Treasure chests stripped

2011-12-16 08:13

The male torso has loomed large on screens this year – even if you aren’t that into them, you couldn’t have missed them. Gayle Edmunds looks at Hollywood’s torso import market then and now.

I have seen a lot of films this year – about 250 – so I tend to pick up the odd trend here and there.
 
And this year, one of the big ones was a higher-than-usual number of ripped torsos.

While I was wondering what the Americans might be putting in their water, I realised that Hollywood is keeping up a long tradition of importing hotties and that few are actually born and bred in the US of A.

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s the best of Hollywood’s torsos were imported from Europe.

Austria produced Arnold Schwarzenegger who bared his abs in Conan. By today’s standards it might be considered a little too steroids-and-dumbells, but his physique was of its time.

After all his contemporaries were B-listers such as Belgian Jean Claude van Damme and Swede Dolph Lundgren – another two serious musclemen. The only American among them was New Yorker Sylvester Stallone. Gym time was their one common hobby, not acting was their other.

In the early 2000s it seemed as though that European torso import trend was going to stay, albeit with a little more brains to go with the brawn. Most noteworthy was Scot Gerard Butler sporting what seemed like an impossible eight-pack in 300, and then Daniel Craig turned up to give James Bond the curves he so richly deserves in Casino Royale.

But this year, three of the hottest screen torsos of the year were imported not from the Old World, but from the New.

The two Ryans – Reynolds and Gosling – from Canada, and one Chris – Hemsworth – from Australia. The other Chris – Evans – flies the American flag alone among them.

The fact that the four of them share two names is a coincidence of naming that I can’t possibly unravel; but it does add weight to the argument about not calling your child Walter.

If one of them was called Walter, would he have been cast as Thor? I think not.

These days though it seems as though whatever part you are playing, being out of shape (unless you are starring in a Judd Apatow movie) is a no-no.

In action films such as this year’s hottie parade (whether you are into cars or guys – or both) Fast Five, which starred Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson all sporting toned tums, looking good is part of the deal.

But Gosling is the best example of the fact that acting and being cute is not enough even in a romantic comedy.

After all, he gets his top four nomination not for a superhero movie like the other three, but for a romantic comedy, Crazy Stupid Love. Still he made the effort to buff up. In fact, his would-be lover in that film says when he strips down: “You look like you’ve been photoshopped.” Amen to that.

As for me, I am more than happy with the turn of body fascism events in Hollywood; after all I grew up on Baywatch and trying to live up to Pamela Anderson’s rack was a pretty tall order.

Now it’s the men’s turn to gaze with panic in the mirror after watching Captain America not only save freedom and the world as we know it, but do it with perfect abs too.

» Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala

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