No, this one isn’t the work of The Onion. Not only would the large cast of suited and booted fraternity boys with solemn faces and clasped hands standing behind the comedy attorney who can’t stop saying ‘butt chugging’ break their production budget, it’s just far too chugging crazy.
If this uniquely American spectacle had been presented as surreal satire no one would buy it.
Look out for the two frat bros who emerge hastily from the bushes at 4.47 and sheepishly join their serious-looking brothers at the back. ‘Butt’ if you think they might have been engaging in a quick spot of that absolutely ree-puls-ive practise of butt-chugging, then SHAME. ON. YOU.
I’m not sure I entirely believe the preamble from the overly dudey – if very easy on the eye – presenter and star of this ‘experiment’ in ‘touching dudes softly’. Particularly the bit about ‘nothing makes me uncomfortable!’
But it is interesting to watch the responses of the men he decides to monster with ‘inappropriate’ tenderness – or ‘touching another dude softly’.
I’m also personally interested in why I found it very uncomfortable to watch. Is it because I’m worrying the men will freak out? Or is it just because I’m very uptight about physical tenderness myself? Or is it simply because of the painful self-consciousness of the setup?
I’ve watched drunken straight lads do much ‘worse’ things to one another and not felt in the least bit uncomfortable about it. And nor did they, apparently.
I attended a gay rugby tournament some years ago and was struck by the way that there was on the whole rather less in the way of physical affection and tenderness between men than you’ll find at ‘straight’ rugby matches. I still remember watching a sozzled young chap at the Army & Navy match batting his mate’s gilfriend’s hand away from his chum so HE could hold his hand as they left Twickenham.
In fact, many of the players I spoke to at the gay ruby tournament seemed to be disappointed that the gay rugby teams were missing one vital rugby ritual: post-match homoerotic horseplay.
Sometimes being straight means that you can get away with much more. Because it’s all ‘a laugh’. Dude.
I also point out how everyday and ‘normal’ homoerotics is for many if not most men – but we don’t want to see it, and when we can’t ignore it because it’s thrust in our face by digital cameras and the Interweb we pathologize or criminalize it:
…the furor is another reminder that we live in a culture where female bi-curiousness is routinely regarded as natural and almost universal while male bi-curiousness is seen as non-existent – or else it is just “sexually confused” (i.e. they’re really gay, but laughably repressed), or it is “deviant hazing” conducted by “sexual predators” that needs to be eradicated.
In reality, to anyone who opens their eyes on a Saturday night on either side of the Atlantic, there’s scads of evidence that plenty of “normal” young men who aren’t particularly “sexually confused” – especially the most, er, physical types – have a healthy appetite for highly homoerotic behavior after a keg or two. It’s what beer seems to have been invented for. In the Middle Ages they thought the cause of sodomy was drunkenness – they weren’t wrong. By contrast, I’ve hardly ever seen such homoerotic horseplay amongst straight women, even despite the invention of alcopops (though admittedly I perhaps wasn’t looking as closely.)
Some people have a more violently negative response to the everyday evidence of male homoerotics, literally trying to stamp it out. In the UK a straight female Canadian martial arts expert attacked and knocked out a couple of drunken British soldiers at a disco for kissing and ‘pretending to be gay’, screaming ‘THIS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE BRITISH ARMY!!’.
Living in a garrison town I’ve seen plenty of similarly steamy behaviour from drunken squaddies in pubs and on dance-floors, snogging and humping and groping one another, so I can understand her frustration – I’ve wanted to get physical too, but not in quite the same way she did.
Sometimes the response is more genteel, but just as vehement. During the last Rugby World Cup a couple of years ago I was invited on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio Four to talk about homoerotics and rugby. I thought it a bit odd that Woman’s Hour wanted to cover this subject, but the producer enthused: “The presenter Jane is really keen to talk about it”. It turned out that neither the presenter, a former female sports journalist, or her guest, another female sports journalist, wanted to talk about it at all.
Both of them refused point blank to countenance the possibility that a game that involves men with large thighs wrestling in the mud over odd-shaped balls, or taking communal baths, or kinky nude drinking games that would shock the guards at the American Embassy in Afghanistan, could be in any way homoerotic. Only a homo would say such a thing.
