Even Ryan Gosling admits, as in this Huffington Post article, that the "Hey Girl" memes aren't about him. They're an interesting and very transparent glimpse into the desires of today's girls and women. What do they want? It seems like they want a well-groomed man who takes an active, supportive interest in the day-to-day details of their lives. That sounds pretty innocent to me. I'm not seeing lusty or edgy "Hey Girl" memes--no Hey Girl cocaine memes, nothing about violence or prostitution. From this circumstantial evidence, one might think that Ryan Gosling, the face of the memes, plays innocuous Hugh Grant-type characters in the movies. One might be wrong. Dead wrong.
Film critic Rex Reed called Gosling's latest film, Only God Forgives, "ultra-violent, demented, plotless, creepy, meat-headed and boring," and those are some of the nicer things he had to say about the flick. I hesitate to write too many details about the movie on my blog because this blog is my online home, and I like to keep my house clean, so let's just say that, according to the reviews, the most horrifying scene in this altogether horrifying movie is a violent act directed at the mother of Ryan Gosling's character. And worst of all, our meme hero, the face of the imaginary guy who is tasked with picking up our bobby pins, is reportedly the brainchild behind this violent act.
I'm not writing a review of this film here. I won't see it, but I'm fascinated by the discrepancy between the face of the "Hey Girl" memes and the man behind the mug. In the same interview in which Gosling describes how the mother-directed violence came to be, he says that when he was about 12, he "saw Rambo in First Blood, and then took knives to school and threw them at the kids," which resulted in his mother putting a ban on R-rated films (wise, but a little late). So, when he wanted to watch the R-rated Blue Velvet, he had to smuggle the VHS past his mom by sticking it down his pants. He said, "Just the idea of a film like that, that you couldn't show to anyone and had to hide in your pants, felt good. It made an impression on me, like, 'I want to make a film like that someday.'"
Well, congratulations, Mr. Gosling. You've done it--achieved your life's goals. Hopefully, the unfortunate children who see Only God Forgives will not have access to knives like you did after you saw Rambo.
I understand that the sweet teenage girls I know don't associate their charming "Hey Girl" memes with the violent and subversive tendencies that come across in Ryan Gosling's interviews. And yet, something about the disconnect makes me nervous. Something about "sheep's clothing" runs through the back of my mind when I see an innocent-looking Gosling with the words, "Hey Girl, Feel my Sweater. Know What It's Made of? Boyfriend Material," emblazoned across the image. Because any guy who could conceive of the violence toward women that he claims to have brainstormed for his latest movie should be shunned by every woman on earth. It's not heartless; it's self-defense.
In the meantime, it's not like Gosling's mug is the only handsome one out there.