Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Most Fortuitous Coincidence

It's all explained in the dialogue between "Rat" and "Pig" in this "Pearls Before Swine" strip from the extraordinary Stephan Pastis on March 3, 2003:

Pearls Before Swine - Monday March 3, 2003 Comic Strip

Ruth Graham doesn't look like a pig, and the articles she writes for Slate are more typically marked by impressive insight than by stupidity. That, however, was not the case when she lauded People Magazine for honoring John Legend as "Sexiest Man Alive" of 2019.

Certainly Legend, who is handsome, extremely popular, talented, and winner of several prestigious awards, is a better choice for the award than is almost anyone.  As Graham emphasizes, he is thoroughly devoted to his beautiful and famous wife Chrissy Teigen, with whom he has two children, and is "a wife guy."

Nonetheless, the list of winners demonstrates how ridiculous this award is. In reverse chronological order, the last dozen have been: Idris Elba, Blake Shelton, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson; David Beckham; Chris Hemworth; Adam Levine; Channing Tatum; Bradley Cooper; Ryan Reynolds; Johnny Depp; Hugh Jackman; Matt Damon.

The previous 21 or so fit the pattern. They aren't all white, though most are. Most are from the USA, but not all are. However, they all speak English and are from English-speaking countries.

What are the odds? What are the odds that in a world with almost 200 nations and innumerable languages spoken, no Africans, Asians, or Latin Americans appear on the list? Admittedly, none should be- if no one male from any of those countries is in fact the sexiest man alive.

We have surmounted all odds. We Americans- or at least those of us in the developed world- are granted the luxury of continuing to believe that we are the best country, or the best race, or the best culture anywhere. It's not exactly white privilege- a few blacks make the grade- but it does lend itself to a dangerous and smug sense of superiority.

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