Stupid Tuesday questions, “Sliding Doors” edition

I do not hate Gwyneth Paltrow.  It is ridiculous to hate Gwyneth Paltrow.

Do I find her lifestyle advice an irritating indication of how terribly privileged her life must be?  Yes.  Did her complaining about how “un-fun” it was to wear fabulous clothing and mingle with the most famous people in the world cement that impression?  Yes.  Did her win over Cate Blanchett for Best Actress in 1999 have me yelling at my television?  Kinda, but then her acceptance speech was so gracious that I forgave her.

But I think she’s quite a fine actress.  I thought hers was the best performance in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” for all the attention Jude Law got.  I thought she made a lovely “Emma,” though I’m ashamed to admit in front of my best friend and co-blogger that I’ve not read the book so I defer to her judgment on the matter should she disagree.  I liked her in “Sliding Doors” and her cameo in the third Austin Powers movie is the only moment I can remember finding funny.  I found her charming on “Glee,” back when I was still watching it.

I have nothing against Gwyneth Paltrow.


I’ve never been all that struck by her beauty.  I think she is undeniably very pretty.  I think she is chic and glamorous.  But I found myself scratching my head a bit at her selection as People magazine’s “Most Beautiful Woman in the World” this year (an annual selection I hope we can all agree is unalloyed stupidity).  Because, quite frankly, I find her looks rather plain.  Pretty, but plain.

So that’s this week’s question — whose appeal do you just not quite get?  Which celebrity’s attractiveness seems more like marketing than pulchritude to you?  Who do see parading around in a ballgown or tux (because there are plenty of guys who are supposedly hot that have me scratching my head, too) and find yourself wondering what the big deal is?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. This is a hard question, I suppose I don’t get the appeal of crushing or lusting after celebrities in general. It’s not that they are undesirable but it is because they are unobtainable. Why not fall in love with somebody you know in real life. Yet many people build a fantasy life around celebrities and sometimes this can go to terribly unhealthy levels.

  2. To answer the question, I suppose I don’t get the appeal of celebrities with a hard beauty like Charlie Theron. I’m more attracted to the softer like Zoe Daschel or the more elegant like Audrey Hepburn.

    • Interesting. Because, were I to pick an actress whose beauty I find utterly stunning, Charlize Theron would be right at the top of my list.

      • I really do not go for the hard sexy type beauty, it does not fit what I’m looking for. I like a beauty that radiates a sort of softness and gentleness and is more about romance than immediate fun in the bed or where ever. I’m also into elegance and sophistication, which fits more with soft beauty than hard beauty.

        • This is so interesting to me. I found her so charming on “Arrested Development,” where she seemed so much softer than her usual look. But she strikes me as the epitome of a glamorous, sophisticated beauty.

      • Charlize fits into the “beautiful but not sexy” category for me, for reasons I can’t necessarily explain.

    • Weird, because I think of Ms. Theron as very soft and feminine-looking. Have you seen her in films besides Monster?

    • I have an affinity for “strong” women. That was one of the reasons that Portia DiRossi caught my interest when she was on Ally McBeal. The same with Vanessa Marcil in Las Vegas (though that was more acting than physical presence).

      (I think this may not be wholly unrelated to the fact that a disproportionate number of my celebrity and TV character crushes turn out to be lesbians.)

  3. I tend not to be interested by Hollywood’s most glamorous actresses, mostly because they so rarely fit the…umm…profile that…uhh…interests me.

    I’ve got the heebie-jeebies just talking about this frankly. The issue is that Hollywood’s most glamorous actresses don’t tend to overlap with the women that most men find most attractive, right? Give dudes a fantasy choice between Paltrow and, say, Kate Upton and we all know who is going into the shower with them. I suppose, for the sake of participation, I could simply boggle at the idea that Katie Holmes is attractive.

    Needless to say, I’m simply going to answer the opposite of what you aksed: the only “Hollywood” actress who has ever seriously appealed to me is Franka Potente, and she’s not really a “Hollywood” actress. This may go far in explaining much about me. It certainly confuses the people in my real life.

    • Different strokes for different folks, my friend.

      I can’t really weigh in on Ms. Potente’s sex appeal (*absent-mindedly fiddles with “Perfect Six!” medallion from the Kinsey Institute*), but I thought she was phenomenal in “Run, Lola, Run,” which numbers among my all-time favorite movies.

      • I just rewatched “Run, Lola, Run” the other day and it was as good as ever, as was she.

        • Potente is a fantastic actress and extremely, extremely sexy. You can always see the wheels turning with her. Jaybird said that someone else “radiates dumb” – I see depths of limitless intelligence and constant lightning thought behind her eyes.

          I wouldn’t want to meet her and find out that she’s just a good actor. 🙁

          Why would talking about taste give you the heebie-jeebies?

          Unless you’re into Roseanne. That would just be weird.

          • 1. Discussing these things just gives me the heebie-jeebies. It always has.

