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Pontificating on the gun show

September 30, 2009

Taking the subway home from a baseball game last weekend, I sat opposite three average looking teenage boys. They were dressed almost identically — all three wearing grey track pants from either Abercrombie or Hollister paired with plain white t-shirts. They had clearly just come from shopping, as each carried at least two or three name brand bags onto the train.

Being right across from them for the duration of a 35 minute ride, I couldn’t help but listen to their conversations which I found surprisingly surreal despite my own delusions of being down-with-what-kids-like.

“I totally got a deal on this hoodie,” said the shortest one, a 5’4″ white kid peering down at his purchases with a grin.

“Yea,” replied his friend, “I was hoping to find some good white t-shirts though. Something like, I can wear to school with outfits and stuff.”

“I like these Abercrombie ones,” suggested the third boy. “It’s pretty soft and it’s thicker than the Hollister ones you wear.”

They then proceeded to feel each others white t-shirt’s material, then launched into a long conversation about working out and buying the proper protein supplements to develop lean muscle mass. Did I mention these kids were 16?

After that, they asked me where I purchased my hoodie (American Apparel via a shady Craigslist dealer) and they gave me a group nod of approval.

“I fucking love AA stuff man, that sweater is tight.”

I shook my head silently and continued reading the ad for “BATTLE OF THE BLADES ON CBC” for the umpteenth time (a future post, assuredly). How was I to react?

I share this long winded anecdote because despite the constant media attention young girls get (deservedly) about the pitfalls of body image and femininity, lost in the cracks seem to be a generation of young men with completely warped ideas of what it means to be a man.

Details magazine recently published an ironically self-effacing article entitled “63 Signs You May Be A Pretentious Tool,” to which Globe and Mail editorialist Russell Smith has written an insightful and intelligent reaction.

Particularly interesting are Smith’s paragraphs about marketing to men, with much of that taking square aim at hooking boys while they are still young, impressionable and confused. Marketers need men to shop more, so the image of masculinity often becomes entertained with material wealth, power and the financial flexibility to be a new-adaptor for every electronic gizmo.

People often blame rims and chains hip-hop for materialism in youth, but we should understand that in reality, materialism birthed rims and chains hip-hop.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dust permalink
    October 1, 2009 12:09 pm

    I think the absolute worst part of that discussion would have been the bit about the protein supplements to develop lean muscle mass. I hear that shit all the time from so many guys, and it really bugs me. I lump those in with other snake oil products like diet pills.

    I think the supplement industry is one of the least regulated, and least ethical when it comes to consumer goods. They prey on peoples insecurities to sell them something that doesn’t work – essentially a scam.

    Anyway, I love evesdropping on subway conversations too. Hilarious stuff.


  2. October 1, 2009 12:29 pm

    hahha, this sounds like my highschool though. It was all creatine talk and Eddie Bauer parkas. But lol @ the ins and outs of white Ts — especially the ones you can wear with outfits and stuff.

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