Welcome to Do We Have To Care About This?, an occasional feature looking at news stories that seemingly everyone is talking about, despite their lack of any real bearing on anything, to determine whether we, too, have to care about this.
Oh God, what is it now?
People Magazine has decreed Blake Shelton the Sexiest Man Alive in this, the Year of our Sexy Lord 2017, having surveyed the extant male population and determined that, of everyone currently still breathing and eating, no one does it sexier.
Blake Shelton is a 41-year-old country music star and current coach on The Voice who has spent most of his career deciding whether to grow a beard. More recently, Shelton became something of a tabloid fixation after he divorced fellow country singer Miranda Lambert and took up with his fellow Voice coach Gwen Stefani—a turbulent love story that, totally coincidentally, most appeals to People’s core audience of readers in need of something to distract them from impending surgeries. You may also recall that, as on his People cover, Shelton is often photographed wiping at the back of his neck as though he just got done with a long day of ploughin’ a cornfield, and he wrote a little ol’ song about it, and he’d like to sing it for y’all now…
And who named him the what now?
People named him its Sexiest Man Alive, adding him to an esteemed lineage of sexy, living men who really get a magazine going—like its first cover subject, Mel Gibson, or Ben Affleck, or especially two-time recipient Johnny Depp.
Yeah. There’s been, uh, some unfortunate history of People choosing men with, let us say, not the greatest track record of behavior toward women. There’s also Sean Connery, who stood up for the right to slap them around a couple of times. But you know, there’s also Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Channing Tatum, and last year’s recipient Dwayne Johnson—none of whom have, to date, been accused of that sort of thing. And Shelton can proudly say the same!
So this choice is… good?
Well sure, Shelton seems like a relatively safe pick at the moment, in that no one has accused him of sexual misconduct. He is the low-impact divorced dad that a thrice-burned America is now giving a break to, despite his boring Tinder profile. But no, actually, the consensus appears to be that Shelton is a bad choice for this national sleepover conversation, for myriad reasons.
Oh goddamnit. What?
Well, for starters, Shelton likes to get on Twitter, presumably after a few SoCos, and make some hilarious jokes about homosexuals—including one that suggested he’d leave any gay man who touches him “beaten, bleeding, and heaving” that attracted a condemnation from GLAAD. He also wrote some stuff about people needing to “learn some English so I would at least know what he’s planning to bomb” or so that they could drive his airport shuttle bus. And one time he joked about his fantasies involving a 16-year-old Dakota Fanning.
Indeed. Of course, this was a few years ago, and Shelton has since apologized, saying, “Everybody knows comedy has been a major part of my career and it’s always been out there for anyone to see”—which some might find equally offensive, for other reasons. Nevertheless, many have already pointed out the symbolism of a country music dude with a history of making homophobic and Islamophobic jokes being named Sexiest Man Alive in “Trump’s America.” So this year, especially, this whole pointless mom-popularity contest carries an unexpected political bent.
What else is new. Is that it?
Well, there’s also the fact that Shelton is yet another white dude, and in a culture increasingly filled with attractive men of color—and again, in a year where these things, no matter how ostensibly trivial, carry this sort of weight—People might have seen their way to picking one. Or at least, picking one who doesn’t look like the kind of guy who might read that last sentence, then unleash some Coors-fueled diatribe about why that’s a bunch of snowflake bullshit.
Yeah, all right.
Yeah. Oh, and there’s also been some debate over whether objectifying any celebrity right now feels kind of off, at a time when our days are filled with harrowing evidence of the effects of Hollywood’s pervasive culture of sexuality. But, you know, most of those are just people kind of musing out loud. Most tend to regard this whole thing as a welcome break of superficiality amid so much awfulness. The A.V. Club, for example, was all too happy to mock Blake Shelton for a while instead of writing about rape for five goddamn minutes.
Okay, so, some people think he’s kind of a shitty person as well as a symbol for America’s current descent into a sort of reality-TV-and-Natty-Light-stirred hellscape where even our fantasies are lame—but on the bright side, he hasn’t assaulted anyone. And that’s what everyone is in such an uproar about?
Oh, Sexy Lord no! Everyone’s just having a go at Shelton’s looks, because it’s fun to rip on him from here behind the safety of our computer screens where no one can see our own weirdly shaped heads and bodies. Ha ha, Blake Shelton looks like he’s about to sexily whisper in your ear about pressure washers. Blake Shelton would barely qualify as Sexiest Man In This Buffalo Wild Wings Commercial. Who knew America desperately wants to fuck a bologna-and-Fritos sandwich? And so on. Wheeee, no one can see us!
I get it. So, do we have to care about this?
Cool, thanks for completely wasting my time.
That’s sexy 2017, baby!