            2. I think at least part of the issue with Hollywood actresses is how fundamentally unreal they are and I don’t mean that in a complimentary way. They just don’t look like real human beings. Potente (to my mind) comes close, which may be a tribute to her acting and it may (heebie-jeebies, ACTIVATE) be a tribute to how she looks.

            3. Finally, I think the idea of discussing our “taste” in something is, at best, odd. I have a taste for spaghetti and Indian food. (Wo)men aren’t inanimate objects. The terminology weirds me outs.

          • Sam, I know women who are really that attractive in my off-line life. People like that really do exist.

          • people also have a taste for art, music, and all sorts of things that you can’t eat.

            i’d prefer something like preference myself, or even “type”, though these fantasy football boner league sort of things are a little weird.

            but you know what’s baffling. zoey deschanel’s career. dear lord she’s very pretty and insanely untalented as a musician. i dare you to listen to she and him without stabbing yourself in the face.

          • I know next to nothing about She & Him – I just pulled up “I Could’ve Been Your Girl” on YouTube, and it was inoffensive. So I have a hard time believing that on their worst day they could be as face-stabbingly awful as 4 Non-Blondes.

            I used to get ZD mixed up with Anna Friel for some reason.

          • I bought a “She and Him” CD for a reason that now eludes me. I listened to it once. I didn’t hate it like, say, SisQo’s “Thong Song.” But I… did not like it.

            I think she’s a talented actress, if a bit one-note. I liked her in “500 Days of Summer,” a movie I loved largely due to the charms and scintillating cuteness of one Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

          • i’ve not seen her act, probably never will, but even my wife – who though i love her dearly has some atrocious taste in music – cannot abide zoey dee. that’s like kim jong un turning down a giant statue for being too self-aggrandizing.

            i also sometimes get zd confused with the extremely attractive lady from that two broke girls show. i’m guessing that one doesn’t sing, though.

          • Dhex,

            Women seem to dislike that a lot of guys find Zooey Deschanel to be attractive. I think the largest complaint I hear about Deschanel is that she is “too girly”. The complaint seems to be that she actively cultivates a manic pixie-dream girl persona.

            Though I imagine a lot of guy’s are jealous about the attention that Ryan Gossling gets from women. So this is one of those weird things.

          • i’m saying she hates her music, not her looks. at least that i know of.

          • dhex, I happen to think that Zooey Deschanel is a very talented singer. Her voice is actually beautiful unlike a lot of other singers.

          • ZD is extremely one-note both as an actress and a singer. I just happen to like the note -the singing more than the acting, though the acting is… fine, whatever, nothing special. Her singing voice, though is pleasing and unstrained. But she also doesn’t do anything with it; she just lets it be pleasing an unstrained. Which is… fine; it’s pleasing. It’s just not all that impressive or artistic. It’s kind of lazy. I’d call her overall artistic aesthetic something like Pleasant Detachment.

  4. I’ve always been flummoxed by the appeal Drew Barrymore seems to hold for so many people. On the other hand, I do find Gwenyth to be exceptionally beautiful among celebrities.

    That said, like LeeEsq, I really don’t get the appeal of celebrity crushes in general. They’re generally very attractive, yes, but I can’t fathom the appeal of people you’ve never met and are never going to meet.

  5. Without getting into the obvious “Person On Reality Television Show Who Was Presumably Edited To Look As Good As Possible And STILL Looks Like A Horrible Person” answers, I’d say Brandon Routh.

  6. I was also confused by her selection.

    But a theory I have (shared by others but perhaps unique to us heteros) are the different types of beauty. As I see it, there are three: sexy, cute, and beautiful. They are not mutually exclusive, but having one does not necessarily mean having the others.

    For instance, I think Angelie Jolie is incredibly sexy. She carries herself in a way that is just remarkably so. But, objectively, I don’t thinks he is all that pretty. And definitely not cute. Compare her to one of my favorites, Mila Kunis, who I find amazingly beautiful and cute, but not particularly sexy. If I had to sit across the table during dinner from one of the two, it’d be Mila all day. But if I had to, um, pleasure myself with photographs of one, it’d be Angie.

    Gwyneth is weird because there are times I look at her and think, “I get it… she’s cute.” Other times, I think, “She’s not my type, but she’s really pretty.” And a few times, like on “Glee”, I thought, “That was sexy,” though I may have been swayed by my aforementioned attraction to talent. She’s a bit of an enigma. Nonetheless, I struggle to imagine she is, by any definition, the most attractive woman in the world. But I never understood those things. They’re like a certain number of sports awards: realistically, they should go to the same person for several years in a row as beauty or excellence or dominance or value is not as variable as the awarding actually indicates. Instead, you get people selected as beautiful because they had an impactful year or Raffy Palmeiro winning a Gold Glove because he hit a lot of homers.

    • A certain best friend and co-blogger and I had similar categories of attractiveness, if memory serves. I can’t remember exactly how we divided things, but I think I remember Cute, Pretty, Beautiful and Stunning.

