Trade Mark Men

What differentiates men’s magazines from gun magazines? Nothing!  They both have just one purpose: Intimidation. Whether talking about firearms that look so terrifying, or about the men for whom apparently the Lord allowed them to be forged. The effect is the same. Only with a quivering quill do I dare report on what I have seen: Men, I tell you, men, one like the next. Rather prototypical masculinity in mass production, delivered on the finest paper of men’s fashion magazines.

These powerful jawbones, these masterfully wild noses, resolutely closed mouths, the profoundly deeply set eyes. And then the heroic charm of the nasolabial wrinkle in the floodlight. Or the shadowy field under the strong, Aryan cheekbones. Really, these powerful cheeks. Why do they have such a maddening effect? Of course! Because they manifest in their polished perfection the trinity of man, woman and child: Manly creases, feminine hairlessness and the immaculate smoothness of a small child’s bottom. Now I know what “After Shave” means.

Still, the man-o-man of today does not surround himself with such trivial things. We see he is the man of the hour, obvious from his timepiece. Rolex Submariner, guaranteed watertight to 300 meters. Okay, okay, man can never sink any deeper if he believes in himself. Or perhaps it could also be a Piaget? Or a Wempe? Or a Bulgari or, or, or? And the watches for which he no longer has a wrist free he simply packs away in a case by Louis Vuitton. In his initialled case the trinity man carries around with him, in addition to wristwatches, the scent and care products by Gainsboro. Or Lagerfeld perfumes. But no Pampers because of the small-child’s-bottom smoothness of the cheeks. Included in the case, the man has the subscribed “Welt” or “Welt am Sonntag”. And a large shaggy dog on a line is trying in vain to move him away from his standing point. The man is standing on his standpoint. Naturally in Italian shoes. If he is not just climbing out of a German astral automobile or jumping on his sailing yacht.

The men in the full page photos have full sounding names. They are called Redaeli or Gucci or simply Boss, also Windsor or Bagutta or Kenzo.  So named underneath and upside down. Many also have names which sound less like motor sport and more like fellow workers in a mixed national construction crew: Ralf Lauren, Toni Gard, Gianfranco Ferre, Claude Montana, Brian Scott or Franco Ziche… Those are men, I tell you, more manly is not possible. One like the other a new reprint of Rock Hudson. Simply magnificent. It’s just that each is looking so angry, so cheerlessly annoyed, that picture of a man, totally finished of any joy in life. As though they all had Aids.

Now I know that many occupations are very stressful. And also very disillusioning. But in my efforts to study the faces of these ambiguous examples of their profession, I have failed miserable. Naturally I know that these joyless men do not belong to a mixed national construction crew; they are too aspiring in their outfit. I already have that much trade mark transparency in my outlook.  But then what kind of people are these deathly unhappy dudes? Are they perhaps scientists who carry the heavy burden of their gene manipulations?  No, for that they are too underexposed. I hope that the international top photographers who have taken these pictures will take that correctly, too. Perhaps they are managers, chasing from one appointment to the next? No, also not. For that they are simply too handsome. Everybody knows that work makes you ugly. Are they maybe officers in civilian, frigate captains and first lieutenants in disguise? Of that I do not want to know anything, so I don’t lose trust in our shiny weapons through the hopeless forlornness in the faces of these men. I most likely will not fathom what kind of men they are. I will take them as they are, as men like you or I –  just different. But as a good citizen I can only hope that something as dangerous as these men remain eternally and for all time in the magazines – just like the firearms.
(Aus dem Deutschen von Stephen Merrick)

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