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Esquire has lessons on how to be a man–do you want to be that man or just read about him?

April 23, 2009
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  David Granger, Editor...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The May 2008 copy of Esquire has George Clooney on the front, with the title:  How to Be A Man.  Since my partner has this in the bathroom, along with other magazines not appropriate for small children–articles about other atrocities committed in the world–I occasionally read the articles.  I was intrigued by this one because of George Clooney on the cover and the peel-backs, but it’s unanimous that the men editing Esquire pick men that have a strong aversion to showing respect for women.

George Clooney is the ultimate man’s man, definitely not a woman’s man:  he comes across as the man that every woman wants to have a conversation with, maybe “experience” in some way, and the leave.  He seems way too into himself to ever do more than give a passing glance to a woman he finds physically attractive; George Clooney seems to have no depth when it comes to his interaction with women.

Clooney comes across as the goony aging guy who won’t be able to have any sort of lasting intimacy with any woman besides his mother, his sainted mother, not unlike Hugh Hefner, who after turning 80, decided that he still wants girlfriends who are 20 and then can’t figure out why they keep leaving.

What’s in it for the women?  Looking at other women who are physically perfect, not invested, and still get to sleep with their boyfriend while they get a bedroom to themselves?   Yeah, not so much there unless you are woman just looking for money.   Even Hef’s girlfriends cheat on him to get laid, and marry the guy.  So if you want to be a rich old cuckold, this might be the right direction.  Guess who Hef Baby finds?  Guess who Clooney seems to find?

Women may look for an experience once or twice, as in Clooney or Hef, but even they won’t stick around long for repeated explanations about how they aren’t as good as someone else just because the guy is rich.  And while, I would like to be derogatory and say that all men just want to get laid and left, I was always surprised at how many men really don’t want that, not even Hefner.  Not even Clinton wanted that, and he is still with Hillary.  Justin made up songs about how that happened to him, and he was certainly upset about it (one of my favorite songs from him).  Some men seem better for being a cuckold, and I would say it even improves their artistic abilities (Hef, Timberlake, Clooney).

Justin Timberlake, the other man on the cover, whom I can tell, like Clooney, is favored by Esquire editors, and appears regularly as some man’s man, a blonde-haired kid-man who has made his money off of objectifying women’s bodies, starting with his first girlfriend Britney Spears.  Show me a Justin who doesn’t use women’s bodies to further his career, and I will show you a hollow kid.  There is nothing else to his career except how he sings about getting women naked, how  he was wronged, how he is so sexy.  Blah, blah.  Bulletin:  Guys, if you have tell us how sexy you are, you’re not that sexy.

Obama is on the cover, and his main claim to fame is achieving a presidency despite the color of his skin.  He has the same background as other presidents:  doting wife, two kids, and a big degree.  Obama isn’t famous so much for what he is, but what he isn’t–he isn’t any different than the other men outside of his skin color.  He still makes chauvinistic comments, still makes goofy-ass mistakes with his cabinet appointees, and still does dumb things like rile the military at the same time he expects them to go die for the mission he directs.

Above all, I am struck by how dumbed-down the Esquire guide to being a man is:  everything is simplified with drawings and pictures to make it simpler.  Here is how to carve a turkey (as in, any dummy can do this).  Here is how to change a light fixture, fix a toilet, etc.  There are even sections on how to dress.  What is this?  I find it amusing while still wishing that guides for women could be this simple.  If Esquire does one thing well, and I have noticed this in every magazine, they dumb down the chore and make it seem simple, as in Every Man (even if you are a fucking moron) can do this and therefore should buy the magazine.

Esquire appeals to the lowest common denominator and makes them want to do something like change a light fixture.  Editors seem to use equal amounts of shaming and browbeating to get the job done, but people buy the magazine, so perhaps they like it.

I guess the gooney old white men are portrayed so lovingly because the magazine is edited by gooney old white men who want to still seem relevant.  They sound like the old grandpas who don’t know any other way to interact with their sons but to yell and then kind of teasingly point out everything the kid does wrong because the old guy can’t do anything else by himself and is indicted by the kid’s youth and strength.  At some point in time, gentleman, you are going to have to accept that your kid can kick your ass and will be stronger than you, no matter how many times you spank him as a kid.

Guess it just seems odd to me that everything about being a man is simplified, except respecting women.  I don’t think it’s that tough, but then again, I don’t think those editors are getting laid either.

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