So. Chris Kluwe has been named by Salon magazine as the Sexiest Man of the Year. There are at least four cool things about that. And one uncomfortable thing.
Cool Thing #1: Salon picked a jock but didn’t celebrate him for his jockitude; it celebrated him for his politics, his beliefs, his willingness to express those beliefs, and his nerdiness. Salon is saying being smart is sexier than playing sports. I like that.
Cool Thing #2: Salon picked a guy who used to be best known for kicking a football (an American football, that is; there are a lot of non-American guys who are best known for kicking a football) but is now best known for writing a scathing letter to a homophobic Maryland state legislator. Salon is saying it’s sexy to be politically progressive. I like that.
Cool Thing #3: Chris Kluwe is an unabashed video gamer. Hard core gamers are known for two things: being dorks and being some of the most vocally homophobic and misogynistic beings on the planet. Salon is saying dorks can be cool and sexy without being dicks. I like that.
Cool Thing #4: In his interview in Salon, Kluwe says he learned how to express himself forcefully (with creative cursing) by spending time on gamer message boards.
You have to hang out on online gaming message boards for about six or seven years and get into a lot of arguments…. With the whole arguing on message boards, I found a very effective style was to present a carefully reasoned, thought-out argument and highlight it with really kind of bizarre swear words where you stop for a moment and go, “What does that even mean?” It’s the juxtaposition between the two. The swear word sticks in your head but you think on it and you realize there was a point too.
Salon is saying it’s sexy to be able to express yourself deliberately and clearly, even if that expression includes comments like “[Y]ou also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain.” A classic gamer-nerd insult, that. I like it.
The Uncomfortable Thing: I discovered it’s difficult for a straight guy to write something about the Sexiest Man of the Year without starting off with a disclaimer. Like “I don’t normally do a Google Image search for Chris Kluwe Shirtless” or “This is the first time I’ve paid any attention to a magazine’s Sexiest Man of the Year article.” The feeling that you first need to assert your heterosexuality before writing about the sexiest man of the year is essentially homophobic. It’s uncomfortable to realize that even though you support gay rights and despite the fact you have many gay friends, there’s still a kernel of homophobia buried inside you. I don’t like that.
But this is one of the ways you change culture. This is one of the way you shift social attitudes. You celebrate people who stand up for ideas and beliefs that are unpopular. You celebrate people who may not fall into traditionally heroic categories. You celebrate magazines like Salon that celebrate men like Chris Kluwe. And you try to recognize your own stupidity and make an effort not to come across as a fromunda stain.