      Mila Kunis is one who I sometimes think looks incredibly gorgeous, and other times I think looks rather plain. The eye is weird that way.

      • I presume we are referring to these people as they look at their best. Mila’s eyes are stunning, but they are highlighted when she wears the eyeliner. Absent that, she is definitely plainer looking, though I still wouldn’t turn her down for a date (presuming single Kazzy).

        Were those categories for women? I assume you’d use different titles for men.

        • Yeah, they were for women. Funny enough, I’ve never thought about similar categories for male attractiveness. I admit, with regret, that it’s probably because I (like our society in general) am more used to evaluating women based on their looks and commenting on it than men, even if I am exclusively attracted to the latter.

  7. One of the women on Glee. I forget her name, but she was one of the main characters, had long black hair, a very big mouth, and her character had two gay dads (who to my knowledge, we never see on screen). Like Russell, however, I haven’t watched that show in a while.

    • They get introduced in later seasons.

      And I believe you are referring to Lea Michelle, who I actually think is quite pretty. (See above re: different strokes for different folks.)

      • Russell,

        I googled the name, and you’re right. I should say that one of my weaknesses is that I tend to judge actors’ attractiveness by the characters I associate with them. I think the Glee character she plays is so ugly on the inside that I just can’t stand her.

  8. Going in a slightly different direction, Kate Hudson always looks beautiful when I see a moving image of her, but always seems to look terrible in photographs. She should insist on only being featured in GIFs.

    • Most people look better when their personality enlivens their face. You need an extraordinarily good set of features to look good posed and still. The exception that comes to mind is Jim Carrey, who almost always looks goofy. Only on the rare occasions when he’s perfectly composed and behaving himself do you see how handsome he is.

      • Only on the rare occasions when he’s perfectly composed and behaving himself do you see how handsome he is.

        I know. Isn’t that weird?

  9. Bruce Willis, and I don’t just mean old Bruce Willis. I mean he was never good-looking. He does that cute little smirk thing, but it still doesn’t make him attractive. Maybe I’m missing something, though; does he get lots of work precisely because he’s ugly? Like rooting for the underdog?

    • Right there with you, my friend. I seem to remember liking “Moonlighting” well enough back in the day, though I suspect it was more Cybil Shepherd than Mr. Willis that I liked. Since then, he’s tended to star in entertainments that don’t really appeal to me, anyway.

      • If you look back throughout the history of action movie stars, we’re not necessarilyt talking about a great looking collection of guys. Bruce Willis is one of a long line of guys who weren’t quite leading men but who were fine when it came to blowing shit up.

      • It’s interesting that you should say this. My answer was going to be Cybill Shepard.

        Also Kelly McGillis, even Top Gun Kelly McGillis.

    • I completely agree with you on Bruce Willis. I also don’t get the appeal of Brad Pitt (which puts me in the minority of people on the planet, I suspect), Robert Downey Jr (ick), and Keifer Sutherland (double ick). Also George Clooney, who just provokes a “meh” for me.
      For the women, I *really* don’t get Alyssa Milano – every straight guy I know thinks she’s the hottest ever.

      • There was a period, back when he was first getting super-famous, where Clooney really did it for me. Didn’t last. I think he’s terribly good looking and an underrated actor (I thought he was magnificent in both “Michael Clayton” and “The Descendants”), but he doesn’t ring my chimes.

        • This is precisely the issue – the things that really do “it”* for us are not necessarily the things that Hollywood is interested in pushing. Maybe there’s some distinction between the people we’d like to “ring chimes” with and the people we want to be assumed to be “ringing chimes” with and that’s what Hollywood’s aiming for, but that’s unfortunate given how interesting the reality itself is.

          Also, “ring chimes” is giving my own favorite euphemism (“doing taxes”) a run for its money.

          • My favorite euphemism was in the DLR autobio, Crazy From The Heat.

            “Delivering the groceries”.

      • I was jus told that if you don’t understand the appeal of Brad Pitt, you need to watch Legends of the Fall again.

        • 12 Monkeys.

          Which brings me to: I’m a totally straight guy, but Bruce Willis would make me write a sentence in which I felt like I had to point out that I was totally straight.

          • If I may… would JB writing that sentence and then pointing out that he was totally straight be the same, better, or worse than a “No homo” comment?

          • The whole “no homo” cultural meme has slipped largely under my radar. From what I gather, it’s too inane to be offensive to me, and the people who feel compelled to utter it scarcely worth a roll of my eyes.

            Not Jaybird, though. He more than merits an eyebrow-raise.

          • I thought about writing something about it when Roy Hibbert got in trouble for saying it recently. In a nutshell, I wonder if it’s usage, while bothersome given the specific vocabulary, is a strange indication of progress as it usually follows a statement that a man might not have even others a decade or so ago. But that is a really hard argument to make.

