What I'm about to say is probably going to come across as superficial. It might even piss some people off. But here goes: what in holy heck has happened to Hollywood's leading men? I thought of this for the 100th time the other night, while I was watching the Star Wars trilogy and drooling over Han Solo. You see, my puberty and teenage fantasies were often fortified by watching manly men--not boys--grace the silver screen. Men like Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner (three of my big movie crushes right there), Clint Eastwood, Patrick Swayze, Robert De Niro, Paul Newman (older by this point but still sexy), Al Pacino, Richard Gere, Michael Biehn (Terminator), Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson (long before we knew he was a racist fucknut), Alan Rickman, Burt Reynolds and countless other hotties. It was a great time to be a teenage girl, and movie machismo was freely overflowing. I'm not even counting the action stars that enjoyed fame in the 80s (mainly because I personally didn't find them attractive, although I did have a friend who loved Arnold Schwarzenegger. And let's face it, Ah-nold WAS a man.)
Not to mention ever since movies made that epic jump from silent to talkies, men who were men in the traditional sense of the word set many movie fans' hearts racing. I'm sure your mother or grandmother crushed on Robert Redford, Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Sidney Potier, George Peppard, Cary Grant, and Rock Hudson (the last two being so sexy and masculine we never questioned their sexuality) just to name a few.
Now don't get me wrong--I love the "average guy" actors, too. My favorite actor and absolute biggest celebrity crush is Kevin Spacey. To me he's the male equivalent of the girl next door. He may not be every woman's idea of a hunk, but I think he's sexy and funny as hell and exudes class. He's a grown up man. And I can also appreciate men like John O'Reilly, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones. They're great actors.
But when it comes to the names who are often headlining today's biggest movies, I find myself scratching my head. Something is seriously missing. In my opinion they can't even come close--both on the hottie meter and talent indicator--to the greats who came before them. Who am I talking about? Shia Labeouf, Ashton Kucher (his remake of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was the worst piece of crap I've ever seen) Tobey Maguire, Robert Pattinson, Jason Segal, Seth Rogan (c'mon, were we really supposed to believe that Katherine Heigel banged him in Knocked Up, drunk or not?), Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Daniel Radcliffe, Jack Black, Ryan Reynolds, or just about anyone else that People magazine or Access Hollywood tries to tell me is sexy. I'm sure that off screen, some of these guys are nice guys (Segal worked with The Muppets, after all) but I still feel compelled to clear something up that is probably going to get their fans' panties in a huge wad: most of these guys are not men, they're boys. To me the majority of them seem rather immature, scruffy, dweeby (in a bad way), overweight or a combination of any of those qualities. And what's really surprising to me is that women my age adore some of them. Middle aged moms make up a big portion of the Twilight fan demographic, despite the fact that Robert Pattinson apparently hates to wash himself and stinks worse than Pig Pen. Yuck. Funny, but even when I was a teen, I never paid attention to the actors of the time who were teens themselves. Why would I have wanted a picture of the Karate Kid hanging in my locker, when I could have had Indiana Jones? (No offense to Ralph Macchio; he's a good guy.)
Personally, I'm hard pressed to name any A list actor off the top of my head who is a. American, b. under the age of 35 and c. sexy/manly. Most of the guys that I find appealing are imports from other countries (Russell Crowe before he got fat, and Gerald Butler) or mainly television actors--Jon Hamm and Josh Lucas (The Firm, which sadly, I think was just canceled) or both--Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey), Damian Lewis, and Jason Isaacs (Awake.) For a while we had Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio (none of which I found sexy but at least they were somewhat manly) and George Clooney, but as he advances into middle age, who from young Hollywood can possibly take his place?
I think there is one major trend driving the influx of young 'uns into leading movie roles: Hollywood just isn't making as many intelligent dramatic films as they used to. Hence, there's fewer demand for mature male actors who can fill a serious leading role. There seems to have been a shift during the past few years to movies that are based on teen book series (the Twilight series and now, The Hunger Games) and dumb and revolting comedies, which means the schlubby funny guys are headlining movies. And yet...I look back on the SNL guys I grew up with like Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd and still think there were way more attractive, masculine, and funnier than the likes of Jon Heder.
If this is the direction that Hollywood is headed, then the future of the classic film hunk seems to be in serious danger. Please don't tell me to suck it up, that this is a sign of the times, that these guys are more realistic to what we see in real life, to get used to it, etc. because I won't hear of it--for nearly a century we had classy, sexy movie men and in the course of a decade they seemed to have all but disappeared.
Ladies, do you agree?
And hey my male readers--what say you about women in movies? Do you think there's anyone out there today who can compare to the actresses of past decades or have you had enough as well?
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