Slightly Above Average Guys

How do men rate their “attractiveness,” on a scale of 1-10, after nearly two years of COVID-related curtailments on activity? According to a recent survey of men in the U.S. and the U.K., guys see themselves as similar to the children of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon: slightly above average. Specifically, the survey indicates that men rate themselves, on average, as coming in at a solid 5.9 on the 10-point attractiveness scale.

According to the survey, though, only 41.0 percent of men are “happy” with the way they look. That percentage is even lower for guys in younger age groups, where they still harbor visions of committing to serious workout regimens and getting buffed up so that they look like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III. Apparently the younger dudes feel pressure to have the “superhero stereotype” bodies exemplified by male members of the Avengers. Older fellows, who have long since thrown in the towel about their abs, tend to be a bit easier on themselves. Years of experience have taught them the virtues of personal acceptance and that if they are going to worry about body parts, they should be thinking instead along the lines of whether they are going to need knee surgery or a hip replacement.

The survey also reveals that 40 percent of men report that they experience “body insecurity” issues when they look in a mirror, and that men also think they aren’t tall enough and weigh too much. And the self-perception of male attractiveness seems to be directly correlated with weight, with heavier guys feeling less attractive than the skinny set.

There seems to be an obvious issue lurking in these survey results: if most men feel too short and too fat and hate looking at themselves in the mirror, how in the world do they get to rating themselves at an above average 5.9 on the 10-point attractiveness scale? There might be a few narcissistic dudes who wrecked the curve, of course, but I’m guessing that, when it comes to the ultimate attractiveness issue, men aren’t comparing themselves to superheroes, but just gauging themselves against the other shrimpy, tubby guys out there. In short, there’s safety and security in numbers.

Avengers Assemble!

Last night Kish and I decided to go see The Avengers.  She hated it, I loved it.  And, based on the reaction of the packed theater that watched the movie with us, I’d say the majority shared my reaction.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  Movies about superheroes probably aren’t going to be intellectually challenging.  You’re not going to see emotionally charged back stories, or deeply moving interpersonal interactions.  Instead, you’re expecting to see an evil, detestable bad guy who wants to take over the world, or at least a significant part of it, titanic clashes between super-powered beings, and lots of computer-generated special effects.  If you’re lucky, all of these standard elements will be well done, and perhaps a dash of legitimate humor and interesting twists will be added to the mix.  That’s what separates the likes of The Dark Knight from, say, The Green Lantern.

The Avengers meets that test.  The plot could be borrowed from just about any superhero potboiler.  A would-be god (Thor’s half-brother Loki) appears on Earth to tap the power of an energy cube and use it to open a portal so that his army of misshapen creatures can invade and subjugate the world.  A group of special beings — Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, the Black Widow, and Hawkeye — are recruited by Nick Fury, the head of a secret organization, to save the world.  At first they balk at the task and fight among themselves, then they learn to work as a team and kick some Norse god and alien butt.

Of course, the plot sounds silly, and it is.  But along the way there are some great fights between Iron Man and Thor, Thor and the Hulk, and the Black Widow and Hawkeye, some excellent stunts and special effects, and some absolute laugh-out-loud moments that had our theater rocking.  The Hulk in particular was awesome, and Loki was an interesting and enjoyable twist on the typical villain.

Buildings get pulverized, grateful innocents are rescued from peril, the impossible gets done, and the world gets saved.  What more do you want?