In another increasingly classic case of being unable to separate the “man” from the “art” in the twenty-first century, R. Kelly has–at long last–been indicted for aggravated criminal sexual abuse after decades (decades!) of accusations regarding his sexual abuse of women (also involving the perv’s bread and butter of pissing on them). For whatever reason evading a worthy comeuppance for this long, a six-part documentary about the allegations against him called Surviving R. Kelly increased the catalyst for the bloodlust against his crimes as 2019 began–though this unfortunately also led to increased streams of his music despite the #MuteRKelly campaign that began in 2018.
Considering R. Kelly has never been much for hiding his overall grossness in lyric form (ranging from “You remind me of my Jeep, I wanna ride it/I wanna pump it/Girl you look just like my cars, I wanna wax it” to “It really don’t matter, who’s first in the shower/Fruit platter from a young maid every hour” to, simply, “My tongue is in the mood”), it should come as no surprise that, over the years, he’s only gotten more foul in his descriptions, as though getting off on “hiding in plain sight” as the music industry remained complicit in his behavior the same way the movie industry was with Harvey Weinstein’s. Through all the bad music and horrendous lyrics, however, there remain “men”–mostly white ones, to be honest–that still can’t help but view R. Kelly’s “canon” as brilliant.
Some “men” in particular are most fond of R. Kelly’s “masterpiece,” Trapped in the Closet, a twenty-two chapter “opus” released over the period from 2005 to 2012 detailing varying layers of infidelity, involving, among other absurdist (read: stupid) Tyler Perry-esque plot devices, a midget. Thinking it a combination of hilarious and well-thought out, one has to wonder if any “man” still secretly harboring an affinity for this work also feels that R. Kelly’s lifetime of sexual abuse is perhaps even more hilarious and well-thought out. Or, worse yet, still wants to “go out on a limb” and make the claim that R. Kelly is the modern Dante, leading one to ask, “O human race, born to fly upward, wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?” (on a side note, “wind” in R. “Dante” Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet refers to breaking wind. How poetic indeed.).
One understands that in the era of what “men” will look back upon as the Henpecking Dark Ages after they inevitably reclaim their power upon finally making The Handmaiden’s Tale a reality that, in the now, it’s very important to come across as “feministic.” For self-preservation purposes more than a genuine belief in the merits of women beyond their mouths when they’re not talking. Of course, what greater emblem, literary or otherwise, of said adjective is there than Margaret Atwood? She, the grand creator of dystopian realities generally involving more pronounced instances of female subjugation, has become quite “accessible” all of the sudden to the average “bloke,” particularly the kind bearing a blanco skin tone.
He wants everyone around him to know that he “gets it.” He gets it so much that he wants to make sure you see he gets it by carrying around a large hardcover book with him throughout town so that everyone everywhere can comprehend just how “with it” he is. Though if he was actually with it, he might consider buying a fucking “man” bag so as not to be forced to carry such a cumbersome tome. But then, that would defeat the entire purpose of reading Margaret Atwood, wouldn’t it? If it was concealed within a glorified purse. How would anyone know what a “man” just minding his own business with no intent of reading for mere show was reading if he couldn’t demonstrate it with a handsome and large edition?
“We should all be feminists,” sure. But we should not all read Margaret Atwood to fucking prove it.
Being that “men” have become increasingly prone to docility as a result of their fear of “nasty women” that might further try to henpeck them to death with their words and associated outrage, it would seem that many are taking advantage of a certain trend in fashion initiated by a “bewildered” to what he was wearing Timothée Chalamet at the Golden Globes at the beginning of January and carried on last night by Michael B. Jordan at the SAG Awards. That being, of course, donning a harness as though an outfit simply wouldn’t be complete without it.
While a war of dominance and submission has long been the name of the game in the tacit dance between genders called, “Who has more power?,” it would appear, to the untrained eye, that this fashion trend is some kind of “win” for females. An unbridled (no pun intended) indication that “men” have visibly surrendered to knowing their place as the whipping “boys” of womankind. But delve deeper into the psychology of the trend, and it’s easy to see that this “dressage” is the final nail in the coffin of masculinity (of which there will likely continue to be many as all coffins should be sealed quite tightly).
