Wednesday, September 17, 2008

muscles abound

One thing I have noticed about New York is the way in which the city, by which I mean both the local government and the populace, confers an image upon public servants (policemen, firefighters, even roadworkers) which really emphasisies physical strength. In everything from information signs to commercial toys, NYC workers are physically brawny, tight-clothed, bursting with testosterone.

How different this is from the police officer or roadworker who inhabits the popular imagination of the Brit, who seems to see them primarily as irritants or beurocrats. If I had to imagine a young police officer back in the UK I'd probably picture an officious youth, a touch on the scrawny side, with a wispy upper lip.

But it's certainly hard to spot a cop over here who isn't barrel chested, muscles climbing up from his shoulder blades into his neck. Obviously, particularly since 9/11, it's been natural for firefighters to be - deservedly - stereotyped as heroes; but it's interesting how physical strength, toughness, manliness clearly permeates through NYC society. It doesn't take a genius to work out that this image resonates with the mythology of the American Dream; the American, after all, started with nothing and pulled himself up; he aquired not only a nation, but serious muscle definition, along the way.

2 comments:

Bloggers4Labour said...

ergo The Village People :-)

jonathan said...

Quite.