A couple of days ago, the excellent Jessie Carty – whose blog on writing and poetry should be appointment reading for any culture-interested reader – left a comment on the February edition of the SMA, noting how it to go along with the sexualization of teens. I addressed that issue as best I could, but apart from that, her comment inspired me to do something a little different for the April edition. This month’s list should stay perfectly clear of the morally dubious, as I decided to abide by a self-imposed rule: What would the list look like if I kept it to people 30 years or older? Honoring some of the old stalwarts of the ‘regular’ SMA, however, I decided to go with a less-rigid rule, meaning that I would only accept candidates born before or in 1980. I also decided to limit myself to twenty names. That means there is less detail to break down, but let me nevertheless note a couple of trends and/or surprises et cetera:
– It’s a different dynamic. I knew when I decided to go with this idea that Leonardo DiCaprio was going to be #1. Still, while I saw and loved him in (the seriously underrated) Shutter Island, if this had been a regular SMA edition, he would probably have been overtaken not only by Adam Brody, but quite possibly by Randy Harrison and Charlie Hunnam as well. But within the context of this ‘Twenty Over Thirty’, I felt like it was finally time to pay tribute to what Leo has meant for me over the years. On a related note, putting up rules for who could be included on the list (which I do not regard as self-censorship; it’s more like trying to refocus) allowed me to hightlight some at the expense of others. That is why beautiful people like Steven Gerrard, James Franco and Bradley Cooper are ranked higher than some of the SMA regulars, even though none of the former have made an appearance on the SMA – yet.
– A chance to think outside the box. Not only did I get the chance to look for candidates in other fields than where I usually look; I also had the chance to appreciate that there are other attributes of sexiness than the merely physical. I find everyone on this list very attractive, but perhaps not in the same way as I adore, say, Hunter Parrish or Zac Efron. Not to take anything away from what charm and smarts they bring to their screen personas, but you have to assess Barack Obama in a different way. Not only is he a beautiful man, he is also someone whose calm and thoughtful demeanor I very much admire. Generally, I value brains. The British foreign minister, David Miliband, has this seductive era of power around him, in addition to be an accomplished writer and thinker, and a good-looking man. And there is even a journalist on here; The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart. A mock journalist, sure but the profession should feel proud to be represented by such a charismatic and consistently interesting exemplar of their breed.
– Or not. I don’t want to exaggerate how outside-the-box this list is. First, that would risk creating the impression that I was not being sincere in compiling, perhaps that there’s some sort of age-ist intention here. There isn’t. Second, if you browse the names below you’ll notice that a stellar 16 of 20 are actors, and several of them are people who have been staples on other Sexiest Male lists for years, like Ryan Phillippe, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp or Christian Bale. But life inside the box, or in this case inside the multiplex, can still serve up some visually very pleasant men. In my opinion Bale was at his hunkiest in American Psycho, but it was a treat to see him and Johnny Depp share the screen in Public Enemies last year, as Depp in my opinion is best enjoyed in such more somber roles. The former heartthrob Ryan Phillippe’s career seems to have stalled somewhat, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find solace in his classic beauty. And I would argue that no one this list has aged better than Matt Damon, other than, perhaps Hugh Grant. Both are examples of people I wasn’t particularly drawn to early in their careers, but whose choice of roles have forced me into reevaluating them.
– British Invasion! Maybe the American pop-cultural hegemony is not as all-encompassing as you think? Seven people born in the United Kingdom clawed their way onto the list (Ewan McGregor hails from Glasgow, Christian Bale from Wales), and Liverpudlian Steven Gerrard even broke into the Top Five. This may be because the UK is relatively close, both culturally and geographically, but it’s also a testament to its beautiful inhabitants. Matthew Goode blew me away with his subtle performance and picture-perfect good-looks in Tom Ford’s A Single Man, while the now thirty year old Charlie Hunnam has reivented himself from his Queer as Folk days as an actor in American movies and TV shows. Ewan McGregor is also aging really well, and he has always had this little something about him that I cannot quite pin down. In many ways, there’s something distinctively British about all of them, which is kind of refreshing and attractive in itself.
