Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ryan Gosling Meme Has Become a Book. Was it All Just a Matter of Time?

I first laid eyes on Ryan Gosling when I saw him in The Believer. I was incredibly impressed by his abilities and towards the end of the film, I thought to myself: "Hmm, he's handsome." I continued to follow his work and as he stepped into the mainstream, I saw that I wasn't the only one who paused to offer a quick, "Hmm."  Only; stampedes don't "hmm" -- they rush forward and run over -- and stampedes frighten me.

What I'm saying, is that I don't feel comfortable with the fanfare. When the memes came out, I couldn't not roll my eyes at them. It started with Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling, where every quip began with "Hey girl.." and ran through with a flattering statement.

I am a feminist and I admire Gosling's work, and yes, he is handsome. The meme is harmless and I imagine it is meant to be light hearted, but I find it quite ridiculous.

The next Gosling themed tumblr site was "Feminist Ryan Gosling", but since, many others have sprouted. Being that I'm a feminist you'd think that would have struck a chord with me, but I was actually turned off because I knew where the meme stemmed from.

When the film Blue Valentine was released, the film was initially given a NC-17 rating. Gosling made a great feminist statement about the fact that the film was initially rated NC-17 and later given an R rating. Gosling responded to the critics who opposed the scene in which his character performs oral sex on Michelle Williams character.

"You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film."

Feminist Gosling fans went gaga.

What bothered me about the meme is that we had/have no idea if he considers himself to be a feminist.
It'd be great if he is a feminist, but it would be equally grand if a less attractive actor were proclaiming feminism as well. I find Gosling to be a handsome man, but I'm not going to jump to the conclusion that he's a feminist when there's no way to know for certain. It's rude to assume. Even if the assumption is towards something positive, I take issue with it.

The feminist meme is still out there, and it has become so popular that many of the individual meme panels are now collected in a book. I was in shock when I saw it and that shock subsided quickly. The meme won. It was all just a matter of time.

What you're looking at is, Feminist Ryan Gosling: Feminist Theory (as Imagined) from Your Favorite Sensitive Movie Dude by Danielle Henderson.

Book Description:
What started as a silly way for blogger Danielle Henderson and her classmates to keep track of the feminist theorists they were studying in class quickly turned into an overnight sensation. Since its launch in October 2011, the Feminist Ryan Gosling blog has close to 30,000 followers and more than 3 million page views per month.

In this hilarious book based on the wildly popular blog, the author pairs swoon-worthy photos of the steamy actor with sensitive feminist theories and plenty of sweet talk. Included are 120 full-color photos and captions throughout, with some of the best entries from the blog along with 70 to 80 percent brand-new material for the book.

About the Author:
Danielle Henderson is the genius behind and the author of Tales from Fish Camp. As a graduate student and instructor at the University of Wisconsin, her work has been published in several magazines and the anthology Cringe: Teenage Diaries, Journals, Notes, Letters, Poems, and Abandoned Rock Operas. Danielle lives in Madison, Wisconsin. 

I am certainly not  boycotting the book. I'm able to find some gentle humor here. In fact, in recent months I had stumbled across a couple of other Gosling memes, which prompted a wiry smile. Those would be the Ryan Gosling, Lindy Hopper meme and the Ryan Gosling, Social Work meme.

I feel comfortable with the farce that Gosling is a lindy hopper or social worker because no one is questioning if Gosling is truly either of these things.

When it comes to a world view, I find it important to be more responsible. Unless Gosling announces to us all that he is a full fledged feminist, we have no right or reason to think so.

Reviews: (Posted on Amazon)

"The Feminist Ryan Gosling meme puts a clever spin on celebrity worship, with fans of the Canadian actor pairing images of his dreamy face with text in which he sweet talks ladies with references to feminist theory."

Rolling Stone

"I wouldn’t question too closely whether or not the words under Ryan Gosling’s pictures are real quotes or not. Let’s just say they are. He’s so sensitive and understanding. *Collective Sigh.*"
—The Daily Beast

"I didn’t think anything could be better than the 'F**k yeah, Ryan Gosling'/'Hey Girl' meme about my boo, but then Feminist Ryan Gosling came along and appealed to my Betty Friedan-loving, bell hooks-reading side."
—The Frisky

These reviews exemplify my points. There's nothing wrong with fantasy. When we fantasize about the hims and hers of our lives, they most likely embrace the things that we find important. Speaking for myself, there are few hetero men in Hollywood and other avenues of media who give themselves the Feminist stamp. I don't misunderstand the desire to have fun with this meme. As mentioned earlier, I recognize that the meme is meant to be light hearted. I've smiled at a few of the panels myself.

Gosling is obviously aware that this book has been published. Being that there have been no legal objections, I imagine Gosling has no qualms with it.

My problem lies within the idea that it is okay to make claims on something that is uncertain.

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