Mad about the boy

They say societies can be categorised as masculine or feminine. Thus most Northern European countries are classed as feminine- the UK, Germany and the Scandinavian countries for example. While middle eastern cultures are of course masculine, as, it seems, are most mediterranean cultures. Spain, like Italy, may have its element of matriarchal control, but it falls squarely into the masculine camp. They don’t talk about the macho Iberico for nothing. He’s alive and kicking, and you’d better believe it. I firmly believe that matriarchs are created by cultures where women have few other options, so bossing and manipulating men becomes the only way to exercise any power. The metaphorical rolling pin becomes your sword, the plate of food your shield, and emasculating and coddling with ‘Mummy knows best’ becomes your most lethal weapon against menfolk. But let’s leave that discussion for another day.

One sign of a masculine society is worship of the young male. Not in that seriously wrong way like, say, some arab cultures where womenfolk: mothers, nannies, aunties etc, apparently grab the pre-pubescent boy, whip up his galabeya and plant adoring kisses on his penis. I’m sure I read that somewhere. I really hope I didn’t make it up.

Let’s look, then, at how young men are being portrayed in advertising around the city this week. There is a full-page ad in the free metro newspaper by Vueling which perfectly illustrates my theory that the hero is the boy. A family pose for a formal portrait, and apart from a beautiful fashionable young man with soulful eyes at the back of them, they are a pig-ugly, nerdy lot. The mother is vast and garishly dressed and though she is smiling she has a face like a pissed off warthog. The father is fat, goofy and wearing a greasy nylon suit. His sister is a skinny, speccy little thing with braces. The young man stares into the middle distance into a vueling cloud which is a thought bubble offering him flights to Ibiza for 35 euros. Clearly he cannot wait to get away from this bunch, and your sympathies couldn’t be with him any more than they already are.

Pulling into Plaza Castilla metro station this week on the way to a class I glanced up and out of the train window into the station, at an enormous buffed man in nothing more than tight white CK pants. The visual effect was unnerving- the poster was larger than life- much larger, and every muscle glistened on his perfect toned body. He was in a typical ‘man model’ pose: slouchy-crouching and staring intently into the train window at me. Food for sore eyes but a little startling until my brain made the connection that he wasn’t real. Later that day as I passed the same station on the way back and we paused to let people on and off a woman stood on the platform gazing to the right, looking for the exit sign. She didn’t notice that directly behind her there was another of these enormous young men in his pants, his 6 pack as defined as porphyria cobbles in a medieval street. This time his delicious torso was wrapped round a 20 foot metal column. What she didn’t realise was that her head was just about level with the bulge in his boxers. It really was enough to make your eyes water.

A couple of years ago there was an ad campaign for D & G which featured a gang of semi-naked male models lounging around languidly in a locker room- an image that, on first sight almost caused me to walk straight into a lamp post. Then recently another brand of mens’ undies advertised their wares on the glassed-in street hoardings by bus-stops, and the poster of the guy in his tight white pants (again) featured a clever tromp-l’oeuil which made it look as though his packet was bursting through the advert and had smashed a huge crack in the glass. It made you look twice, and then laugh.

Last year El Corte Ingles advertised their summer sale with an ad campaign starring a tacky pop singer with floppy blond hair and large latino features. In the swimwear ad he was pictured in large swimming trunks, more like bermuda shorts, and was flanked by two women, both wearing miniscule bikinis and heavy jewellery, both glancing in at him, the adored male. They didn’t mind sharing; they were clearly almost orgasmically happy just to be close to him. He had an arm slung casually round each of them and grinned smugly out at the camera with an expression like the cat that got the cream. This is a man’s world….

Seemed like a gratuitous excuse to reproduce this image...

One Response to “Mad about the boy”

  1. I can totally relate to all that young-male-worship going on round here! Your post made me think of those awful turron adverts they put on at Christmas with that song ‘vuelve a casa vuelve…por navidad’ and it’s always a young male coming home from is travels and into te arm of his adoring mummy – NEVER a

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