Many, many people have written to us about Harlequin’s search for real men for the covers of their novels.
“Some of the heroes are captains of industry, billionaires,” said Deborah Peterson, a Harlequin creative designer and a judge at the audition. “A lot of the models were too young, men in their twenties … and our audience likes men a little bit older, a bit bigger, than the runway models.”
Look, I’m all for accurate depictions of characters in the books. At the very least, I’d like their hair colors to match, y’know? But accurate depictions of what billionaires look like? Why don’t they ask real-life billionaires to model for them?
I’m just sayin’.
I’m also going to reveal myself to be an utterly humorless bitch and say right out that this bit of rhetoric bothers me quite a bit:
“We want real men … exactly what you think in your mind when you’re fantasizing or imagining that ideal man.”
Well, y’know, the guys who make my ovaries growl tend to be skinny, on the pretty side of androgynous and kinda goofy. Not unlike Damian Kulash:
Bonus points for dudes who aren’t afraid to put on make-up and/or a skirt when the occasion calls for it, and extra super bonus points for the ones who can talk about quantum entanglement intelligently, or explain the differences between a dactyl, a spondee and a trochee, or switch between arguing with me about Kant’s categorical imperative and the best way to brine a turkey without missing a beat. And those guys? Every bit as real as the middle-aged pumped-up gym monkeys Harlequin is apparently searching for. At least, I’d hope so. A few of my friends would be distressingly incorporeal, in that case.
But then I’ve ranted about the issue of girly men and gender rhetoric in the romance community before, so I won’t repeat myself.
All of this did bring to mind a totally awesome picture reader Elizabeth M. forwarded to me today, though:
But perhaps they should see if Günther is available for a modeling gig. He does, after all, want you to touch his tra-la-la (and also, his ding ding dong), and his manly mullet is quite in line with any number of romance novel covers we’ve seen.
(Warning: For those of you who haven’t seen this yet, it’s not quite work safe.)
(Thanks to Emily B. for reminding me of the existence of this video.)
Also, pretend I’ve said a goodly number of cutting things about the condescending tone of the article in general. It’s late, I’m kinda tired and loopy, and really, both Sarah and I have hopped all over this issue in the past.