Heavy Metal Parking Lot, 1986. When I first saw this, years ago, I laughed at everyone. I watched it again this week and was filled with affection for the joyful display of unrepentant testosterone.
In an era when no one except football players went to the gym, I didn’t see anyone wearing relaxed fit jeans or XXL shirts hanging below their member. I doubt more than a few of them had done a single crunch in their lives. Yet they had their shirts off. They were in fantastic shape.
Today you couldn’t collect a random sample of 17 to 23-year-olds from any neighborhood in America, from any socio-economic class, who looked like this.
They had hair like girls, yet they were manlier. They had confidence without portfolio.
Matt Dillon, It Boy of the 80’s.
Young man pulling go-kart, Staten Island, 1984. From a collection by photographer Christine Osinski.
Placing talent aside, the distance between the guy at the bottom of the social order drinking beer in the parking lot before a Judas Priest concert and the guy on the cover of Rolling Stone could be measured by a stylist and good lighting. Today it’s Zac Efron and Ryan Gosling at the top of the pyramid and millions of soft males languishing in their masturbatoriums, already defeated in their twenties.
Is it too much high fructose corn syrup? Endocrine disruptors? Soy? Electronics? Has social media socialized all the boyful instincts out of young men? Are the New Rules too ever-shifting and capricious? Are there not enough older brothers of father figures to lead the way?
Maybe they feel unsure of their purpose and place in this world. I think about this more than I want to. I worry about where we are headed.