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

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Tag: metrophobia

Charlie Brooker’s Anxious Anus

Middle class metrophobia keeps rearing its ugly, anxious head and leaving a really bad smell in the air. Maybe it’s because some middle class men are happier pretending that they don’t have bodies, just giant self-propelled brains (that are always right), but men’s new-found desire to be desired and the attendant rampant sexualisation of the male body in the media seems to literally scare the shit out of a few of them.

‘The world’s leading liberal voice’ this week ran two curiously metrophobic articles in the space of a few days (while this older blogpost features numerous other examples). Today’s Guardian carries a piece by an Olly Richards pegged to the new stripper movie Magic Mike, ostensibly about male nudity in the movies.

At the top of the piece he announces:

‘We all know the nude male form is essentially ridiculous, built only for floppy comedy.’

Speak for yourself, Mary.

This assertion of the writer’s contempt for the male body – and de facto dismissal of anyone who thinks differently – is the only thing the article has to say. An article on male nudity in the movies has nothing to say about male nudity in movies – because if it did then the author would have to be interested in the male body.

But Olly is a paragon of self-awareness and insight compared to a bizarre rant earlier in the week by the Guardian’s star columnist and TV celeb Charlton Brooker, which also seemed to take it as a given that the sexualised male body is ‘essentially ridiculous’.

Charlton’s column pretends it’s about the hatefulness of reality stars – and let’s face it, they are fair, if embarrassingly easy game. But it’s telling that he has nothing specific to say about the female reality stars in his piece. At all. None of them are mentioned, no female pronouns are used. It’s all about judging the men. For how they look. For plucking their eyebrows. For using product. Fake tan and make-up. For working out. For ‘sexualising’ their bodies.

‘But let’s not judge them by the content of their character. Let’s judge them by the colour of their skin, which is terracotta. Mostly. Apart from the pale ones. The way they look is the second unbelievable thing about them. Not all of them; most of them are sort of normal. But one or two of the men look … well they don’t look real, put it that way. They’ve got sculpted physiques, sculpted hairdos, sculpted eyebrows, and as far as I can tell, no skin pores.’

They’re not real men or normal because Charlton says so. Here’s a picture of him looking normal and real (from his Wiki page).

Charlton (41) saves his most passionate, most fundamental attentions for a contestant called James (21), whom he describes as resembling a ‘vinyl sex doll’. Born and bred in the Home Counties, living and working in London’s medialand, Brooker is also an expert on Newcastle:

 ‘I’ve been to Newcastle. There’s no way James is from Newcastle. He’s from space. Deep space. My guess would be he’s actually some form of sentient synthetic meat that crudely disguises itself as other life forms, but only to an accuracy of about 23%. He’s awesomely creepy to behold. Seriously, if James popped up on the comms screen of the USS Enterprise, Captain Kirk would shit his own guts out. And that’s the sort of behaviour that can undermine a leader’s authority.’

Yes, I realise it’s faintly ridiculous taking this kind of ‘comic prose’ seriously. And part of the irony here anyway is that Brooker is ridiculing reality TV for its vulgarity while his job description at the Guardian is to be as vulgar as possible about vulgar TV shows and use words like ‘shit’ and ‘cock’ a lot. Pour epater les bourgeois – at the same time as appealing to their snobbery.

But in the wider context of the Guardian’s middle class problem with metrosexuality and the male body, and Brooker’s role in many people’s eyes as right-on liberal superhero, I think it’s worthwhile examining what’s going on here.

James of course doesn’t look like any of the things Brooker says he looks like. Here’s a picture of James (who lives with his mam and who according to the Geordie Shore website ‘isn’t ashamed to call himself a mummy’s boy’).

Now, I know this is very subjective. But I would much rather look at James in HD widescreen in my living room than Charlton. Especially if it comes down to shagging, as Geordie Shore often does. And before you accuse me of being bitchy: which TV celeb was it again who said earlier that we should judge only appearances?

What’s more, James is not at all unusual, let alone ‘non-existent’ as Charlton would like to believe. There are loads of lads like James in the North East. And I know this because I didn’t visit for a book-signing once but because I live here. There are several down my gym. One of them, a really nice, chatty bloke who’s always got a canny smile, was shortlisted for this year’s Big Brother. It could easily have been him that Charlton was railing against for plucking his eyebrows and having plunging necklines. So forgive me if metrodaddy feels a bit maternal.

As with the blue-collar guys turned strippers in Magic Mike, in the post-industrial North East working class lads happily work on their own bodies instead of someone else’s property and, unlike London hipsters, aren’t afraid to flaunt it and make themselves pretty. Especially since they don’t generally have many other routes to celebrity – not being likely to land themselves a place on a C4 panel show being snarky and painstakingly scruffy in a dowdy corduroy jacket.

