I Sez: Maxim Knows Their Unsexxy Ladiez
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 23, 2008
“Because you treat me like a hag!”
Though I’ve always found their Hot 100 lists inordinately entertaining, I’ve taken my fair share of issues with the ladies Maxim has chosen as the hottest in the world over the years. General popularity often seems to take the priority over legit look-good skills, as such overrated, hot-but-not-especially-hott vixens like Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria (I’ll give her the one, fine, but she deserved her back-to-back about as much as her husband deserves a 4th championship ring) get top honors while more deserving contenders as Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel and Nicole Scherzinger have had to suffice with runner-ups and lower. OK, Maxim isn’t exactly Cannes and the H100 #1 isn’t exactly the Palme D’Or, but as far as the male majority perspective goes, there isn’t really a much better rep than Maxim, so it’s fairly important that they get these decisions at least close to right. (I mean seriously–Jennifer Garner?)
They do appear, however, to be fairly unpoint when judging the bottom of the barrel. Maxim recently released a list of the five unsexiest women (or, I guess, the Frigid 5), populated by Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears, Sandra Oh, Madonna, and the crowned champion, Sarah Jessica Parker. Now, Madonna I don’t really agree with (I don’t think she looks any worse now than she should look as an entetrtainer pushing 50, and in her day she was about as hott as pop stars come), and I can’t confirm one way or the other about Amy Winehouse (looks great in video, but real-life stills can be horrific), but they definitely are fairly right on with Britney (not an iota overrated in her prime, but currently about as appetizing as a Big Mac left out in the sun for two weeks), Miss Oh (whose hotness has been debated among my friends possibly more than anyone’s, with I think only one person ever coming down “Pro”) and of course, Sarah Jessica Parker. Sez Maxim on SJP:
“How the hell did this Barbaro-faced broad manage to be the least sexy woman in a group of very unsexy women and still star on a show with ‘sex’ in the title? Pull your skirt down, Secretariat, we’d rather ride Chris Noth.”
Cheap shots aside, it’s kind of hard to find fault with this assessment. This, simply put, is not a good-looking woman, a fact which has caused me a fair bit of frustration over the course of my TV watching years. Wouldn’t call her ugly, per se–I probably feel about her the way Chuck Klosterman feels about Van Halen’s “And the Cradle Will Rock,” that she’s exactly in the middle of the road, with every woman better looking than her generally being attributable as “attractive” and every woman worse looking than her being attributable as “unattractive.” This in itself is not a problem–as someone of who at least leans towards the ugly persuasion myself, I generally root for the success of relative Nots in a hottie-dominated market such as TV, hence my appreciation of the careers of Jorge Garcia, Taylor Hicks, and Phyllis from The Office, among others.
But as Maxim touches on, SJP suffers from a problem of role expectations versus reality, which for discussion’s sake I’ll call the Glenn Close Syndrome. In the 1980s, Glenn Close was among the pre-eminent actresses of her generation, starring in several blockbusters and netting a truly astounding five Oscar nominations over the course of the decade (though winning none of them). Now, Close was surely a very talented actress, and her marquee status was hard earned and fairly well-deserved. But two of her most famous film roles–Alex in 1987’s Fatal Attraction and Marquise de Merteuil in 1988’s Dangerous Liasons–were in movies whose plots pivoted around the point that Glenn Close was hott. These were movies where characters made drastic, potentially life-changing decisions, because (presumably) they were so irresisitibly drawn to such a gorgeous specimen that the idea of throwing their lives away had little downside when weighed against the prospect of one night of getting Close.
In terms of acting, Close was exemplary in both films, and indeed, she received nods from the Academy for each. But still, I don’t think you could realistically consider her performances successes, and that’s because you can’t watch either movie without thinking every five seconds “wait a minute…these dudes are screwing up their lives for GLENN FUCKING CLOSE??” As plain-faced and physically unimpressive as star actresses come, this is not the kind of woman that makes your mind and conscience go blank with one “come-hither” look. This is the kind of woman you pass in the canned vegetable aisle in the supermarket without giving a second thought. It’s be like casting Ned Beatty as Rocky Balboa. Sometimes disbelief just can’t be suspended that far.
Hence the problem with Mrs. Matthew Broderick. Now, to be fair, I don’t quite think that anyone involved with Sex & the City was really trying to put forth the impression that SJP was the Sexiest Woman Alive–indeed, her appeal was that of the everywoman (or at least the woman you could potentially see yourself as being if you had caught every lucky break in life) and she wasn’t even cast as The Sexy One on the show. But still, this is a show with Sex in the title, this is a show whose every appraisal begins “Four sexy, independent women” when in reality it’s one, one-and-a-half tops, this is a show where Parker’s character writes a column about sex implying a certain desirability and expertise, this is a show where a number of reasonably good-looking and likeable guys jumped through innumerable hoops for her high-maintenance character and this is the show that made her a worldwide fashion icon, presumably because people like looking at her in nice clothes.
And…it’s just not there. Nor is it in State & Main, The First Wives’ Club, or any other woman positing SJP as a renowned hottie or trophy wife. The one movie I can think of that gets Sarah Jessica Parker’s attractiveness level right-ish is Ed Wood–that of the nagging, shrewish girlfriend who seems just desirable enough to put up with while focusing your principal attentions elsewhere–and she was kind of cute when she was playing the shy, unassuming girl next door in Square Pegs and Footloose. Otherwise, there’s just nothing about her physical appearance–long face, small breasts, unremarkable hair or figure–to suggest that she should be believable in all these supermodel-type roles.
Apparently, Sarah Jessica hasn’t cottoned much to being the recipient of this honor, and while I wouldn’t want to suggest that anyone should ever be happy about being voted Supreme Uggo #1 under any set of circumstances, I do think she could see this as sort of an extremely backhanded compliment. That she was able to not only subsist, but thrive tremendously in a role designed for a hottie despite her obvious physical shortcomings obviously speaks somewhat to her relatable personality and her skills as an actress. Plus, she could’ve rolled with it like Gilbert “At least I was voted #1 of something” Gottfried did when he topped the Boston Phoenix’s Unsexiest Men Alive list. Or she could’ve just thanked her lucky stars that no one had pointed this out much while the show was still on.
Here’s hoping Vogue or Cosmopolitan comes up with some sort of revenge list, probably starring Adrian Grenier at the top. Seems only fair.