Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hot or Not?

Been a long time since I rolled with the Rice Daddy crew, something for which I apologize to my fellow R-Pops—but there's so much great stuff going on here that I'm sure my minor contribs were scarcely missed.

That said, my most recent column at SFGate was occasioned by the release of the annual "Sexiest Man Alive" issue of People magazine, which included the usual suspects (e.g. George Clooney, who was dubbed the year's most delicious living dude for the second time, joining Brad Pitt and Richard Gere as the only such double dippers).

So here's the thing: In 21 years of crowning kings of schwing, there's been just one nonwhite honoree: Denzel Washington. Is this something that should bug us? Or is this even a question we need to be asking at this point in our collective cultural lives?

Daddy in a Strange Land shared his opinion to me that even raising the discussion essentially buys into the troubling notion that worth is related to attractiveness: "I'm not naive and I'm not living in a cave somewhere, I know that that's the real world, but as an anti-racist, feminist father of color married to a woman of color and raising a daughter of color, I have to ask, are we asking the right questions, challenging the right definitions?"

Which I certainly agree with. But as much as I want to reframe attractiveness according to a different set of criteria (like, it wouldn't suck if "slightly chubby 38-year-old men with glasses, goofy hair, and mediocre fashion sense" became the new gold standard for masculinity), we deal with this kind of thing every day.

There are real consequences—as Ingrid Olson of the University of Pennsylvania found in a gloom-inducing experiment earlier this year, attractive people get associated with positive traits that lead to better treatment. And this was born out in a study by a team from Harvard and Wesleyan: good-looking people are perceived to be more productive and better hires. (Why top-tier liberal arts colleges are spending so much time and money researching hotness is a whole 'nother question...)

Which explains in part why, consciously or not, we pride in having our boys, girls, and babies dubbed cute by others—there are real utilitarian consequences to cuteness. My son is billions of times cuter than I am (or was at his age), and I light up every time I hear someone compliment him on his cute-osity. People can come up to me and say, "Dude, you reek, but your son is gorgeous," and I'll flash a huge grin and thank them (and credit Hudson's mom with the hottie genes, of course).

Is it icky to think this way? Kind of. I mean, it's bad enough that I'm feeling all of those cliche, suffocating Asian parent academic agenda items starting to float into my forebrain—Is he hitting all of his developmental milestones? When should we start him on violin? SATs—study now, or wait until he's four?—but I also find myself wanting him to be the suave, athletic, toe-curlingly good-looking guy that I never was, or aspired to be.

And yeah, I hope we get to a point in our reality where attractiveness isn't just a set of washboard abs or a sculpted set of cheekbones. (Thus, my campaign to push Masi Oka to the top of People's "hottest Heroes castmember" poll—little victories still count for something.)

But the reality of what physical appeal means in our society is still out there. Which means there is meaning, however shallow it seems, in getting society to recognize our particular looks, features, and distinguishing characteristics as part of its benchmark for beauty.

For the record, however, the Rice Daddies I've been lucky enough to meet are as impressive a buffet of smokin' male hotness as I've ever seen. And the kids? Peep the pics for yourself. So cute, you could just die.

18 comments:

daddy in a strange land said...

Welcome back, InstantYang!

Thanks for that little shout-out--not that I made the actual column or anything like Poppa Large, but anyway... Sniff...

Heh.

R2Dad said...

The kids--oh yeah, cuties--every last one! But with "smokin' male hotness", your fans are going to want to see it to believe it! You're practically throwin' down the gauntlet for all the RDs. When do we get a calendar?

Superha said...

Good looking people really do get too much credit for something that's usually beyond their control. But it's hard to discredit looks in modern society.

angie said...

i like the idea of pointing out different kinds of "good looking" to the kids. (i make it a point to say "ooo, look at her hair" or "wow, he has really pretty eyes".)

I also make it a point tell AM how smart/funny/bright/clever/optimistic she is or tell Boy how funny/happy/energetic/positive he is BEFORE i tell them they're beautiful and cute. (*when ever the g-parents [not mine] keep beating the "cute" horse to death i definitely make it a point to say those things listed above and say: "AM/Boy is also really _____".)

Marcie said...

Yul is a hottie.

thisislarry said...