So why the passionate rage against James for being a very common (these days) mixture of masculine and feminine beauty tricks? Why the desperate need to pretend he doesn’t exist? That he shouldn’t exist? That he should be banished to outer space?

There can only be one answer. The sad, tawdry truth is that Charlton can’t trust himself in a world with James in it. He has to tell himself these wicked lies about James because otherwise he might find himself being turned on by him.

James the ‘sex doll’ is the one, by the way, who famously has a cock the size of a Sky remote.

Here’s a simple test – one that you can apply to almost any instance of liberal metrophobia, however ‘jokey’ or ‘ironic’ it presents itself as being. Would someone like Brooker still rage on and on about James’s ‘unmanly’, ‘creepy’, ‘alien’ appearance and how worthy he was of hatred because of it, if James was gay instead of straight? Would he still describe a gay James as ‘synthetic meat’ and a ‘polished turd’? Or someone who would make Captain Kirk ‘shit his guts out’? (The anxious anality here is all Charlton’s – definitely not Captain Kirk’s, who wasn’t afraid to shape his eyebrows and sideburns, or wear a corset.)

Wouldn’t Charlton the liberal superhero in fact be the first to loudly ridicule himself for his own homophobia and repressed homosexuality? And, drunk once again on his own self-righteousness, call himself a farty old reactionary cock?

In fairness though it can’t be denied that one of the truly awful things about metrosexuality is the way it gives uneducated, shamelessly tarty young men with regional accents a way of getting gigs on TV shows with more viewers than yours.

Tip: Bat020

Guardian Gives Shane Warne a Kicking – For His Own Good

You may remember that a few weeks back Metrodaddy was moved to defend the new, svelte Shane Warne from a metrophobic kicking by the British press. Even though his look isn’t really working for me.

It seems I may have to do it again.

The Guardian — ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ — has finally got around to putting the caring, liberal boot in too, with a piece by Hadley Freeman titled What’s Up With Shane Warne? But the Graun being the Graun it can’t just have an honest bit of metro-bashing. Oh no. It has to do it with a side-order of hypocrisy and and a sprinkling of sanctimony:

‘This is not a plaint of the quasi-misogynistic and homophobic ones that have appeared in other, inferior rags, which can be summed up as “Liz ‘That dress’ Hurley turned Shane into a big queen’.

But  of course that’s exactly what it is. And precisely because it’s the lovely liberal Graun which officially adores The Gays it can be more explicit than The Daily Mail:

‘Leaving aside the fact that he appears to have morphed from the chubby, frosted-tip rogue that he was for several decades into Dale Winton’s blond brother, all with the help of nothing other than the Estée Lauder moisturisers his girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley happens to shill for, it’s the man himself that concerns me.’

But it really isn’t the man himself she’s interested in (who tells us ‘he feels better than he has done in years’). Again and again Freeman’s whinge is that Warne isn’t a man anymore because… he’s not the chubby, blokey cricketer with the bad peroxide job whom she freely admits she wasn’t very interested in. And in fact, the virility of the entire Australian continent has been insulted by Hurley and England’s spaying and gaying of its favourite sportsman.

‘Why has Australia not staged an intervention? And after the humiliations this country have inflicted on… Warne, why has Australia not declared war on Britain?’

Freeman like most Brits (see any UK ad for Fosters) seems to fetishise Australia as some kind of repository of authentic masculinity – when in fact the bathrooms of Sydney are repositories of more male beauty products than almost anywhere on Earth. I suspect that part of the ladies and gentlemen of the British press’ bitter antipathy towards Warne’s makeover metrosexuality is the way it deprives them of their fantasy of being rogered senseless by a sweaty, leathered up Mel Gibson in Beyond Thunderdome.

Now, I realise that Freeman is employed to be bitchy and isn’t to be taken terribly seriously. And besides, her breathless style is a little difficult to follow. Or read. All the same, and for all the ironic and hypocritical smoke this piece puts out, it’s pretty clear that ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ has some very traditional views on masculinity, even in its ‘Life and Style’ section, which has past form in this area.

But then The Graun has always had something of a puritanical bent, which is in full sermonising mode in this recent piece in the TV Section about the Welsh rugger bugger and galloping metrosexual Gavin Henson, pegged to his latest reality TV venture The Bachelor, which manages to characterise the show as demeaning to women (possibly a contractual requirement at The Graun) but spends most of its time demeaning Henson for being a rugby player who is also ‘a looker’.

Though at least the author David Stubbs is more honest than Freeman about being an old-fashioned girl.

More on The Bachelor soon….

UPDATE 30/08/11

Thanks to Bat020 for alerting me to ‘Where have all the real men gone?’ by Bryony Gordon in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph which despite the ominous title, comes out in doughty defence of Shane Warne and metrosexuality. Leaving ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ sounding even more b&t:

‘The survey, by Dixons, found that if allowed to travel with just one electronic device, four times as many men than women would take an iron. In fact, portable speakers for iPods come below hairdryers, straighteners and a male grooming kit in the list of travel products men claim they cannot live without.

