Saturday, November 19, 2011

What It Takes To Be The "Sexiest Man Alive" (POP!Best!)

POP!Best! is my weekly attempt to write something about pop culture. Before you laugh, it's also how Ernest Hemingway got started, only his was more bull-fight-y.

This week People named the Sexiest Man Alive, 2011, and, as usual, the pick proved both controversial and completely not, depending on who you talked to and whether who you talked to had any sense whatsoever and/or was trying to simply beat a dead horse of an old joke.

By which I mean: Those people who every year make a joke about the naming of the Sexiest Man Alive and how "wasn't there a Sexiest Man Alive last year, and isn't he still alive, so shouldn't he be the sexiest man alive?"


People age, and what is deemed sexy once may not be deemed sexy later on, unless what is deemed sexy is Lucy Lawless, who looked like this way back when

and who looks like this now:

That is timeless.

Stephen Colbert, while theoretically making the same old tired joke about sexy once sexy always, actually appeared to be mocking it:

The fact that every year, most people react to the Sexiest Man Alive issue by making that same joke serves as yet another reason for me to hate people, and to buttress my belief that most people (a) think they could be in entertainment but (b) clearly could not be, a belief that is proven fact by listening to people call in to talk radio shows. Ever do that? Listen to people call in to talk radio shows and listen to them as they do so attempt to be funny, or witty, or smart. They're not. Such calls inevitably make some sort of inane, or incomprehensible, or both, joke at the outset, as a lead-in to their call, almost as if each caller thinks he needs a monologue. The calls always go something like this:

Host: Thanks, Previous Caller, for making that point about Obama once having eaten a kitten for breakfast. I didn't understand that at all. Let's go on to Jeff, who's calling in from Fresno.

Jeff From Fresno: Hi, Host! Boy, that guy before, he should have been kittened, am I right?

Host: Where'd I put that Xanax?

The point being: you're probably not funny. Or clever. Or witty. That's why you, Jeff from Fresno, are not hosting a radio show, but are instead calling in to that radio show. It's like Jerry Seinfeld said about most people: Most people are not hot. And most people are not funny. So just do whatever it is you do (probably dentistry) and forget the jokes.

Unless whatever it is you do, of course, is something even stupider than dumb jokes about the Sexiest Man Alive. Like, say, a conspiracy theory about how the Sexiest Man Alive got to be named the Sexiest Man Alive. From the site "hot Goss," (capitalization in the original) comes this story, which I imagined was being read in a breathless-but-pluckily-upbeat manner:

People magazine exclusively broke the news that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lopez force be an item in September, after exposure that the pair had a romantic dinner at Per Se in New York. The magazine fanned the relationship flames in October by publishing exclusive photographs of the stars on a Saturday afternoon jaunt. Wednesday, they named Bradley Cooper their Sexiest Man Alive. In April, they named Jennifer Lopez the most gorgeous woman in the world. Their two sexiest stars of 2011 in a relationship that People just happens to always have the inside track on? Is a touch fishy going on? “JLo and Bradley are obvious choices for most sexiest, but the extra bonus of coupledom will not be lost on the editors and publicists of People magazine,” Sarah Ivens, the former Editor in Chief of OK! Magazine said about the thought process magazine editors use when deciding who to place on their covers, and what tales to run. “I always plotted covers with the equation that one A-lister plus another A-lister makes three era the sales. The combo is more intriguing for the reader and this would have really played a part in them both being named winners.”
I didn't doctor that quote at all, so make what you will of "Is a touch fishy going on?" When you're reporting on something as important as SexyGate -- the SEXIEST SCANDAL EVER!-- you've got no time to proofread.*
*Yes, I know that this site is never very well proof-read and often filled with terrible grammar and obvious misspellings and once I posted a picture of William Howard Taft and labeled it "pizza," but in my defense, I hate proofreading but I like making fun of others, so what can you do?

Naming CoopPez -- see why that trend of combining last names of celebrity couples died out before it should have? -- as the Simultaneously Sexiest People Alive Who Are Also Dating didn't just fan America's conspiracy flames, which, let's face it, never really die out -- Americans are always only 1 degree of separation from a conspiracy, and I include myself in that, because every single day that I get stuck in traffic I conclude that it's because the people who run Madison are anti-car and have deliberately set up the traffic flow so that it's less convenient to get around by car than by any other means of transportation, and also I secretly blame them for that time I got stung by all those bees -- but the naming of Bradley Cooper also caused other fallout, like the fact that Americans proved they're always willing to go beyond wild conspiracy theories and take to the streets to protest something completely inane.

