Things That Were Actually Written in 2013

Note #1: An article written in a major American publication asserts that “[w]omen no longer need to be beautiful in order to express their talent. Lena Dunham and Adele and Lady Gaga and Amy Adams are all perfectly plain, and they are all at the top of their field.”

Note #2: The article, from that point, arguably (if implausibly) gets worse.

Note #3: Oddly, the Paul Giamatti profile in the same issue does not dwell on his perceived fuckability.   I mean, is he hotter than Merrill Garbus?  We need answers!

81 comments on this post.
  1. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Adele and Amy Adams are plain? The fuck?

  2. Derelict:

    I admit that I had to Google three of the four women mentioned. “Plain” is most certainly not the way I would have described any of them.

    I think the Marche deserves credit for being able to crank out that many words using only one hand.

  3. Colin:

    To say nothing of the fact that Lady Gaga’s entire shtick is to use fashion, clothing, and appearance project an image of, shall we say, “not-plain.”

  4. Jonas:

    This has been going on for years. 20 years ago I used to hear about the refreshing change in beauty standards because ‘larger’ women like Cindy Crawford were now sex symbols.

    It’s almost refreshing to hear people say things like that out loud (or in print) so you can just stop listening to (or reading) anything they say.

  5. somethingblue:

    The side-bar ad for this post is pitching me a new book on guerrilla warfare by Max Boot, with a glowing blurb from Senator John McCain.

    I’m assuming this is being triggered by the post’s use of the word “gaga.” But maybe I’m doing an injustice to these gentlemen’s perceived fuckability.

  6. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Max Boot and His Invisible Armies (band name, anyone?) have been all over the side-bar of LGM for a while now. I wonder how many book sales (or even click-throughs) they’ll get in this neck of the e-woods. Though I never thought I’d say it, but bring back my Snorg Tees!

  7. Joshua:

    Amy Adams is most certainly attractive, and Lady Gaga, well, she’s a style icon.

    Barbara Walters recently asked Hillary Clinton about taking her hairdresser on foreign trips. I wonder how Warren Cristopher and Colin Powell fielded that question. John Kerry better be prepared!

  8. Joe:

    Ah the poetry: ” “[Her skin is] the colour the moon possesses in the thin air of northern winters.”

    Helen of Troy has nothing next to her.

  9. Hogan:

    Seriously, Amy Adams? Goddamn it, now I have to find this guy and beat him up.

  10. Pestilence:

    that was pretty much my reaction too.

  11. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Sorry, Scott, because I know this isn’t the point of your post. I know you’re bemoaning the fact that something this fucking silly and sexist was written…but I have to take issue with very the premise of the article.

    Sure, Megan Fox is very pretty. And she wears lots of make-up and has had lots of surgery to ensure that she is. So, I’d slow your roll, Esquire “writer.”

    I dunno. I’m very troubled by the idea of worshipping at the altar of artifice. It sends a pretty disheartening message to most women, who are not surgically enhanced and do not have make-up artists and hairstylists at their disposal.

    The whole thing is kind of sickening, but I actually find calling Amy Adams and Adele plain troubling. It’s easy for an old feminist like me to shrug it off, but I think as a teen, I would have thought “My gosh, if you don’t think those two women are attractive, what fucking shot do I have?” Nevermind that trying to be attractive to men at all times is not the most healthy impulse, but that’s a whole nother ball of wax.

    There’s lots that’s wrong with this article.

  12. Dr.KennethNoisewater:



    I guess Adele defaults to plain because she’s chubby. HOKAY.

  13. KadeKo:

    Lady Gaga is scarcely less adorned than Kiss, which is quite a trick because she doesn’t paint her face like they did.

    How plain can someone say she is when if she were to leave a building with regular clothing / hair / makeup, hardly anyone would recognize her?

