Let’s talk about beards and whiskey. To your grandfather, the two may have nothing in common. But you, you social media savvy 20-something motherfucker, you know that beards and whiskey are the two things milleni-bros are most interested in being interested in.
Masculinity isn’t having a renaissance. It’s never gone away. But now, masculinity is obsessed with renaissance. And by renaissance I mean a cartoonish, fake version of old-world ruggedness that has become an advertising stand-in for the actual day-to-day minutia of carrying a Y-chromosome.
Men between the ages of 18 and 35 all of a sudden are copping way more shit. In fact, they even have a name for us now, “Yummies.” Young-Urban-Male. That’s a horrible rap name. But they figured out how to target us Yummies: carefully crafted, minimally designed products that reconnect us with our supposed primal manly selves.
Grouping all men into the same hand-crafted machismo category is problematic. The issue is that it’s totally working. Ne’er before have so many casual bar acquaintances schooled me on their love for single malt whiskey completely unprovoked. We waste an entire month talking about facial hair and one of my favorite startups uses a mustache as their logo—why, I have no idea. Because it’s in? Does that even make sense? What does a mustache have to do with a rideshare?
Women are way better at deflecting the ads aimed their way. They’ve undoubtedly had more practice. Men, on the other hand, our bullshit filters are still in their infant stages. As a result, companies that are by no means driving the culture are winning the business of fuccbois everywhere by pandering to cool-signifiers such as beards and whiskey.
You almost can’t blame Just for Men for deciding that this lame attempt at reaching their target was the the way to go. People seem to respond to this, as evidenced by my research in the field; which again, is just people loudly explaining things to me in bars.
Where whiskey plays into this whole narrative is unclear to me too. We might as well start with Mad Men. Don Draper can make anything look cool. That’s basically the idea of the series. On the surface, Mad Men romanticizes the culture of the 60’s — the wardrobe, the manners, the drinking. Whiskey is what men drink. It’s classy, smooth, 45 percent alcohol. And just as the skinny ties and tight suits bled into our modern world, so has the insistence that real men drink whiskey.
This ad aired during the season premier of Mad Men last month. There is no better example of pandering to the renaissance-man trend. Try to imagine the kind of person this ad would work on. Is it the worst person in the world? The kind of dude that humblebrags his way through a pay-for-the-degree grad school program. The dude who has to somehow let everyone know when he went to the gym — and “killed arms.” The kind of dude that posts articles titled “the difference between boys and men.” The kind of dude that actually calls himself a millennial.
These things have a way of balancing out. The sheer overtness of the Woodford Reserve commercial probably means that there isn’t much left for this trend to do. Similarly, we’re already starting to see real neg-effects of the manaissance. A new study has shown that we fucked up the game big time – so many guys have beards that women are finding them less attractive. All the talking and waxing and talking about waxing has actually made facial hair less appealing to potential sexual partners. HAHA. As I said, women are way better with this stuff.