"The Decline of the Metrosexual" -- I finally put online my October 20, 2003 cover story from The American Conservative about why, despite vast media coverage, "metrosexuals" are seldom seen anywhere besides Manhattan. An excerpt:
The Tony Awards ceremony increasingly looks like an indoor gay pride parade. One of the big winners this year was "Take Me Out," about a gay baseball player which included three locker room shower scenes.
Obviously, there is a lot of gay talent on Broadway, but there isn't enough to compensate for the huge decline in straight participation. That's a big reason why the quantity and quality of Broadway plays has declined so dramatically, or even theatrically.
Somewhere out there are straight youths with the gifts to become the next Richard Rodgers, Bob Fosse, and Gene Kelly, but they aren't going to go into musical theater now that all their buddies know the score about Broadway. Instead, they'll show off their straightness by dressing like slobs and listening to gangsta rap. When they grow up, they'll go to Hollywood instead and help make movies about blowing stuff up. They'll take their huge paychecks and buy yellow Hummers.
The aristocratic and religious arts that make up the high culture of Western Civilization were part of a thousand year project to restrain and redefine the unbridled masculinity of all those Conan the Barbarians who poured into the old Roman Empire at the beginning of the Dark Ages. The aptly named Vandals and their cohorts were slowly converted into knights, who were supposed to know not only how to fight, but also how to appreciate the finer forms of music, painting, sculpture, theater, dance, conversation, and dress.
Inevitably, the arts attracted a higher proportion of male homosexuals than did fighting, hunting, or plowing. But nobody particularly noticed because all attention was focused on matters of class. If you wanted your family to move up in society, you (or your children) needed to learn something about the arts.
We Americans claim to be a classless society, so the social pressures to study the traditional aristocratic arts were always less in America, and are declining even more. Ballet schools, for example, need male dancers to partner all the little girls who want to be ballerinas, but they've given up on finding enough American boys. Instead, they try to recruit lads from immigrant families from more class-ridden lands that are attracted to the old snob appeal of ballet.
With the decline of overt interest in class, sexual orientation has become a driving force in the arts.
If James Bond were introduced today, the New York Times would describe him as a metrosexual rather than as a gentleman. I fear, though, that if you called him a metrosexual, he would make a witty quip, flick some invisible dust from his perfectly tailored lapels with his manicured hands, and shoot you.
Straight flight raises a seldom-asked question about the push for gay marriages, or, more precisely, gay weddings. The average young groom finds preparing for his wedding to be a grueling, months-long odyssey through an alien and threatening feminine landscape. At least though, being a groom is a guy thing, not a gay thing. But if gay men become some of the most flamboyant participants in weddings, will more of the vast majority of straight men who aren't metrosexuals just decide to skip the whole punishing process and stay single? If this drives up the illegitimacy rate, society as a whole will suffer. [More...]