“We are increasingly seeing men coming into our stores to pick up last-minute travel essentials, such as a hairdryer and travel iron,” said Daryl Humphries of Dixons. “They often hope their girlfriend won’t notice.”

Newsflash, boys: we have noticed. We know that you sometimes use our Estée Lauder Advanced Night Cream (we can smell it on you), that you occasionally reach for our tweezers, and we have seen you studying your wrinkles in the bathroom mirror. And you know what? It’s really OK.’

We Loved You Really, Ronaldo

By Mark Simpson (collected in Metrosexy)

Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best footballers ever to play in this country – and one of the best looking – brought out the worst in the English.

He prickled you see, our ugly, mean-minded, spiteful, spitting jealousy. We were jealous of his talent, his looks, his body, his youth, his money and most of all of his total lack of interest in what the English media and terrace culture thought of him and his dress sense and the way they kept shouting ‘winker!’, ‘poof!’, ‘twinkletoes!!’ to try and get his attention.

It just made us even more frenzied and passionate and helpless that the way we obsessed over everything about him from the darkness of his tan to the size of his beach shorts meant nothing to him. He ignored our stalkerish behaviour, and our playground bullying, and just kept on being Cristiano. He didn’t need us. He didn’t even bloody notice us. He was hot. He knew he was hot. And worst of all, there was nothing we could do about it. No wonder we hated him.

And now it seems he’s leaving us behind for good – and will probably forget about us before he even lands in Madrid. The bastard!

Our most popular tabloid The Sun has run a particularly bitchy campaign against him for years. Most recently, they devoted pages of phoney outrage to the fact that he wore a pink baseball cap on holiday in LA, and had the effrontery to wear a flower in his ear. Apparently he’s also personally to blame for turning today’s pro footballers into metrosexuals and is the evil ‘queen’ behind what they like to call ‘The Campions League’.

In short, Ronaldo has been on the receiving end of abuse that would be deemed ‘homophobic’ in a trice if it were directed at someone actually gay. But this isn’t just homophobia in the form of metrophobia, this is good old English hypocrisy at work: The Sun exploits the way young footballers look today to sell papers, filling their pages almost daily with pictures of them being tarty – and then of course damns them for making us look at them.

Ronaldo united the English in ways that few other things do these days. The editor of snooty Esquire for instance, a magazine that likes to see itself as being the opposite end of the media and social spectrum to The Sun, recently joined in the national gang bang of Ronaldo, taking aim at his pretty pouting face in a piece sniffing at the vulgarity of English footballers, and the way they ‘pile on the designer labels with gay abandon (Ronaldo), accessorise with far too many sparkly things (Ronaldo) and haven’t yet discovered that logos a go-go have gone out of fashion (Ronaldo).’

Yes dear, but Ronaldo has more natural beauty, sexiness and vitality in his left foot than a hundred back issues of Esquire – a magazine that would benefit enormously from a little vulgarity: I mean, it might be mistaken for something actually alive. It’s probably Ronaldo’s ‘gay abandon’ which is the most wonderful and insufferable thing about him to the English. After all, it’s the sign that someone is genuinely free – they genuinely don’t care what the neighbours/bloke down the pub/The Sun/Esquire think, and they do and wear what they like, damn them.

This is also probably the reason why he was hated so much for his on-pitch naughtiness – not so much the cheating itself, but the brazenness of it. The flamboyance of it! Ronaldo was hated and envied because he broke the rules in plain view. And could behave like a spoilt child. The English you see can never forgive someone for doing publicly what they have to spend so much time and energy hiding.

As Ronaldo said, matter-of-factly, in response to the English media’s frenzy over the pink hat with the flower: ‘I don’t see what is wrong with that if you are comfortable with your sexuality.’ But the English aren’t comfortable, Ronaldo. In any sense. Don’t remind us of it!.

David Beckham managed, more or less, to get away with sarongs and nail polish and worse. But that was partly because Beckham wasn’t as talented a footballer as Ronaldo, wasn’t as pretty, or as young – and, unlike Ronaldo, was very, very concerned with handling the English press and his public image: he really cared about us and what we thought, and so was generally regarded as ‘nice’. Most importantly, in the end Becks was English. He may have been a tart, but he was our tart (though at the moment he appears to be Mr Armani’s.)

The problem with Portuguese Ronaldo, and the reason ultimately why he was so resented and the target of such passionate ambivalence, was that he wasn’t ours. He was always only on loan – which is why whenever rumours of a move abroad surfaced the hate campaign in the press would reach new, tremulous heights.

But now he’s really going. And we’re really going to miss him. But being English, the way we’ll express that is by saying: ‘Good riddance, you WINKER!!’

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