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China’s Metrosexual Crackdown

China’s ruling Communist Party has reportedly finally had enough of impossible male prettiness, and is cracking down on the promotion of metrosexuality.

‘Sissy’ boybands, ‘vulgar’ social media influencers, reality TV and ‘abnormal esthetics’ have been denounced by China’s mighty broadcast regulator, The National Radio and Television Administration.

They have, according to this report, correctly identified some of the main vectors of metrosexuality in their moralising campaign to make China uglier:

‘An emphasis was placed on banning “immoral” stars, in particular, “resolutely putting an end to sissy idols” and “abnormal esthetics” that go against “correct beauty standards”.

“Sissy idols” is a term used to describe hugely popular boybands in China who have faced regular criticism in the past for wearing make-up and donning high fashion.’

In the West of course, this backlash against male prettiness happened a decade or so ago. It resulted in all males over the age of 15 being legally required to grow a beard. Or pay £4K to get one implanted.

China’s booming consumer economy, media/entertainment industry, along with its fast-growing middle class, and its importation of simpering South Korean boybands and reality TV formats, has made metrosexuality a big phenomenon in China. As long ago as the early Noughties I was invited, as the father of the metrosexual, by FHM China to attend their first year birthday bash in Beijing as a guest of honour.

I wasn’t able to attend, due to a minor scooter accident (on a trip to Colchester…) that made my ankle swell up like a balloon at ground level – never mind fourteen hours at 30,000 feet.

It’s probably just as well. If metrodaddy had attended that party, the ‘immorality’ of metrosexuality would have become apparent much sooner.

Despite the thunderous rhetoric, t’s not entirely clear how serious this current metrosexual backlash in China is. The Western one after all was mostly faux – and the aestheticization of masculinity has continued apace, albeit with a camp lumberjack inflexion.

And since the Party has apparently no real intention of rolling back consumerism – and growth – in China, or re-running the Cultural Revolution, with influencers and boy band stars sent to labour in the countryside, their metrosexual crackdown may well be mostly sound and fury.

Or skin deep.

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