A regular review of interesting cultural shifts & marketing developments as viewed through the collective lens of the Stancombe Research + Planning Team

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

End of metrosexuals is a win for real equality

Unless you were lucky enough to be of nightclubbing age in the 1970s it has never been cool to wear white leather shoes. Despite being akin to wearing a large sign that says “I’m a tool”, this hideous footwear has had something of a resurgence in trendy nightclubs thanks to metrosexuality.

But after a decade at the cutting edge of cool, metrosexuals have been given one clear signal they may have to go back to being ordinary blokes. Nightclub promoter Scott Mellor has chalked a line in the pavement outside a new club event in Melbourne that debuts on Friday. Beyond it, metrosexuals shall not pass.

Anthropologists might be tempted to attribute this to a socio-collectivist and culturo-genetic realisation that men are not capable of understanding manicures and shopping to the extent required to live a truly metrosexual life. But most would say metrosexuality was like platform shoes for blokes – a stupid idea in the first place – and besides, since David Beckham first dyed his tips blonde women have been clamouring that they prefer real men.

The event details from the club’s website are worth quoting at some length:

No snakeskin shoes, No Ed f***ing Hardy, No numbered polos, no axl rose bandanas. Spread the word and bring the party. Upstairs at Ding Dong. Check your life pre entry.
(No tragic pout photos)

Now the general law in most Australian states is that it’s discriminate against someone on grounds of sex, pregnancy, age, race, sexuality, religion or disability. Mellor is exploiting a neat loophole: there’s nothing to stop discrimination against someone on the grounds that they’re an up-themself poser douchebag.

This is one loophole that doesn’t need to be closed. In a sign that this might be part of a trend, one of Australia’s best new restaurants has a not dissimilar set of house rules. Before you get to the food in the menus at Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney you’re warned against getting snotty and demanding with the staff. “Check your attitude with your coat at the door,” it says.

Metrosexuality was only starting to gain a real foothold when it was lampooned in the 2001 movie Zoolander. Arguably Ben Stiller’s finest movie, it showed men who paid too much attention to their image were a rich source of ridicule.

My own opinion of metrosexuality through the years has been massively inconsistent. Despite scoffing at the awful pretentiousness of the whole phenomenon and ridiculing my friends I did have my hair dyed blonde in Thailand in 2002 and have occasionally worn polos with big numbers on them. These days I spend $45 on my haircut which I suspect is the annual barber budget of many Australian men whose loaves look just fine.

Most tellingly, last Christmas the secret Santa in work got me a metrosexual styling kit which I accepted with much mirth only to slink home and to have a look at how good the tweezers were. (Let me make it clear I’ve never had a manscape, gotten a fake tan or worn my collar up.)

The trouble for metrosexuals now is that what began, like most fashion trends, as an original, slightly ironic and fringe lifestyle choice went mainstream. While the original metros would put in a short appearance at a club before retiring by 10pm (can’t miss the beauty sleep), trendy bars are overrun with great-smelling, manicured and buff straight dudes whose conversation moves seamlessly between interior design and Collingwood’s chances next season.

If this is the beginning of the end for metrosexuality it’s a win for the all-consuming passion of Australians for real equality, the same passion that loathes idle hands and anyone with more money than sense. Because to be a true metrosexual you need a specific combination of two things most men in middle Australia don’t have much of: time and cash to burn.

Declaring that people with too much money and time on their hands are unwelcome at a club is a classic expression of the Australian society’s unrelenting pursuit of equality. It’s a way of saying the boundaries have been pushed too far. You’ve had your fun, metros. Time to put away the moisturiser.

Or maybe it’s just a really clever way of getting women looking for a real man in the door of a club.

by Paul Colgan (www.smh.com.au)

1 comment:

  1. Oh gosh. this debate about metrosexuals and their rise and demise has been raging for two decades now.

    The pendulum swings one way... and when it swings too far... it swings back the other... goes too far again (overcompensating reaction) and thus is propelled right back to where it started.

    from clean shaven to beards to clean shaven to beards and back again...

    i think it also worthwhile noting that these debates have always been twice as noisy in Australia. A country's whose national identity is formed on an image of ruggedness and 'real men.'

    In France or Japan, metrosexual habits such as grooming and fashion fetishes would not be considered the feminine threats to masculinity that they are here.

    and i think the fact this debate rages in the first place, that grooming is considered a feminine trait mutually exclusive with masculinity, only shows how far we still have to go to achieve real equality.

    I take faith in the emo youth of Australia. That great mass of young boys who dye their hair, wear makeup, paint their nails, and are redefining notions of masculinity in a way that does not define itself by its differentiation from femininity.

    so no Mr Paul Colgan, i do not think ridiculing men for challenging traditional and outdated notions of masculinity is a win for real equality!

    (I can't help but feel the student in me coming out!)



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