          • Kazzy, the no homo thing is markedly different (and not just because it uses a slur). Jaybird is commenting (I think) on how he thinks Bruce Willis is attractive. Stating that he (JB) is straight is a method of trying to demonstrate how attractive Willis, since JB wouldn’t usually think that about men. JB’s comment is far more open, in terms of sexuality (by moving out of his straight male-ness).

            The no homo thing is meant as a reaction to things that could be perceived as gay… often inuendo or things that are stereotypically gay. Saying “that guy really blew me away. No homo.” or “I really like Project Runway. No homo.” are different because (a) they feed into stereoptypes, and (b) they’re reactionary and very closed-off in terms of sexuality – ‘you better not think I’m gay just because I used a typical turn of phrase that could have sexual implications if we were/are all adolescents.’

            Also, someone already wrote the exact defense of no homo that you mention. It was probably in slate (and was specific to hip hop culture, but could be applicable more widely).

          • Well, there are two senses in which I’ve seen “no homo” used:

            1) unironically when the speaker (usually a rapper) makes a statement that might be misconstrued as gay (I’m thinking Kanye or Lil Wayne here).

            2) ironically when the speaker (usually a white guy) uses it the way that used to be reserved for “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!” *OR* as the follow through for a single entendre that is obviously gay. (“I’d let him verb my noun, then verb my other noun… hell, verb all of the nouns. Adverbly! No homo.”)

            The latter is generally seen as acceptable, if crude (or dumb), as far as I can tell. Has that changed?

          • Thanks, JML.

            One reason I never penned the piece was even I wasn’t sure I bought the argument. But I wondered if A) it existed and B) if it was a good one. I’m tempted to agree with you fully. It is a strange phenomenon indeed.


            I wonder if the same usage is troublesome because of the way it seems to flaunt privilege…. “I can talk about ‘verbing’ dudes with impunity because I’m not actually gay.” I think you see this in a great number of things done “ironically”… “I’m going to try on this culture that is marginalized but do so without actually suffering marginalization.”

            I remember hearing it in high school, back in the late 90’s, which appears to have been when it started (a little amateur research says it arose out of Harlem in that time, and I lived not far from Harlem and my town had a number of transplants). Then, it seemed much less calculated… “Dude, I love Michael Jordan… no homo…” That sort of thing.

            I didn’t realize it was still a thing until the recent Roy Hibbert incident.

          • (“I’d let him verb my noun, then verb my other noun… hell, verb all of the nouns. Adverbly! No homo.”)

            This may be the best thing I have ever read in my life.

          • Sean Connery, definitely, but it’s not “I want to be with that guy”, it’s “I want to be that guy”.

          • “I’d let him verb my noun, then verb my other noun… hell, verb all of the nouns. Adverbly! No homo.”

            That’s OK so long as you don’t use “fork” or “dongle”.

        • Brad Pitt’s another guy who is, to me, undeniably handsome but not particularly appealing. That said, I find him much more attractive with short hair, hence his “Legends of the Fall” (a movie I found tedious) phase wasn’t my favorite.

          • Brad Pitt is in my Rob Lowe category of “what a good-looking guy to whom I do not have any sexual response whatsoever!”

      • I’m pretty clueless when it comes to recognizing men’s attractiveness. My first realization of my deficiency came when I was watching L.A. Law with my wife a few decades ago and she was drooling over Harry Hamlin — it never occurred to me that he was anything special. Same deal with Brad Pitt later on. Now I often ask her about various guys in the shows we watch together.

        Interestingly, she’s pretty confident in her opinions about which women are attractive, and when I disagree with her, she’ll often think I’m the one who’s mistaken. I think it goes back to Kazzy’s “sexy, cute, beautiful” categories — she’s trained to spot beautiful/glamorous but has no feel for sexy or cute from a straight guy’s perspective.

      • Alyssa Milano

        There’s a certain category of actress where some of the important memories are from when they were young. Alyssa Milano is one. Emma Watson. I always see Keira Knightly with a set of glasses on that make me see her as Parminder’s friend from “Bend it Like Beckham” instead of whoever she’s actually playing right now.

        All of them as sex objects sorta creeps me out quite a bit more than “enough”.

        • As someone who watched her as a baby, the Olsen Twins countdown-to-18 websites freaked me out. I even made a rule about never dating anyone younger than the Olsen twins (which, it was never age-appropriate for me to do until past the time I was already married).

          • I remember one of those pop culture discussion shows that VH1 used to run (at least I think it was VH1) where they had snippets of different celebrities commenting on stuff from decades past, “I Love the 80s” or some such. And the Olsen twins came up, with lots of guys howling about how they’d soon be legal. Then they cut to some guy I’d never heard of (I think he was an actor on “The Sopranos”) reacting with visible disgust and saying something like “They’re younger than my daughters!”

            Whoever that guy was, he was a mensch.

