More than ever we live in a body conscious world, one where images of the male body beautiful are targeted at you 24/7. No wonder then that many men, both gay and straight, find themselves unhappy with their body image, opting to go to various lengths, some extreme, in the pursuit of their ideal of physical perfection.
Yet in an increasingly superficial society, one where your look may well shape, if not define you, is this any surprise? Indeed as one participant in this thought-provoking documentary from writer, producer and director Christopher Hines put it, "how I look has made my experience of being a gay man, the better" and here cue more parties, more sex, more friends. Yet life is a lot more complicated as Hines sets out to show, along the way taking into account the thoughts of dermatologists, doctors, psychologists and sexologists, to plastic surgeons kept busy with never ending requests for face lifts to pec implants.
Yet whilst surgically enhanced male beauty comes with a price tag attached to it, others things in life arrive with alarming side effects. For here Hines charts not just the use of illegal growth hormones and steroid abuse, but shocking slimming disorders that see twink styled teens resorting to aerobic bulimia, literally working off everything they eat, as opposed to throwing the calories up, just to stay thin beyond thin. All of which brings to mind the question of what has society become, when the pressure to fit in results with many playing Russian roulette with their health?
Thankfully in a world in which a number of gay men are too afraid to be seen outside the secluded safety of their curtained homes on the days when they feel they donít look good, certain men and indeed groups seemingly donít give a damn. That this talking heads production would eventually lead Hines into the land of the Bears, was as sure as it would equally detail the hedonistic party scene, together with gay pornography, here the fantasy figures of Titan Men and a business that as its director Brian Mills noted: "is driven by fresh faces."
Filled with more buffed-to-perfection muscular studs than what you can shake a waxing strip at, Hines in his follow-up to his 2009 feature The Butch Factor, namely what it means to be gay and a man in todayís society, has delivered an eye-opening insight into the yin and yang of the gay world. Namely from the perfect chiselled bodies of the Adonis crowd, to those who have never tried to fit in with pigeon-hole society, being who they are from day one. Yet laced between botox injections, facial creams and heavy duty gym workouts, remains the adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The result of which is a growing number of community initiatives aimed at trying to give gay men a way to connect beyond the physical. Or to put it another way; accepting people for who they are, rather than for what they look like. Frankly, does that really need to be said?