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.