Ryan Gosling is a man, but what kind of man is he? Ryan Gosling is a Man, but what kind of Men are we? Ryan Gosling has become some kind of ultimate signifier of masculinity in recent times. Particularly for the Tumbling classes – see here and here and here, oh and here.
But what is it about the man that makes him so damn compelling, and more pressingly, what does this say about modern masculinity? There is probablya book about this waiting to be written. In fact, somewhere in South East London, a Goldsmiths student is probably writing it.
We suspect the answer is to do with the way that he spans the contradictions inherent within modern masculinity. There have been Lads, and Metrosexuals and now there is Ryan Gosling. He is a chauvinist and a feminist at exactly the same time. Or at least this is the image the world has of him.
In truth it is an image that is made up from his roles rather than any true insight into the man’s personality. Drive is a case in point, he loves kids, and he also loves idealising/ogling women in a slightly creepy way and smashing heads. Half Nelson and Blue Valentine are further examples of the way that he has played roles that are both lovely and hateful at the same time. You could probably make this point about Lars and The Real Girl too (lovely loser with a plastic woman as a lover – sure.) It probably helps that his second name is also the name of a baby animal. There is nothing Tumblr likes more than a baby animal.
Like Brad Pitt before him – with his recurrent role as a dreamy lover and a man with a mental problem – we think we’re obsessed with the celebrity when in fact we’re obsessed with the characters he’s played. Film is the only arena into which society can effectively project the ideals of men and women that cope with the oppositions that real life presents us with; whilst also allowing us to find them incredibly good looking.
In some ways this is a continuation of the Hipster Survivalism post on this blog a little while ago. Today, to be a man you need to be both progressive and regressive, you need to have an axe and a car, but they should probably be beautiful and vintage.