Yes, in the grand tradition of people who built on our forefathers' noble revolutionary instincts by completely watering them down, turning "We hold these truths to be self-evident" into "Goddam Netflix raises my price a dollar? I'll show them," protestors took to the streets about the Sexiest Man Alive, as reported by Uproxx:

There are those who will say they were joking, that they were poking fun at the #occupy protests and having a laugh, as it were, and then there are those (me) who will say "This is a country where nobody worries that one of the major parties, the one that controls 1/2 of Congress, has seriously put forth a plan in which they want to balance the budget by taxing the poorest people in the country, a plan which, if put into effect, could take 100% of the money from the poor and would still not close the budget deficit, and yet a plan which somehow enjoys inexplicably wide support" and the people like me, who know those things, worry that "Occupy Wall Street" will get conflated with "Occupy Ryan Gosling's Abs" and you know it will and by doing that, the Occupy Ryan people have just helped kill the Occupy movements.

Also: They spent money and time and effort not on, say, volunteering at a soup kitchen, but on protesting Ryan Gosling's lack of Sexiest Man-Ism, and by my rules, they now owe an equal amount of time to humanity. My rule is that whatever money/time you spend frivolously, you have a moral obligation to donate an equal amount of money/time to a worthy cause. Get a one-hour massage for $100, and you owe $100 and an hour to humanity. It's a good rule, because it lets you enjoy the nicer things in life while also giving something back.**

**I do this. I frequently donate money -- this month it was to political causes -- and I volunteer my time for the Autism Society of Greater Madison and every year I do a stint of bell ringing at the outset of my couple of days off for Christmas, and I volunteer at the local foreclosure clinic. You should try it. It really makes life better and then I don't feel guilty owning a Kindle.

Anyway, all the Conspiracy Nuts and Ryan Gosling Supporters/Society Wreckers ought to relax a little and do science, like I did, because there's no big secret behind how someone gets to be the Sexiest Man Alive. If you look at the history of the Sexiest Man Alive, a history that dates all the way back to the halcyon, now-faded-sunlight-tinged days of 1985, you can review all the Sexiest Mans Alive and see, statistically speaking, what it takes to be Sexiest, and once you understand that, you will be able to rest easily, knowing that in this one area of life, at least, there is not a massive complex conspiracy aimed at keeping you down and miserable.

That conspiracy exists everywhere else in life.

But not in the Sexiest Man Alive.

I reviewed the list of what it takes to be the Sexiest Man Alive, and I compiled a set of statistics about that list, and using those statistics, we can examine, scientifically, as it were, what goes in to the Sexiest Man Alive, and, doing that, we can then also see who the Hypothetical Sexiest Man EVER Alive would be.

Let's get to the stats! Always exciting, those stats!

First, you have to be white. There's been only one non-white Sexiest Man Alive, ever: Denzel Washington, in 1996.

It also helps to be 39 years old. That's the average age of all the winners over time, including the few who have won more than once. Tom Cruise was the youngest when he won (28); the oldest was Sean Connery at 59 when he was named.

Of course, averages aren't all that much help when determining reality -- the average of 1 and 100 is 50.5, which tells you nothing, and the only winner who was actually 39 when he was named was Patrick Swayze.

It would probably be more helpful, if you wanted to be the Sexiest Man Alive, to be 36; that was the most common age at naming, 4 of 26 of the winners being 36 years old at the time.

You of course have to be an actor -- only one non-actor, John F. Kennedy, Jr., -- ever won the award, but more importantly, you have to be a movie actor -- Mark Harmon and Harry Hamlin are probably better known for their TV roles than their film roles, but they were named decades ago, when people (or PeopleTM) still thought this whole "TV" thing had a chance of competing with films for public attention. We know how crazy that idea looks, now!

It wouldn't hurt to have played James Bond -- two of the past winners have portrayed the Master Spy Who Nobody Cares About Anymore on film -- and lately, you're better off having blond or light-colored hair; 10 of the past winners have dark hair but they weren't recent winners.

A secret hidden indicator? It helps to have won before: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, and Richard Gere each have two awards, so in 26 years there have been only 22 winners.

It goes without saying that Americans are sexier
; 5 of 22 of the winners have come from outside The Only Country Blessed By God, but four of those have come in the past decade, so this may be a precursor of the end of The American Century. Are Americans getting less sexy?

Hard to say.

You could've figured all that stuff on your own, though, I'm sure. A blond, American film actor who's 34 years old? Of course that's sexy. If I read those words to Sweetie, she'd probably swoon, because people still swoon.

