By Scott Brown
Updated June 05, 2006 at 06:54 PM EDT
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The Break Up: Melissa Moseley

Tremble, pretty boys and pinups: The shlub is rising.

Consider the success of The Break-Up. Yes, the ever-fluctuating fortunes of Jennifer Aniston will dominate the headlines as her movie’s success briefly eclipses the birth of Shiloh the Über-child. But beneath that clash of the glamorous titans, a shlubby truth asserts itself: Vince Vaughn’s increasingly cemented superstardom (growing in direct proportion to his waistline) represents the resurgence of the aggressively average Joe.

That’s right, metrosexuals. The slovenly, T-shirted, pizza-gorged Xbox jockey is back. Okay, so he never really left. But the dual models of male attractiveness have never been more at loggerheads. Consider the humble TV commercial: The face of every product marketed man-ward is a shlub. I’ve seen the audition sheets: One called for a “shlubby, Paul Giamatti-type.” Another one needed an average-looking guy, maybe a little heavy. (Related note: These sorts of commercials usually recruit improv comedians who specialize in deceptively ultra-casual line delivery.)

Of course, these commercials sell products (electronics, pizza, satellite TV) targeted at average Joes. (They also pair those joes with improbably gorgeous Janes — who wants to gorge on pepperoni if he can’t simultaneously fantasize above his Hotness Caste?) The Break-Up, on the other hand, seeks to marry the poshness of dating Jennifer Aniston (who’s only the girl next door if what’s next door is a talent agency) with the nirvana of the game console/plasma TV/Funyuns lifestyle. It’s the apotheosis of the shlub. And men aren’t driving the trend. The audience that turned out for The Break-Up was 67 percent female. Presumably, that’s the crowd this is designed for.

But the photo there is Vaughn in leaner days. Since then, he’s let himself go… defiantly? Strategically? Who knows. But here’s what it means for us, dear reader: As of today, we get to spend a lot more time in front of the computer together. I will no longer cheat on you with my Pilates mat.

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