Sure, “men” who don’t understand the complex mind of a woman will say that we cannot have it both ways: a hairy-chested “man” smelling of the natural musk of his sweat who can carry you over to the bed and a “man” you can control and manipulate as well. And this is why we now have “men” wearing harnesses in public instead of behind closed doors: we’ve let our standards sink this low. Accepted that “men” can only be complete bitches or utter misogynists and that to lust for a Goldilocks happy medium would prove futile. Ride him, lest he rides you and all that.
As though “men” needed to pretend in some way–once more–that their looks have any bearing on their ability to “snag” a broad, their strange participation in the “ten-year challenge” that has taken all social media avenues by storm seems but only one more reason to prove to women that we should all surrender to going lez or asexual. For there is nothing sadder than seeing just how much more pronounced guts and receding hairlines have gotten over the years. And yet, women are supposed to somehow be endlessly impressed that a “man” has remained so “intact.” So “well-preserved.” Even though no matter how fucking ugly he was then and now, his odds of getting just about anyone he wants will not be affected as the ratio of heterosexual men to women only continues to tip in favor of the former.
Still, the “man” participating in the ten-year challenge ultimately just wants to seem relatable and timelessly “fun-loving.” As prone to “tomfoolery” then as he is now (kind of like Brett Kavanaugh). And he’s got the same “timeless” flannel shirt likely from American Eagle or Abercrombie to prove it. Or, depending on his “niche,” maybe Gap or Old Navy. He’s not really sure what he’s trying to convey with this side by side glance at fast existentialism, but he knows everyone else is doing it–and he’ll be damned if he can’t still get laid tonight based on 2019’s photo.
“It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best.” So concludes the dramatic and somehow controversial Gillette commercial that reminds the cracked out on too much testosterone (for lack of anything else worthwhile to justify their existence) adult “men” of today that they are raising a generation for the future. A generation with the potential to put an end to the highly antiquated notion that to be a “man” means to, in essence, treat women like shit. To demean them, to ogle them and to subjugate them lest they lose their own sense of place and self-worth.
As the commercial opens with buzz words of the moment as stated by a newscaster tossing out phrases like, “Bullying,” “The #MeToo movement” and “Toxic masculinity,” Gillette proceeds to invite its viewers and regular users of the product to reexamine what it might actually mean to be a man. Not the version of the man that’s been indoctrinated into both sexes’ heads for centuries to the point of not even knowing what’s real and what’s a self-imposed archetype anymore. That Gillette is holding itself accountable for its own chauvinistic tag line of the past–“The Best a Man Can Get”–by altering it to “The Best a Man Can Be” (even if this does smack just a little bit of the U.S. Army’s “Be All That You Can Be” mantra) is in and of itself a bold statement. But for the brand to take the risk (and clearly it was, based on the absurd backlash) in challenging parents–who never like to be challenged or accused by anyone, least of all a company they might buy something from–to rethink what they’re teaching their “sons” is what really shows gumption.
Scenes of “boys” fighting each other like animals with oversized pituitary glands and “men” catcalling a woman dressed in “asking for it” attire combine to provide the opening for the voiceover, “We can’t laugh it off. Making the same old excuses: boys will be boys.” It is around this moment we have to take pause to admire the creative team at Grey New York for presenting this concept to Procter and Gamble. Even if both parties are likely just trying to sell a razor to the non self-mutilators of America by appealing to the very person who truly controls the household budget: Mother. It’s a step in the right direction, and Gillette has proven to be one of the few brands geared toward “men” that has been willing to re-focus the accepted lens of how to advertise something to the douche bag “male.”
So as these “men” stare at themselves existentially in the mirror wondering not what a best a “man” can get is, but what the best a “man” can be is, maybe–just maybe–they, in true American consumerist fashion, owe it all to Procter & Gamble (taking a huge gamble indeed in their faith in the politically polarized climate of the U.S. to send such a message). And anyone offended by this notion of reassessing masculinity to exist without the “toxic” in front of it can go fuck themselves. Which is what they’ll have to do when no woman wants to.
