Joanna Schroeder challenges the outdated notion that Americans don’t find men of color sexy.
By now you’ve probably heard that Channing Tatum—aka”Magic Mike“—was named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive“, an honor that has gone to 25 other men before, including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck.
25 of the 26 men who have won this award have one very obvious thing in common: their race. Tricia Romano of The Daily Beast points out how bizarre this trend truly is:
And during the last four years, when there has been an African-American president (who, if he were a Hollywood hunk, should surely have topped the list), it seems preposterous that no other men of color have been picked as the winner. In 2008, square-jawed Aussie, Hugh Jackman took the top honor. In 2009, Johnny Depp and his rotting teeth were selected for a second time. Last year, nobody’s favorite, Bradley Cooper, walked away (shirtless) with the crown. And the year before, perhaps in anticipation of the release of Green Lantern (which bombed), Ryan Reynolds was bestowed this dubious honor. Call it the Sexiest Milquetoast Man Alive.
Yes, Johnny Depp has won TWICE!
After 26 years, this trend can no longer be considered coincidental.
Ms. Romano suggests a list of men whom People Magazine seems to have been purposefully ignoring for the last 26 years: Taye Diggs, Blair Underwood, Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut and of course Idris Elba. And might I also suggest Michael Ealy, since we’re playing this (dreamy) game?
I’d also like to nominate Hawaii 5-0′s Daniel Dae Kim… unless People Magazine thinks Asian men aren’t contenders for “sexy”. But newsflash, People: If you type “Daniel Dae Kim” into Google, “Shirtless” is the third query after his name. His shirtlessness on LOST made him famous for his sexiness. Also, how about Antonio Banderas, Benicio del Toro or Naveen Andrews?
Of course, People Magazine blames Hollywood, as Romano cites:
A rep for People explained: “The cover subject is chosen solely on the following criteria: Is he hot at the moment? Is he sexy? Is his career on fire this year? Channing Tatum fits that criteria this year, which is why he was named 2012 Sexiest Man Alive.”
People explains that their Sexiest Man layout does include men of color, but what we all know is that it’s the cover that really matters. That’s the headline. That’s the guy whose value is upped by the title of “Sexiest Man Alive”. The rest of the guys seem to be present for tokenism and not much more. Did they ever stand a chance at the title? Probably not, just as a man of color probably doesn’t stand a chance at being cast as The Bachelor.
Producers and publishers can blame Hollywood, and Hollywood can blame the American public—after all, they only produce what people will buy, right? And according to them, Black men don’t sell.
But hold on a minute. What was the top-grossing romantic comedy of 2012? One of the top-grossing movies of the year? Hmm… Lemme think… Oh yeah, Think Like a Man! The film shocked traditional movie experts by staying in the top slot for weeks on end, starring a cast that was almost entirely comprised of Black actors and actresses.
Released in April, the film has grossed 91 million dollars (domestic) so far this year. 91 million dollars, people! That places Think Like a Man in the top 30 highest-grossing romantic comedies of all time… and it’s been in the marketplace for less than a year.
This Means War starring Hollywood darling (and box office gold) Reese Witherspoon (and two hot young white guys) grossed $54 Million. Jason Segal and Emily Blunt’s 5 Year Engagement grossed $28 Million. Wake up, People Magazine. $91 million is an impressive domestic box office for any romantic comedy and proves that the traditional idea of what sells—white men—is old news.
And even if it weren’t, even if we were still living in a time when men of color didn’t sell magazines or movies, it is up to the media to take the first steps toward equality. Even if equality in this case is something as silly as deciding which beefcake is most beefy.
Wake up, People Magazine, and smell the wonderful diversity of flowers in the hot guy bouquet.
Idris Elba Proves ‘Cool’ is More Important Than ‘Swag’ by Damon Young
How the Rules of Racism are Different for Asian Americans by Matthew Salesses
Magic Mike: On the Objectification of Men by Joanna Schroeder