If you haven’t gotten a chance, you should head over to the Washington Post and read Richard Cohen’s column on Bond and the “problem with male sex appeal in today’s world”. Now, I don’t know what poor girl didn’t recognize Cohen’s obvious intelligence and worth as amale back in high school, but whoever it was he hasn’t forgotten about it.
Cohen makes the argument that Daniel Craig’s James Bond represents some sort of Alpha Male, six-pack laden God that Hollywood and society seems to embrace nowadays; where as good-ole schlubs like that Cary Grant fellow represent a before-time where–apparently–when Hollywood celebrated the average guy by putting him in movies like North By Northwest where he got to be the hero. I’m not exactly sure where to start first.
Let’s first consider the fact that Cary Grant was a ridiculously handsome movie star… and that the definition of “in shape” was vastly different during the hey-day of NXNW… or the fact that Cary Grant was supposed to be an everyman trapped in a situation where he had to be adventurous whereas Daniel Craig plays the world’s toughest, most deadly secret agent so, yeah it would probably be a good idea to get some muscles. In fact, for the purpose of this article, let’s not even get into the fact that Hollywood has a history of pitting incredibly beautiful women with just about any “loveable” loser they can find this week. The problem with Cohen’s assessment is that he’s looking at the past through some sort of nostalgia filter that doesn’t fall in line with reality. I mean, do you seriously believe that someone at any point could like at Cary Grant and go, “well if he can get Grace Kelly, so can I!”.
All that considered, the real issue with this comes near the end, where Cohen takes into account Craig’s workout regimen by stating, “Every rippling muscle is a book not read, a movie not seen or a conversation not held.” Here’s where it becomes apparent that someone is still holding grudges from a like time ago. This idea that anyone who enjoys working out is wasting their time when they could be reading a book instead is pretty dismissive and snobby. Even worst, it fits everyone’s favorite motif that the nice, nerdy guy with a heart of gold finishes last. You know because all those girls who should totally be turned on by the books you check out at the library or your knowledge of world affairs are too busy chasing down football players in the weight room. As someone who’s still considered the “nice, nerdy guy with the heart of gold” I have to say that this idea is mostly bullshit. Nobody owes me or anyone like me anything because we’re nice or smart or whatever, just like everyone else, I have to work to attract someone and my decision to not work out doesn’t make me smarter or vice-versa. But fear not Mr. Cohen, beautiful girls who like books and regular guys like us do exist. I promise bro.