    And Paul Giamatti’s sweet spot of sexiness may be in the quadrant of nebbishness that Woody Allen used to have (before the creepiness came out). But of course nobody writes about a not-young actress’ “doability” and “female nebbish”, making the appearance standards between the sexes clear.

  14. Jerry Vinokurov:

    Paul Giamatti is definitely not hotter than Merrill Garbus.

  15. KadeKo:

    (Ugh. By “appearance standard between the sexes” I mean the one that’s foisted on them by articles like the ones mentioned, not any one they get to choose to pursue or ignore.)

  16. Anna in PDX:

    Well, I think Adele is beautiful. Not that this is the main thing about her, I also think her voice is beautiful, which is what she is all about. I think the writer of the article is kind of nuts/obsessive. And the writing is so awful, it’s hard to believe Esquire published it although they are a silly men’s mag. But then, sometimes I am surprised at even fairly good reporters who cover celebrities, they still have that starstruck sound even in mags like “Rolling Stone” and it can really be annoying.

  17. ajay:

    ‘larger’ women like Cindy Crawford were now sex symbols.

    She is ‘larger’. She’s got to be at least five foot ten. That’s huge.

  18. Davis X. Machina:

    It’s the battleship blogging what did it.

    Max boot, and all that.

  19. Davis X. Machina:

    Doesn’t live near Jay, or any other paper mill town, I take it.

  20. Davis X. Machina:

    Hotter than Reince Priebus?

  21. Joshua:

    Esquire publishes stuff like this EVERY MONTH. Their articles on “beautiful women” are filled with creepy descriptions. It’s gross.

  22. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    Very few humans are hotter than Merrill Garbus. Especially when she’s performing live.

  23. Linnaeus:

    I keep wanting to call him Max “Das” Boot.

  24. Kurzleg:

    What was that role in “Drop Dead Gorgeous”? Was several years ago, true, but I don’t think she got the role because she was “plain”.

  25. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I guess anyone who is not Megan Fox is plain according the author.

  26. Scott Lemieux:

    Yes, I assume that to the asshole-fratboy demographic Adele isn’t thin enough to be considered attractive. What makes Amy Adams unattractive even by asshole-fratboy-obsessed-with-Megan-Fox standards, though, is unclear. Frankly, I don’t want to know.

  27. Scott Lemieux:

    I dunno, how symmetrical is her face?

  28. Deggjr:

    Chris Berman, is that you?

  29. wjts:

    That Esquire guy’s got it exactly right: Megan Fox is far more attractive than anyone else because she is both shockingly symmetrical and not an ancient Aztec. The same cannot be said of the repulsively lopsided Amy Ayauhcihuatl Adams.

  30. Jon H:

    Apparently the writer, in his raptures about Megan Fox’s flawless beauty, failed to notice her mutant thumb.

  31. John:

    No need to worry about Reince Priebus anymore.

  32. Ed:

    I don’t know that Giamatti has any such spot. I do remember feeling gratitude on behalf of Virginia Madsen as a performer and myself as a viewer that Alexander Payne did not include a sex scene for Madsen and Giamatti in “Sideways.”

  33. Anonymous:

    i don’t think it’s really possible to be a “plain” female, and be a successful movie/tv actress. guys can get away with it, kind of, but women, not so much. let’s be blunt, who’s going to pay $10, to see a movie with “plain” looking women in it? heck, i can see them on the street all day long, for free (and please, i mean no slight at all to “plain” women, because that’s mostly a media fiction). so yeah, megan fox is very pretty. surely a rarety in the entertainment biz.

    i had to go to the linked post, to even know who merrill garbus is, and i still have no clue what she looks like, though no doubt she’s pretty. i then made the mistake of reading the comments, and realized just how unaware i am, of bands, since, geez, 1980? that said, i recently discovered a treasure trove of old music vids on youtube. i re-acquainted myself with Cream, Traffic, Blind Faith, The Spencer Davis Group, etc. i fully expected to groan, on hearing them again, decades later. i was truly surprised at how well most of their work still holds up. really ugly clothes though. hopefully, ms. garbus will avoid that.

