Thanks to Chicago Sun Times blogger Jim Emerson for calling attention to my 3.12.08 “Eclipse of the Hunk” piece, which basically observed that due to the films of Judd Apatow, “marginally unattractive guys — witty stoners, clever fatties, doughy-bodied dorks, thoughtful-sensitive dweebs and bearish oversize guys in their 20s and 30s — can be and in fact are the new ‘romantic leads’ (for lack of a better or more appropriate term) in today’s comedies.”
Of course, Emerson uses the occasion to ridicule me, and of course his talk-backers follow suit. Emerson says I sounded “like a Dixieland racist spouting off about miscegenation in the 1950s…it’s an outrage, a threat to the species!” Exactly. Galumphy Guys becoming the new romantic leads are a threat to the species — they represent an evolutionary downgrade, the beginning of the death of the Cary Grant gene in U.S. males.
I would like Emerson to tell me precisely how the following three graphs are wrong:
“Ten years ago female moviegoers, I believe, would have totally rejected [galumphy romantic leads]. Twenty or thirty years ago mainstream audiences would have walked out of theatres in confusion (if not disgust) if guys who look like Rogen, Segel, Hill or Mintz-Plasse got the girl. If filmmakers had tried to push this concept in movies of the ’40s or ’50s the House Un-American Activites Committee would have held Congressional hearings. If films of this slant had been made in the 1920s or ’30s people would have seen them as tragedies or grotesque oddities in the vein of Todd Browning‘s Freaks.
“When you think about it, the last time Hollywood said to the moviegoing public ‘hold on…guys who look like this can get the pretty girl and in fact do this in the real world’ was 41 years ago, when the short, dweeby-Jewish Dustin Hoffman connected with Katherine Ross and bedded Anne Bancroft in The Graduate (’67).
“Before that landmark Mike Nichols film male romantic leads had all been pretty much cut from the same three cloths — traditional standard-handsome smoothies a la Cary Grant or Rock Hudson or Clark Gable, good-looking troubled moodies like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift or Frank Sinatra, or all-American sunny-personality guys like James Stewart or Van Johnson. Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock was something very new — nice-looking but anxious, neurotic, not tall and of the Hebrew persuasion.”