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The face that launched a thousand clicks

SHRUTHI MATHEWS
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OFFBEAT Hollywood actor Ryan Gosling is the inadvertent star of one of the latest, more intelligent of internet memes

Q: Who breaks up street fights, calls a gym ‘the gymnasium' and is attracted to ‘strong female characters' in films?

A: Ryan Gosling, aka. the Dream Man.

A fter portraying the ultimate ‘sensitive man' in “The Notebook” (called “the world's greatest example of a chick flick” by the authoritative source that is urbandictionary.com) and following his success in Nicolas Refn Winding's “Drive”, Gosling has been showered with positive attention from the media and acquired a huge, nay, a colossal female fan base.

Apparently he can do no wrong, even when he's not doing anything.

Gosling is the inadvertent star of one of the latest — and more intelligent — in internet memes: http://feministryangosling.tumblr.com/ by Danielle Henderson, graduate student and teacher in gender studies at the University of Wisconsin.

The internet is rife with what is known to the web-literate as memes (loosely defined as a funny or ‘cute' image or video that spreads virally via the internet). And if you haven't seen this particular one yet, and are wondering what's so special about it, well, all I can say is that it's not just funny, it's really, really funny.

A parody of the pre-existing ‘Hey Girl' Ryan Gosling meme, Henderson's micro blog features “feminist theory flashcards from your favourite sensitive movie dude-turned-meme” — a meme-within-a-meme.

Random pictures of Gosling are coupled with witty one-liners in which the Gosling persona propounds feminist theory (showing his ‘intellectual' side) whilst simultaneously demonstrating his love of romance (showing his ‘sensitive' side). And thus we have the perfect man. “It has been very surprising to me to see so many people respond positively to the idea of an intelligent man,” says Henderson, “I feel like America has been stuck in an anti-intellectual trajectory for quite some time, so I'm not used to seeing a favourable response to intelligence. Most of the commentators like the way Ryan Gosling looks, but more than anything they're really into what they imagine him saying.”

Although launched by a very handsome face, the blog's swift success is due to Henderson's humourous observation of the independent girl, I mean woman's, fantasy to find that equally ‘intellectual', yet sensitive man — the one that looks great without a shirt on, knows his Foucault from his Derrida, and still likes to cuddle and buy you flowers.

So will feminist Ryan Gosling become the new LOLcat?

Who knows, but it's the sexiest approach to theory we've seen since Susan Sontag's ‘erotics of art' — and I can't decide if it's Gosling or Henderson I'm more in love with.

SHRUTHI MATHEWS

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