Tuesday, September 09, 2003

This Metrosexual Thing

First off, metrosexual-- like yuppies, Gen X, and Gen Y-- is the creation of ad agencies and market researchers. The "trend" was not discovered through disinterested scholarship, it was manufactured to provide clever talking points to sell advertising space and advertising agencies.

As with most advertising-driven "research" the groups identified as most desirable and/or cutting edge tend to be groups that are over-represented in advertising, publishing, and media. That is why straight men getting facials in LA and New York gets discussed on TV and in major papers. It is perceived as some sort of harbinger in a way that 1,000,000 home-schooled children or 33 states with "shall issue" concealed carry laws are not.

The hype also bugs me because self-described metrosexuals are quick to create a false dichotomy.

The editor of Details declares:

Heterosexual men who no longer fit the alpha male description. I like to think that I'm a neo-alpha male. I believe that the idea of the chest-pounding, flannel-wearing, axe-swinging, lug of a guy no longer accurately represents the idea of masculinity

Think about the perfect guy. The one your mother has always wanted you to bring home (assuming you're a woman). He's sensitive. He's smart. He can quote Thoreau. He can cook French food. He knows the difference between a daisy and a daffodil and the difference between a Monet and a Manet. This is a metrosexual. It doesn't have anything to do with getting pedicures. I've never had a pedicure or a manicure in my entire life. Metrosexuality is in simple terms, just a word used to define an evolution in masculinity. Men are no longer belching up their breakfasts while reading the sports pages and ignoring the women that are around them. That guy is long gone. Or at least he should be.

This Austrailian journalists announced:

We have had a lot of bad press lately, and it's time some of us stood up to be counted.

I like my shirt and tie to match. I keep up with fashion trends and I would like to think I'm quite well groomed. Is there anything wrong with this?

If you don't get on board and buy the complete Clinique of Men product line, then you are stupid, crude, sloppy and violent. No man could prefer Dial soap and Woolrich and still be literate or courteous. If you don't follow the fashion layouts religiously, then you are the kind of man who embarrasses your family when you try to wear a suit and tie.

But the big problem is that the whole idea celebrates man as a consumer and narcissist. (Billy Crystal's Fernando may be the perfect metrosexual.) For me, "man at his best" is a do-er, not merely a consumer; he lives and acts for something larger than his own appearance and image. But that kind of "lifestyle" doesn't lend itself to advertising-driven publishing.

No comments: