It had to happen eventually. We couldn’t avoid it. At one time or another, we were going to learn the exact contours of Mark Zuckerberg’s tummy. We were going to know whether or not the founder of Facebook, the man who spun out a “hot or not” computer program into a multidimensional social community that goes by the name “Meta” now, has an ab (he’s actually got six!). It’s happened with Elon Musk and it’s happened with Jeff Bezos and now it’s happened with Mark Zuckerberg. These men and their bodies, suddenly jacked in a way that only those who are rich or those who are rich in leisure time can be, are seared in there, deep in there, until our last days.

Zuck is objectively fit. It’s undeniable. He’s been training with MMA fighters Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski, who, if I’m understanding that world correctly, are very good at what they do. The tech CEO posted a photo of himself, for all the world to see. He looks different than the Zuck we’ve come to know, the one who made schlubby gray hoodies a thing and couldn’t manage to make a Caesar haircut look cool. It’s a classic glow up.

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The context here is that Zuckerberg engaged in a little online spat with fellow billionaire and tech CEO Musk, in which they discussed fighting in a cage match, apparently very seriously. Besides this photo of Zuck, the other recent update in this kerfuffle is that Musk, in another abortive attempt to be funny, has challenged Zuckerberg to a “dick measuring contest” too. 

Pectoral propaganda, that age-old exercise of virility and the specter of violence, is back. In a world where the right is obsessed with a rigid kind of masculinity, where the online and physical environment has been literally pink-washed for a movie about an iconic leggy doll, the men have to beef and get beefy. They must be the biggest beef, and they must prove their beef with a shirtless photo. The potential for physical violence is the message and the subtext. It’s the beginning and end of the thought process. It’s the point.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. posted pectoral propaganda a Couple weeks back. He did push-ups sans top and used the video to challenge President Joe Biden to a debate. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin was photographed shirtless many, many years ago too. He was maybe the first political leader to ride a horse shirtless for the express purpose of appearing generally intimidating. Now look what he’s gotten himself into.

The pectoral propaganda extended into a ritual of capitalism, where these two CEOs must get huge, promote their hugeness, and then engage in physical combat? I don’t know. It’s kind of on the nose. 


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