Friday, March 20, 2009

The NSync Limp Bizkit Paradox

People watching. Adventurous conversation. Pushing the edge. I enjoy figuring out how people work. I probably should have been a psychiatrist, but I'll enjoy my life of getting to the bottom of a person's brain through conversation. I love the Socratic method of calling people out on their douchebaggy behavior by getting them to contradict their stated beliefs. Socrates was awesome at this. My views of my gender are pretty low, as most men are douchebags. It's OK, because women are not any better. What I have noticed in recent years has been a strange paradox in how men behave in modern America. Part of this is crafted by marketing execs and part is molded by modern American women. I call it the NSync-Limp Bizkit Paradox.

Ask most women what they want a prospective mate to act like and undoubtedly you will get a series of characteristics that are completely contradictory. The sensitive tough guy. The bad boy you can bring home to mom and dad. The funny outgoing guy who will shut up and listen to all of my lame stories. Because the key to mating with these women is meeting their prerequisites for an ideal mate, men have become that which they think women want. What you get is a bunch of guys who work out non-stop to look tough but love to shop for new tank tops at H&M. Even better are the guys who love to shop but drive cars with tinted windows with their chains on.

Marketing execs and advertising campaigns have done a good job of crafting this idea of what makes a modern man. Like most things in today's society, it is surrounded by the self and your image. It is also an image that fits their mold. They will have a consumer identity that traditionally was for women in post-WW2 America. Men wear makeup now. Yes there have been metrosexuals for years, but the metrosexual idea spread mainstream. See, women dated these metro guys, which made every other guy take on some of those characterisitcs to keep up. They also were bombarded with ad images and movie characters that perfectly articulated this image.

The NSync-LB Paradox is the idea that these guys are still trying to be tough in a butch traditional male role but take on traits formerly reserved for the fairer gender. They must both be the sensitive soft NSync boy band kid, but also the tough, edgy rap-rock Limp Bizkiter. There is the problem that guys must still be "macho" to their male friends and male relatives. They then overcompensate for their feminine side with aggressive male behavior. The nationwide obsession with celebrity news is something that was formerly a female dominated world with magazines geared towards women. Men now consume those entertainment goods and services at levels their fathers and grandfathers never would have.
This is a paradox that while named after white music acts does cross racial lines. I think everyone who has had a black, male friend has arrived late to a party because they hate to wait for him to get a brand new hat that matched his oversized t-shirt that matched the trim on his sneakers. He would never shy away from calling you a "fag" for doing anything remotely femme, but you better compliment his braids and go shopping for new jewelry with him. I had a friend in the Navy who introduced me to a guy who was both the most effeminate & most masculine 25 year old I had met to that point. This guy would get in a fight and kick some ass, play tackle football with you, and then talk about "The Princess Diaries" and get upset if you wore a horizontal striped polo like he did that night. Being a man goes far beyond what you do, but it should make everyone laugh to look around at what some macho men of today act like in broad daylight in front of their girlfriends and wives.

2 comments:

Whitney said...

why should those characteristics that you say 'women want' have to be contradictory? what's wrong with straight boys who enjoy shopping && dressing well and take pride in their appearance? you're basing this theory or whatever on, as you yourself say, "traditional" gender roles, which are entirely socially constructed. i think it's a great thing that men and women both are starting to move past being constrained by such limiting, heteronormative ideas. plus, you're really stereotyping almost every example in this entire post. i personally don't see any kind of problem with people acting however they want as far as what clothes they wear, what cars they drive, what music they listen to, and what magazines they read, regardless of gender or overlapping. i don't think enjoying traditionally 'masculine' behaviors AND traditionally 'feminine' behaviors should be (or IS, obviously, as you yourself are pointing out) mutually exclusive. while i essentially agree with your overall observations, i do think you're generalizing a lot.

Bailey said...

The NSync Limp Bizkit Paradox... It's brilliant.