“Sporno” Keeps Running Publicity Mile

In sort of related news, British homo-journo Mark Simpson continues to get press for his metrosexuality replacement: sporno. The word first appeared in last July’s edition of Out Magazine. Like a wordage wild fire, it started to spread, passing the lips of gays and straights alike and ultimately landing on The New York Times‘ Ideas of the Year list. Of course, the word’s influence can’t be contained to 2006 and has thus spawned an enjoyable Doron Halutz penned piece in Israel’s Haaretz.

Good thing Simpson’s not scared of a little shameless self-promotion, because the piece came out last week and we never would have heard about it had it not been for this post on Simpson’s blog. Although, to be fair, he does take a little jab at his central role in the piece.

While much of article revolves around what you’ve probably already read – namely that regardless of homoerotic content, jocks are pimping themselves out to make a buck, thus realigning their sporty sexuality in the commercial market (as seen in the Mariano Vivanco shot Dolce and Gabbana starring five Italian soccer studs) – there’s also an interesting debate on the nature of pornography.

Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Amalia Ziv takes issue with Simpson’s hybrid term, telling Halutz:

Pornographic representations are explicit representations of sexual acts or representations that contain photographs of genitalia. I don’t like the way the use of the term is expanded in all sorts of ways…

It’s true that the very positioning of these men as objects of pleasure and visual consumption already marks a change in the standard Western view in which men are not supposed to be objects of visual pleasure. But the way in which they are presented is not subversive… In terms of the fantasy potential, of which scenarios are supposed to occur to us when we see them, the men are still portrayed more as active, and this preserves the identification of maleness with activeness and penetration.

Of this, Simspon says:

This is certainly the way that many of the participants in these images would like to see themselves – and also [the way] many of the voyeurs would like to see the sex object. However, the key here is that they are presented as sex objects, regardless of what they may or may not like to do in bed … This is a basic tenet of psychoanalysis: Exhibitionism, offering yourself up for voyeuristic pleasure, is passive and/or masochistic.

Passive, active, masochistic or whatever, we don’t give a fuck what you call it, just as long as it keeps on coming. But, blessedly, the trend seems to be paying off. Ad exec David Edelstein says:

A model doesn’t bring any values aside from aesthetics. Athletes, especially successful and famous ones, bring the values of success, of hard work, of masculinity – lots of things. When manufacturers of a brand-name product choose someone famous, they want to make sure that the values of that famous person are positive and also suit the brand… If you take a [good-looking] man who’s also a talented and admired athlete… the fact that he’s promoting the product gives it legitimacy for other men.

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