In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Richard Cohen laments the way in which leading men in their middle age have gone from Cary Grant’s effortless, elegant athletic body type to the labored, chiseled and perfected body of 44 year-old Daniel Craig as James Bond.
This Bond ripples with muscles. Craig is 44, but neither gravity nor age has done its evil work on him. Nothing about him looks natural, relaxed — a man in the prime of his life and enjoying it. Instead, I see a man chasing youth on a treadmill, performing sets and reps, a clean and press, a weighted knee raise, an incline pushup and, finally, something called an incline pec fly (don’t ask). I take these terms from the Daniel Craig Workout, which you can do, too, if your agent and publicist so insist.
Is that was being 44 is supposed to look like? Are you expected to do the incline pec fly in order to have 0% body fat and abs that rival Ryan Gosling?
Cohen explains a time he longs for, a time when bodily perfection wasn’t the only quality found attractive in a man:
To appreciate what I mean, contrast this new Bond to Roger O. Thornhill, the charmingly hapless advertising man played by Cary Grant in “North by Northwest.” Like Bond, Thornhill pulls off some amazing physical feats — his mad frantic escape from the crop duster, the traverse of Mount Rushmore — and like Bond he wears an expensive suit. Unlike Bond, though, when he takes it off we do not see some marbleized man, an ersatz creation of some trainer, but a fit man, effortlessly athletic and just as effortlessly sophisticated…
In “North by Northwest” and other movies, Grant — for all his good looks — represented the triumph of the sexual meritocracy — a sex appeal won by experience and savoir-faire, not delts and pecs and other such things that any kid can have. He was not alone in this. Gary Cooper in “High Noon” wins Grace Kelly by strength of character, not muscles.
What do you think? Does Daniel Craig’s bodily perfection in Skyfall set the bar too high for guys who would rather rely upon the strength of their character?
Does the new ideal of 007 make the everyday man feel bad about himself?