Overanalyzing People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive

People Magazine has continued its tradition of hardhitting journalism by yet again announcing the identity of the Sexiest Man Alive! Do they change their mind every year even though most of the previously announced sexiest men alive haven’t died off or changed their appearances in any major way? Yes! Does this make any sense? No! But let’s try not to overthink it.

Instead, let’s overthing something else…

In response to People Magazine’s annual announcement, Buzzfeed has published an online poll asking its readers which of the previous Sexiest Men Alive we actually find sexy. Now you would think, given the fact that People Magazine has spent nearly 4 decades scouring the earth in search of the asbolute most sexy men in existance, that pretty much everyone on the list would score pretty high, right? Wrong!

It turns out that, believe it or not, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And as it turns out, we’re all, apparently, attracted to different people. Imagine that. It turns out that, even for the very sexiest people, there will always be someone who goes “Meh, naw.” So yes, sure, there are plenty of mixed reactions. None of these men managed to sexually arounse every poll taker.

What IS kinda surprising, though, was the amount of men who the MAJORITY of poll-takers rated as “Not Sexy.” The majority! Of the 37 recipients, a whopping TWELVE have been rated NOT SEXY. Three men have been named twice, so you’d think at least those three would be safe from the NOT SEXY label. I mean, you have to be pretty sexy to win TWICE, right? Wrong!

Think about this: a whopping ONE THIRD of People’s sexiest men alive are considered not sexy by the majority of people. Which means maybe something’s gone amiss at the People Magazine Sexy Man Detection Center.

Here’s a list of the twelve men who failed the Buzzfeed poll, in order of almost-not-unsexy to most-definitely-not-at-all-sexy:

Adam Levine: 50% not sexy (vs 49% said sexy, and 1% said “I don’t know who this is.”)
Harrison Ford: 55% not sexy
Dwayne The Rock Johnson: 56% not sexy
Matt Damon: 60% not sexy
Richard Gere (1999): 62% not sexy
Tom Cruise: 63% not sexy
John F Kennedy, Jr: 68% not sexy
Harry Hamlin: 70% not sexy
Sean Connery: 72% not sexy
John Legend: 74% not sexy
Blake Shelton: 84% not sexy
Nick Nolte: 88% not sexy

There are, in my opinion, a few surprises in this list. Some of these men are so undeniably sexy that I’m not sure how ANYONE could find them not sexy, let alone how the majority of people can find them not sexy. I’m mostly thinking of The Rock. Be still, my heart! Those muscles! That smile! That sweet charming personality! But I dunno, maybe you’d be too worried about getting accidentally squished between his pecs Or maybe you people can’t see past the professional wrestling history? Thinking about The Rock’s less-appealing history makes me think of something else…

The Buzzfeed poll presented photos of people from the time period in which they won their award. And I have to wonder, how many poll respondees were responding based on the physical appearance of that person at that time? Versus how many were responding to what we know they look like now? Along those same lines, we’ve learned a lot about people’s personalities over the years. How much has this knowledge affected our current votes?

Tom Cruise, for example, has been deemed Not Sexy. He is widely known for being a Scientology-loving crackpot, and he definitely weird out tons of people (myself included). But in the 80’s and 90’s he was THE Hollwood dreamboat. Don’t tell me you don’t remember a little twitch down below when he rocked it so hard playing beach volleyball in Top Gun, or when he dangled from the ceiling in Mission Impossible with his tight black T-shirt. Hachi machi! Conversely, Keanu Reeves won the top prize around the same time, and is widely known to be one of the genuinely nicest guys in Hollywood. Note he stayed out of the Not Sexy list. So maybe there’s something to this.

However, Mel Gibson won the very first ever Sexiest Man Alive back in the 80’s. And, well… let’s just say he could probably compete with Tom Cruise in the least-likeable celebrity competition. Tom Cruise has managed to age better than Mel Gibson (probably from drinking the blood of Scientology aliens or something, who knows). And yet, somehow, Mel Gibson stays sexy according to Buzzfeed. I’m not gonna lie, I voted him Sexy. I was thinking of 80’s Mel Gibson. There literally is nobody and nothing sexier than 80’s Mel Gibson. Except maybe 60’s Robert Redford or Paul Newman, neither of whom have ever made it onto the list!!!!

It would be good to know the ages of Buzzfeed’s test-takers, and how that affects how people voted. Are we voting based on what we personally best know these dudes from, and when in our development we saw them? Sean Connery was considered a dreamboat by my mother’s generation, but by the time he was nominated, he was already some old dude from old movies. So he winds up on the not-sexy sexy list. JFK Jr somehow wound up on the unsexy list as well, and I have to wonder what was happening there. Did younger people just see the 80’s sheen and hear the 60’s name and think “some old guy?”

