As I’m typing this, an episode of True Blood is playing on our flat-screen TV, and Joe Manganiello’s taut, muscular ass is thrusting up against . . . fuck, what’s her name? She’s a female werewolf; let’s just go with that. Later on, I’ll watch an episode of Spartacus (more male nudity) and maybe cap off the night by rewatching that one episode of Community where Joel McHale spreads his ass cheeks for everyone at Greendale Community College.
Truly, we’ve entered the golden age of male nudity in pop culture. So why does it feel like such a hollow victory?
The internet is nothing if not the great sexual equalizer; if sexism hasn’t ended in the post-dot-com world, at the very least it’s evened the playing field when it comes to objectification. A six-packed hunk in briefs is now almost as much of a draw as a buxom woman in three square inches of clothing. If you don’t believe me, look at the success of Magic Mike: in one month, a movie about male strippers has earned back more than 15 times its budget. Compare that to any number of mindless summer blockbusters marketed solely on the principle of female eye-candy and you start to consider that famous cock might be a bigger draw than previously thought.
And yet, there’s something missing. In all this male nudity, there’s one last piece of the puzzle eluding us: the cock in question. In a movie with a character named Big Dick Richie, there are no actual dicks. None whatsoever! In fact, for a film about male strippers, the entire thing is almost Disney Channel pure when it comes to showing penis. If anything, the “strippers” in this movie more closely approximate drag queens in their overly choreographed, prop-heavy stage shows. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but a dickless stripper is like a bike without wheels: you can’t really go anywhere.
Yes, Hollywood fat cats can pat themselves on the backs for making such a sexually progressive movie, but they’re still stuck in that mindset of “good boys don’t show their junk.” Men can play pedophiles, murderers, rapists, thieves and terrorists, but god help you if their johnsons make it onscreen, because that would just be obscene.
And so we come to the crux of our foray into male nudity, if you can even call it that. We’ve become stuck in the rut where we can allude to cock, build an entire narrative around cock, and even show outlines of cock, but the cock itself is off the table. It’s all about the teasing, never about the pleasing. Not that I don’t appreciate a good tease, but you can play coy only so long before you have to whip it out. Maybe someday Joe Manganiello will do just that and live up to his Big Dick Richie character, but until that day comes, at least I’m an ass man.