It's crazy-pants that we still do this "Sexiest Man Alive" thing
Unless you’ve been living on the Moon for the last few decades (in which case, I congratulate you, Moon person of the future), you’re probably at least familiar with PEOPLE‘ magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. That’s the annual issue in which they pick a celebrity male, slap him on the cover, and declare him the “Sexiest Man Alive.” This year the honor (?) goes to actor Chris Hemsworth. “I think you’ve bought me a couple of weeks of bragging rights around the house,” he told the magazine, upon receiving the title. “I can just say to [wife Elsa Pataky], ‘Now remember, this is what the people think, so I don’t need to do the dishes anymore, I don’t need to change nappies. I’m above that. I’ve made it now.'” How charming.
Hemsworth follows in PEOPLE”s tradition of having expected white men on their cover. No offense to Chris Hemsworth who is totally cute and, I’m sure, a nice fellow, but where’s the diversity? In all of their 28 years of doing “Sexiest Man Alive” issues, PEOPLE has only once featured an African American sexiest man alive (it was Denzel Washington). Furthermore, let’s be real: isn’t it about time to retire all this “Sexiest Man Alive” stuff, anyway? It’s problematic, pretty silly, and growing stale.
First of all, let’s all just agree there’s no way to decide that someone is “the sexiest man alive.” Every single person in the world will have a different opinion on the topic. Which means, it’s not really about who “the sexiest man alive” is — it’s about who has the best publicist, and will sell the most magazines. This is why we’ll never see anyone like Lee Pace (my pick) on their annual cover. We’ll also likely never see an unconventionally attractive man (like Benedict Cumberbatch), or an indie darling (like Adam Driver), or a comedic actor (like John Cho). It’s always going to be some “hunky” movie star who has a great PR team. It’s kind of transparent. Thor, of which Hemsworth starred, earned $181.0 million in North America alone, and went on to gross $449.3 million worldwide. Chris Hemsworth has a ton of big movies coming out next year. They’ve got to get that buzz rolling, and remind people why they loved him so much back in Thor in the first place.
Want to know the rumor behind how the whole this whole “sexiest man alive” thing got started anyway? According to Wikipedia, in 1985, an editor saw a photo of a 29-year-old Mel Gibson for a story they were doing and said, “Oh my God, he is the sexiest man alive!” Upon her observation, someone else suggested, “You should use that as a cover line.” And so, it was done.
At least that’s how the story goes. Cut to present day and we’re still slapping the hyperbolic label on one guy a year. Sure it sells magazines, and sure it gets us talking. But do we really believe one dude is the SMA? Of course not Sex appeal is a personal thing and not something anyone one person or magazine can define—especially if that person or magazine has a narrow concept of what’s “sexy.” You feel me?
In other words, we love you Chris, but we’re just not falling for it this year.
(Photo via PEOPLE.)