From the Oscar watch

I don’t watch the Oscars shows, but you can’t avoid being exposed to information about them and images from them. So this shot of host Neil Patrick Harris (apparently in an allusion to the movie Birdman) from yesterday’s show came my way:


Shirtless, showing off his carefully tended body, and in snug briefs, showing off a nice but not extravagant package, in the fashion of underwear ads for many many years. This is the Neil Patrick Harris of, among other things, Doogie Howser, M.D.; How I Met Your Mother; and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

The photo appeared on the Entertainment Weekly site under the head “Oscars 2015: Neil Patrick Harris appears nearly naked on stage”. Shock, horror. And then, in comments on the site, the (I suppose inevitable) exhortations to think about the chldren. From commenter annie1001:

I thought it was funny because it was so very random…however, I wish he had been wearing boxers or something that didn’t show him “hanging” so much…I mean, little kids do watch this awards show…and it was a bit uncomfortable having young kids see a guy nearly naked like that.

I don’t know where annie1001 has been in recent years, but public images of men filling out briefs and nothing much more have been with us for many years. From my posting “Underwear gods” of 10/19/10, a quotation from Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis (2003) describing

stunted humans in the shadow of the underwear gods that adorned the soaring billboards. … men immortal in their muscle tone, in the clustered bulge at the crotchline.

Marky Mark and all that.

Back further than that, newspaper and magazine ads for men’s underwear regularly focused on pouches containing (but not actually showing) genitalia. There are collections of such vintage ads, for instance a Buzzfeed site with an assortment of examples, among them this rather alarming vintage ad for Carter’s Trigs:


I posted a considerable collection of vintage male fashion ads, some involving pouches, together with comic gay-oriented captions, in a series here:

1/30/13: Snarky fashion

2/8/13: More snarky fashion

3/29/13: Crimplene

9/19/13: Snarky fashion 4

9/30/13: Snarky fashion 5

10/8/13: Snarky fashion 6

I find it hard to believe that any kids are harmed by pouches in underwear ads, though no doubt gay boys with an interest in male genitalia find them satisfying.

One Response to “From the Oscar watch”

  1. Billy Green Says:

    In context, it was a direct reference to a scene in “Birdman,” where Michael Keaton steps out of the theater during a Broadway performance, gets his robe caught in the door, and has to jog through Times Square in his tighty-whities and re-enter the theater through the front door. So the tighty-whities were a direct reference to the thing being parodied. Boxers would not have had the same effect.

    Also in context of the awards ceremony, there were two other things I noticed: (a) The cameras were largely (but not exclusively) framed on him from the waist up, so there were actually fairly few “package” shots; and (b) I personally found amusing the shots of the audience, where you could see where many audience members were looking — I half expected NPH to interrupt his speech with a well-timed, “Hey! Eyes up here!”

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