Standards of hotness change over time. I’ve said more than a few times (most recently in an HE piece posted on 8.15.14) that sexual attractiveness standards have definitely evolved in favor of the notties over the last…oh, 10 or 12 years. We’re now living in an age, partly if not largely perpetrated by the films and scenarios of producer-director Judd Apatow, in which Schlumpies and Dumpies have been sold to the public as the kind of people you want to go out with, go home with, get married to, etc.
When I was in my 20s and carousing around Schlumpies and Dumpies got no action whatsoever. They stayed home, watched TV, wept in their beds, jerked off, etc. But today they make out. If a bearded guy in an Apatow movie has bigger breasts than Cameron Diaz and a dumpy milky-white body with eight or nine pimples on his fat white ass…cool! If a lead actress looks like one of the Andrews Sisters but with somewhat wider or heavier facial features…crazy mama!
I grew up in a world in which conventionally attractive or semi-attractive people used to be the ones who got laid the most often. Trust me — I used to do quite well at the Westport Players Tavern in the mid to late ’70s, and I had a good sense of what worked and what didn’t. And if a girl who looked like Trainwreck‘s Amy Schumer was to stroll into that scene, she would have had a nice time but she would not be ardently pursued by the flannel-shirt-wearing wolves, of which I was definitely one. By the standards of that time she just isn’t top-of-the-line…sorry.
But that was then and this is now, and today I was beaten and spat upon and kicked to the ground and damn near lynched for having stated what seems obvious to me, which is that Schumer is brilliant, talented and somewhat funny but she’s not grade-A or even B-plus material, certainly by my standards as well as those of any moderately attractive, fair-minded youngish heterosexual dude who’s feeling hormonal or what-have-you.
But many are claiming otherwise, and this is because Apatow has installed a Schlumpies and Dumpies software onto our collective hard drive. He’s changed the way we think about people we want to be with. And it’s really all about him. He’s obviously talented and brilliant and one of the biggest guys in this town, but he’s never been great shakes in the looks department and so he relates to women who are like him. He’s not backing foxy lookers — he’s backing women who mostly have it inside rather than outside…who share his comic insights and instincts and are divining the present-day social milieu. And one manifestation of this is that Apatow’s Trainwreck, to go by the trailer, presents Schumer as a hot ticket that a lot of guys want to know and hit on. Well, that’s basically Judd saying that if the world was a better place a lot of girls would’ve hit on him when he was younger. Deep down he knows who’s hot and who’s not. And so do I.
But today I honestly shared an opinion that Schumer’s facial features remind me of a blonde Lou Costello, and for that I was all but torn to shreds by a snarling, foaming-at-the-mouth pack of Twitter dogs. That wouldn’t have happened back in the ’90s, I can tell you. I still would’ve gotten beaten up but a lot of people would have agreed. Things have changed.
I certainly didn’t say Schumer was ugly (a word that I never, ever use) or fat in the least. I used the word “chubby” but I should have more specifically observed that while she’s fairly slim she does has a wide, chubby-ish face. That doesn’t make her a bad person or not a nice person, or a person who shouldn’t star in or write a lot of movies or become one of the hottest people in this town…why not? But she’s not someone who makes the grade by the standards I was raised by and have been responding to all through the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and the aughts.
Here’s how I almost put it last August about the Apatow change: “Put simply, guys who got the girl used to look like guys who got the girl. And girls who attracted a lot of guys used to look like girls who attracted a lot of guys. But no longer. By today’s standards any homely or marginal or bearded, overfed, gross-looking guy or girl can hook up with good-looking types and nobody bats an eyelash.
“Blubbery Seth Rogen getting lucky with and impregnating Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up…uh-huh. Rogen married to and boinking Rose Byrne every which way in Neighbors…if you say so. Mark Duplass making sensitive-guy moves on Melissa McCarthy in Tammy…really? The bulky, nearly bald Steve Zissis connecting with Amanda Peet on HBO’s Togetherness…right. Anne Hathaway being sufficiently taken with Rafe Spall to move in with him in One Day…remarkable. The obviously desirable Anna Kendrick and Keira Knightley finding dweeby twee-male Mark Webber attractive and beddable in Lynn Shelton‘s Laggies and Joe Swanberg‘s Happy Christmas, respectively. Complete bullshit in a sense but Apatow’s rules of attraction have been sinking in for years and so we’re all buying it.
“Movies have been a thriving industry for a little over a century now, and for most of this period romantic male leads were cut from a certain cloth. There are two categories, of course — studly, straight-arrow romantic leads (everyone from Cary Grant to Van Johnson to William Holden to Steve McQueen to Ben Affleck to Brenton Thwaites) to less studly, mostly pleasing but less-than-drop-dead sexy romantic male also-rans or “best friends” (i.e., Ralph Bellamy back in the ’30s, Wendell Corey in the ’50s).
“Romantic male leads used to be guys whom (a) women could pleasurably imagine going to bed with and/or marrying, and (b) straight guys recognized as superior alpha males with excellent genes. But Apatow has stepped in and said ‘fuck all that superior genes stuff….schlubby genes are actually pretty nice.’
“What’s changed is not only the quality of the alphas but the romantic also-rans — i.e., the guys who never got the girl. Over the last decade or so the rise of cheap digital cinema and…whatever, the Sundance Film Festival aesthetic plus downswirling GenY-ish attitudes plus a few Apatow-perpetrated scenarios have ushered in a politically correct notion that dweeby, dorky-looking guys or less-than-drop-dead-knockout girls (i.e., Lena Dunham being the standard-bearer) are just as acceptable in a romantic context as anyone else.”