Oh, cursed beauty. If there’s anything worse than people who chirrup merrily about how pretty they are – like Maria in West Side Story, say – it’s people who complain about their hyper-attractiveness and its consequences.
That’s what the Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington did this week. But, tremendously for everyone, he did it in such spectacular fashion that he’s essentially conquered that particular genre of moan. Henceforth, such griping will be known as “doing a Harington” or “having a Kit”.
We’ll come on to what he said in a minute. First, here’s who he is. Despite frequently wearing an expression that suggests he’s just remembered he’s left the iron on, he’s becoming increasingly renowned as an actor – most notably in the role of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. (I’m still laughing at the fact the character is called Jon Snow, something that’s only funny if you’re British and of a certain age.) He’s evidently very good at what he does, and I have no doubt he’s a man of many virtues. So I write the following in the knowledge that I know who he is but he doesn’t know who I am, and therefore, ultimately, he wins.
We’ll take it stanza by stanza. “To always be put on a pedestal as a hunk is slightly demeaning,” says the Jimmy Choo model. Now, to be put on a pedestal against one’s will – I mean, I don’t know what that would look like (harnesses? Cranes?), but I can’t imagine it’d be fun. The trouble is that Mr H appears to have sought out a pedestal, engraved on it the word “hunk” in big gold letters, fashioned some steps and clambered right up there, entirely of his own volition. And then stood there while people gave him lots of money.
“It really is [demeaning],” he continues, as if taken aback by the reader’s arched eyebrows. “And it’s the same way as it is for women.” No, Kit. It’s not the same way at all, really, is it? The demeaning of women in such situations typically operates in a cultural context in which men hold the power. It’s hard to look at Kit Harington – sculpted torso, meaty shoulders and all – and see him in any way as physically powerless. The objectified man is customarily physically strong, the objectified woman physically weak. It’s a pity he feels demeaned, but he’s hardly being treated in the same way as the women in the Blurred Lines video, is he?
Then, Kit gladly steps away from the dicey topic of gender, and we get this: “It can sometimes feel like your art is being put to one side for your sex appeal. And I don’t like that.” Overlooking for a moment my usual phobia of anyone who describes their job as their “art”, Kit seems charmingly unaware of the part his sex appeal may have played in his getting that job in the first place. Of course, it’s not his fault he’s naturally conventionally attractive; but if I were, say, a naturally marvellous dancer, but didn’t want to be known as a dancer, then I probably wouldn’t do loads of dancing in front of people.
Yes, I probably am jealous. After all, I’ll never know what it’s like to be him. But I once found myself dating a former TV celebrity who was conventionally attractive and did modelling and so forth, and needed no convincing of her allure. She was unwittingly hilarious, once proclaiming unironically: “I have English rose good looks, Parisian style and New York attitude!” I found such self-appreciation somewhat unbecoming, and we were together for but a month. Yet, looking back, at least she was grateful for the hand her genes had dealt her. Kit, by contrast, comes across like those who complain about the burden of having too much money or too many houses.
The only people who have ever got this sort of thing right are Right Said Fred. Kit may be too sexy for his shirt, but if he’s serious about this “art” stuff, he may want to consider keeping it on a bit more.