“Of course you would say that Mark,” she said at one point, “because you’re gay”.
I paused. Several things occurred to me to say to that. I could have replied that droves of gay men were probably rushing at that very moment to dissociate themselves from what I was saying (they usually do). Or “Well, of course you would say that Jane, as an uptight middle class woman.”
Instead I replied, “It seems that some people have a problem with the word ‘homoerotic’. They think that it means something ‘for gays’. Perhaps some people would be happier with the word ‘male bonding’…”‘
“Yes!’ they chorused, “it’s male bonding!”
“But,” I continued, “it’s male bonding with an erotic component so we’re back where we came in.”
They didn’t like that.
Just a few weeks earlier this doc had gone out on national UK TV, in which a team of northern rugby players were shown getting drunk and naked with one another, snogging, licking each other’s nipples – and playing with their captain’s ‘donkey dick’. Of course, I couldn’t even mention it, because on radio – especially Radio Four. You’re not allowed to acknowledge that TV exists.
Again, being radio, and posh radio at that, just before we went on air a nice voice whispered in my headphone. “Remember Mark, this is a family show so please try not to be too rude!” This did hamper my case somewhat, as rugby homoerotics are meant to be rude. Though it didn’t stop me from leaving something unsavoury hanging in the air: “The soggy biscuit game, for example, isn’t entirely a myth….”
“I think we’d better move on,” said Jane rather quickly.
Apparently the BBC switchboard was jammed with retired lady callers demanding to know what the soggy biscuit game was.
(This feature of mine from a couple of years back, ‘Assume the position’, offers a more in-depth investigation of the culture’s crackdown on hazing and male horseplay in general.)
In the Middle Ages, sodomy was thought to be caused not by hair whorls, but by drunkenness. As this spornographic clip shows, they were absolutely right.
The post-match beery bonding of the lovely lads of Sandbach RUFC – which, be warned, includes very male nudity, heavy petting and male-on-male snogging – made me feel faint with jealousy. And also faintly redundant.
These straight lads’ eagerness to perform their manly love for one another in front of UK TV cameras (for an instalment of an ITV2 series last month called ‘Generation Xcess’) does away with the need for my:
essay on hazing, in which I argued that male bonding is deeply homoerotic, but that despite this it is not a ‘gay’ thing – it’s a ‘guy’ thing
explaining how little purchase the Phalliban has in the UK – compared to the US where it has a tighter grip than Captain Tim’s team-mates have on his ‘massive cock’
arguing that homoerotic fantasy that Sporno advertising sells us is not entirely baseless
responding to those who adamantly refuse to believe that straight men could get naked with one another on camera and play with each other’s dangly bits when offered lots of cash. (These ones did it for a few beers.)
Instead of all my scribbling, I just needed to take a video camera to a pub in Sandbach on Saturday night and buy a few rounds. It would have been a lot more fun too.
Funny that this should have surfaced around the same time as this spornographic ad campaign for Paris – which after the salty mantics of Sandbach RUFC now looks like a slightly coy promotion for a copycat programme featuring a less attractive, less ballsy team. Perhaps the most ‘touching’ part of all this groping is the way this (highly successful) team of rugger buggers refuse to be embarrassed by the naughty clips the programme makers make them watch in the cold-sober light of day. Instead they seem quite proud.
But then, they have much to be proud of. Especially their Captain. Alas, I suspect that some – gay and straight – spiteful members of the Great British Public who saw the doc did their best to make these young men feel ashamed for being ‘gay’ with one another – to make them feel ashamed, in fact, for being fit, boisterous lads full of life, laughs, spunk and puppyish enthusiasm for masculinity.
Actually, the more I think about it – and what I’m missing – I’m beginning to feel spiteful too…. Criminally though, the clip ends before the programme does. Anyone have the final segment? Or a better quality version? As the completely unabashed grinning donkey-hung, bubble-butted Captain Tim says, ‘We should watch that again.’
Update: I’ve just been informed that a better quality clip is available, along with rather a lot of other athletes showing off their, er, sporting prowess, at the premium adult site: www.ruggerbugger.com
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