#2. Who Is Waxing These People?
At least 80 percent of white males have at least some hair on their upper bodies, and the chances of growing it increase as the man gets older. But you wouldn't know that if you went by movies and television, where a healthy growth of manfur is about as common as having an actual bear attached to your chest.
Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros.
"You others merely adopted the hairless look. I was born in it, molded by it.
I didn't even have pubes until I was already a man." -Bane
I guess Kirk there might have undergone some futuristic genetic engineering, and Tony Stark could be getting a servant to trim his man-garden. But why is Bruce Wayne as soft and hairless as a baby? Maybe he got embarrassed because a lot of the other men in the League training camp were Asians with less natural body hair, and so he shaved it off by himself while weeping quietly in the bathroom. What about Bane? Were his minions so happy to throw themselves into death because it meant an escape from Wednesday-morning Upper Arm Duty? Is Hollywood just terrified of alienating the profitable teenage demographic by showing them the cruel realities of the adult male body?
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"And then you have to start sticking a little spinning razor up your nose
so the people at work stop calling you Snot Mangrove Harry."
Which brings us to ...
#1. What Do All These Sexy People Smell Like?
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Chances are, if the movie you're watching is not an Oscar-humping tale about a family struggling to come to terms with their son dressing up in a fox suit, it will have at least one scene in which the male lead works up a patina of manly sweat. Movie-sweat says hard work, it says ingenuity, it says "I've spent all night crawling around in air ducts to save my wife from terrorists and I've accumulated so much man-voltage that liquid testosterone is dripping from my pores." For example, here's James Bond, looking manly as hell in Casino Royale:
And now you're pregnant. All of you.
This look was popular with audiences (you can find men online dressing up in copycat shirts to impress the ladies), which seems OK until you consider that Mr. Bond here has just chased a guy across half a city, in the middle of the day, in Madagascar, and in real life he must smell like a slab of raw goat meat left in a gym sock. If a character is spending any time inside a superhero costume, he'll have it even worse: anything that sits that close to your warm, damp skin for a long time is going to stink and give you a nasty fungal infection.
Tony Stark's lower body is covered in contagious weeping sores, and not for the reasons you'd think.
And these are men who have access to underarm deodorant and frequent bathing. What about characters from time periods or worlds with pre-modern hygiene standards? Aragorn from Lord of the Rings recently came in at number one in a "Sexiest Male Movie Characters" poll, even though he literally sleeps in the woods most of the time and probably smells worse than the hobo who keeps stealing your dog food. Hell, Pirates of the Caribbean actually has a scene where Jack Sparrow leans in close to another character who recoils in visible disgust at what must be a fetid waft of unwashed pirate and mildewed dreadlocks. And Jack still came in at number two in that same poll. The human brain just isn't very imaginative about smell, even when fictional worlds are shoving it in our face.
In real life, nothing in this picture is something that you want shoved in your face.
And when you think about it, movie-universe anosmia has played a huge role in creating the picture that comes to mind when the average person imagines "desirable masculinity." We are a society that is perhaps less likely than any other in history to encounter the true scent of unwashed labor, and we've built our idea of male sexiness on the fact that most of us will only ever encounter cowboys or warriors in an odor-free movie environment. If smell had been introduced to films along with sound in the 1920s, today's action heroes would do nothing but coyly splash each other during hot baths and occasionally go to aromatherapy appointments.
"Don't shoot him with that lavender oil gun! It's NOT ORGANIC!"
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