At first glance, yes it seems baffling that such empowered men are relatively unnoticed by the masses. But the Pillar Men fit into a variety of tropes that allow them to accepted by mass media:
- Gay Coded Villains. It’s not just Disney that does this. (Excellent video here) Particularly noteworthy is that these villains aren’t just greedy,
- Not Human. While they appear as human, they’re very much not in that they’re some sort of super aliens who have no real interest in sex, intimate relationships, etc. So as well as being the bad guys, they’re also not a seductive threat to the heterosexuality of the straight male audience.
- Over-Masculinisation. These guys are not stylized so much to be actually sexually appealing as they are to be parodies of sex appeal. They aren’t designed to appeal to women who like men or even men who like men – rather they’re designed to make everyone uncomfortable.
Stuff like this is largely accepted by mass media because it’s both a vilification and a mockery of the idea that people want to see sexy men as much as they want to see sexy women. Fueled largely by the misconception that women want to see over-sized muscles as much as many men apparently want to see over-sized boobs.
The reality is that if they wanted to go with something sexually appealing they’d be better off focusing on different kinds of looks:
They’re not presented as eye-candy in place of characterisation or as the male equivalent of femme fatales, they’re basically presented as the idea of this kind of display of male sexuality being a symbol of their villainy and distance from humanity.
Basically the reason people are okay with the Pillar Men is they support the double standard that an over display of male sexuality is weird and wrong – but there’s nothing wrong with say… the protagonist’s mother (who also mentored him) looking like this: