Friday, June 11, 2010

"Girls are crazy-- but I love them." -Justin Bieber

If you have been following this project since the beginning, you are probably aware of the fact that one of the original stipulations of this endeavor was that I would hang up any/all magazine photos of Seventeen-approved "hot guys" in my living environment. I haven't paid much mind to this rule on the blog, but I assure you that for the past few weeks I have been living among strangers-- strangers with follicles that swoop, abs that ripple, and eyes like deep pools of money. I, er, meant eyes like deep pools of water. Veritable lakes of teenage seduction.

This month's issue of Seventeen includes a "Free Hot Guy Mag" entitled "Seventeen's Hot Guys of Summer!" This mag-within-a-mag takes the format of dishy interviews in which the guys profiled allegedly share their relationship secrets. Most of these secrets are very guy-centric. The hotties are repetitively asked about their go-to moves, their relationship habits, and their theories on romance. When Taylor Lautner is asked to describe his ideal girlfriend, three out of the four traits end up being things that glorify him, and the odd fourth is one that makes the girl in question look bad. He says, "There are a few things that are important to me in a girl. Honesty, loyalty, the ability to make fun of herself, and the ability to laugh a lot." Obviously these things are important in a relationship, but the fact that the most important things to in his ideal partner include not lying to him, not leaving him, and laughing at his jokes seems to indicate where Seventeen believe women belong in relationships.

I also found it interesting that this piece relies so heavily on the use of the term guy. Upon researching the word, I noticed that many sources were conflicted regarding who you could call a guy. Sometimes the term referred to a man. Other times it referred to a boy. Still other times, its plural form was used to address a group of people of both genders. Seventeen seemed aware of this confusion in choosing the moniker. The age range of the guys in the Hot Guy Mag was fairly wide, especially for a teen magazine. I found it especially bizarre that only two of the guys, Justin Bieber and Nick Jonas, were even in the age range for reading the magazine, ages 12 to 19. What I found weirder, though, is that the largest groups of males featured in the article fell into the two oldest age ranges. This means its possible that the oldest male hottie, Charlie Bewley, could have fathered the youngest targeted Seventeen reader, age 12, when he was 17 years old. This isn't common, but it's certainly not unheard of. I definitely think that the age range skews a little high.
I also sorted the fellows out by occupation. The majority of the guys featured were actors of some sort. A measly two were involved with music. Zero were involved with an occupation outside performance. I know that marketable teen heartthrobs aren't frequently discovered at poetry slams or gallery openings, but its an interesting thing to note.
This last one is just for fun. Must be super weird for devoted Seventeen readers when they finally follows all the tips, achieve the perfect tan and "healthy" sun-kissed glow, and then realizes that the ultimate Hot Guy of Summer is just a sexed-up, long-haired version a of pale, nocturnal Xbox gamer . I'm not saying that pale guys can't be handsome, but the juxtaposition of the two is certainly funny.
Also absent from the Hot Guy Mag is even a slight acknowledgment that some girls might not be attracted to some of these guys, or might not be attracted to guys at all. This article is yet another example of how Seventeen sells teenagers a one size fits all approach to the taste, fashion, and sexuality.

Feel free to email me if you have interest in the raw data these charts came from.