Why I'd always go for real man Hugh over metrosexual Warney
I've always shuddered at the phrase 'male grooming'. Maybe it's my no-nonsense Glaswegian blood.
The words conjure up a series of images I find repulsive - men gazing longingly at themselves in bathroom mirrors, teasing their hair into styles only natural to rockhopper penguins, posing like Miss World in paper pants while some wretched salon girl sprays them with mahogany mist, mowing ladyshavers over their chests and ripping slabs of hot stiff wax from locations further south; it's just not, in the words of that great natural beauty Austin Powers, my bag.
So when I heard Hugh Laurie was the new face of L'Oreal cosmetics for men, I was disappointed. Like many men (George Clooney, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant), Hugh has got considerably more attractive as he's got older. His once rather posh, clean-cut boy's face has developed some grizzle and grit, and now has a properly masculine appeal. When he portrayed the feckless Bertie Wooster in the Eighties, he himself looked rather effete and powerless; as the droll, intelligent House, his craggy jaw and wrinkled eyes suggest power and confidence. So how could he agree to be air-brushed and coiffed, looming James Bond-like out of a steamy shower buffing his face with a towel to tell the world how crucial twice a day moisturising is to believing you're 'worth it'?
Well, now I've seen the ad, as I'm sure have many of you (Youtube it if you haven't) and phew. Not only is it one of the funniest ads I've seen in ages reminding us all what a natural comedian Laurie is, it's one of the smartest and sexiest. It may also be an admission - glory be! - that the metrosexual is dead. Maybe L'Oreal have realised that men didn't relate to him and women never really fancied him. Be honest girls - how many of you fantasise about being swept up and stolen away on horseback by David Walliams? Are there any women, other than Liz Hurley, turned on by the newly plucked, pruned and plastic-coated Shane Warne?
So we don't get a gleaming, buffed, tanned Hugh Laurie running his hand through his hair half way up a mountain with an earnest look on his face (shame on you Ewan 'Davidoff' McGregor). Instead we get Hugh lazing in a chair, looking knackered, as if he's just got out of bed after a heavy night. A stunningly beautiful woman is filing his nails. "Hello" he says. "I'm Gerard Butler. And this is how I look before I've applied L'Oreal skincare for men."
It's such a clever ad, working on so many levels.
First off, it makes you laugh, warming male viewers to Laurie, and making him instantly more attractive to their girlfriends (who, bear in mind, are likely to be the ones who actually buy the stuff). Second, it suggests that you can be a man who looks after his skin without becoming a narcissistic, facile, icky individual (that reminds me, must set the SkyPlus for the start of Gavin Henson's new series tonight). Third, it implies that chaps who use L'Oreal might want to look good, but more importantly, they are dry, witty, self-deprecating types who still look very much like proper men - in other words, the straight woman's holy grail.
In related news, Wayne Rooney's newly planted follicles are growing in greyer than Supergran's chin hairs. What dumb luck! Thank goodness Wayne has that Cary Grant-like charm and a regular supply of hilarious bon mots to make up for it.