Fashion and Masculinities in Popular Culture by Adam Geczy and Vicki Karaminas

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Fashion and Masculinities in Popular Culture
by Adam Geczy and Vicki Karaminas
Fashion and Masculinities in Popular Culture

Contents
List of Figures vii
Introduction 1
1 Vampire Dandies 7
The Dandy 9
The ‘Crisis’ of Masculinity 14
Metrosexuality and the Cult of Self 19
The Vampire of Capital and Commodity 20
Queer Vampire Masculinities 24
2 Playboys 33
Commodified Masculinities 34
On the Virtues of Bachelorhood 37
The Bachelor Pad, or the Sexual Lair 40
James Bond 007 41
Fashioning 007 44
3 Hipsters 48
The White Negro 51
Hipster vs. Beatnik 53
Hipster Style 58
4 Sailors 67
Men in Uniform 68
The Seepage of Sailor into Life and Lore 72
Sailors Big and Small 74
Disciplined but Naughty Boys 76
Bell Bottoms and Fly Fronts 78
Sailor Chic: From Boardwalk to Catwalk 79
5 Cowboys and Bushmen 85
Unknown Frontiers 90
Celluloid Cowboys 92
The Australian Bushman 95
Bush Wear for Bushmen 98
6 Leather Men 104
Reel Men 106
The Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket 110
Leathermen 111
Men of Rock 114
Greasers and Punks 116
7 Superheroes 120
The Origin Stories 121
Masked Masculinity and the Phallic Hero 123
The Costume, or the Superhero’s Struggle with Fashion 126
The Fabric of Superheroes 129
Everyone’s a Superhero: Role-Play and Cosplay 131
Who Does Batman Bat For? 133
8 Gangstas 139
‘Ghettocentricity’ and Street Cred 141
Early Gangstas Style: Pachucos and the Zoot Suit 142
Leave Political Correctness at the Door:
Gangsta’s Paradise 146
The Tyranny of Masculinity 149
White Gangstas 153
Conclusion: Men Without Qualities 160
Bibliography 163
Index 177

List of Figures
1.1 A Member of Water’s Club. George Arents Collection,
The New York Public Library. 10
1.2 Lord Byron. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of
Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New
York Public Library. 12
2.1 Cary Grant. Billy Rose Theatre Division. The New York
Public Library. 34
2.2 Rock Hudson. Billy Rose Theatre Division. The New
York Public Library. 35
3.1 Cab Calloway in Zoot Suit Performing on Stage. The
New York Public Library. 58
3.2 James Dean. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New
York Public Library. 61
4.1 Sailor (present day). George Arents Collection, The
New York Public Library. New York. 70
4.2 Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1861. The Miriam and Ira D.
Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs:
Print Collection, The New York Public Library. New York. 71
5.1 Cowboys Shooting Craps. The Miriam and Ira D.
Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs:
Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. 87
5.2 A Serious Problem. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach
Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography
Collection, The New York Public Library. 92
5.3 Ned Kelly in Chains. Charles Nettleton photographer.
Dolia and Rosa Ribush Collection. State Library of
Melbourne. 96
5.4 Bushmen’s camp in bush; Men and Australian stock
horses at a camp by a river. Aston Wood photographer.
Australian Post. Circa. 1939–1947). State Library of
Melbourne. Public Domain. 97
5.5 A young bushman wearing an akubra hat riding an
Australian stockhorse mare. Private Collection. 100
6.1 Vivian Leigh and Marlon Brando in the motion picture
A Streetcar Named Desire Billy Rose Theatre Division,
The New York Public Library. New York Public Library
Digital Collections. 105

Introduction
With this long and languid sentence, Baudelaire opens his section on the dandy in his Painter of Modern Life. The dandy crops up elsewhere throughout the text, affiliated with the free, rambling urban wanderer, the flâneur, and is an embodiment of modernity itself. ‘Modernity’, by Baudelaire’s reckoning, is ‘the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable’.2 The dandy is a furtive and slippery figure that nonetheless guards an intangible essence. The dandy is for Baudelaire an entirely male domain. By contrast, Baudelaire’s description of women is generic, female types are relatively contingent. Differences of class and fortune may pertain, but the dandy stands out for the way in which he creates a special domain for himself that seeks independence of material economies, and instead enters a world of abstractions. In short, the idea of a male type is something that is modern and is the province of men.

This seems like a particularly challenging distinction, and at first glance opens a great deal of the criticism and conjecture. It discounts the presence of the female dandy, the gamine, the coquette, and many others. Yet these are not quite the same as the male types that burgeoned in Baudelaire’s time, but which became most discernible by the second half of the twentieth century, climaxing at the turn of the millennium. It is as if the male, the holder of subjectivity and the gaze over the objectified female, as arbiter of the phallic order is therefore capable of occupying certain roles. These roles are what enable them to exert their subjectivity. Yet it exposes several problems with the status of male subjectivity itself. The first is that males require these types to mobilise their subjectivity. The second is that, beginning with the dandy himself, character types are not irreducible. And most ironic of all is that this irreducibility also means that lines of sexuality become increasingly blurred: from the muscle man to the cowboy, they become touchstone for gay as much as straight men, often in overlapping domains. Finally, the male icon has become a compelling way of understanding the way in which men assert, frame, and understand themselves in contemporary society. While masquerade has been discussed a great deal by feminist theorists in terms of framing identity, it remains relatively under-theorised when it comes to men. In short, what has come to evidence, and which is one of the central arguments of this book, is that male subjectivity is stalked, or haunted, by icons and types, which in a different way from women, have their own differentiating yet also objectifying effect. And while men have sought these types to explore and assert what it means to be male, each of these types proves to have their own particular unpredictability and ambiguity.


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