          • When I was 18 or 19, I met this girl my age — we were definitely still boy and girl, not man and woman at that time — named Apple (it was Tennessee) and developed a bit of a crush on her. She told me she had a boyfriend, though, so I hung around waiting for the inevitable breakup (because we were 18 or 19!), hanging out as “friends” a lot. Then one day I was out at the “spot” where her circle and my circle hung out, when she ran up to me and told me she wanted to introduce me to her boyfriend. So she walks me over and I see at her table two guys my age and a third who looked like he could easily be 50, so I started mentally sizing myself up relative to the two guys my age, but she walked right up to the guy who looked 50 (and not just 50, but 50 and a lifelong smoker who’d never heard of sunscreen) and said, “Chris, meet ____, ____, meet Chris.” I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. Turns out, he was 49. I remember wanting to slap some sense into them both, as well as instantly losing any attraction I had to her.

            I resolved then and there never to be that guy. I’ve generally dated women who were older than me since, and the closest I’ve come to that is dating a 28 year old when I was 32.

            Man, I get creeped out just thinking about that day.

          • The first wife of my oldest brother – his college sweetheart – left him after a year of marriage for a 40-something car dealer. Broke Ollie’s heart, but there was a sort of a feeling of “okay, that’s the kind of person she is” closure to it. He’s married with a couple of kids with an awesome wife. On the other hand…

            The middle brother always dated women about 19 or 20. When he was 17, 22, and 26… same story. We kinda sorta have the sense that if for some reason his current marriage doesn’t work out, it’s not entirely a bad thing that he might be able to start out with someone young enough to bear multiple children (his wife doesn’t want kids) even though he’s approaching forty. She wouldn’t need to be 19, mind (we wouldn’t want that), but his ability to pick up younger women could be an asset for the family.

            (The older brother isn’t a brother genetically. Which, in a way, put pressure on the other two of us to reproduce even though oldest brother already gave the family two. It’s kind of a long story.)

          • Russell,

            When I pondered having a daughter, when I didn’t know if it would be a daughter or a son, one of the lingering fears is that I would be one of those creepy old men leering at my daughter’s friends. Not that I would be obviously creepy about it, but even in private thoughts it would be something I’d feel guilty about.

            I think there’s something about changing a baby girl’s diapers that just changes one’s perspective. Someday she’ll be a woman, she’ll have sex, she’ll maybe have children and all that. But on some level, she’ll be the girl whose diaper I changed while she giggled and wiggled. I think it’ll be really hard to look at her peers sexually even in a private fantasy sort of way. Which is something of a relief.

        • Alyssa Milano is older then me (significantly so, I just learned!) so I never felt creepy about her. I was never into the Olsen twins beyond making the same tired jokes, but they’re only a few years my junior. So I think the relative age depends.

          One child having a crush on another child actor seems harmless, healthy even. An adult lusting over a child is another thing entirely.

          • Yeah. For a long time I had a rule about not dating anyone younger than my brother (who is 5 years younger than I am), then as I aged I lowered the limit slightly to no one younger than Star Wars. There it has stayed. Amusingly enough, the youngest person I’ve ever dated was 2 years younger than I.

        • I always got turned off by the movies where you had an actress young enough to be a sister/friend/girlfriend paired off with a man old enough to be my uncle, father, or older cousin.

          • Although its an intesting thing in away. Will Ferril was in his mid fourties and Maggie Gyellenhall was thirty when they acted together in stranger than fiction. Usually an age difference of this level is a bit of a turn off but I was bothered by it because Gyellenhall’s character was clearly a grown woman rather than a girl or a young woman and Will Ferril’s character was probably supposed to be about the same age rather than over a decade older. I think large age differences are kind of weird when the couple is clearly depicted as an older man with girl/young woman.

  10. I think I get the appeal of most celebs on an attractiveness scale. Most of them are good-looking people. There are people who I wish never got famous for other reasons like Adam Sandler*.

    Maybe Billie Piper? She can’t act and was the least attractive of the new Who companions

    Though like Sam and Lee, my tastes generally run a bit counter to the BroDude and Maxim crowd. When I used to work with Bros, they were all about the Megan Foxes of the world. I was all about Maggie Gyllenhaal, Catherine Keener, Mary-Louise Parker, Alison Janney, etc. A more like-minded former coworker of mines used to say we both had “thinking man’s crushes”

    *Adam Sandler is simply a deeply unfunny man and I loathe he is able to make gold by being a perpetual man-child with a low adolescent sense of humor.

    • Wanna know what made Adam Sandler unforgivable to me? “Punch Drunk Love,” a movie I adore. Because he actually delivers a credible performance, thus proving that all the crapola that he’s made a mint delivering is much less than he’s capable of, but deliver it he has because that’s where the money was.

        • Trivia: “Arthur Mammon” is Coke-Encrusted Hollywood Exec’s real name.

          • Arthur Mammon is a perfect name for Hollywood executive. It’s almost fictional.

      • I feel the same way about Will Ferril. He was so perfect in Stranger than Fiction but usually he acts like a doofus.

