I wonder if it’s possible to derive equal enjoyment from the ‘hey girl’ meme if one does not find Ryan Gosling stunningly attractive. As Emma Stone’s character laments at the sight of his undraped torso in a surprisingly endearing scene in ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ (and yes, I am secure enough in my feminism to admit watching that film): “It’s like you’re photo-shopped or something!” The far less idealized character portrait that he presents in ‘Blue Valentine‘ is much more my style.
The general sensitivity of Gosling’s characters was one day in the genesis of the ‘Hey Girl’ meme, which you can check out here or better yet, here, in case you live under a rock. Pairing a distracting pout and sad-puppy eyes with a complete non-sequitur (even an educational & empowering non sequitur, sometimes!) has kept many a Tumblr a-churning. By far, one of their best assets is the fact that almost none of these little maelstroms of creativity contain the dreaded Hattenschweiler or Impact fonts, both of which drive me absolutely batty. If I wanted slightly deranged cats to shout at me and use too much punctuation, I would…oh, wait, I don’t want to be shouted at by cats, or dogs or any other small domesticated animals. Especially not when the shouted is accompanied by intentionally bad spelling and way too much punctuation.
Next up for reasons to love this meme is the giant joke that it makes of celebrity cults e.g. that which has grown up around Gosling. When a picture can be made to say whatever you want it to say, you can no longer take pictures of that sort seriously anymore. The pouting photo shoots, the fashion rag covers, the ‘Oh, this old thing? I just threw it on!’ hipster-tastic moments: because this meme doesn’t discriminate on photos, it becomes a great equalizer of sorts. The arbitrary choices of individuals that find themselves in a tizzy over a tanned, stubbled young white dude with a nasal voice are shown for what they really are: arbitrary choices. They are both fickle (based on good looks) and infinitely variable (a photo can be given any caption). It’s western celebrity-obsession in a nutshell.
So though this meme may be a vehicle for continuing celebrity obsession, I think that it actually does more to undermine it. Look at that! Love it when culture subverts itself, especially by making use of America’s Favorite Sensitive Movie Dude.