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It’s Humpday For Masculinity

The trouble with very smart dames who ‘get’ what’s happened to the male of the species is that they threaten to put this particular one out of work.

Over at the HuffPo Caroline Hagood has written an annoyingly good piece about Lynn Shelton’s bromance-dissecting movie Humpday, about two straight male buddies who decide to make a gay porno together as a kind of dude dare.  I’ve yet to see Humpday, but sort of feel that I don’t need to as I appeared in it — having notoriously allowed myself to be dared into joining in the action by some military dudes when when researching a piece about (mostly straight) US paratroopers making gay porn.

Unusually for a journalist, Hagood understands exactly where masculinity is today:

Hovering somewhere between the heterosexual and the homosexual is modern male sexuality — with its metrosexuality and bromances — in all its ambiguous splendor.

Just as unusually, she also understands metrosexuality.

…. the word describes the man whose sexuality is more linked to urbanism and consumerism than it is to either gender or sexual proclivity. A post-sexual, he is no longer homo or hetero, but just metro.

Most usefully of all though she articulates very well the essential anxiety of ‘bromance’, and how it is in effect set against the very thing it appears to be celebrating:

…there are two opposing forces that are powering films of late: an intense desire to pay tribute to the unique relationship that exists between men and an equally intense fear that this relationship may contain homosexual undertones. The result of these warring impulses are films like Humpday that blow open the dread and disgust surrounding homophilia that Hollywood strives to keeps under wraps in its average bromance flick. In the end, Shelton’s movie just may function as a mass therapy session for all the Judd Apatows of the world who live in terror of their bro-love.

I’d like to find something to disagree with, if only so as not to become completely irrelevant, but aside from perhaps some academic quibbling about the continuity between the dandy and the metrosexual, I can’t really think of anything.

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10 thoughts on “It’s Humpday For Masculinity”

  1. “Johnny Depp should be knighted. But perhaps as ‘Sir Johnny Fopp’.” you hit that nail sqare on the head., Mark! Ha, Wonder where he fits in the metro-pre/post sexual (menopausal?) scheme? He would no doubt upstage the queen, though.

  2. Caroline: You’re obviously a very well brought-up young woman – being kind to the elderly and all. So I don’t mind mentioning I enjoyed your latest piece on Burton and McQueen on HuffPo – even though it didn’t mention me this time. You’re right of course, Johnny Depp should be knighted. But perhaps as ‘Sir Johnny Fopp’.

  3. I think perhaps there’s a little confusion here about terminology.

    In my own writings metrosexuality is ‘post-sexual’ not in the sense of ‘post-erotic’ (though maybe it will turn out that way), but in the sense that it marks the beginning of the end of ‘sexuality’, the 19th century pseudo science that decreed compulsory suburban heterosexuality ‘normal’ and any deviation from it pathological. Not surprisingly, it was also the 19th Century which decreed that narcissism was the female quality par excellence. Men were supposed to give up all their narcissism and instead possess it and beauty and sensuality through the possession of a woman. Sorry: Woman.

    It made of course for fantastic mid-Twentieth Century High Hollywood movies, but as we now know it didn’t make it into the Twenty First Century. Not least because men can’t rely on women to be Woman any more. Or at least not for them. Not forever. The ecology and sexual division of labour of heterosexuality has broken down. Cross sex desire isn’t going out of fashion of course, it’s just no longer THE system of identity and meaning. If women won’t be Woman any more, then why should I become a Man? Why should I put away childish things? Like auto-eroticism?

    In a sense male homosexuality was the ultimate pathology of the penile-vaginal fixated nineteenth sexologists because it was:

    a) Non reproductive
    b) Narcissistic
    c) A form of cheating

    It’s particularly this latter quality which is its source of fascination for males today.