But here's more hidden indicators, like start your last name with a C -- four winners have last names starting with a C -- or at least with a letter in the early part of the alphabet. 6 winners have last names starting with letters A-D.

If Americans are sexier -- notwithstanding that picture-- which Americans, exactly, are the Sexier-est? People from the Texas area, it seems: Two winners were born in Texas, one in Nebraska, and one in Oklahoma. That'll stop, I'm sure, now that Rick Perry has turned Texas into a for(his)-profit toxic waste dump. Unless "Sexy" changes in such a way that we like people with hideous melted faces.

Miss Texas 2023

Improbably, two of the Sexiest Men Alive (Clooney and Depp) were born in Kentucky. Three were born in California, though, so as with every other single thing in life, you're better off living in California than Kentucky.

Smart isn't sexy; at least 12 of the Sexiest Men Alive never finished college. Sexy takes at least 9 years -- Tom Cruise has the shortest time span between his first onscreen role and winning Sexiest Man Alive (9 years); the longest time span belongs to Harrison Ford, who edged out Sean Connery by 2 years: it took Han Solo 34 years of acting to be deemed sexy.

It actually doesn't help to be good at acting; the only black Sexiest Man ever is also the only one with an Academy Award for best acting -- Denzel Washington (so he may have the last laugh, as actors who win an Academy Award may live longer than actors who don't.)(Denzel's also the only one who ever starred as "Grape" in Fruit of the Loom commercials.)

Also: It can't hurt to date someone hot -- as the conspiracy theorists noted, Bradley Cooper was linked with Jennifer Lopez this year, and won. Previous winners who were dating someone considered hot include Richard Gere (who won Sexiest Couple while dating Cindy Crawford before winning on his own), Brad Pitt (who was married to Jennifer Aniston when he won the award the second time). More importantly, it can't hurt to date Jennifer Lopez; Ben Affleck also dated her and he won.

With all this science, you might wonder: How do they actually pick the Sexiest Man Alive?

The actual methods are shrouded in secrecy***

***You just know that there is a glass of wine and perhaps a lip-synch to Ain't No Mountain High Enough involved, though, don't you?

at least judging by this research I did to determine the methods:

Me: How do they pick the Sexiest Man Alive?

Sweetie: I'm not sure.
But PeopleTM Magazine says that this year's choice was made by looking at

A combination of box office appeal (who hasn't seen The Hangover movies?), undeniable good looks and the lengths he'll go to for romance. Asked the sexiest thing he's done to woo a woman, Cooper tells PEOPLE, "Getting on a plane to go get them."
, from that we can conclude that "Sexy" means "Making a lot of money," and then "being willing to spend that money on a woman," as at least 2/3 of the combination of sexy, which means it's true: Women really aren't all that hung up on looks.

They're hung up on money.

With all that sexy science under my belt, it's time to apply that knowledge and make a BOLD AND SEXY PREDICTION for next year's Sexiest Man Alive 2012, and I'm serious about this: I predict that Sexiest Man Alive 2012 will be:

Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig hits almost all the marks: He had three movies come out this year (counting Girl With The Dragon Tattoo later on this year) and he's played James Bond and will do so again next year in Skyfall. He's blond. While he graduated from college, it was drama school and he only went for 3 years, so that's obviously some weird English thing. He's recently married Rachel Weisz, who people (me) consider hot. He's of Welsh decent, and that's pretty much the only part of the British Isles not yet represented by People's Sexiest Men populace.

Science never lies: Daniel Craig, congratulations on being the Sexiest Man Alive, 2012.


Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

Seriously...all you needed to do was post all pictures of Daniel Craig and nothing else.

And if you sit there and say..."Mike is sure being critical today..." All I need remind you is that my name is now "Michael Offutt, Expert Critic".

What this means for you is that I am now the expert and your opinions will always matter less.

Sorry...that's just how it is.


Grumpy Bulldog said...

Hey, where'd you get that picture of me on the beach?

Why is it that actors only win the award? Why not athletes or models? Or they should make a reality show to find some random dude who's the Sexiest Man Alive.

It's always weird when they win again too because it's like, "How did Brad Pitt suddenly get sexier? Did he just work out a whole bunch or something?"

Though I'd be more interested in who's the Least Sexy Man Alive. I nominate me!

Stephen Hayes said...

Why aren't bloggers considered in this competition? At least I know when the Sexiest Man issue has arrived because Mrs. Chatterbox doesn't wait for me to walk down the street for the mail but fetches it herself.

Rusty Webb said...

I'm just impressed at the thought you've put in to this. I mean, damn. Well done - I'm not longer convinced that people are on the up and up with these selections. It's all political.