With those comments, I give you the list:
- Leonardo DiCaprio (b. 1974)
- Adam Brody (1978)
- Ryan Phillippe (1976)
- Steven Gerrard (1980)
- James Franco (1978)
- Bradley Cooper (1975)
- Chris Pine (1980)
- Randy Harrison (1977)
- Charlie Hunnam (1980)
- Matt Damon (1970)
- Matthew Goode (1976)
- Adrian Grenier (1976)
- Barack Obama (1961)
- Jon Stewart (1962)
- Ewan McGregor (1970)
- Christian Bale (1974)
- John Mayer (1977)
- David Miliband (1965)
- Johnny Depp (1963)
- Hugh Grant (1960)
Whoa and wow – simultaneously. What an interesting spin on things! You know, in gay culture, we worship youth (maybe not more so than straight culture… see Miley Cyrus) – but I think there’s more to it than lust… a lot of gay men go through a second adolescence and scream for young celebs like a high school girl might. I can see how it might be viewed with a raised eyebrow – but I think I could defend it. Some of us are the perpetual adolescents. Part of it might be attraction, but part might be longing to relive or live for the first time a portion of our lives. Is it innocent? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m guilty of the same thing you are. But I was a teen when a lot of the usual suspects were teen idols, and I think my crushes have grown with them. Regardless, I like this over-30 thing this month, because it changes… everything. Number 3 will always be my Number 1. :)
Still, to borrow the title of Jessie’s favorite magazine, my poetry site has, at times, resembled a Tiger Beat magazine, where you could find references to Zac Efron, etc.
My god. Are we all dirty old men? Just read my “Pillow Biter” poem.
PS – Ryan Phillippe, if you’re reading this, CALL ME!
I think you’ve pointed out something really important with the ‘second adolescence’ think. The fact that there were posters of Neve Campbell hanging in my room when I was younger, didn’t mean that I didn’t secret want them to feature Jonathan Taylor Thomas or Zac Hanson instead! I guess I’m compensating for that now. I just have to hope that people me when I say there I have no improper intentions in doing so.
Glad you liked the list. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but I had fun making it.
Love it love it love it- I find accents my personal Jesus, oh sorry Depeche, he ain’t so bad either, but Ewan McGreggor, Gerard Butler, James McAvoy (although a little young for my taste), but seriously its the heart for me, i never went for looks, not that I could not have it, I was a young pretty thang once, and even with women I had lookers seduce me.
Now experience, romance, commitment is important, but a good roll in the hay now and then- OH! there goes that ‘If I were a male, i would walk around with a you know what’, lol
Great post, you get my juices flowing and that is my brain juices btw guys
I’m a slave of brain juice too, sometimes ;)
Butler and McAvoy do nothing for me, but McGregor’s great (in every aspect, and he has always been).
Oh man you just reminded me of the first movie I EVER saw Ewan McGregor in, an art house movie, he is nude in some scenes, and a Japanese writer female, and then a male write on his body in traditional poetic Japanese writing- The Pillow Book, if you have not seen it, rent it, so worth watching. During the late 80’s and early 90’s I was into taking French, went back to college for the second of my third time, and I will have to say- he is only ten years younger and I would love to write on his body. I would write a poem just for him.
I liked McGregor in ‘The Ghost Writer’, and I remember being vaguely interested in seeing ‘The Pillow Book’ when it was released.
I love this list whether or not I wad a partial inspiration for the idea :) I think defining what is sexy is fascinating because it changes at different staged of your life but also by whim. Like right now Bradley Cooper has to be high on my list. There is just something about him. … Although I still have a deep love for nerdy guys so ultimately Jon Stewart is probably more up my alley!
