Wednesday, March 26, 2008


And now for my latest obsession. Every morning for the past two weeks, I've passed by this poster in the subway. I quickly snapped this photo lest I be caught in the embarrassment of the act.

I can't stop staring at it. It fills my mind. I think about it constantly. Anyone else notice that these men are about as intimidating as The Little Rascals?

But back to the poster itself. This poster is my only exposure to this film. From this picture alone, I can't seem to get over this rampant display of flaccid masculinity. What's with George Clooney's fake black eye? Isn't he getting a little old for this juvenalia? How is Jim from The Office anything other than a jokester? Why am I not shocked that there's a token black man and a token fat man? What kind of a title is "Leatherheads" anyway? (I get that this is about the early years of football where men did, in fact, wear leather helmets, but that title is just Neanderthal. And these helmets make them look like they have cute floppy dog ears.) These men are tough lite.

Such a poster begs the question: does dirt maketh a man? Does sports maketh a man? I suppose the other end of the spectrum is Rambo, which is a steroid-sized caricature that also fails to do masculinity justice in its own way. Maybe what's intriguing to me is the ambiguity implied by this image. Are we supposed to find these men frightening or lame?

I find no definative indicators of how this image is to be read, or rather, my sense of what's "masculine" and what's puerile cancel each other out leaving a black hole. So, I can only bring to bear my outside understanding of these actors along with my preconceptions about gender. Since I can't figure out what we're meant to take away from this picture, I suppose it's quite a successful ad--it's definitely lodged in my not-so-leather head.

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