  34. cpinva:

    rats! forgot to fill in the name thing. me is “anonymous”, for those wishing to criticize directly.

  35. Hogan:

    I said Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island ugly, not Cornelius in Planet of the Apes ugly! You know, TV ugly!

  36. Ed:

    Barbara Walters recently asked Hillary Clinton about taking her hairdresser on foreign trips.

    I wouldn’t necessarily call that evidence of sexism on Walters’ part, merely evidence and acknowledgment of the extra pressure on women, no matter how powerful they are, to worry about their appearance, something Walters and Clinton both understand very well. Context also makes a difference. Asking Clinton this question on a lighter show intended for a primarily female audience is very different from asking her about it on Meet the Press.

  37. Sophia:

    Yes, bothering the big man brains of the Meet the Press audience with hairdresser questions would be sexist.

  38. david mizner:

    I have a symmetrical ass — does that means it’s attractive?

    A related pet-peeve: Salon on its front page posting a photo of Megan Fox with the link “Esquire Pimps Megan Fox” — pretending to criticize but really joining in.

  39. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Things That Were Said in 2013 in the Comment Section of a Post Decrying Sexism


  40. Stiv:

    I always read it as prince rebus in a Ken Stott voice.

  41. CaptBackslap:

    It took awhile for me to accept that Max Boot is his real name, and that it’s just a coincidence that he wants to put soldiers in as many places as possible.

  42. Just Dropping By:

    I thought Kerry took a muskrat wrangler with him?

  43. Just Dropping By:

    The article doesn’t say any of the women mentioned are “unattractive,” it says they are “plain.” Amy Adams is a pleasant looking woman (and I would be very happy to have a romantic partner that looked her if I wasn’t already married), but I don’t think many people do double takes as she walks down the street other than maybe as a reaction to recognizing her as a celebrity. Similarly, Lady Gaga in regular street clothes or a pre-celebrity status Adele would also not likely draw that kind of attention.

  44. Roger Ailes:

    I’d do Paul Giamatti, but only if he was portraying John Adams at the time.

  45. Reilly:

    Her beauty transcends base sexual desire. To see her naked is to be struck impotent with awe, the physiology of erection rendered impossible by shocked and trembling reverence.
    I can only imagine that the father of her child must have turned out all the lights, tightly shut his eyes and held the image of Adele steadily in his mind, simply to fulfill his duty.

  46. Hogan:

    He can get tips from John Edwards.

  47. N__B:

    I worry that plane women will fly away from me.

  48. CaptBackslap:

    Wasn’t one of the subplots of Infinite Jest that beauty beyond a certain point is deforming?

  49. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    “I have a symmetrical ass”

    But is it the colour of a winter moon? Oh. I guess it would almost have to be. Nevermind.

  50. Seitz:

    Depends on how she’s arranged the face paint on any particular night.

  51. Reilly:

    I’d do Paul Giamatti too, but only if he were being portrayed by Amy Adams at the time.

  52. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Ah, but plane women could fly to you, too. THINK ABOUT THAT.

  53. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    All the men who do double-takes when Amy Adams walks down the street thank you for not providing competition.

  54. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I can see plain men on the street all the time, too. Hell, I think I should get paid just because I had to look at them.

    (Not really. I actually don’t give a shit whether a man is “hot” or not and find many men who are not conventionally attractive sexy and interesting. You know, because I’m not an asshole.)

  55. CaptBackslap:

    Morally judging people based on who they do or don’t find physically attractive doesn’t strike me as a good road to go down.

    Of course, being a sexist asshole about it is a different matter, but no accounting for taste and all.

  56. Substance McGravitas:

    Asserting that there’s an agreed-upon standard, then, is similarly out.

  57. Lancelot Link:

    Oh, I thought by “major American publication” you meant a real magazine, not Playboy for Prudes (Maxim for the Middle-aged?)