As Shania Twain probably should have contributed to a lyric for “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” “Okay, so you have a black turtleneck and think you’re Kerouac or some shit.” For yes, it is only in this one respect–if you are actually a beatnik living in the 60s of Paris, San Francisco or New York–that it would be even remotely “acceptable” to wear a turtleneck, let alone a black one. While some would argue that it’s a perfectly timeless fashionable winter statement, there is something very deliberate in a “man’s” choice to don this particular absence of color in turtleneck form.
More often than not, he is a “writer.” Or rather an “aspirant.” A motherfucking poseur, if you will. And because of his own latent insecurities about a talent that is not latent so much as nonexistent, he makes up for it in the aesthetics of what he believes a Writer with a capital “w” would wear. Your Dostoyevskys and your Tolstoys and your Chekhovs. Granted, all of the aforementioned had the viable excuse of living in the frigid airs of Russia that might have justified them wearing a goddamn turtleneck beneath their furs. What excuse does the slack-jawed white “man” sitting in front of a Mac as he “thoughtfully” takes years to never complete his opus have?
This is precisely why a girl, if she knows what’s good for her (especially in terms of ever hoping to encounter a “man” who isn’t more selfish and stingy than usual), ought to run in the other direction if she ever sees a “male” in her vicinity in this specific style choice (particularly if there’s only a mild chill in the air). For is a black turtleneck ever just a black turtleneck on a “man”? Absolutely fucking not. Like all of us, a “man’s” fashion choices are calculated, even if they reside somewhere in the “subconscious.” Which is where all of “men’s” darkest desires come to roost in the conscious world. On a side note, did you know col roulé in French means pretentious twat with vocal intonations like farts as he explains Turgenev’s brilliance to you?
While the hands of time might persist in rendering us all genderless by 2030, there will always remain that one sect of “male”–that rare breed still born into money–that can’t help but be driven by an innate desire to usurp his father’s “success” (the Bush family generally comes to mind). This, in white “male” speak, pertains to 1) having more money and 2) procuring a more synthetic wife, paired with a younger mistress. As for poor sons born to middle class fathers, well, no one talks about them, unless it’s a story like A Bronx Tale.
The issue with this little plot to overthrow Daddy as the unshakeable patriarch is that no son can ever truly outshine the father that bore him into wealth in the first place. There is nothing impressive about a rich “boy” who becomes richer just because he slummed it a few years by not automatically becoming a CEO or senator. It goes against the very fabric of the falsity of the American dream, which still touts capitalism as a fair means to rise to the top by your own bootstraps. Thus, it is as Bob Dylan phrased it in “Temporary Like Achilles”: “I’m helpless, like a rich man’s child.”
That helplessness stems from the fact that a son can never outshine son cher papa on the integrity of merit. Even if he renounces access to the bank account and changes his last name, he will always know the cushion is there, just waiting to catch him if and when he should encounter a snag in the plan to Oedipally topple Father. And no, one doesn’t feel sorry for this pathetic and inane drive to outperform Dad’s success, particularly when the inheritance finally rolls in and the new patriarch by default–not by honor–can rename the family yacht anything cheeky directed at his father that he wants. The rich son wins by outliving his father, and by that alone. Just look at the Amises.
Though we keep telling ourselves that gender roles are an illusion (and soon enough so will reality be altogether thanks to, among other things, persistent hologram concerts from the likes of Roy Orbison and Amy Winehouse), it would seem that many “men” still rely on the tried and true Jay Gatsby go-to of making a shit ton of money in order to both impress therefore “procure” a woman. Tragically, what he can’t seem to procure is a clue regarding how to be sociable in a way that doesn’t scream “eccentric millionaire” (although one hopes, at the very least, not at quite the same decibel as Howard Hughes). So he goes about his usual manner of being a bumbling idiot that somehow managed to make him vast sums of money not in the face of but precisely because he is socially inept and generally daft.
