Do we really care who the 'sexiest' person alive is?

Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs onstage in September.

Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs onstage in September. Photo: Ethan Miller

Adam Levine is the Sexiest Man Alive, according to no less a source than People magazine. I know, right? Adam Levine. Not only sexy, but sexiest. I haven’t been this surprised since I discovered Clive Palmer was actually going ahead with the Titanic II.

If you’ve ever listened to the music of the bizarrely-named Maroon 5 – as opposed to Maroon 8, which would be Queensland’s state of origin winning streak, which I don’t like to talk about – he’s the guy with the voice so high that playing his music to dogs makes them hump the nearest available leg. And who knows – judging by the vote, perhaps it has that effect on humans, too?

Some might consider the Sexiest Man Alive crown somewhat tainted by the fact that Channing Tatum was the last to hold it, but at least he is a lump of prime beefcake, even if his name sounds like some goopy bathroom sealant.

Adam Levine on the cover of People magazine.

Adam Levine on the cover of People magazine.

Is that really what it takes to win your affection, women of the world, or at least women who read People magazine? What are we men supposed to do with this information, then? Be more like Adam Levine? Sure, I’d happily duet with Kanye West, and I can sing almost as high, even though in the interests of public safety I generally choose not to.


I can see ‘attractive’, in a boy-crush sense. But sexy? Really? Are the women of America imagining him emerging towel-clad from their bathrooms, squeaking with ultrasonic lust as he caresses them? Do they want to trace the contours of his douchey sleeve tattoos with their tongues? Do they watch his acne treatment commercials (see, I’ve done my Levine research) and imagine his pristine zit-free posterior gleaming in the soft light of a bedside lamp?

If womankind is going to thus honour someone, couldn’t it be someone without sleeve tats, even on purely aesthetic grounds? Football players already have more than enough of them. At this rate every second man is going to face tattoo removal surgery when they hit fifty.

Scarlett Johansson on the cover of Esquire magazine.

Scarlett Johansson on the cover of Esquire magazine.

I’ve always found female tastes perplexing. I’m baffled by the collective sighing over Roger Federer, who looks for all the world like a ferret who’s had a tennis racquet surgically attached to his arm. Justin Bieber has always been someone who I imagine women grew out of as soon as they hit puberty, but it appears not. And I know women in their twenties and thirties who sigh over One Direction.

This adoration of Adam Levine has given me flashbacks to Year Six Camp, when we arrived in Canberra for a week of parliamentary elucidation. When we emerged from the bus, the Popular Girls, the ones Everyone had crushes on, had all written "I ♥ BROS" on their pillowcases, betraying not only dreadful musical taste, but a concerning lack of respect for their parents’ manchester collection.

My heart sank as I considered my own thorough lack of resemblance to the blonde, buff Goss twins, and while I mocked their crappy synth-pop like the other boys in my class, inside I wished I was a member of the band so the girls would write my name on their pillowcases.

That was about the extent of my pre-adolescent desires, incidentally - having name my scribbled on an exercise book (not a pillowcase, I’ll have you know) in thick black texta. And maybe going to see a movie like Ghostbusters II together.

But as I’ve wrestled with my confusion and outrage over Levine today – seriously, listen to ‘She Will Be Loved’ and tell me I don’t have a point – it’s high enough to shatter perspex, let alone glass – I’ve found myself conceding that there’s a double standard here.

When the news came through that Scarlett Johansson was officially the Sexiest Woman Alive – and why this stuff even counts as news in the first place is another question, by the way – I have to confess that I just nodded and thought yep, that figures.

I didn’t for a moment ponder what message the Cult of Johansson sent to women. That their voices should be huskier, perhaps, or that they should film lingering shots of their own panty-clad buttocks like the first shot in Lost In Translation? (Which totally counts as arty rather than creepy, by the way, because it was made by a female director.) Does it further the stereotype, once again, all that men really care about is cup size, and thereby fuel the plastic surgery industry?

If blokes get to drool over Scarlett like the guy did in the accompanying interview (which was brilliantly dissected by Clem Ford on this site, incidentally), it’s only fair that we should have to put up with the Adam Levines of this world getting objectified too. Even if that means more photos of Ryan Gosling.

A better option might be to declare a truce, and to agree never to name Sexiest Men Or Women Alive, and to apologise for our past misdeeds. I hereby regret contributing my adolescent saliva to the general fervour about Elle Macpherson. I even regret watching that four-hour-long French film where Emmanuelle Béart is naked because she’s playing an artist’s model and it’s oh such a terribly serious rumination on the nature of art which also just so happened to require the woman of my 16-year-old dreams to get her kit off for like a whole hour.

Mind you, it certainly helped me prepare for HSC French.

Since on all the available evidence, men will highly likely never stop their tacky, icky adoration of the Scarletts and Emmanuelles of this world, I guess I’d better get used to the idea of Adam Levine being upheld as a delicious piece of man-crumpet.

But honestly – couldn’t we at least have given the title to Ryan Gosling? At least he doesn’t sing at a pitch that makes Michael Jackson sound like a bass.