Evil accessory:



Male Breasts


Film makers learned long ago the power the epidermis to evoke evil. Scars, albinism, hair loss are some of the most common dermatologic defects that identify dastardly dudes. Yet movie studios understand the need for innovation. They whistle the old tune: It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. Hence this year's trend to spotlight a villainous condition with a swing all its own: male breasts.



 In "Along Came Polly," Ben Stiller takes on a B-Ball foe...

 ...and is beaten by his sweat, chest hair, and boy bosoms.
The trend started in earnest with the January 2004 release of "Along Came Polly," as a bewildered ball playing Ben Stiller crashed into a sweaty, hairy, skin tag covered, full bosomed opponent, much to the chagrin of the audience.

 Bare boy chests returned to screens in March. Some families are movie royalty. The Barrymore's. The Baldwins. But let's not forget the Penns. Sean Penn has been a Skinnies Award winner, and now it's time to recognize his brother. In "Starsky & Hutch," Chris Penn assays a role admittedly less dramatic than that typically taken on by Sean. Chris stars as a breasty beat cop berating Ben Stiller (again).

During summertime, action flicks take over. In a sea of sequels, "Spiderman 2" rose to the top. This go-round, angst-ridden superhero Spidey confronted Alfred Molina's Dr. Octopus. It seemed unclear which was more intimidating, Doc Ock's fearsome mechanical tentacles or his treacherous tetons.

 Ben Stiller's exercise fanatic in "Dodgeball"...

...Suffers more than just a wardrobe malfunction.

 Janet who?
Finally, perhaps influenced by his earlier cinematic confrontations, Stiller himself moves into mammary mode. As an obnoxious corporate gym owner in "Dodgeball," Stiller binges after losing the championship. He becomes hugely obese, developing breasts that he then manipulates during the closing credits. His sarcastic query, "Fatty made a funny?" lingers long after the uncomfortable ushers have swept up the popcorn.

While they have popped up periodically in movies, seen in Austin Powers' adversary F*t B*st*rd, and a comforting and comfort-food-loving Meatloaf Aday in "Fight Club," never has so much manly cleavage been conscripted by the forces of darkness. Male breasts, known medically as gynecomastia, are common, especially in the overweight. In general, men put up with the changes, through presumably most would consider a simple treatment if one existed. The "Manzier" and "Bro" products, introduced on TV's "Seinfeld," have never caught on. Gynecomastia is primarily genetic, though some external factors can magnify it. Certain drugs, including marijuana, can be culprits. Another consideration, especially with this year's sports scandals, are anabolic steroids.


Whatever the cause, the hanging tissue can promote the friction-related growths called skin tags. Sweat can collect, resulting in bacterial, fungal, or yeast overgrowth. Sweating is also related to an odd condition called Grover's disease. Men are primarily effected, developing red, scaly, itchy bumps on the chest or abdomen. While none of these issues are life-threatening, they can add to the discomfort and possible embarrassment of having gynecomastia. Not to mention the hassle of being the subject of cinema's latest stigma.

Runner up, evil accessory: Hair nets



 Will Farrell in "Starsky and Hutch"

 Prince Charming in "Shrek 2"

Looks like they're no longer just for the school cafeteria ladies...



© 1996-2006 Vail Reese M.D.