The girl, of course, is partially at fault for falling into the cliche trap of wanting to be, to use a gross, parody of something Frank Sinatra would say, wined and dined, allowing herself to fall prey to the inevitable sandpaper hangout session. Because, what can she say, that statistic about women making seventy-five cents for every dollar a “man” makes still rings true, and thusly, she could use a paid for meal every now and again. Yet for all his best attempts to treat the dinner like a job interview and go on about his various qualifications for the role of potential fuck and maybe–if she’s lucky–boyfriend, she is, as usual, of the Shania bent, not impressed much. And in truth, sort of just trying to get through the dinner without vomiting her food too prematurely (that’s for later, in the privacy of her own bathroom). So it must be said that just because a “man” has a wallet more burgeoning and thrilling than his so-called panisse does not mean it is enough to 1) keep a woman’s interest or 2) even reel her in in the first place. Because there’s something to be said for the non-faux pretension of poverty dick. Crusty though it may be.
Runaway Bride, a film that saw Julia Roberts in her last phase of the 90s before transitioning into Oscar roles only or nothing at all (meaning a greater paucity of straightforward rom-coms), canonized the very overt definition of what a runaway bride is, while also going deeper into the meaning: a person in a relationship incapable of being their own entity, therefore mimicking all the interests, behaviors and aesthetics of their significant other so as to make it easier on themselves in terms of forever avoiding self-exploration. This is precisely why Maggie Carpenter (Roberts) can’t even decide on her own damn eggs, favoring the adoption of whatever he likes best. It just makes it all so much more effortless in terms of ignoring one’s own total lack of personality.
Surprisingly, however, this tendency is most apparent in “men” in the epoch called “We’re Too Fucking Afraid of Women to Be Ourselves and We’re Kind of Just Trying to Secure Pussy at Any Cost–Even If It Means Renouncing Our Own Vacuous Thoughts and Feelings.” In the past, of course, it was a comportment that might have been easily chalked up to a woman reading too many “lifestyle magazine” articles about how to catch a man, keep a man and forever please him. Over time, however, her sole desire has become how to ditch this fucking dead weight (which is much harder than catching a “man” ever was). Especially once he starts copping her style–from sartorial steez to haircut to speech patterns and specific word choices (Jesus, F. Scott Fitzgerald much?). It’s enough to make a girl want to change her name, change her address, change her Instagram handle. But she doesn’t, instead bearing with the offensive poseurdom in the hope that she might one day procure an orgasm in the interim period before the sex robots liberate us all from feigned attempts at emotionalism.
As a result of having a “penis,” it doesn’t matter what sexuality a “man” claims when it comes to falling prey to the unfortunate syndrome called: Let Me State the Obvious. Falling in line with the unfortunate congenital need to “man”splain so as to prove his worth as a species (of which he really can’t, try as he might with his needless and unwanted explanations about “how the world works”), an unshakeable desire to make glaringly obvious statements further pertains to the “male” inability to fill a silence with anything valuable (unless it is the screams of a woman from orgasm, but how often does that really happen outside of a “male”-created porno?).
So we have Troye Sivan (content to ride the coattails of Charli XCX’s talent on “1999“), responding to the vacuous Teen Beat sort of question posed by The Coveteur, “What’s one thing people don’t know about you?” to which he stated, “A good pasta is, like, my favorite thing in the world.” Wow, does he like music and breathing too (as Emma Roberts’ character in It’s Kind of A Funny Story might ask)? Because such “favorites” would be equally as expected and obvious of statements. But to the garden variety “male,” declaring such banalities is just another way to accordingly pepper an earth in which the most pea-sized brain (and wang) belongs to one of the most “powerful” “men” in the free world.
If you would like to state how much you love pasta as though it’s novelty information that is somehow surprising, consider that 1) it would be more shocking and profound if you did not like pasta (communist!) and 2) be prepared to have a mound of it tossed on you like Samantha Jones in “A Woman’s Right to Shoes.” Because some of us still, even despite being forced to exist in this century, prefer our sentences arcane and dissectable.