Handsome

I was going to bitch about doorknob etiquette tonight, but then I got into a Twitter debate about whether or not Daniel Craig is handsome, and now I want to write about that instead.

There are a handful of different terms we use to describe beauty, and I maintain that each of these terms mean objectively different things: handsome, gorgeous, beautiful, pretty, cute, attractive, hot, sexy. When it comes to “handsome” specifically, it means a certain type of face that conforms to objective standards. The standards might vary slightly from culture to culture or era to era, but they’re typically pretty similar. Currently for men it’s symmetrical facial features, a rectangular face with a square jawline, defined cheekbones, evenly set eyes, an aristocratic nose, full lips, straight white teeth, a cleft chin, ears close to the head, clear smooth skin, thick shiny hair. A woman who has features that fit these criteria is described as a “handsome woman.”

That’s not this man. This man has a round face, a long upper lip, a protruding under lip, a furrow between his eyebrows, hooded eyes with bags, a bulb nose, jug ears, and a receding hairline. Now, look, I am not saying there’s anything wrong with that. Daniel Craig is attractive, and obviously many people are attracted to him. Many find him hot. But by objective standards, he isn’t handsome.

On the other hand, a previous Bond is pretty much the textbook definition of handsome — blandly so.

Other than that his eyes are a bit small, this checks most boxes. I do not know many women who actually find Brosnan attractive (I do not find him attractive) purely because he is so boringly textbook handsome.

All these other terms mean certain things, too — like take the handsome template but tweak it with cheek dimples, a snub nose, and sparkly eyes and you have “cute” (your James Marsdens, your Chris Pratts). Enhance the cheekbones and do a thinner, longer nose, and a curvier mouth, and you have “pretty” (Jared Leto, Tom Hiddleston).

None of this would matter, except that Daniel Craig plays James Bond, a character I do not care about at all, but that has a fanbase of men who lose their shit whenever any actor is cast in the role that does not perfectly fit their mental idea of him. And I don’t know if this is true to the novels, but the general cultural idea we have of Bond is that he is classically handsome.

But Craig isn’t handsome, and yet no one has ever expressed any surprise at this casting choice. I’m not arguing that people shouldn’t find him sexy or attractive or hot (although I don’t personally), and I’m not even saying he shouldn’t be playing Bond. It’s just weird that nobody ever says anything like, “he’s actually kind of ugly, but he still makes it work.” Rather, everyone acts as if he’s objectively classically handsome and he’s not and I find it a little bit weird, that’s all.

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