By now you are probably well aware that People magazine has named Blake Shelton, the 41-year-old country singer, boyfriend of Gwen Stefani and host of The Voice, 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive. You are also probably aware that many are shocked and outraged by this decision. This is because where People’s previous selections have included impossibly beautiful men like Chris Hemsworth (2014) and impossibly chiselled men like Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson (2016), Blake Shelton is, how should I put this — impossibly average. He isn’t not handsome. (From at least one angle, he’s actually kind of cute.) But he isn’t remotely studly either. Put another way, he looks like he walked straight out of central casting for the second-rate boyfriend on a Shonda Rhimes TV show: the guy who doesn’t give the leading lady butterflies, but instead gives her a ride home and wishes her well, after she breaks up with him in order to pursue the man who really knocks her socks off.
As writer Dana Schwartz put it on Twitter, Blake Shelton is not the sexiest man alive. He is “at best, the sexiest divorced dad at this barbeque.”
And yet, People magazine’s announcement and the resulting backlash to it has filled me with a burning desire. Not to bed the country singer, but to stick up for him. I’m not a fan of Shelton’s music, and I don’t watch The Voice, but he seems like a nice enough guy and, right now, frankly, I think we could all use one of those. Beyond this though, the objections to his new title are beginning to transition from funny to just plain mean. In the words of another Twitter user, one who admires Shelton’s blue eyes and thinks he is “cute,” “Y’all act like he looks like Sloth from The Goonies.”
Blake Shelton is People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2017
Article Continued Below
Come on guys. He’s not that bad.
And the truth is, a lot of women appear to genuinely want to have sex with him because though he may lack the rock-hard physique of Dwayne Johnson and the glorious bone structure of Chris Hemsworth, he has, as his official fan website notes, a “charismatic grin.” It turns out that a lot of women — thousands of them — are in fact thrilled about People magazine’s decision. So why the resounding Blake hate?
I am going to go out on a very long limb here and suggest that many of the people expressing disbelief on social media at Shelton’s being selected Sexiest Man Alive are the same people who could not have foreseen a reality in which Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton for president of the United States. They are the same people who insist nobody actually likes Nickelback even though they are one of the bestselling bands in history. They are the same people who balk at the notion that Blake Shelton is sexy, yet become weak in the knees every time they see a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch. Which is to say, they are my people: Liberals. And they need to get out more.
They need to go into the heart of Shelton country and get in touch with the common man and woman, whose libido functions differently than their own. They need to sit down for a glass of lemonade with a man or woman for whom Blake Shelton in a denim button-down shirt is eons more erotic than Benedict Cumberbatch reading naked in bed. They need to do this so that they can prepare themselves for next year.
People magazine has no doubt noticed the enormous flood of traffic Blake-hate has brought to the publication’s website. Anybody indignant about 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive selection will, I predict, have to contend with even more controversial choices in 2018 and beyond, because clearly this is a winning model for the magazine. Next year, my money’s on Chuck Norris.
Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.