Why Ryan Gosling is perfect for feminists
Hollywood dreamboat Ryan Gosling has acquired the most sexually alluring quality: he looks like he would know what to do, writes Janice Turner
The critics mostly gave Crazy, Stupid, Love three stars. Four at most. Which made me cry at these jaded folk with their little torch-pens: "What about that scene?" That scene alone was worth five stars. By which I mean, of course, when nightclub lothario Jacob reveals his fail-safe seduction secret to Emma Stone.
He shows her how he re- creates the end of Dirty Dancing by lifting his seducee high into the air. And then she goes to bed with him: "Every single time."
It was a witty parody of female fantasy, as cartoonish and reflexive in its own way as male desire. But one thing made women's brains auto-save this scene for future reference.
Jacob, who reveals a torso that provokes the Stone character to say "Seriously? It's like you're Photoshopped" was played by Ryan Gosling.
Gosling is not the obvious guy to play shallow and meretricious. He can do dark and troubled (Half Nelson), seedy and frazzled (Blue Valentine) or socially inept (Lars and the Real Girl). Hitherto he was not even a hunk: in these earlier movies he is the skinny, slant-shouldered East Village dude.
That he muscled up for Crazy, Stupid, Love -- eating only body-fat-reducing chicken breast -- was less vanity than method insanity. No odder than him knocking up a table when he played a carpenter, or gaining a gut and having his hairline thinned to show that a character had aged.
His face is not even conventionally handsome: long, quizzical, his eyebrows tipped upwards like ironic inverted commas, his profile convex except for that wooden marionette nose.
But this is the exact point of Ryan Gosling: he is for women who abhor the obvious guy.
He has depths, and from them he might pull surprises. Like that suddenly ripped body or a secret life as an underworld criminal, which means that he must protect you through the medium of psychotic violence, as he does with Carey Mulligan in Drive. The perpetual pleasure of looking at Ryan Gosling is figuring him out.
In interviews, he rivals George Clooney in the art of shaking off questions about his sex appeal with self-deprecating charm. But as indie boy gentleness mixes with his new leading-man alphadom, he has acquired that most sexually alluring quality: he looks like he would know what to do.
His inner complexity, a pleasing twistedness (which recalls to me a young James Spader) together with an intense tenderness -- he does a lot of face-cupping while kissing -- has made him a kind of universal idealised boyfriend.
Online pictures of Gosling looking sexy, vulnerable or playing adorably with his dog George are captioned by women. These say the kind of things they wish men would say. A picture of Gosling in a tight sweater reads: "Hey girl, my new year's resolution is to give you more foot massages." Another of him cuddly in a plaid shirt says: "Hey girl, yes, I'd just love to get to know all your family and friends."
There is now even a rival meme, called Feminist Ryan Gosling, in which a fan has considered the "Hey girl" utterances to be insufficiently politically correct.
And so our hero says such things as: "Hey girl, gender is a social construct but everyone likes a cuddle."
Clearly even the angry unappeasable militant chicks adore him.
Of course, there is no firm proof that Gosling is a feminist -- although evidence is so far positive.
Exhibit A: Ryan had a year-long relationship with Sandra Bullock, a mind-bending 17 years older than him.
Exhibit B: He is always very specifically lovely about his female co-stars and former girlfriends.
Exhibit C: When it looked likely that Blue Valentine was to be given a 17 rating because it features Gosling giving prolonged oral pleasure to Michelle Williams, he wrote to the US censors.
He pointed out that "scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes" had received far lower classifications.
So, feminist sistah, cunnilingus champion, dark road-knight and adoring boyfriend. For the intelligent modern woman, Ryan Gosling is the erotic multi-tool.