  58. UserGoogol:

    Amy Adams as Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar.

  59. CaptBackslap:

    There are certainly traits that people generally tend to find attractive, but there’s a lot of individual variation, and a lot of (most?) people have a specific “type” that can be more important than whether someone is “conventionally attractive,” particularly in the context of a long-term relationship.

    But my point is, who cares? If your friend at the party doesn’t agree that the person you’ve been drooling over is Venus/Adonis, that’s not some sort of strike on either of you.

  60. cpinva:

    but can they see you? more to the point, would they pay to see you?

    I can see plain men on the street all the time, too.

    if so, you have the potential to be a movie/tv star. or a reality “star”, whatever the hell that is. or, you could be the subject of an Esquire article, complete with 8th grade poetry.

  61. Scott Lemieux:

    This guy is making assertions about a consensus, not talking about an idiosyncratic personal preference.

  62. JKTHs:

    Don’t forget porn star.

  63. JKTHs:

    Playboy’s just the internet for prudes.

  64. NonyNony:

    I only get the Internet for the articles.

  65. CaptBackslap:

    The writer was implying that (most thoughtless people assume everyone thinks like them), and he was obviously wrong. But it’s hard to read “I assume that to the asshole-fratboy demographic Adele isn’t thin enough to be considered attractive” without thinking you’re harshing on dudes who aren’t into her.

  66. witless chum:

    That guy has got to be fuckign with us. Or Esquire is. Or Quetzcoatl is. Someone.

  67. Bill Murray:

    everyone else is #2 loser or whatever it was Lance Amstrong said

  68. Origami Isopod:


  69. thebewilderness:

    It’s kind of amazing when you think about it, that entire magazines consist of little more than “notes from my boner” by this or that self styled journamalist.

  70. Anonymous:

    God yes, thank you for that. “Female audience,” indeed.

  71. Anonymous:

    On the other foot, dudes with stories from their boner they’re just dying to share with the rest of the world via soft news-ish articles about celebrities are moral titans because why?

  72. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    “Notes from My Boner” made me titter.

  73. i.boskone:

    + 10

  74. Reilly:

    I’m sure Amy could breath new life into Giamatti’s Pekar.

  75. Haystack Calhoun:

    I chortled symmetrically.

  76. Rarely Posts:

    So, as a gay man, I’m not the best judge, but under what scenario is a woman who can look like this “plain,” given our current cultural norms?

    I mean Lady Gaga has the ability to look gorgeous when she wants to. Notably, for artistic purposes, she chooses to look less gorgeous (under our current cultural norms) than she could. But, her potential “beauty” is part of her message.

    The original writer’s commentary almost proves the opposite of what he means to prove – under his view, if a woman chooses to focus on her other talents and de-emphasize her beauty, then she must be “plain.”

  77. Pestilence:

    just so

  78. Pseudonym:

    NFMB wants you to tell us more about your titters.

  79. KadeKo:

    Yeah, I was being hypothetical about Giamatti. Didn’t do any research, didn’t go out with a clipboard and photos of him v. George Clooney, or even Jeff Daniels.

  80. Ed:

    Yes, bothering the big man brains of the Meet the Press audience with hairdresser questions would be sexist.

    Not what I said or meant, although I’ll grant you it could be read that way. I meant that to ask Clinton on such a question on a show devoted to hard news (theoretically, at least), particularly from a male interviewer, would be sexist and condescending in the most painful way. I don’t think Walters intended it that way, although women can be guilty of sexism as well. Given that this was an ABC News interview, you can indeed argue that the question was still inappropriate. I doubt it would have been any big deal coming from Walters on “The View,” whose target demographic is women 18-49 and where I have the impression that the topic of personal grooming arises regularly – as I noted above, women, especially women in public life, face much greater examination on that front than men do.

  81. Tehanu:

    Amy Adams is gorgeous. This guy is an obvious idiot.

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