Full disclaimer: this story has nothing, or at least very little to do with Paul Ryan. This is the story of me trying to do research on Paul Ryan, and getting distracted by the fact that the first search that comes up when you google him is “paul ryan shirtless.” Naturally. Not “paul ryan gay” or “paul ryan anal.” Hardly “paul ryan mitt romney.” With this revelation, a fuse went off in my brain, and I finally realized what it is the American public wants most of all. More than a democratic republic, more than an electoral college in full working order, more than a measured system of checks and balances. We want to see straight men with their shirts off. Especially if those straight men are from buttfuck Wisconsin, and even more especially if they have the potential to run congress.
What I’m saying is nothing new. We’ve all seen Magic Mike here, and read the thousands of analytic articles written in hopes of exposing its mysterious appeal, all of which tend to overlook the plain fact that seeing straight men with their shirts off is just about as close as Americans, with our failing economy, healthcare chicanery, and pathetic foreign policy, can come to heaven. So obviously, when Mitt Romney made the decision to take Paul Ryan on, he wasn’t being practical or circumspect as we all might think–he was being SEO conscious. “Who among these men might anyone want to picture with his shirt off?” He might have said. “Tim Pawlenty? No, too squirrelly. Rob Portman? No–he’s had too much work done, he looks like Annette Benning. But Ryan…”
And so a new chapter of history begins, as most new chapters of history tend to do, beneath the guidance of one implicit, unwritten rule.
A vice-presidential candidate needs to have sex appeal. I don’t know who made this rule, or when it came about–I just know that it’s patently true. Al Gore certainly had a lot going against him during decision 2000, what with the illegal rigging of dimpled chads against his favor and all, but one could make the case that his true Achilles’ heel lay in not knowing when to appoint a saucy young thing as running mate over a jowly geriatric. Clinton, on the other hand, had Gore. McCain had the right idea with Palin–in fact it was Palin’s relative attractiveness that made her a dangerous player for awhile, before we all realized that her true destiny was to be played in an HBO movie by Julianne Moore. She was owed no more and no less from the American public than to be accepted, for a brief two hours, as being one and the same as Julianne Moore. This is a better fate than most. For instance, who will play Ryan in the HBO–or perhaps Lifetime–original film of the election? (Bonus challenge: what will it be called?) Paul Walker, with his backwoods charm? Bradley Cooper, with his rapist’s air? The guy who played Ben on Queer as Folk? Matt Damon, who’s destined to play everyone and anyone since, for some reason, no one is sick of his ubiquitous face yet? At any rate, Damon has the widow’s peak on lock.
Since Google seems to be dictating most things these days, it may well give us the answer to this conundrum as well. For not far below the “paul ryan shirtless” search you’ll find the words “paul ryan gosling” quietly imposing themselves, threatening to creep up and take the top spot by force.