    • “A more like-minded former coworker of mines used to say we both had “thinking man’s crushes””

      i’m with you on maggie g mind you but didn’t you cringe a bit when he said that?

      • Another way to say “thinking man’s crushes” is “When I masturbate furiously, it’s because I’m imagining her brain in her underwear.” Because, let’s be honest, that’s part of what’s going on here, right?

        • Wait, you wrote “brain in her underwear”. Seems sort of weird to me, but hey, I’m not judging you, Sam. I applaud your honesty, putting your kinks out there like that.

          I thought you wrote “brain in her panties“.

          Now, that would be just gross.

      • Lawyers are very good at maintaing poker faces or at least we should be. I’m still working on it.

    • I never liked Adam Sandler, either. I confess I haven’t seen most of his movies (and I’m fine with that), but I hated him on SNL.

  11. This topic makes me shudder a bit, so I’ll just say that I find Bradley Cooper’s eyes, and their relationship to each other, kind of creepy. I don’t know why, I just do.

    Gwyneth Paltrow is a beautiful woman, and I really enjoyed watching her and the others in Spain… On the Road Again… with Claudia Bassols, who I definitely have a crush on (she’s smart, well read, and she speaks 6 languages with a wonderful Catalan accent), and Mario Batali, who doesn’t have a wonderful Catalan accent, but is pretty damn cool anyway.

  12. Giselle Bundchen. She looks masculine, not pretty.

    Gwynwth isn’t nearly as pretty or appealing as her mother was as a young woman.

  13. I actually had a series on this over at Hit Coffee. I need to in the third installment.

    First was Angelina Jolie. Second was Anne Hathaway (though I guess it has become popular to hate her. I don’t hate her, though, I just don’t consider her markedly attractive.)

    Third was going to be Lara Flynn Boyle

    Brittany Murphy was going to make the list, but then she died.

    I have mentioned some guys who fall into this category. Jake Gyllenhaal. Chris Noth (though I get mixed reports on whether he is actually supposed to be considered attractive). Owen Wilson.

    • Again, I find the ways different people do or don’t appeal to the eye very interesting. Because Jake Gyllenhaal? Jake Gyllenhaal is gorgeous.

      • Yeah, it is really strange. There are some people that I don’t personally find attractive but acknowledge what it is that makes other people find them attractive. Jake just throws me for a loop.

      • I have terrible taste in men. Watching one of the “American Pie” movies, I remember remarking about how, “Damn, if I could look like Chris Klein, I would!” Only to learn that he was apparently the least attractive dude in the movie or something. I dunno.

          • For some weird reason, I find a great deal of comfort in that…

        • Being the least attractive person in a movie full of beautiful people doesn’t seem so bad. It’s sort of like saying that he was the worst player in the All Star Game starting lineup.

        • I saw Silver Lining Playbook never having seen Bradley Cooper before, and my impression was “Great! Instead of a handsome Hollywood type, they found a plain-looking guy who can really play disturbed and unpleasant convincingly”.

  14. I’m not sure I like this week’s question. It seems to me that picking apart a Most Beautiful Woman selection isn’t that dissimilar an activity to creating a Most Beautiful list. Even though there isn’t the explicit sense of judging and valuing people (mostly women) based on their looks in the OP, it’s not that far under the surface.

    Sure, I get that we’ll all have natural reactions to these lists, but I’m not totally comfortable with an expanded discussion on the topic. Further, we’re kind of just ratcheting up what beautiful is (I think there are a lot of people who if told that the likes of Paltrow and Clooney aren’t beautiful will think that they themselves must be downright ugly).

    I don’t want to be a stick-in-the-mud, and maybe that’s what I’m being, so I’m willing to be persuaded.

    • I see where you’re coming from, and tried to be very cautious with how I wrote this week’s post. Perhaps I erred. Your reaction and others that are similar has given me something to think about for next week’s Not Stupid question.

      To my mind, what makes this fair game is Ms. Paltrow’s complicity in promoting herself as World’s Most Beautiful Woman. It is part of the apparatus of her celebrity, and something in which she is (presumably) pleased to participate. I don’t blame her for it in the least, and were they to decide that Russell was World’s Sexiest Man (hold your breath, America!) I’d smile real big on the cover. But to me that means we get to discuss it when the magazine comes out.

        • FWIW, JML, I read the question less as ratcheting up beauty and more acknowledging that great diversity in what we think beauty is. That two people can look at the same person and have wildly different assessments of his/her attractiveness seems like a good thing to me.

          • This is what I was thinking too. That there is a great diversity in what we think beauty is or what we think is attractive. Along those lines, I remember telling someone when they asked what I thought of the movie we had just walked out of, “It was a really good movie, but I don’t think I liked it.”

          • As somebody who spent some time in the world of face recognition software, I find this conversation fascinating. How we perceive each other (without even going into what we find “attractive”) never ceases to surprise me. The visual cues we use to recognize (and judge) each other vary wildly from person to person.