I agree on both. I can’t define precisely what I find so sexy about Cooper, I just know he is. Maybe his smile? Anyway, I have loved him ever since he was in ‘Jack & Bobby’ in 2004. And his scenes in Valentine’s Day were actually watchable, although I hated nearly everything about that movie.
As for Stewart, what can I say? Smart, funny people are sexy. :)
Speaking of Cooper – What about CNN silver-fox Anderson Cooper? Does he pop up on TV over there, QL?
He does, but ‘Anderson Cooper 360’ airs at 3 in the morning here, so it’s not easy to catch. But even though he is as mucih of a foreign correspondent, I expect to see more of him as campaign season heats up over the summer.
Cooper’s was one of the last names I cut from the list, and he would definitely have made it if the list had gone to twenty-five. He was one of five people I mentioned when I did a similar thing eighteen months ago: https://welcometoallofthat.wordpress.com/2008/11/20/salon
Hmmm, keep this going so I learn about new people- Ha! Jessie saying Jon Stewart, I have a friend in Texas who turned me on to David Letterman back in the day, long story short, I did not watch, nor now that much syndicated/network (commercial filled) television. She seemed smitten with him, and felt he was sexy, me, ehhh!, nope, and I did not get his humor? Like Chelsy Handler, how do they make it as far as they do? Now she is sexy, since I prefer/lean towards blondes, lol
I met Gabriel Bryne (Irish accent) on the corner of Sunset Blvd in CA, and we stood there for a moment, looked each others way, had a split second smile (in my mind an attraction of lets run to the nearest hotel and have hot sex look), but I said ‘Top of the mornin to ya’ and he smiled saying ‘to you to’ and then the light turned green, so he went his way as I turned and ran back to my hotel so fast in heels, as I could to call my best friend in Texas and brag because she was the only one I was with that knew who he was. :)
Hehe, I love Letterman as a comedian, and particularly in comparison to the dreary Leno. But I rarely make it past his monologue and the Top Ten list. His interviews tend to be a soft-pedaling drag. Though he is by no means perfect, Jon Stewart is far better in that respect, not least because he sits down with people who tend have a message and not only a book or a movie to promote.
Gabriel Byrne does less than nothing for me.
As for Chelsea Handler, I can see the attraction. I like the directness of her humor, and I loved it when Hunter Parrish visited her show. He may be the sexiest man in the world *sight gets blurry.
Incidentally though, the talkshow host/pundit Rachel Maddow may be the only woman who could turn me straight. Ironically, she’s a lesbian, so I might as well stay gay :). I assume it’s my strong women/diva gene speaking, but I would really like to get to know Julianne Moore or Mary Louise Parker. They just seem like really cool people.
I love this idea! I had no idea Chris Pine was 30; I thought, “THE Chris Pine?!” and had to click on the link to make sure. I seriously thought he was 25 or 27 max. And Barack Obama? Really? I was definitely surprised when I saw his name. You should make lists like this more often. Hahah.
p.s. I still don’t get the Johnny Depp craze (especially women around my age… and even younger!). What’s so sexy about him?
I don’t expect this to be a regular feature of the SMA, but it was fun to mix things up a little. I got the chance to think about the way in which we define sexiness. Take Barack Obama, for instance: Apart from finding him physically attractive, I’m attracted to the fact that he’s an intellectual, and a liberal. I guess I’m sound like a European caricature now, but I’m just so much more comfortable with his policies and his approach to politics than I was with the previous administration. It’s an issue of personal chemistry as well, I think. He seems like a really thoughtful and calm discussion partner. As I said, brains are sexy.
I too was surprised at Chris Pine’s age. He’s not 30 yet though, but he was born in 1980, which qualified him for the list.
Many people seem to think there is sort of an ‘aura’ of sexiness to Johnny Depp, that shines through whatever role he’s playing. I’m not sure I buy that. I don’t find him particularly attractive in his more manic roles, but in a movie like ‘Public Enemies’ he really melted me. He’s a great actor, though.