So have you seen it yet? The advert some are the calling the best ever made? Certainly the funniest around right now. It was made by Weiden + Kennedy New York for Southern Comfort and stars Mike from The Cuban Brothers but all of that is all by the by, it's the resulting work we are focusing on right now.
A fat guy in the tight brown trunks, shoes, and shades trudging purposely down the beach. His bare naked bulk glistening in the sun. A man undisturbed by the beach life around him, ploughs through the sand, stylish, confident, sexy and packing hard fat beer belly and barrel chest. "I gotta be me" is the line sung by Odetta over and over again.
This is a man at ease with himself, bathing in the power of his own self confidence, he veers off camera and reappears immediately with a drink in his hand, and then continues on and out away from the camera, dropping his shoulder nonchalantly as some tanned beach babe slides by.
Are you fitting comfortably?
If you haven't seen the ad then it's here below, but if you want to track feedback just click Southern Comfort on Twitter and you'll see a week’s worth of discovery and delight. "This must have been made by the Coen Brothers" reads one, "Pity it's for Southern Comfort says another" and then there are endless superlatives "brilliant", "hilarious" and repeatedly "genius".
On Tuesday this week I was enthusing about it with three Sabotage types @deadbloke, @davelee1968, @profanityswan, and many other gentleman of Twitter who are unlikely to ever trouble a size 30" waistband again and it struck me that the reason we love it isn't just because of star Mike Cuban’s majestic stroll but also because it's not only how many of us are but also how we can be. It's feminism for fat blokes, defying the preferred male body politic to show a man at ease with himself.
To this end I'll claim The Comfort Man is probably the first ever Masculinist commercial. If Reebok's superbly terrifying play on the big balloon in The Prisoner, 'Belly's Gonna Get Ya' played on the fears of lardy guts with rolls of doughy stomach flesh The Comfort Man's feminist play on a male physique, is positively Maculinist. This is about acceptance indeed pride in how you look.
For all the Men's Health covers, the Beckham physiques, the Gosling shirt removal scenes there's an army of men who just go 'as if' and know that for those guys it's a job. There's certainly constant commercial pressure to look a certain way, maybe not as much as women experience but it's there all the same. Compare posh young metrosexual Hugo on I'm A Celebrity to the The Comfort Man and despite Hugo's good looks and ambition The Comfort Man has more, he oozes experience. He's saying if you've experienced life, you'll probably be like this.
He's driving a big Masculinist truck through the Gym To Stay Slim outlook. Staying classy doesn't require gym work, you've either got that archetypal Gillette physique or you have to work at it, but Comfort man says 'Fuck that. I'm big bad and proud and you love me as I am.”
The Comfort Man positions Fat Man as flash man, Romanesque in stature not profile, like a battleship crashing through the sea, a Chess castle controlling the flanks, it's Jan Molby, Mel Sterland, Tony Soprano, Barry White. Who's going to argue withe men who could tip a car over with one hump.
Why is he a heavy weight? Because he can afford to be? Size equals power. These are the messages. Why go twig when you can be the trunk?
When I first discovered the slick dick in the flick is top Bestival and Club entertainer Mike Cuban it came as a 'Christ I should have known' moment. Few people have such swagger yet he looks so controlled and reserved it wasn't obvious on sight who it was. Anyone who has seen The Cuban Brothers hilarious and invigorating stage routines or Mike’s alter ego the Yorkshire Hospital Radio Presenter with his None of Your Shit, will have been fooled by Comfort Man's lack of exuberance, distracted by the slick Euro tightness of the curls.
The look is Riviera under the Rubles. Mike is very comfortable working near naked. I once hired him to play a Christmas party in a large log cabin in the New Forest and at the end of his set he removed all his clothes, sprinted through the dancefloor and off through the grounds and finished on the fence of a nearby paddock waviong his underpants around his head. A man released in all his abundant naked glory and it is this the creators at Wieden + Kennedy New York have tapped into. God knows what came first, the idea to show a man in his own comfort or to build an ad around Mike Cuban but they've done it.
This is not only a funny advert, an effective ad (no, I'm not going to drink Southern Comfort, I haven't done so since about 1983 but we ARE talking about the brand by association) , but it strikes a new pose for men. This is the birth of Mascilinism. It’s like feminism, only it's for fat blokes who feel the weight of the worlds physical expectations of them are greater than the weight of their gut themselves.