            Example: I bet the collective set of subtle features I use to recognize my wife in a crowd are totally different than the features that anybody else would use to distinguish her from anybody else they were observing.

            I’m missing the point here, aren’t I?

  15. Random Platrow musing: She was in a really interestingly horrible movie adaptation of one of my favorite novels, Possession by A.S. Byatt. The whole thing is a hot mess. Some changes are understandable (updating the action from 1986 to 2000). Others less so like making the male protagonist American instead of British like he was in the original novel.

    • I loved the book. I didn’t see the movie, because it didn’t seem like a book I’d want changed into a movie in the first place.

      And making the male protagonist American seems like it would change the entire character of the story.

      • There were some very neat visual tricks done to move in time from the present era to the Victorian past.

        Jennifer Ehle was amazing as Isobele but Jennifer Ehle is amazing in everything.

        Making Roland an American did change a lot of his character. They also had to get rid of a lot of subplots like the breakdown of his relationship with Val. He also lives in very nice digs as compared to the horrible basement flat that was described in the novel (though you only see it once). The lawyer who woes Val gets transformed into Roland’s landlord/beer buddy.

        What is odd is that the script was co-written by David Henry Hwang who is a pretty good playwright.

    • Another weird book-movie adaptation: The Golden Bowl with Nick Nolte, Anjelica Huston, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Northam, and Uma Thurman.

      How the hell did that get made? Who thought to themselves, “How can I make some money in Hollywood? I know, by writing/commissioning an adapted screenplay from Henry James’ The Golden Bowl!”? It’s possible I’d be still unaware of the book’s existence if it didn’t happen to have been on my mom’s bookshelf when I was a kid. It wasn’t on a single syllabus of any class I ever took, and I never see it discussed anywhere (even though apparently people regard it as maybe his best work). (I’m not much of a fiction guy.) Then one day, there it was: “The Golden Bowl with Nick Nolte, Coming Up Next On Encore, or whatever. I was like, Huh.

  16. I get Paltrow for the same reason I get Bruce Willis, who I see mentioned above. In an age where every star in every medium seems so improbably good looking to the point where you wonder if they are manufactured (and to a certain extent they are), charisma is what does it for me.

    Which is why I can get the appeal of a Zooey Deschanel but not a Meagan Fox, even though I can see that Fox is more model-looking that Deschanel. Ditto Katherine McPhee over Gerri Ryan, despite the fact that Ryan was in a show I loved and McPhee is one I find astoundingly annoying.

    But to answer Russell’s actual question: Anna Nicole Smith, Pamela Anderson, Chris O’Donnell or Casper Van Dien.

    • Once her reality show hit the air, whatever was once thought about Smith vanished into the ether. You couldn’t detach the person from the bombshell in other words; the fantasy crumbled.

      But let’s revisit her as eye-candy for a moment. I’ve always heard it claimed that more men prefer women built like Smith to those built like Paltrow. I have no idea if that claim is true or not but it is absolutely clear that Smith was an outlier in terms of the body-type that usually gets promoted by the media outlets anxious to discuss beauty with us.

  17. I’m just putting this out there, but both Helen Mirren and Pam Grier should have gotten more of these Most Beautiful Woman awards than they actually did, right?

    • I dunno about those Most Beautiful lists, but the Academy whiffed and whiffed hard when they didn’t hand her a nomination for “Jackie Brown.”

    • I will just say that the first time that I saw Foxy Brown, when I was ~15, I was convinced that I had just seen the perfect woman.

  18. After some while hanging around in Los Angeles, where beautiful people tend to gather like so much lint on the dryer screen of life, my tastes kinda evolved beyond merely superficial beauty.

    I married the most beautiful woman I ever saw, had three gorgeous children by her — mercifully they didn’t inherit much of my looks. Dated some gorgeous women over time. I’m involved with an interesting woman who’s beautiful to me.

    But I remember one woman, stone dead gorgeous. But when she opened her mouth to talk, what she had to say completely destroyed the illusion. Dumb as a post — and mean. Double whammy.

    Beauty is a trick word. I like Dr. Saunders’ categories of Cute, Pretty, Beautiful and Stunning. And there’s the whole stylist and makeup transformation — it’s useful to see a before and after shot, a lot of those Saunders Categories are the direct result of stylist and makeup work. The good ones are in high demand and they’re worth every penny they’re paid. The camera loves some people and hates other perfectly acceptable people. But a good stylist, like a good attorney, can make even a thug look good.

    I am a complete sucker for smart women. I’m with Sam: Helen Mirren is so completely fine. But Natalie Portman once made a wry observation: “Smart women love smart men more than smart men love smart women.”

    • Natalie Portman kind of hit the nail on the head. A lot of smart men are willing to date rather stupid or average intelligence women if they look good. Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe are a pretty good example of this. I’d like somebody I could talk to and realize that looks don’t last forever, so I’d be inclined to favor intelligence. At least I’d hope I’d be inclined if I had to choose between beauty and brains.

