Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Sexiest Man Alive? Really?
So, I was reading the news over on Ravelry today...
No, seriously, the knitters and other fiber artists on that site often scoop even the biggest news organizations in getting the news out. That's what you get when you aggregate over a million knitters and others handy with needles and yarn (and spinning wheels and dye pots and looms) and give them an open forum on the internet. I often read news first over there, and only later on places like CNN.com and the other news network websites.
Anyway, as I was saying, I was reading over at Ravelry a little while ago, and discovered that it's that time of year again. No, not Thanksgiving, or Christmas or any of the other holidays that fall at this time of the year. What I'm talking about is People magazine's annual announcement of the Sexiest Man Alive.
Apparently this year they've chosen Adam Levine. He's a singer, I guess. All I know him from is The Voice, on TV. He's one of the people who mentor the contestants on that singing show. I don't watch the show, but I'm aware of it, and that he's on it.
Also apparently, from what I'm reading over on Ravelry, People has gotten it wrong again. Like they do pretty much every year, ever since 1985, when the magazine chose the then-29-year-old Mel Gibson as the Sexiest Man Alive. And yeah, he was pretty good-looking at the time. Of course, that was before he outed himself as out of his freaking mind. Can't fault People for that, I guess; I'm pretty sure they don't have a crystal ball parked in a back room at their editorial offices.
The problem is, People has a history of getting this wrong.
Well, as wrong as you can get something that is really totally, completely subjective. And Gibson is not the only winner to have since turned out to be a bit of a loon. I mean, in 1990 they selected Tom Cruise. Again, I'm sure they didn't realize he'd be bouncing on Oprah's couch a few years later.
Which is the other thing, and which is getting a lot of discussion over at Ravelry...despite what People seems to be assuming, sexy is not all about looks and a physique and "star power", whatever that is. A man can be the most physically attractive man to ever have walked the face of the earth, but if he's stupid as a box of rocks, or a jerk, at least in my opinion, there's no way I'll consider him sexy. Now, I'm not saying that a genius IQ is a requirement (although it couldn't hurt), but being able to have an intelligent conversation with a man is awfully sexy, in my humble opinion.
But, aside from the questionable antics of Gibson and Cruise in the wake of their naming as World's Sexiest Men, as well as of Nick Nolte, in 1992, who has had his own meltdowns since, I just can't agree with most of the choices for this honor (is it really an honor? that's a good question, I think). Especially recently, in both 2010, when they named Ryan Reynolds, and last year, when Channing Tatum was the choice, my reaction was "Who?" I'd probably heard their names before, but I wouldn't have been able to put a face to either name. Still can't, really. In 2005, when they named Matthew McConaughey, my question wasn't "Who?", because I knew who he was. But, as with Adam Levine this year, the first question that came to mind was, "Why?"
Now, I won't say that people hasn't come close some years. In 1986, the second year they named anyone as Sexiest Man Alive, their choice was Mark Harmon. I was good with that. I'm still good with that; I think he's much more interesting now than he was back then. And, in 1998, they named Harrison Ford, who was already 56 when he was named. I couldn't (and can't) find too much to argue with about that choice, either. In 2008, Hugh Jackman was the choice, and another good one as far as I can see. On the other hand, both George Clooney and Johnny Depp (who both have been chosen twice, Clooney in 1997 and 2006 and Depp in 2003 and 2009) are pretty. No argument there. But in my book, pretty doesn't necessarily equal sexy. The same goes for the other two-time winners, Brad Pitt and Richard Gere. Well, Gere is sort of a two-time winner - his first win actually came as Sexiest Couple, along with Cindy Crawford, in 1993, when People decided, for that year, to take a slightly different tack on the whole subject of sexiness.
I suspect the magazine was feeling a little weird for objectifying men they way many people said that they were.
And the truth is, I thought for awhile before writing this post because in a way, choosing a Sexiest Man Alive is an objectification, and it upsets me when men objectify women as just being their sex appeal. But then I thought, well, turnabout is fair play. This is probably not a good rationalization, but the truth is that our culture does put a high value on the thing we call "sexiness", and I don't have a huge argument with that.
What I do have an argument with is how the culture defines how sexiness is determined...facial looks and physique. As I said up-post, as far as I'm concerned that is only a part (and often a small part) of what determines whether someone is sexy or not. So, really, even though I approve of choices like Harmon, Ford, and Jackman as World's Sexiest Men, I can't really determine whether or not any of them truly meet my criteria for sexiness. But I've seen hints in interviews I've seen and read with all of them that they might meet my other criteria, and I'll have to go by that until I get to interview all of them.
Hey, I'm a journalist. I could totally interview any of them.