The blessing of Ryan Gosling

November 26, 2011

The holiday season is a time for counting blessings.

That’s why this seems like an appropriate time to give thanks for the greatest gift that the celebrity world has given us this year: Ryan Gosling.

Gosling obviously was a celebrity long before 2011, but 2011 was the year that Ryan Gosling the Phenomenon truly came into being.

To those who spend little time navigating entertainment blogs, Gosling, 31, is merely an actor who has deservedly earned an Academy Award nomination and appeared in three wildly different films in recent months: “Drive,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “The Ides of March.” (Four, actually, if you count “Blue Valentine,” which rolled out in wider release back in January.)

But to those who track the online fervor that surrounds the Canadian star and unofficially designated “dreamboat of choice” to women younger than 40, he is the modern, self-aware equivalent of Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando and James Dean rolled into one simultaneously uber-cool, sensitive male soul.

This is why Buzzfeed — a Web site that posts bloggy items on hot topics to generate buzz of its own — organized a recent protest outside of People magazine’s New York headquarters after Bradley Cooper was selected as the glossy’s Sexiest Man of the Year instead of Gosling.

Granted, the protest involved only a handful of cheekily irate individuals who carried signs (“Ryan Gosling gave me the courage to wear this jacket”) while chanting “Bradley Cooper is just fine but Ryan Gosling is divine.” The point is: Ryan Gosling makes people take a stand. He is an agent of change. He is also, at last count, at least 187 other things. Here are a few:

Ryan Gosling is the celebrity most capable of generating a meme. He not only inspires Tumblr blogs — including the oft-cited “[Bleep] Yeah, Ryan Gosling,” where the “Hey girl” catchphrase was born in 2009, and the inspired “Is Ryan Gosling Cuter Than a Puppy?” — he also spawns Tumblrs based on his own Tumblrs. (See “Feminist Ryan Gosling,” which features photos of Gosling accompanied by captions like, “Hey girl. Gender is a social construct but everyone likes to cuddle.”)

Ryan Gosling is aware of his own meme-ability, which means that he will read “Hey girl” blog entries out loud during interviews while giggling.

Ryan Gosling is an urban superhero, the kind of guy who breaks up a street fight in New York, gets captured on YouTube doing so and is hailed on the Internet for essentially being a hipster version of Batman even though everyone knows that Christian Bale is Batman.

Ryan Gosling is a fascinating enigma that inspires Washington Post pieces such as this one, as well as New York Times essays in which he is called “as interesting as Bob Dylan in 1966.” That is because Ryan Gosling inspires deep thought.

Ryan Gosling represents the completely unrealistic ideal that women want all men to live up to: elusive, edgy, potentially dangerous but also kind to dogs, considerate enough to take his mother and sister to the Oscars and willing to unashamedly fall in love in movies based on lousy Nicholas Sparks romance novels (“The Notebook”) as well as star in movies about guys who date blow-up dolls (“Lars and the Real Girl”).

The real Ryan Gosling may not be any of these things, but whether he is or isn’t is irrelevant.

Ryan Gosling is a precious gift, one that we hope keeps on giving during what’s left of 2011 and for years to come.

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