      • I have heard (though I don’t know how true it is and have not researched) that Monroe was quite intelligent.

        • I’ve heard conflicting things about this. I know that Billy Wilder considered her to be very unprofessional and a bit on the dim side. Thats why he had character that was basically a swipe at Marilyn Monroe in the Apartment. She was certainly cast as dumb often but that was probably based on her looks more than anything else. She probably was average, not dumb but not smart either. I certainly don’t think she was as cerebral and intellectual as Miller, if she was intelligent it was probably in a more pragmatic way.* I could be wrong though.

          *I tend to distinguish intelligence from intellectualism. You can be intelligent without being an intellectual, that is interested in abstract thinking about various subjects. You can’t be an intellectual without being intelligent though.

          • Marilyn Monroe emerges from a truly awful childhood into the burning spotlight of the Studio System: at no point was she ever allowed to be herself. She spent years in psychotherapy and probably came to terms with what had happened to her over time — but I don’t think she ever overcame what had happened to her.

            Marilyn Monroe was a reader, very much the intellectual if her library was any guide to the matter. She read Tolstoy and John Milton, hardly dumb blonde stuff. She listened to classical music, especially Beethoven. This wasn’t an act: Norma Jean Mortensen was more than merely clever and ambitious, she came from crazy, entered a world of crazy, spent years trying to come to terms with the crazy — and the crazy ate her alive.

            There’s a horrible story, told by Joe DiMaggio in later life. He said Marilyn Monroe was really no good in bed, annoying him, constantly fretting over whether she was doing it right. This anecdote speaks to both the beastliness of the men in her life and her own insecurities.

      • Portman herself is a published scientist (neuroscience, which makes her OK in my book).

    • “Smart Women love Smart Men because they’re more like women.”
      … there’s a rather deeper truth here.

  19. For me, it’s a “sexy is as sexy does” thing, not a “sexy is as sexy looks”. I can appreciate a photo of someone as being cosmetically attractive in sense that my eyes might gravitate towards ’em in a crowd, much like a fine work of art, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with triggering the glandular parts of my noggin’.

    Anybody that’s comfortable in their skin is wwwwwayyyy more likely to tag sexy in my head than someone who is comfortable in front of a camera.

    • I agree with this. I develop celebrity crushes, but the practical implications of those are merely that I will tend to watch films and shows in which those people have parts, and little more. The real attractions I feel are always in person, and rarely look much like my celebrity crushes.

  20. Dudes The Wife and I do not get, and not just because theyhave less talent than Michael Bolton: Robert Pattison, Justin Bieber.

    Dudettes (and not just because only one of them has more talent than Jennifer Love Hewitt): Drew Barrymore, Fergie.

    • The Hanleys will add Russell Crowe and Victoria Beckham.

    • “Dudes The Wife and I do not get, and not just because theyhave less talent than Michael Bolton: Robert Pattison, Justin Bieber.”

      I would hazard that Justin Bieber is incomprehensible to anyone who is above the age of 15 and not a girl.

      “Dudettes (and not just because only one of them has more talent than Jennifer Love Hewitt): Drew Barrymore, Fergie.”

      The fact that you are making us guess which one is some insult to both of them!

  21. I completely forgot, but realize now that Russ implied he thought Chris Bosh was handsome… I believe he used the phrase “strong features”.

    That… I will never get…

    • This makes sense, since Bosh could someday win an Oscar for his acting/flopping (have you seen his rolling on the floor and feigned wooziness after the flop against the Bulls?).

  22. I think Gwyneth Paltrow is gorgeous.

    As for overrated men: Ryan Gosling is slightly dorky looking. Really, I just don’t get it. My co-blogger is welcome to Jake Gyllenhaal. Leonardo DiCaprio (who went from manic-pixie dream boy to pasty aging boy-man in a heartbeat). Matthew McConnaughy (however you spell it). Tom Cruise.

    Current crushes: Henry Cavill. The guy on The Americans (forget his name). Dan Stevens (although his voice adds to the appeal, so still pictures do not do him justice). Jon Hamm.

    • Whither Daniel Craig?

      And I agree with many on your “overrated” list, except Gosling (who is… very attractive) and (obviously) Jake Gyllenhaal.

  23. Oh, and I pretty much have lost the ability to find anyone under the age of 28 attractive. So all young up-and-comers.

  24. I’ve never been all that struck by her beauty.

    I give this evaluation a straight man’s seal of approval.

    I’ve never seen the appeal of Halle Berry. She looks awful with that Lisa Simpson haircut, and even in older pictures she doesn’t strike me as ever having been a world-class beauty.

    • There is occasional chime ringing when she’s about, especially her turn in (the utterly ridiculous) Bulworth.

    • Have you checked to see if you have a pulse, Brandon? Just kidding. Obviously taste is largely subjective, but my subjective taste is gob smacked by your subjective taste.

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