There are some cultural conversations that we are doomed to have over and over again. Child stars usually live pretty messed up lives. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all probably evil. The film industry probably hates women and people of color. Nothing here is news.
There was a moment in which the end of the press campaign for Netflix’s Marriage Story intersected with the beginning of the campaign for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which meant we were seeing SOOOO much Adam Driver. (I feel like that happens about once a year, but I guess that’s just gonna happen now that Disney has Star Wars movies coming out of its damn ears.) And during that moment, we stated the obvious: that Adam Driver is HOT.
If you knew, you knew. But if you didn’t, you were incredibly confused. I, personally, get it. So I’ll attempt to explain.
Here’s my hypothesis: Straight women love Adam Driver because he looks like most of our boyfriends.
Well, not EXACTLY like most of our boyfriends. Our boyfriends might not be tall and broad-shouldered, with prominent noses and long dark hair. They might not be ex-Marines from rural Indiana, though they might wear the flattering dark-colored sweaters that resemble his. But he’s more like our boyfriends than every other male sex symbol of the 2010s. (And 2020s? Wow. Yikes. Still getting used to that.)
For example, noted sensitive bois Harry Styles and Timothee Chalamet are incredibly well-dressed. Their hair is dark and luscious and their male frames are long but petite. They both have an unusually mature and worldly sense of a less fragile masculinity. (Tim first gained notoriety for playing a gay character and doesn’t work hard to overcompensate for this, and Harry Styles sings and comments on his roughly-defined queerness.)
We (and by “we,” I mean upper-middle-class, pop culturally aware, straight-passing women, I suppose) admire these qualities in men, for sure. But it’s hard to date men when we are explicitly looking for these traits and will not compromise without them. We love these men, but there are few of them.
There are far more men who mean to us what Adam Driver means to us.
To those who don’t understand, Adam Driver might look incredibly average and unremarkable. A Blermp of sorts. But if you get it, you see that his lumberjack frame provides strength and stability without a cocky over-sureness. That he grew a beard, but not because he wanted to prove his manhood. He’s a good husband and father. He doesn’t smile on the red carpet. He keeps his life private. He seems humble and normal.
Adam Driver represents non-toxic masculinity. It looks more like traditional masculinity than our Chalamets and Styleses, but without the tendencies toward violence and a superiority complex. This is the non-toxic masculinity of our real-life sweet hetero boyfriends, with their XBox marathons and baseball caps and playlists including at least one Cage the Elephant song.
While you meditate on your ideal sweet hetero boyfriend (or your real sweet hetero boyfriend), I will leave you with this SNL sketch that is maybe his best role ever, and this lovely ode to Adam D by the band Sipper. Each has haunted me since the day I discovered it.