Feature

Recycled trend alert: 'Retrosexuals'

The Philadelphia Inquirer gushes about the "new" rise of the "man's man." Don't they have Google?

The Philadelphia Inquirer has uncovered an exciting new trend: The "retrosexual," a "man's man" who is leading a stylistic "menaissance" away from well-groomed, emasculating "metrosexuality." The Inquirer story quotes academics, bloggers, and other experts — none of whom seem to realize that this so-called trend is at least six years old.

What evidence did the Inquirer miss?
Plenty. UrbanDictionary.com cites 24 definitions of "retrosexual," including some dating back to 2004. In 2006, MSNBC.com identified actors Jack Black and Vince Vaughn as Hollywood's new "retrosexuals." A book, The Retrosexual Manual: How to Be a Real Man, has counseled men how to be the "opposite of a namby-pamby metrosexual" since its 2008 publication. And "retrosexual" has its own lame-internet-joke list, a sure sign of a dated trend.

Did other media outlets fall for it?
Sloppy trend reporting often triggers a wave of equally misinformed copycat stories, but at least two outlets cast doubt on this piece. This "trend," says Jen Doll at The Village Voice, "sounds like the same old crap in different clothing." Aaron Traister at Salon was unimpressed not only with the timing of the Inquirer's "ridiculous trend piece," but also with its shallowness. Men are "at a crossroads," Traister allows, but "creepy dress-up" in retro accoutrement is just as contrived as metrosexuality. Besides, he adds, "I find it hard to believe any guy beyond the schmucks in this article would actually be dumb enough to identify themselves as 'retrosexual.'"

What other trends has the media recycled?
Hipsters knitting (see also: stitch and bitch), the "bitch and swap" clothing exchange, and women smoking cigars, to name just three.

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