ShortList’s Martin Robinson explains why the world must stop objectifying these handsome, buff charismatic charmers (even though they don’t really mind it)
Pity our poor TV hunks! It’s time for ShortList to make a stand and get involved in some heavyweight issues. Crimes are being committed in our living rooms, right there on the screens we innocently gaze into night after night. Men are being stripped to the waist to reveal their buff torsos for the purposes of titillation. Can you imagine if that happened to women? [Fact check this]
It’s time for ShortList to act. And to say: stop objectifying these poor men (even though they’re essentially OK with it).
Honestly, the sight of these man-gods makes us feel bad about ourselves. Or at least vaguely jealous. Actually, thinking about it, we’re not that bothered. After all, there’s a social contract that we’re viewing fiction and therefore dramatised extremes of human behaviour where the sexiness of people is exaggerated as much as say, villainy, and that we watch it on those terms.
BUT STILL – we’re choosing to be offended. Make a stand and support them. Or at least read the following guide to the new dons of small-screen sexiness…
The reigning, smouldering prince
Game Of Thrones’ Jon Snow is no longer of niche appeal. As the show’s broken the mainstream, so has Kit’s status as the show’s star most likely to ensure your girlfriend goes all gooey, right bloody next to you. Jon Snow is Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff crossed with a puppy, and is thus ludicrously appealing as a focus of female romantic interest. Yep, they all want to bone him.
Kit himself is the TV star who has most expressed distress at being loved for his appearance, wryly stating recently that, “I’ll be a good little hunk and shut up.”
To be fair to him, he’s had to deal with more hair questions than any man should have to cope with. Just tell ’em all where to go, Kit, we’ll back you up! He’ll be all right anyway. With a couple of film roles behind him already, when he’s eventually killed off in Game Of Thrones, Kit’s only one turgid Lars von Trier film away from credibility.
The new Scot on the block
Outlander is the new historical time-travel drama (yes, like Goodnight Sweetheart) which is massive in the US and has just hit Amazon Prime over here. Based on novels by Diana Gabaldon, it has former underwear model Caitriona Balfe as the female lead who falls through a magic stone circle in the Highlands (don’t ask) to find herself in Jacobite-era Scotland, where she meets a tough but nice clansman played by Sam Heughan. That makes it sound really bad. It isn’t. It’s grim and violent and a bit unhinged, like Game Of Thrones in kilts. We spoke to Sam to find out how he’s adjusting to hunk status.
The show is based on romance novels. Were you wary of it?
I think if you were to describe the books as romantic to the author, you’d be hung, drawn and quartered. They’re epic stories, and while they are centred on this romantic relationship between Claire and Jamie, there’s history, travel, supernatural stuff, action, adventure.
Still, as a bloke, you might tend to watch it against your wishes, then get sucked in by it…
It’s got a female protagonist, so I can see why people think that. And it’s set in a historical period but it’s not a bodice-ripper. There’s a political, gritty side and the show is pretty dark.
Do you think it’s challenging TV norms by putting you on display for the ‘female gaze’?
Because it’s from her POV we do linger on the male body a bit more, but we approach everything, all the graphic violence, all the injury scenes, so it’s not gratuitous. We try to make it move the story forward. I was aware I’d have to take my top off quite a lot, but it’s about the character Jamie, and he’s had this horrific whipping, he has all these scars which he’s ashamed of, so he doesn’t do it easily.
You have impressive guns, though. Did you train much?
We did a boot camp, about six weeks one-on-one. Jamie wouldn’t have been a thin waif – he’s a warrior, and a farmer. We didn’t want him to be all washboard abs, we just wanted him to look like he could take care of himself.
Is it a good boys set, all that fighting in the mud?
There aren’t many female characters, it’s a male world, so there’s a big group of us highlanders. We do as much of the horse riding and the stunts as possible. We shoot it in Scotland so it’s normally freezing cold and raining, but we have a great time.
Is there a drinking culture?
A few whiskies are had, but the biggest drinker is Caitriona. She’s Irish so she gives the men a good run for the money.
Speaking of Caitriona – actors always say sex scenes are a nightmare, but c’mon, really? Is it really that bad with her?
It’s horrendous. Once you’ve done it 20 times and the cameraman knows more about you than your own mother…
Do you feel any rivalry with Aidan Turner from Poldark?
I think it’s more Jon Snow. He’s the one we have to take down. Ultimately, a ginger Scotsman is always going to win, though.