Gawker points us to a New York Times showcase of some iconic Esquire covers by George Lois.
One especially intrigues me:


While I obviously agree that women are subject to more rigorous beauty standards than men, the overdetermination of this oppression (as evidenced by every episode of Tyra ever) has left the importance of male beauty relatively unexamined. The photo above refers to the Kennedy/Nixon televised debates that tipped in the democrats favor thanks to (what else?) JFK’s sex-appeal. One (of admittedly many) important distinctions between Kennedy and Nixon was Kennedy’s charismatic ability to stand as a symbolic leader- an image around which “the people” can invest faith, devotion and feelings of love. The fact that Kennedy was so successful a symbolic leader and a bona-fide sex bomb are certainly connected and the aforementioned “love” many American invested in him can be perhaps analogized with a kind of teen idol mentality.

Is it at all surprising that teenyboppers often organize (fabulous, subversive) political campaigns in the name of their idols? Starting with an Elvis for President campaign in the 50s, most “upper-tier” idols get this kind of absurdest political support.


Che Guevara once said “the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love.”
He is quite right. This, I propose, is why Guevara’s image is so pervasively circulated. The guy is dreamy!


And I’m not speaking about women alone. In fact, I think the sexualization of certain cultural and sometimes political figures plays on men’s homoerotic fixations, though many are loathe to admit it. Who is it, after all, pasting Che posters on their college dorm room walls? Young men slobber over Guevara’s smoldering stare far more than young women, I assure you.

The current argument that Obama appeals to women because he’s hot is kind of true (and not an illegitimate reason to select a leader given Kennedy’s example), but I think Obama has just as much sex-appeal to moon-eyed men. Beauty is seductive in both men and women and to both men and women.

The teenybopper is the ideal revolutionary. We may believe in ideologies but the power to fight and die for those ideologies is best mobilized by love. Guevara, at least, understood this and his legacy continues to inspire thanks to a stellar pin-up.

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