  4. straightonlyinbed: (excuse the vaqueness of my last statement!)
    Something that I notice in a connection of the notion that male bonding will lead to sexual attraction, which as you noted seems questionable, is that in the U.S. gay men are trying thier very best to give credance to the belief that by getting to know each other first, they will encounter better sex later to satisfy the myths around marriage. This is is leading to a lot of frustrated fellows. The truth seems to be that heterosexual attraction in relationships kept vitality by distancing. Likewise gay men have almost always formed relationships by putting sex first, not last. There is more attraction to anonymous partners.

    The most conspicuous thing that women have done to reduce their desirability by heterosexual males is to act and dress just like them. As you suggest, this is a female (perhaps unconcious ) strategy. A man may almost as well have sex with another man as with a woman who is just like him.

  5. straightonlyinbed

    I’m not sure anymore that the author isn’t in fact a genuine hetero masquerading as homo for the prestige… and he just let it slip right here.
    That men can actually replace the need for women at once as objets du desir and as self sufficient narcissists seems to be an *effort*, not a result, of male bonding. Guys have been trying (and failing) since long before metrosexuality. Every retrosexual scenario in life and art since the 19th century has a thread to “goin’ back to the pub with me boys” and getting away from the controlling, polite, wife. And of course in American movies and tv (at least back when people were portrayed as married and on the rare occasion where they still are), she’s always standing in the house door way at 1 am, tapping her foot impatiently as the guilty escapee stumbles home. That he is “irresponsible” or “immoral” is a puritan judgment that was always so out of date she couldn’t actually believe it, so we know it’s just her pretense to cover up insecurity in lacking total control of her husband.

    It isn’t necessarily metrosexuality that makes such substitution of female by male possible or an interesting option. It may be that female sexual power has receded by itself, rather than being defeated or overtaken by a competitor.
    The journalist, Caroline Hargood, associates sex with neurosis, as if it were sex’s most important aspect:
    “post-homosexual… post-sexual…their relationship be the one sphere of their lives free of any psycho-sexual complications (even if they are planning on having sex with one another).”

    I’m sorry, but if this is female sexuality, it’s no competition at all to metrosexual eroticism, which is like homosexuality made less neurotic and more fun than ever. certainly there are always profound psychological issues in hetero sex (oedipal, crossing borders, lack of identification both sympathetic and purely narcissistic), but if what we have now is mostly neurosis without the profundity, and no easy going romance but just a choice between lame hook ups or retrograde lifetime lock-ins, homosexuality seems far more “normal” and “healthy”. And even boring and respectable, why not?

  6. addendum to the (above). Just a source of puzzlement. Why is it that men and women are either more sexually attractive at a distanceon the one hand or more attractive at close range on the other?

  7. There is something very peculiar about saying that males are now post sexual which seems to be more a woman’s worry than a males There is nothing much more threatening to a woman than to have her trump card laid to rest. She no longer has dibs on a market which other males can fill and loses her corner on the nooky option. In Western Culture, men had ceased to be close friends, I think, not so much because of competition as because their wives were envious. Women have perpetuated the myth that they can supply every and all things a man should want psychologically. Wrong! all children, in fact, grow up with a need to bond with both males and females who supply different sorts of basic energy. Our society has been telling men them who to fuck, for it’s sake(reproduction). As it’s turned out the more we make , the more we murder, it’s been natures way.
    Men, who are naturally really pretty gregarious with one another have recently disguarded these feminine controls and are now forming bonds with people like themselves: other men. I wouldn’t call the lady’s perception accurate as much as confused. To like metrosexuality to postsexuality in men is making no real point at all, just expressing her frustration. Metorosexuality is, I think an exterior fleece further neutralizing the females self perception of butterfly du mond and claiming male attractiveness, which is narcisistic admitedly. I believe It has little to do though with a particular sexual choice. Male bonding occurs alongside it or even without it. Just because women have lost their ace in the hole, doesn’t mean that men are post sexual, because of their bonding and metrosexuality, male sexuality is just much more interesting.

  8. Poor Mark…sounds like you are having a humpday of your own.

    But you are never *completely* irrelevant…. xox

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