Since December 2008, Tumblr blog Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling has been pairing images of Gosling with various hetero-fantasy-courtship/hetero-fantasy-boyfriend slogans, each beginning with the hail “Hey Girl.”
“Hey Girl, I was just thinking about how awesome you are.”
“Hey Girl, I heard you like beards so I grew this one last night.”
“Hey Girl, I hope you’re not wearing socks tonight . . . Cause I’m gonna knock them right off!”
The blog went viral, but its notoriety peaked when, in December 2010, Gosling, in the midst of promoting Blue Valentine, acknowledged the Hey Girl meme on MTV and bashfully read a few selections aloud. Yet another surge occurred in July 2011, when Gosling appeared on MTV to talk Crazy, Stupid, Love and gamely indulged a second Hey Girl reading.
Gosling memes have since flooded Tumblr. Is Ryan Gosling Cuter than a Puppy? pits the star against like-postured dogs. Ryan Gosling Disneyland Cats mashes Gosling and cats into Disney backdrops. By far the most popular and critically complex Hey Girl derivative, however, is Danielle Henderson’s Feminist Ryan Gosling: “Feminist theory flashcards from your favourite sensitive movie dude-turned-meme.”
Henderson, a gender studies grad student at the University of Wisconsin, launched the blog in October 2011. It was meant to serve as a comedic study tool for her and her classmates. But within 24 hours of Henderson posting her first flashcard . . .
“Hey Girl,” says feminist Ryan Gosling. “When I think about Margot Canaday’s research pointing to the US history of subjugating queerness through oppression in the form of immigration, welfare and the military, it makes me so mad I want to eat my shirt with you.”
Jezebel.com had already sourced the blog, and another viral phenomenon was born. By November, the site had amassed more than 20,000 followers, had more than 2.2 million hits, and received kudos from media heavyweights across the board, including Newsweek, Time, Ms Magazine and CBS News to name a few.
Let’s back up a minute. There is a mass fixation, a collective cultural crush on Gosling, from memes to think pieces, in The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic and GQ. The phenomenon transcends straight and queer. Why? Well, his public body certainly lends itself to romanticism, given its deviation from typical Hollywood hetero-masculinity.
Take, for instance, his response to the Blue Valentine rating scuffle. When the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) slammed the flick with an NC-17 rating because of a scene in which Gosling gives head to costar Michelle Williams, Gosling called the double standard.
“You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen,” he’s quoted on blackbookmag.com. “The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”
Of course, there are countless other white-knight inciting incidents. He studied ballet as a child and continues to practise whenever he has free time. He isn’t afraid of bromance or red-carpet boy-boy smooch sessions. See for example, his relationship with director Nicolas Winding Refn. He is not afraid to break up a fight on the streets of New York City. See YouTube.
“I think like a girl, I think,” he told Australia’s Adelaide Now. “I was literally raised by my mother and my sister. And I just feel like I wouldn’t know how to think any other way. My sister was my best friend and my hero growing up.”
Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling exploits this romanticism, this white-knight story.
Feminist Ryan Gosling is a Fuck Yeah! parody, for sure, but more than that, it critically challenges the white-knight narrative and the very romanticism that’s generated the Gosling mythology. Simultaneously, Feminist Ryan Gosling draws radical attention to the whack of privilege – straight, white, male, moneyed, intelligent, attractive, able-bodied, well-spoken – that allows Gosling’s body to circulate at all.
In the words of Feminist Ryan Gosling, “Hey Girl. Audre Lorde says we can’t use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house, but I say we blast some Sabbath and find out.”