I don’t have much to say about the much-discussed latest Beckham ad for his H&M pants, directed by fellow LA-loving Brit Guy Ritchie, in which he runs through Beverly Hills in his white slippers as the props and scenery conspire to remove his clothes, Cupid Stunt-like.
Except: Those slippers must be really, really snug to stay on.
And: How sweet that Guy Ritchie has graduated from making homophobic gay porn for straight men, such as Lock Stock and Snatch, to making gay porn for, well, everyone.
OK, while I found the rest of it, like the underwear itself, fairly forgettable (especially the Cheever cliche) – and even when he has no lines Becks evidently still can’t act to save his dressing gown – the final shot is more interesting.
Unlike those eye-poppingly Photoshopped Armani ads the emphasis in this ad commodifying the world’s most famous man’s body seems to be not on his basket but his on his bum.
And what a hungry bum it appears to be.
This shot (reprised twice in the ad) is probably intended to demonstrate the lovely stretchiness of the lycra-cotton mix and rub up against our commodity fetishism. But it looks like something else is quite stretchy too.
Perhaps the real reason I don’t have much more to say about Beck’s latest is because I’m very distracted. By the hilarious parody clip below made by some ‘cheeky’ British Army lads for nowt which has recently been brought to my attention.
Not only does it represent the ultimate in all those ‘soldiers acting gay’ vids (ending up as a semi-simulated gay orgy), it also represents a much funnier, much metrosexier example of ‘self-objectification’ and male exhibitionism and ‘passivity’ than Becks and Ritchie’s big budget bore. (
Plus they seem to have got around the packet problem by shamelessly stuffing their crotches.
Basically, it’s just so much more satisfying.
Besides, the squaddie who opens the video – and whose idea the whole thing probably was – has got a better arse than Becks. He doesn’t need a booty double.
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.)
Books by Mark Simpson
A biography of the metrosexual. By his dad.
End of Gays?
Banning gay propaganda can backfire. Spectacularly.
All saints should be considered guilty until proven innocent
The book that changed the way the world looks at men
It's a Queer World
A warped look at a fin de siecle world of pop culture where nothing is quite as straight or gay as it seems.