The other night, during a random discussion with my boyfriend, I expressed interest in seeing “Half Nelson.” The movie stars Ryan Gosling, whose performance garnered him a best actor nomination. I suggested that we rent it next weekend, once it’s out on DVD.
“What’s it about?” he warily asked.
“This inner-city teacher, a white guy who’s also addicted to crack,” I explained. I figured that it sounded edgy enough to appeal to him.
“Who’s in it?”
“Ryan Gosling. He got a best actor nomination for it.”
My boyfriend’s lip curled in disgust. “Oh, no. We’re not renting that.”
What went wrong? He knew I was making an effort to see Oscar-related films, and here was one that was suitably hip and seemed a bit more youthful and exciting than, say, “Venus.”
“I hate Ryan Gosling,” he explained. When I asked why, he was unable to explain. Was it “The Notebook,” the sweeping, romantic sobfest in which Gosling starred? Could the immediate association of Gosling with such a treacly film — the ultimate chick flick, really — immediately turn off men to him? “Maybe?” he responded, visibly confused by his own emotion. “Actually, I don’t really hate Ryan Gosling. Steve hates Ryan Gosling, so I guess I just started doing the same.” Steve, his best friend. And why does Steve hate Ryan Gosling? My boyfriend couldn’t seem to remember.
I thus went to Steve, who said my boyfriend “has no earthly clue what he’s talking about. Not only have I never expressed an opinion on Gosling, but I’m not sure I’ve ever formed one.” Interesting. It would seem that there’s an instinctive, anti-Gosling reaction firmly embedded into my boyfriend’s brain, reason be damned. This got me wondering: Might men have a problem with Ryan Gosling? I conducted an informal, unscientific survey of a handful of male friends, and my “Notebook” suspicions might not be that far from the mark. In general, it would seem that guys, mostly those in Gosling’s age group (or slightly older), aren’t fans.
‘I've heard good things but ...’
A male co-worker elaborates, “I think the only thing women love him for is “The Notebook.” I’ve heard good things but I’ve not seen any of his movies. And you resent the fact that all these chicks like him and think he’s cool and independent, but it’s really just because he’s cute and in that movie.”Hm. Maybe we’re on to something here.
“Eh. Overrated pretty boy. Not a good actor,” said another gentleman colleague. He’d not seen “The Notebook,” so I asked if the reaction had anything to do with how women feel about Gosling (i.e., his swoon factor), and he admitted that his feelings “probably” stemmed from that. “The fact that every girl in town loves him makes it easier for me to dismiss him,” he added. An excellent defensive strategy.
On the other hand, one friend actually admitted to having a man-crush on Gosling. Naturally he had a kinder assessment: “I think a lot of dudes hate him right away, just because they think of “The Notebook.”But it’s kind of a John Mayer thing, meaning you automatically dislike him based on your gut feeling. And that’s based on the lame, popular things they do, like “The Notebook.”But then you realize that (Mayer and Gosling) are probably funny, cool dudes to know in real life, and you wish you could hang out with them.” Touching, but an anomaly in my sample set.
Even a friend who has yet to see a single Gosling movie was ready to offer up a less-than-glowing opinion. “I think men hate him because he’s in a class of movie stars who seem to be famous just for being hot, scruffy and mysterious,” he said. “Men see through the Gosling aura whereas women eat it up. And he’s a random, 26-year-old dude. Yawn. That’s why he needs a real role. Maybe he’s a talent, but it’s not out there yet.” Even with an Oscar nomination? “Well, it’s hard to deny that it’s a step in the right direction,” my friend conceded. How generous.
So what does this mean for Gosling’s Oscar hopes? Probably not much, since the general consensus is that Forest Whitaker (as Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland”) has a lock on the statue. But in forthcoming years, should Gosling continue his upward career trajectory and garner more nominations, he might want to be careful. The Academy has more than 6,000 members, and a decent percentage of them are men with egos to protect. Go to for more of Vanity Fair’s Oscar coverage, plus updates from its .