The Sex Games

(Men in minimal underwear, sexual themes, monstrous violence. Use your judgment.)

The most recent Daily Jocks ad, for Garçon Model underwear (Canadian underwear and swimwear marketed with heavy homovibes), with a caption (of mine) telling a bit of a nasty gladiatorial story:

(#1) The Sex Games

Akhnaat in his work clothes,
Steeling himself for hand-to-hand
Combat to the death against his
Slave-mate Jmaal.

A boy is given into sex slavery
At the age of 8, paired with a mate for life, until
At the age of 18, no longer
Attractive to the masters, he relinquishes
His slave collar and harness, is
Stripped even of his slave pouch, to be
Pitted naked against his mate in
Mortal combat with broadswords.
The crowds are enormous, screaming for
Blood, more blood, as one man after another
Kills the one thing in life he has ever truly loved.

On the underwear. The ad copy from DJ for GM:

Special times call for special undies! [In the context of homowear ads, undies strikes an odd note.] Made to provide both unparalleled comfort and sophistication. This is simplicity in artistry. Featuring their new gold detailing!
Garçon Model men’s underwear for the best range of high-quality and performance boxers, briefs, trunks and jockstraps. Garçon Model is designed for men who demand standout style and perfect fit underwear.

As usual, the ad copy sells styling and comfort, while the image sells raw gay sex appeal. And #1 is tame. Consider these three steamy images from GM:

(#2) Experience the Galaxy

(#3) GM Elite Sport boys, pants down, lickin’ the good stuff

(#4) A hunk love triangle, in GM Addicted pouchwear

The gladiatorial theme. The GM image in #1 was the springboard for my excerpt from the wrenching tale of Akhnaat and Jmaal, a story that combines two morally repugnant practices: sex slavery and gladiatorial combat.

From Wikipedia:

A gladiator (Latin: gladiator, “swordsman”, from gladius, “sword”) was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their lives and their legal and social standing by appearing in the arena. Most were despised as slaves, schooled under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death.

Irrespective of their origin, gladiators offered spectators an example of Rome’s martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim. They were celebrated in high and low art, and their value as entertainers was commemorated in precious and commonplace objects throughout the Roman world.

The origin of gladiatorial combat is open to debate. There is evidence of it in funeral rites during the Punic Wars of the 3rd century BC, and thereafter it rapidly became an essential feature of politics and social life in the Roman world. Its popularity led to its use in ever more lavish and costly games.

The gladiator games lasted for nearly a thousand years, reaching their peak between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. The games finally declined during the early 5th century after the adoption of Christianity as state church of the Roman Empire in 380, although beast hunts (venationes) continued into the 6th century.

Representations of gladiatorial combat in popular culture almost always emphasize heroic action and dismiss the systemic evils of the practice. So it is with Russell Crowe in the 2000 epic Gladiator. From Wikipedia:

(#5)

Gladiator is a 2000 American epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott and written by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson. It stars Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed (in his final role), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, and Richard Harris. Crowe portrays Hispano-Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when Commodus, the ambitious son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murders of his family and his emperor.

Even The Hunger Games fails to fully confront the monstrousness of ritualized murder as public entertainment. From Wikipedia:

(#6)

The Hunger Games film series consists of four science fiction dystopian adventure films based on The Hunger Games trilogy of novels, by the American author Suzanne Collins. Distributed by Lionsgate and produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik, it stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, and Donald Sutherland as President Snow. Gary Ross directed the first film, while Francis Lawrence directed the next three films.

[the first film:] The Hunger Games (2012): Every year, in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its 12 districts to send a teenage boy and girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, to compete in the Hunger Games: a nationally televised event in which ‘tributes’ fight each other within an arena, until one survivor remains.

Instead, the stories are framed as narratives of triumphant individual heroism.

Gladiatorial combat, involving as it does (in its classic version) sweaty muscular men engaged in one-on-one action, is a favorite theme of gay porn, which spins out fantasies of dominance and submission and non-stop muscular mansex. See my 5/13/11 AZBlogX posting “Gladiators and centurians” for a treatment of the film Centurians [sic] of Rome and other gay gladiatorial porn.

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