Last week, football superstar David Beckham and comedian James Corden released a spoof video advert that satirised men’s underwear adverts. Funniest thing I’ve seen all year, but there is something that bothers me about it.
James Corden is a well-known comedian who starred in Gavin & Stacey but whose fame did not end there. Today, he has crossed the Pond to be the new host of The Late Late Show and this is where the advert above appeared.
As funny as it is in that we identify the tropes and how advertisers hook us in, on the other side it shows up some common stereotypes of how we portray overweight men in the media. Rarely are they portrayed as sexual beings or as sexy in the way that the body positive movement quite readily portrays overweight women as sexual and sexy. It’s almost as if the idea that a large man can have sexual desires or want to be seen as sexy leaves too much of a bitter taste in the mouth.
The “attractiveness” of overweight men, if it can be called that, is often perceived to be in their self-deprecating humour – and not in their bodies. Laughing at their own weight rather than presenting his confidence with his size and shape, where the opposite is encouraged in women; indeed, we might even argue that the overweight woman perceives herself to be more feminine than a slimmer woman.
But anyway, back to the point. We shy away from showing the sexuality of overweight men as if it is something offensive compared to David Beckham’s chiselled looks and muscles. This is no better shown than in the advert above in which Corden dances around and cavorts on screen. He is making himself a figure of fun and his attempts to be sexual are exaggerated purely for comic effect.
Overweight men are often portrayed in one of several ways:
- Jolly / Funny – James Corden is the perfect example of this
- Cuddly and sweet – Also applies to James Corden above
- Sometimes, a little feminine – because overweight men can’t be masculine in the traditional sense because that would imply the sexuality that people don’t want to think about
- Pervert / predatory – though the trend is reversing and we’re starting to show in film and TV the devilishly handsome villain, it wasn’t always the case.
- Weird, creepy, slobby – The villain in many pieces is nearly always a slob, which includes being very overweight
But rarely as having sexual desires or being sexually arousing in the way that David Beckham is. Do people not like to think that an overweight man has sexual desires? Or that to do so is simply wrong? The meme below reflects sentiment that a lot of overweight men feel.
Just some food for thought on the double standards of how we perceive overweight people today, depending on their gender.