Archive - December, 2012

His Most Attractive Feature

I recently overheard several middle-aged, female, Starbucks customers gushing over Hollywood star Ryan Gosling.

They each took turns trying to describe what it was that made him so attractive to “their daughters”:

“He can do it all: Act, direct, sing, even do a lot of push-ups with his shirt off.”

“I saw him looking good in some cut-off cord shorts and mid-ankle boots with heels.”

“He looks good when he’s wet, dry, bearded… even wearing those nerd glasses that the pastors at my church are all getting.”

The whole thing eventually devolved into a conversation about whether his eyes were better than his pecs, or his pecs were better than his abs.

I left before they started working any lower.

As I drove away I wondered if they realized that these things are also true of just about every other handsome, chiseled, actor in Los Angeles?

When I relayed this story, and my cynical comments about the common desirability of A-list leading men to my friend Jordan (who looks good dry or bearded) he told me that Ryan Gosling was actually quite a bit different than the average movie star.

“That guy works at a sandwich shop”, he said.


Who We Are & Who We Can Be Pt. 6

In the history of television there is no more despicable man than Seinfeld’s George Costanza.  George is lazy, compulsive, manipulative, a skinflint, and a poor latex salesman.

What’s interesting about George isn’t merely that he’s a bad person, it’s that he might be America’s most beloved bad person.

No matter how terribly George behaved over 9 seasons on America’s greatest sitcom, the television audience never stopped rooting for him.

George Costanza, while dishonest, was quite possibly the finest depiction of the banal and neurotic nature of human depravity ever presented in western culture.  His sad-sack suffering was always the result of his inability to be considerate of any desire other than his own.  This impulsiveness was consistently the source of his own undoing.

Which makes him a lot like you and me.

George’s behavior revealed his nature, and his nature influenced his behavior, in a downward spiral that was as entertaining as it was revelatory of the human condition.

I’d suggest to you that we don’t hate George because we identify with him.

We tend to root for unsuccessful people who are flawed in the same way that we are.  This is probably because it helps us feel better about our own lack of success.  We also tend to vilify both the successful and those whom we find to be inferior to us.  In short, we hope to elevate our position by squashing the field.

George is unique in that he makes us feel better about ourselves,
without having to knock him down to look better to others.


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