturally even though it be at the end of a gun.
India, which it is ravenously right wing now is ready to push conformity to anything which they think keeps them culturally abrest with the West.
Of course it is noticable that none of these cultures is is historically presided over by a big musclebound, white bearded, Zeuslike character, in the case that any religious qualms in the get in the way of their nations demands. We have to remember that they are not all that free too dissent from the image that their Corporate leaders expect. them to extend. to the world. Doubtfully, though, shirts are not coal mine attire.
Dandyism is Western. And Eighteenth Century. And would have hated mass-consumerism.
But I haven’t been to Japan myself, so I’m no expert. From what I can make out from half-way around the world, Japanese metrosexuality, along with the Chinese variety, is very much based in Western-style consumerism and media.
However, in countries such as India metrosexuality – which is apparently a very big deal there – is sometimes interpreted by Indians as in part a rediscovery of pre-colonial, more ancient and indigenous masculine styles. After all, look at the Hindu gods!
So metrosexuality as it rolls out across the globe is not monolithic – and as you’re right to point out, it isn’t simply about adopting a Western style. Sometimes it’s also about a rolling back of Victorian ideas of masculine and feminine, imposed often at the point of a gun or a Bible.
Are you sure that metrosexual men in countries like Japan are not actually tapping into older traditions of dandyism and style? Sometimes there is less emulation of Western forms than is populary supposed!