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Ben Affleck’s Axe Commercial

A curious ad for Axe I meant to blog about when it was released last year.

It’s a self-consciously metrosexual commercial in that Ben, already identified in the media (and by me) as a metrosexual, plays a narcissistic young male about town, shopping, dining and generally admiring himself in the glances of the women who look at him and keeping a tally with a nightclub bouncer type clicker. (As I explained it in the 2002 article that introduced the metrosexual to the US, the modern male obsession with being looked at is ‘because that’s the only way you can be sure you actually exist.’)

In keeping with the equal opps narcissism of the metrosexual, and a sign of the progressive times, he clicks his clicker after receiving an admiring look from a (gay?) male shop assistant. Though he has to think about it before giving a ‘what the hell?’ shrug.

The business of the male shop assistant is however slightly disingenuous because metrosexuality, happy as it is for any attention, tends to valorize other men’s looks even higher than women’s. That gay men find you desirable makes you REALLY desirable, apparently. This is something confirmed by Becks et al. And also by less vaunted metros. When visiting Manhattan, a couple of years ago a very forwards gay friend of mine trying to disprove my theory asked several random young straight men on their way to clubs if they liked being checked out by gay men (while I cringed with embarrassment). They all said ‘yes’ without hesitation. ‘Why?’ he asked. ‘Because gay men have good taste.’ was the universal response.

Young metros today know that women’s newfound or newly expressed aesthetic interest in men is still often derivative of (gay) men’s interest in the male form. Besides, metrosexuals are metrosexuals because they themselves are very much aware of the attractiveness of the male. If you weren’t, how could you hope to be attractive yourself? More generally, metrosexuality is about a certain kind of passivity – inviting the gaze – which men know they are flirting with by being on the ‘receiving end’. This is what made male narcissism so taboo in the retrosexual past and why today being admired by other males can give metrosexual males such a thrill.

To be convincing and really hip to the times, the Click ad should have had Bendover Affleck click his clicker at least ten times when checked out by the faggy male shop assistant.

Of course, the commercial is not selling Affleck but Lynx/Axe deodorant. Affleck’s affectedness is being mocked slightly. Which is why the Lynx-wearing blue-collar boy-next-door wins the metrosexual click-measuring contest in the lift at the end. He has been getting more attention even than Affleck.

I suspect though that the reason he won had nothing to do with Lynx and is actually due to the fact that a) he has been giving proper weight to the looks of other males and b) he’s been riding around in lifts all day with strange men.

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