J500 Media and the Environment


Sexy is Evasive … Just Look at My Beard by vincemeserko
February 12, 2008, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Fashion + Beauty, Society + Media

I was having lunch with my sister this weekend, and she abruptly stops eating and proclaims the following with her voice conveying a feeling of utmost earnestness and concern.

“Vince, your beard is making me nauseous.”

This got me thinking about “sexy”, facial hair experiments, the conveniences of not shaving and the prospect and utter impossibilty of making things like “biomass gasification technology” glamorous. I’m not a trendspotter. I’ve had roughly the same haircut since elementary school and have a large and diverse collection of professional wrestling action figures, so I would advise not listening to me about what the cool guys are doing. I do, however, know a good semantic argument when I see one. “Sexy” probably isn’t the best word for the green movement. The lead paragraph in the Arnold story mentions “sexy” being synonymous with “sufficiently mainstream.” I’ve always thought “sexy” was better suited for the exotic, forbidden, risque. Webster’s dictionary defines sexy as “arousing or tending to arouse sexual desire or interest.” What should we do? Perhaps, we could place an advertisement in the New York Times with Matthew McConaughey (or McCona-hottie as my mom likes to say) shirtless, smiling, … and cultivating cellulosic biofuels! Woo-hoo! That might arouse sexual interest but probably will not elicit genuine concern in alternative energy sources. In the same way that my moustache fails to connect adequately with my beard, applying sex to certain sectors of the green movement probably would look funny and cause discomfort among the general population. (Thus ends the most clumsy, poorly conceived extended metaphor in the history of media, the environment, and J500 – media & the environment).

In actuality I think Arnold’s mission is pretty admirable. He’s just trying to make the green movement more alluring. Clearly, the man knows sexy. Just check out this eloquent explanation of the intimate relationship between bodybuilding and sex.

Quick shameless plugola: Since this is humor week, I need to mention one of the best satirists around, and he’ll be in town this week! His name’s Todd Snider and he’s playing at the Granada this Friday night. Todd is a singer/songwriter and a masterful storyteller who describes himself as a “tree-huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, porn watchin’, lazy-ass hippie.” – you have to admire that kind of candor.

-Vince Meserko

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7 Comments so far
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First of all, it’s hard for me to believe that this is the same Arnold we now know as the Governator. Guess it just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Or a person by the ridiculous comments they made in their youth. Perhaps one day we’ll all overlook the many Bushisms that make us cringe today.

As for the rest of your post – I agree that we can’t just sex up the whole thing. Some things just aren’t sexy, and while we don’t have to dwell on the doom and gloom (WARNING: This article is NOT sexy) we can find more appealing ways to discuss environmental issues that relate to a broader audience. Even people with nauseating beards.

Jeff Severin

Comment by jseverin

And here is how far we’ve come. Even though beards also make me nauseous, the NYT proclaims, “Paul Bunyan: Modern Day Sex Symbol.” The treehugging hottie’s time may have come.

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

Ok, I have to confess here that I love men with beards. I insist that my boyfriend keep one, albeit cut quite short. There’s just something sexy about a scruffy face.

Then again, my dad always had a beard growing up and my mom and other relatives have told me that when he shaved it I would cry and cry, running away from him like I didn’t know who he was.

Even weirder: I prefer Conan O’Brien avec beard.

Sarah Hemme

Comment by shemme

I’m not sure exactly how beards relate to environmentalism. I guess when I have a beard, I tend to use scissors to trim it up. Plus it keep you warm. When I don’t have a beard, I’m forced to use an electric shaver or razors, both of which use energy and materials.

So is it smarter to have a beard and not waste? Probably. I shaved my beard this weekend regardless.

Bobby G

Comment by bobbygrace

Back to Arnold’s original point. Doesn’t it seem like green issues have already worked their way into the American mainstream? I think the fact that Bush’s lack of knowledge is being hilariously skewered on Saturday Night Live shows how the issues have become omnipresent in pop culture. I think humor and satire is an effective way of introducing the reluctant and uncoverted to a topic that they might otherwise find off-putting. It’s sort of a way of easing a person into the conversation and getting them to let their guard down and reflect on their own assumptions. By the same token, really caustic humor like George Carlin, whose diatribe on “saving the planet” is as in-your-face as it gets, might not have the same appeal. Some issues require a little more delicacy and the environment might be one of them.

Back to what Jeff said in the first comment, it doesn’t necessarily have to all be doomsday. I completely agree. People are skeptical of that approach anyway. If you can find a way to achieve some semblance of balance between the serious and the satirical it might make the issue less divisive and even more palatable to the mainstream public.

-Vince Meserko

Comment by vincemeserko

Excellent point Vince.

Comment by Eli Grobwitz

[…] Sexy is Evasive … Just Look at My BeardBy vincemeserko This got me thinking about “sexy”, facial hair experiments, the conveniences of not shaving and the prospect and utter impossibilty of making things like “biomass gasification technology” glamorous. I’m not a trendspotter. …J500/ES624 Media & The Environment – https://mediaenvironment.wordpress.com […]

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