So. The other day I wrote a little something about some odd fictional characters that men find sexy, and two things happened: one, the number of hits I got respective to image searches doubled, which means that there are in actual fact people scouring the internet for pictures of Eve from Wall-E and Jessica Rabbit (and I totally have your country of origin and search strings) and two, i resolved to write from the other perspective : characters women find bizarrely attractive. In this pursuit I was aided my inestimable sibling @redmoonrabbit who helpfully provided the female perspective. Now, having been indoctrinated by popular culture into thinking that females were better-balanced, more mature and more emotionally developed than males, I wasn’t quite prepared for the mine of weird shit going on in your camp. Ladies, you’re very weird. Let’s take a look.
Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock
“Brainy is the new sexy”. So said Lara Pulver’s Irene Adler in a moment of weakness. And she’s right in a way: the paradigm has shifted somewhat. Whereas thirty years ago women (presumably) found Bruce Willis, Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck attractive for their pectorals and moustacheness, now geeks rule the earth. And the hallmark of the geek is intelligence (not large glasses and collectable figurines, as some seem think). So it seems logical that people like Sherlock Holmes are now lusty characters. What I don’t quite get is how Benedict Cumberbatch has become a sex symbol. I will grant that he’s a truly exceptional actor -his portrayal of Stephen Hawking was one of the finest dramatic moments of a decade – but Benedict Cumberbatch is one weird-looking dude. He looks like a haunted porcelein doll, okay? Those are the only words I have. That’s not to disparage a fine actor and a fine human being, but no aspect of the Cumberbatch-as-Sherlock schema is imbued with sexiness.
Unless, of course, it’s the coat and the suits. Which raises some very interesting questions: if the object of your attraction is lust because of what he wears, doesn’t that mean you’re just attracted to his clothes and not him?
Edward Cullen, Twilight
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago the Desmond Morris theory about little girls and horses and how I understand the appeal of Twilight. Edward Cullen is an obviously unsexy character: a dopey, mopey, mildly antisocial overly-dramatic shadow-dwelling clotheshorse with little discernable personality – in other words a “mysterious guy” as in, “ooh, he’s so dreamy and mysterious”. Girls, he’s dreamy because he’s zoned out and he’s mysterious not because he’s keeping his thoughts a secret : he doesn’t have any. Edward Cullen is the 21st Century equivalent of the Barbie Doll : a pretty, plastic posable figurine. Teenage girls are attracted to him because he’s dangerous, but a safe danger – like a rollercoaster or a sparkler or a ride in a lift. And those are my thoughts on Edward Cullen.
Every Disney Prince ever
Oh dear oh dear. This one provokes sleepless nights, because every Disney prince (and princess too) has some seriously messed-up shit going on. Given that Disney movies represent a powerful force of cultural indoctrination and global westernization, we should maybe look a little closer at the characters our children are impressed by. The prince in Cinderella, who can only identify the love of his life by the shape of her foot, is either a drunk or a fetishist. The prince in Beauty and the Beast? A violent, aggressive kidnapper with homicidal tendencies. Aladdin? A work-shy vagabond and serial thief who hangs around with a monkey. The prince in Sleeping Beauty? Disappointed necrophile or rapist, depending on your perspective. These are not positive characters.
And if you’re going to ask me if I’m over-analysing things, please don’t pull that thread or this whole blog falls apart.
Christian Grey, 50 Shades of Grey
50 Shades of Grey was simply massive last year despite being the sort of thing you usually find written in crayon on a plastic bag by a chimp in a neckbrace wearing a bucket with a face painted on it yadda yadda – do you know what? People bought a billion copies of 50 Shades of Grey and I’m okay with it. Why? Because for once, cookery books, celebrity autobiographies and novels “by” Katie Price weren’t at the top of the bestseller chart. 50 Shades was a fairly harmless entry by bondage into popular culture. That’s okay too. It was largely read by sexually-unsatisfied middle-aged housewives who needed an excuse to experiment with Ben-Wa balls and handcuffs. Good for them. Many much-needed orgasms were had due to 50 Shades. Maybe it made things better for middle-aged men, too. We can only hope.
My problem, if any, is that I’ve read the whole trilogy and Christian Grey has no discernible personality other than he’s a bit of a dick sometimes. I know what hair colour he has, his eye colour, his taste in cars and helicopters, but Christian Grey remains largely personality-free. I think he had mother troubles or something (it was a while ago) but I never got a sense of what made him tick. I know more than enough about Anastasia Steele (and she’s a fuckin’ boring dunce) but the actual lust object of female readers is worryingly character-free.
Which explains my choice of picture for this entry : a pillow with an arm. A blank. An empty space. A hand slapping a human bottom for all eternity. Whatever.
Robert Downey Jr in Anything
I get this. I really do.