We can learn a lot by taking a look at the results from those men who have been nominated multiple times. The poll presented these people twice, and, to my amazement, the numbers for these nominees changed from year to year! 1999’s Richard Gere was deemed not sexy by a whopping 62% of Buzzfeed’s readers. But his nomination from 1993, just six years earlier, scored him a respectable +58% sexy! That’s a sexiness drop of 20% in 6 years! So clearly readers were applying some sort of time-specific or photo-specific context to make their judgments. In 1993 People Magazine made a 1 year exception and changed the title from Sexiest Man to Sexiest Couple, meaning the prize that year was shared by sueprmodel Cindy Crawford. She is ok looking, so maybe her appearance and subsequent lack thereof was all it took for Mr Gere to plummet in sexiness? Ben Affleck was standing next to the eternally lovely Jennifer Lopez in his photo, which may have contributed to him remaining mostly-sexy, unlike his best bud Matt Damon, who was pictured alone.

The most important takeaway from this list, though, is that while in most cases there is plenty of disagreement about sexiness levels, we still can declare with overwhelming majorites that at least some people CAN be deemed absolutely definitely sexy or unsexy. I have decided to draw this definitive line at plus or minus 80%. 80% is good enough for a B grade in most school systems (or at least it was in my youth- I don’t know what the kids are doing these days). B is very solid.

The Honor Roll for Least Sexy consists of two men: Nick Nolte and Blake Shelton. I cannot for the life of me fathom how either of these people were ever even considered, let alone chosen for this high honor. Like, even if you think “Meh, he’s alright or whatever,” that’s a far cry from “Yes, definitely sexiest man alive.” If you had 1989 Nick Nolte stand next to 1989 Mel Gibson, do you really think there’s a single person on the planet who would go “Oh yeah, definitely Nick Nolte. Obvious winner.” No. And I’m not writing this just to shit on these two dudes. They’re ok looking. And it’s not like I’m some sort of stunner. Just 2 hours ago a little girl walking by asked her parents whether I was “a lady or a dude.” The vast majority of us are just kinda normal looking. Like Blake Shelton. But the vast majority of us should not be declared the Sexiest Alive anything. Taking a decidedly not-sexiest-anything and declaring them the sexiest something on the cover of a very popular magazine is just reckless and frankly kinda cruel.

All that being said, there have been years where People Magazine has knocked it out of the park. Not as many years as there should be, frankly. But still, they got more right than they did wrong. I counted a whopping FOUR men with sexiness approval ratings of over 80%. I was surprised, though, by who did NOT make this top four list. Hugh Jackman had a narrow miss. Denzel Washington couldn’t crack it. Channing Tatum? Matt McConoughay (spelling shmelling)? Even double winner George Clooney? Nope, nope, and double-nope. Reigning champ Michael B Jordan comes oh-so-close at 79%, but even he didn’t quite make it. So who did?

Here the the 4 sexiest men of the sexiest, as judged by the experts (aka people who waste time on Buzzfeed quizzes):

3rd place: David Beckham and Ryan Reynolds: both are tied at 82% sexy!

2nd place: Brad Pitt from 1995 at 84% sexy! This is good news for Brad. The bad news is his sexiness took a tumble since then and had dropped to a rating of 73% by 2000. At a rate of -9% every 5 years, Brad Pitt would have crossed th 50% sexiness bar from Sexy to Not Sexy around 2008, and is currently wallowing at a measley 15-20% sexiness level. That’s almost as Not Sexy as Blake Shelton and Nick Nolte! The scarier news is, scientists project that at this rate of decline, Brad Pitt will become 100% Not Sexy within our lifetimes, likely before the year 2030. Imagine your grandchildren growing up in a world that will never know of Brad Pitt’s sexiness. Here, I made a very very scientific graph to help (yes, I did base my years on the below hand-drawn graph and not on actual math):

BP S/T

And finally, THE CHAMPION OF SEXINESS!!!!!! I Present to you…

Chris Hemsworth with a WHOPPING 88% sexiness rating! Which is… correct. Look at this:

Nevermind. I tried to Google Chris Hemsworth on my work computer and got blocked because the content was just way, way, way too sexy. Yowza!

I have to wonder… Who are the 12% of people who think Chris Hemsworth is Not Sexy? What is their problem? Are they bots? Are they Liam voting repeatedly? Are they cats walking across keyboards? The world will never know.

Final takeaway: I was worried for this year’s winner, our new Sexiest Man Alive, Paul Rudd. Cuz… I mean… google Chris Hemsworth. Then google Paul Rudd. I mean he’s super likeable, but… I was worried he’d fall into Blake Shelton territory. Alas, it turns out a whopping 78% of people find Paul Rudd sexy! THAT’S THE SAME SCORE AS IDRIS ALBA!!! So dang, good on ya, Paul Rudd!

[ok, final final takeaway: I may have been a bit bored and looking for ways to procrastinate today. Mission accomplished.]


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