Use What You Got

Did you see that Jeff Timmons, boybander from 98 Degrees, is now dancing with Chippendales? Word is that Jeff is planning on releasing a new album this summer, and some appearances stripping and singing with Chippendales in Las Vegas is a bit of a PR buzz to promote the music.
There’s a catty edge to the reporting on this that I’ve seen. There’s a wink-wink-nudge-nudge aspect to it that seems to suggest that there’s something shameful here. The headline for the NY Post asks if the “Sold Out” sign in front of Jeff is supposed to be ironic. The Inquisitr says that you should bring your “old” CDs from junior high and high school with you to the show.
I find the cattiness irritating on a few levels. For one, the suggestion that the only audience for Jeff is former 1990s teenie-boppers is patently absurd. I haven’t heard him sing in a while, but I was definitely not in junior high when 98 Degrees was a going concern, and I’d pay good money to see him take his clothes off (and, sure, sing some) any day. I’d pay even more to watch him wrestle… but more on that in a minute…

It’s not like having a body like that is something that anyone should need to apologize for. Being that fit and gorgeous doesn’t just fall into one’s lap, particularly not at age 38. I say more power to him for continuing to have a rockin’, totally marketable bod that people will pay money to watch and, if he’s got any chops, perhaps they’ll discover that he’s not just good to look at. Use what you got, baby. No apologies needed.

There’s something particularly nefarious about the social critique of the commodification of the body. The notion that we shouldn’t be “selling sex” or objectifying the body for sexual gratification has the odd capacity to put right-wing prudes and bra-burning feminists in bed together, which is a sure sign that it’s from Satan, if you ask me. The notion that we can “objectify” the human body is itself a ridiculous farce, as if to say that Jeff Timmons is something metaphysically removed from his smoking hot bod. It’s ridiculous to argue that to lust after him, to pay to see him wearing nothing (or the Chippendales equivalent), to be sucked in to ogle him in order for him to have a shot at pumping up record sales and padding his checking account… that somehow this is degrading to Jeff or a sign of shame. The commodification of the human body is the moral equivalent of “intellectual property.” What we produce, with our bodies, our minds, our creativity, our willpower, is now and has always been a good to barter for other goods. Whether he sells us the sounds that he can make with his vocal chords or the sexual fantasy of watching him flex his luscious pecs, it’s all Jeff making a living with what he’s got, with who he is. To insist that the marketization of Jeff’s completely marketable body is somehow an objectification of him as a person is to insist that who he is essentially non-physical, non-sexual, a mind-body-split entity hovering somewhere removed from his milky smooth skin, his icy blue eyes, his chiseled, dimpled chin and all those hot, hard muscles.

Personally, I’ve been fantasizing about a Jeff Timmons revival for a while now. I had him written into the wrestling ring months ago, taking on rival boybander JC Chasez for a crack at a second swig from the jug of fame. It’s a nasty fight that even a square ref can’t quite keep entirely within the lines. Outside interference earns one former boybander the victory by disqualification, but I always imagined there being a sequel to really settle the score… maybe Jeff’s due for some PR buzz and bodyworship in my imagination, as well.

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