"slightly chubby 38-year-old men with glasses, goofy hair, and mediocre fashion sense"

um, dude, you been looking in my window or something? Gotcha, I'm only 37!

Seriously, I second the motion. It's time for a new standard of hotness, and you and I are it!

It has been so decalred, now let's just waaaait for next year's People.

thisislarry said...

also this: in a previous life I worked on a movie set for a film starring Mr. Clooney, and man, he radiates hotness a serious 50 yards away. That cat is soooo smooth and cool.

honglien123 said...

There's one thing you don't mention that seems to have changed. Youth is not longer necessarily associated with sexiness. Gone are the days of total dominion by blond haired, blue eyed, 20 something adonises; George Clooney is 45 (only 3 years younger than my dad I might add) and Denzel is 52 this year. Brad Pitt is 42. In a fact, a quick calculation of the average age of People's sexiest men and their ages at the time of selection yields 39.3 years. Just below the cusp of middle age (40, I'm 28 so I can say that, when I'm 40 I think I'll be in denial).
So! What does this mean? It's not that you and Larry aren't sexy, it's that you just aren't there yet.

And BTW, I too would like the "smokin' male hotness" statement backed up.

InstantYang said...

Heh. Maybe a Rice Daddy of the Month (with Rice Baby) Calendar might make a nice souvenir/fundraiser for something...what do you think, guys?

That said, I refuse to do skin, unless it's absolutely necessary from an aesthetic or narrative perspective. ;)

The Newbie Dad said...

I'm more than slightly chubby and 3 years older than IY and got 4 on TIL. Do I qualify for the new hotness?

You could be my man-crush if I could be yours. :)

thisislarry said...

well newbie dad, three instances make it a trend. A trend it is!

Now if only IY would show some skin, to seal the deal....

I'll let you know when People calls me.

tanilan said...

I think Hollywood tries to dictate to us, the definition of sexy. But I think there are many people out there that don't fall into that trap and decide for themselves what sexy really is. As a society I think we vicariously try to live through Hollywood and let them tell us how to think, what to think, what to wear, even what to eat. But we must decide we are not going to be drones, and think and feel "out of the box" so to speak.

I really like this blog and will be back.

Mama Nabi said...

I just went to vote for Masi.. he only has 4%... actually, although he plays a dorky guy, take away his glasses, do something different with the hair, different clothes - there IS a hot guy under that. Seriously, it's all about presentation. Hm, perhaps NBC should hottify him as part of this 'hero' transformation (I don't watch the show so I may be way off base here.) Seriously, I have seen so many Asian men who could go from mediocre to hot in seconds with the right haircut. Perhaps it's because there aren't enough good barbers who know how to cut Asian hair out there??? Just a thought...

OTRgirl said...

I heard a rumor from a Chinese-American friend that due to Korean soap operas, Korean men are becoming the new hot/sexy thing. Maybe it will just take a few years for People to catch up. (or maybe it's just a West Coast phenomenon)

tanilan said...

I'm sorry but a hot guy is just that...a hot guy. I don't care if he's Black, White, Purple, Green, Blue...if he's hot he's hot.

Like my students say...don't hate.

alexthegirl said...

OTRgirl kinda has a point. Those K dramas have definitely turned people onto Korean guys. I know cuz its happened to me. But you guys are right too, it IS time for people to see hotness in a different light. Dorks are cool!

p.s. on a recent episode of survivor, Yul said that he won't get a date cuz he got all intellectual about body mass vs. surface area in a challenge. He's very mistaken on that statement. He just kicked up the dateability factor. :)

Henri said...

I am so fucking hot I cannot stand my own hotness. I swear I am gorgeous...in a fat short kinda way...but nonetheless Superkoreanhot!!!!!!11!twelve!1!!Ask anyone on MySpace I am tehHoTTszors!!!

Mrs. J said...

What about the guy who plays Jin from Lost? I always found him attractive and then that VA voting ad was just the icing on the cake. He is SO hot, I'm really surprised he wasn't on there.

Years ago (and not that many, really), you'd never see a black person on that list, so I think this will only be a temporary thing. Eventually, as Hollywood creates more roles for Asian men, there will be more Asian male sex symbols, and things will finally change.*sigh*