Monday, October 12, 2009

MEN: You in Print [Part 2/5]

Brad Pitt. George Clooney. Robert Redford. Tom Cruise. Orlando Bloom. Burt Reynolds. Robert Pattinson.

These men are all famous for their acting. Aren't they?

To find out if they really were, I bought a few magazines. I also visited a few of these magazines' websites to see what kind of content I could find regarding celebrity men, particularly actors. I was looking to see how much of the content was actually related to their jobs.

Let's take Robert Pattinson, for example. He's in the press quite a lot - although in my squinty viewpoint he's only played a few notable roles (IMDB, for those of you who live in a cavern) - and his press coverage often has nothing to do with any kind of film project he's involved in. Out of sheer luck I stumbled over a handy guide to all things R-Patz* on a website for a popular fashion/gossip magazine, which happily told me a few things about the lad in question that I probably could have found on Wikipedia researched myself, along with a few pictures.

Although it was obviously 'for the fans', I found out a little bit about him. And I feel a little bit mean for my previous judgement - he's been working quite hard, modelling since age 12, he learnt the piano and guitar at a young age, and he supports Arsenal (well, we can't all be perfect). But as the site itself points out: "No-one would have known who you were talking about if you mentioned Robert Pattinson at the Oscars in 2008".

So, assuming that we cast his acting abilities aside, why is he so popular? Oh come on, I'm sick of bloody pretending. It's because he's good-looking.

Let's dissect that a moment. Who says that he's good-looking? Why is he good-looking? Which traits make you good-looking? What defines them?

WHO? Well, Glamour magazine for one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not condemning them for it: nor am I condemning the few girls I know that wouldn't boot him out of bed. And I'm not saying all of my Ladyfriends thought that Robert didn't deserve the attention. Here's the thing: I'm not one of those girls. I like a different kind of man. Where's my representative?

WHY? Robert Pattinson "ticks boxes". And no that's not meant to be a double-entendre, I mean he fulfills certain criteria that makes him attractive.

WHICH? He is tall (at 6ft 1in), physically fit (though he admits embellishing his athletic abilities to obtain the part of Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter films), and he has symmetrical facial features (this makes him an ideal 'mate' or genetic specimen, so I've been told).

WHAT? Apparently there are three factors to physical attractiveness: universal perceptions common to all human cultures, cultural and social aspects, and individual subjective preferences. So, Mr Pattinson fits the first two criteria perfectly: Universal perception is that a physique that is athletic in build and facial features that are symmetrical will produce stronger offspring who are more physically attractive. Cultural and social aspects, such as the culture of celebrity-oriented media portray the belief that men who look like Robert such as those listed above tend to be generally more attractive to the media's target audience (in this case, teenaged- to 30-something women). And the individual subject reference is perhaps the most important factor: if most women didn't find men like Robert, Brad, Hugh, Orlando or George attractive, then perhaps there would be someone different on the cover of the magazine.

I just happen to be one of those people that doesn't particularly find him attractive. Believe me, I can see his appeal. I admire his acting ability, he obviously has talent, and he seems to be a fairly level-headed person (I'm aware of how bland those comments sound, and I apologise). I just wouldn't look twice at him if we passed on the street. And although I'm not the only one, I am aware that we must be a minority. If we were a majority, I'm fairly sure magazines would have a different set of favourite men to the ones listed above.

Right. Now I've finished telling you something you probably already knew, here's a few things you might not, courtesy of the Ladyfriends:

"In women's magazines it tends to be "look at this hunk!" but it's not done to be taken seriously."

That's right: it is all a bit "Phwoar! Look at him!" - it's light-hearted fun, right? I think so, but at the end of the day it is a little frustrating to get to the back page of the magazine and have skipped most of it because I wasn't really interested in hearing about Justin Timberlake or whoever. Magazines are getting a lot better at scope in general: encouraging 'curvier' women, using models above Size 8 (which is good, seeing as though national average last year put the average British woman at a Size 14)**, but when is it going to be the turn of the lads? What, for example, is the average size for men?

Well, I checked, and the most helpful or relevant study I could easily find was from Netscape, putting the average American man at a 44 regular. However, I did find a lot of articles with titles like "British men seeking smaller 'moobs'"..."Bulging British men want a slice of their wives' weight-loss pie"...from several news site all of which left me with nothing, really. Also I was a bit incensed about being called 'plus-sized' by Netscape, so I went to go and get some Ryvita (normally this would read "carton of Ben and Jerry's" but I'm on Weight Watchers and want you to think I'm being good).

Taking that as my (albeit slightly unstable) jumping point: if that's the average man, surely it means there are more men that look like...well, your average man? Your current or recent boyfriend, your friend's older brother, the bartender down your local, the guy behind the till at the supermarket, your colleague. Do any of them look remotely like Robert Pattinson or Orlando Bloom? One of them might, but not all of them. Unless you live in Beverley Hills; in which case stop reading my Blog and buy a proper dog and not a handbag-sized one, you trollop.

Do you find any of them attractive? I certainly do. I find my boyfriend very attractive, thank you very much, but I don't expect to see him gracing the front cover of any of the 'glossies'. But that doesn't mean people don't find him attractive. It just means that he doesn't get the 'majority vote'.

A few thoughts from the Ladyfriends as a parting gesture:

"How many different kinds of women do you know? So what's 'the norm'?"


"...Some popular women's media makes men out to be both stupid and one-tracked. But then it makes some men out to be God-like...I disagree with both views."


"Is men's portrayal in the media fair? No, not at all!"


"If I am to believe the magazines, it's not [my partner] I should find attractive; it should be biceps and muscle."

I don't know what you're all thinking after reading this: guys or girls. But I hope it's given you a slightly better perspective of yourselves. The next Blog will be up in roughly a week, and a bit of a wild-card: I'll say no more, but I hope it works!

*Oh - and please, may I never use a moniker like that again? They make me cringe like a farting bullfrog. I always thought Li-Lo was something you took to the swimming pool, and J-Lo was some kind of vaginal ointment.

** Yes, I'm average. Makes me feel as though I should be bent over in my pants while a medical "professional" stamps a large rubber stamp on my voluptuous arse that reads "MUST TRY HARDER"


Brawny said...

Thank You! You have noticed that us men don't all look like famous men! And I know that women in the media (specifically media aimed at men) is just as bad, but they do at least show more types of women (and again, I know that it's because some men like curvy women and some like skinny women), whereas all goodlooking famous guys tend to fall into broadly the same category...

And most of us real men aren't in it.

Az or Fox said...

I look like a famous man.

God/Jehova/Allah. (I may get in trouble for this.)