Australian firefighters, the calendars

From Ann Burlingam for Christmas, an Australian firefighters 2021 calendar, pairing engagingly smiling shirtless hunks with adorable animals, many of them native Australian wildlife. The images — both the faces and the naked torsos — are celebrations of rock-solid masculinity (firefighters are, by necessity, in extraordinary shape physically) which is, however, entirely sexually innocent — an effect managed via the open, welcoming smiles and, especially, via the presentation of the men as companions and protectors of those adorable creatures (plus the neutral appearance and backgrounding of such crotches as do appear in the images).

From Ann: “May 2021 be filled with sweet, smiling men cuddling cute critters!”

The overview of this particular calendar (as we’ll see, it’s one of a number):

Please forgive the defects of my image capturing. But at least this shows you those open smiles (in strongly masculine faces; most of the men, in fact, appear from their faces to be members of the same extended family), the extraordinary torsos (and upper arms), and the cute critters.

As far as I can tell, 8 of the men have tats (now often understood as part of a high-macho presentation), while 4 are inkless (projecting a more amiable, boyish masculinity).

The calendar has some front material with three bonus images, of firefighters with dogs and with a piglet. And then the calendar pages:

January: Richard & Abigail (goat)
February: Mick & Jack (red kangaroo)
March: Nathan & Dejavu (Welsh pony)
April: Ry & Sarah (kitten)
May: Mal & Humphrey (emu)
June: Cohen & Jimmy (dog)
July: Brenden & Turtle (echidna)
August: Matt & Ben (goat)
September: Richard & Narrok (alpine dingo)
October: Mal & Flossy (joey kangaroo)
November: Ray & Tink (koala)
December: Lloyd & Baxter & Bubba (chicks)

I’m especially taken with Mr. July (Brenden), muscular and inkless, with a sweet half-smile, and an echnida posed resting on his left shoulder. But for undercutting any suggestion of aggressive or sexualized masculinity, it would be hard to beat Mr. December (Lloyd), with two chicks posed on his broad shoulders –though Mr. April (Ry), with a little kitten cradled in his big right hand, is certainly a contender.

About the calendars. From the Fox News site, “2021 Australian Firefighter Calendars, featuring shirtless men, will benefit displaced wildlife: This year, there are six different Australian Firefighter Calendars to choose from — including four shirtless versions” — by Michael Bartiromo on 10/22/20:

The annual calendar, which debuted in 1993 and has since raised over $3 million AUS ($2.1 million) for various charities around the country, is once again turning up the heat with not one, but six different calendars for 2021, including a specific variation that celebrates shirtless firefighters with native Australian wildlife.

Other themes include a “Dog Calendar,” showing shirtless firefighters with dogs; a “Cat Calendar,” showing shirtless firefighters with cats; and a “Classic Calendar,” with shirtless firefighters holding no animals whatsoever, if that’s your thing.

Tamer versions include an animals-only calendar, and a “Hero Calendar” which features firefighters in heroic poses, albeit with their shirts on.

Donations from the sale of 2021’s latest crop of calendars will benefit a number of animal-welfare charities, including Safe Haven Animal Rescue, All Breeds Canine Rescue, and the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, among others such as Australia’s Rural Aid and Kids With Cancer Foundation.

On HT and HTC images of men. From earlier discussions on this blog.

— in my 7/29/20 posting “Portrait of a man: the head and bare torso image”:

On HT (head + torso) images of men.

In a painting, a drawing, a sculpture, a photograph: the face projecting a persona, an identity, a character; the naked torso presenting this character as a carnal being: an embodiment of gender, a sexual object, and an assertion of vitality.

Shirtless days. HT images come in two parts, and it’s their combination that provides them with their interest. Not just faces on their own, or torsos on their own, but the compound of the two, each amplifying the message of the other.

Meanwhile, shirtlessness has been a regular theme on this blog, almost always always with faces (I find headless torsos kind of creepy), so I’ve accumulated tons of HT images, many of them linked to on my Page on shirtlessness postings. Note the exclusions:

excluded, for the most part: photos of men who are shirtless by virtue of their occupations — pornstars, underwear models, models for male photographers, swimmers and divers, dancers

As it turns out, most shirtless displays include not only faces, but also at least some portion of a crotch (clothed, but often prominent); including a pointer to the male genitals, even teasingly, tends to tip the scales of the image in favor of male sexuality. HTC (head, torso, and crotch) images are then something of a different species from HT ones.

In addition, in some shirtless displays, the men are also doing a sexualized side display, usually pitsntits, but sometimes biceps flexing or another beefcake pose.

Even so, my collection has lots of satisfying uncomplicated HT images.

— in my 7/30/20 posting “The measure of a man: HTC”, about:

Two representations of the male body, head to thigh, celebrating masculine faces, masculine bare torsos, and the male genitals. HTC — head, torso, crotch — images.

[To the HT images in my earlier posting,] add … the crotch, at least minimally clothed, but containing and hinting at the male genitals within — so substantially magnifying the sexual messages of the torso.

Moving from this, the images can be flagrantly sexualized in a number of ways; the posting has examples of such sexualization in ads for Modus Vivendi men’s underwear.

The project of the Aussie firefighters calendars is to undercut any move towards sexualization, to maintain sexual innocence, through a series of devices: the smiles, the backgrounding of crotches, and, especially, the pairing with adorable creatures. The fact is that if you were confronted with one of these muscular hulks, unsmiling, shirtless, just striding on the street, you’d be very likely to respond to him in sexual terms — as a potential sexual competitor, a potential sexual threat, or a potential sexual partner.

But that can be fixed by having him Smile Sweetly and Carry a Little Kitten (and, of course, having him avoid sexually charged clothing and sexualized gestures). Everybody knows that the guy Carries a Big Stick; the trick is to divert that fact from the audience’s consciousness.



One Response to “Australian firefighters, the calendars”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Another plus for Mr. July is the fact that echidnas are a strong contender for Cutest Animal in the World.

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