Yesterday People Magazine officially unveiled professional beefcake Channing Tatum as their choice for this year’s Sexiest Man Alive. Today, their staff is being escorted to work one by one, by armed bodyguards. Or at least they should be. Last year when Bradley Cooper was awarded the coveted title over presumptive victor Ryan Gosling, a small army of the Canadian actor’s aggrieved fans (Goslingers? Goslingites?) gathered en masse outside the Time Warner headquarters in Midtown Manhattan to protest what they believed was the most egregious oversight in the history of insignificant celebrity awards, since the time Pink edged Beyonce for “best abs” in that now infamous 2003 issue of In Style.
This time, Gosling die-hards have yet to storm the streets of New York City in protest. Whether their restraint is out of respect to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, who are, you know, still dealing with true trauma, or whether it’s due to the taste of stale granola still lingering from last year’s occupy movement, remains up for debate. But their noticeable absence outside has done little to suppress their overwhelming presence online. They’re not pleased, and they want everybody to know it.
A Twitter search of the words “Gosling” and “robbed” yields hundreds of results, in which both men and women express a collective “wtf!?” over Gosling’s second consecutive snub. Under the hashtag #TeamRyan, outraged tweeters suggested that People “should just start a monthly Ryan Gosling mag to make up for the travesty of not picking him”, and that “we as a nation confront them.”
Even mainstream media giants got it on the fun; Time Magazine, the Posts–both Huffington and National–and the Atlantic all spilled ink over the perceived blunder. None however, were as blunt as the web’s resident cool kid aggregator BuzzFeed, who called People’s decision “blind, ignorant and dumb”, changed their Twitter icon to a photo of the star, and provided a picture-by-picture comparison of the two actors in which Channing Tatum repeatedly looks like he sat on a pencil, and Ryan Gosling looks like, well, Ryan Gosling.
Tatum’s selection isn’t completely out of the blue, however, and given People’s track record of basing their selection on the year’s most bankable star, it actually makes perfect sense. Tatum starred in three blockbusters this year–The Vow, 21 Jump Street, and Magic Mike, all of which grossed over $100 million domestically (and two of which featured him topless), whereas Gosling, though it may have felt like he was everywhere, appeared in none. Clearly, Tatum’s having a moment.
So where is all this vitriol coming from? When People chose Ryan Reynolds in 2010 (Canada’s first and only winner, by the way) nary a tweet was heard from Leonardo DiCaprio fans, despite him being the highest grossing actor that year. Granted, social media wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous then as it now, but maybe that’s the point. More than any other movie star, Ryan Gosling belongs to the Internet. Ever since the tumblr “F–k Yeah! Ryan Gosling“–a collection of images transformed by declarations of devotion that begin with “Hey Girl”–went viral, Cornwall’s pride and joy has become the web’s most dashing muse, a too-perfect canvas onto which we’re able to project all of our own weirdness, while scraping away some of the movie star gloss that makes his some of his colleagues feel untouchable.
Rather than reject the mollification of his image, Gosling has fully embraced it, at one point going so far as to recite lines from the “F–k Yeah” Tumblr during a recent interview with MTV. It’s the same people charmed by the actor’s self-deprecating ethos that propelled the memes “Feminist Ryan Gosling”, “Typographer Ryan Gosling” and “Is Ryan Gosling cuter than a puppy” into the upper echelon of notable Internet ephemera, and that are behind the “Ryan Gosling for Sexiest Man Alive movement”. And next year, with Gosling set to appear in four high profile features–including a still-untitled Terrence Malick movie in which Gosling should get ample time to brood–they might finally get their wish.