Like bacon frying on the skillet, the above Instagram photo of Artist ASCHE is percolating with American energy. The American flag graphics on the t-shirt and underwear are overtly American. The words “Los Angeles California” project the film Clueless into my mind, as the Muffs’s grunge-y version of the 80s anthem “Kids in America" plays. Drive your white jeeps to the mall, y’all.
The 1980s influence continues as ASCHE strikes a B-boy stance that rappers LL Cool J and Run DMC used in the 1980s, as well as Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg in his iconic Calvin Klein underwear ads from the early 90s (who was a rapper at the time).
The photo serves as commentary on American masculinity. The facial bruises are evidence of physical violence, perhaps from a bar brawl or a fight club. The sun-kissed skin and muscles evoke the beach and the gym. That’s the stuff of male pinups, as is ASCHE’s swirling quotation-mark hair. Images of a young Tom Cruise dancing in tight-y-whitey briefs in the film Risky Business slide into the mind.
Those briefs speak of much more than Tom Cruise. The fact that the briefs are worn over the blue jeans conveys the power of the private becoming public. It’s not a time to be silent in America’s current political landscape. The jeans’ top button is undone and signaling undress, but the briefs bind the jeans. It’s not a time for sex.
It’s a time to be tough and to use muscle in every way, shape or form.