For more than three decades, People magazine has published its annual "Sexiest Man Alive" issue, kicking it all off with actor Mel Gibson in 1985. Since then, many of Hollywood's leading men have graced the cover — Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, etc. — but this year, it was country star (and The Voice judge) Blake Shelton who took the title. Shelton himself poked fun at the decision, and told People that his initial reaction was, "Y’all must be running out of people," but on social media, many were left thoroughly unimpressed. People are pissed that Blake Shelton was named Sexiest Man Alive, and while some of the criticism is unfair (sexiness is totally subjective after all), much of it focused on the fact that, this year, the title historically bestowed upon white men should have instead gone to any of the totally-worthy men of color currently making people swoon.
To be fair, there has likely never been a year in Sexiest Man Alive history when everyone has agreed that there wasn't someone else more deserving of the top spot, but the backlash against Shelton goes beyond people simply thinking that the singer isn't attractive enough. For many, Shelton not only represents the unfair advantage white male celebrities are given over men of color, but also some seriously questionable values that really shouldn't be brushed aside.
As entertaining as it may be to follow People's list of sexy men, many people think the magazine skews towards a white, heterosexual, female audience. In 32 years of covers, only two non-white men were ever named Sexiest Man Alive (Dwayne Johnson and Denzel Washington, according to Fast Company), while celebrated Hollywood white guys Richard Gere, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney have actually been given the title on more than one occasion. This is despite the fact that there are, of course, plenty of attractive men in the world who aren't Gere, Pitt or Clooney — and more importantly, plenty of attractive men who aren't white.
Take, for example, Idris Elba, whom the internet seems to unanimously agree is the most attractive human male to walk the earth. He's talented, good-looking, and I think we can all agree he'd made a totally badass James Bond.
But Elba is definitely not alone. As the New York Daily News pointed out, there are lots of other worthy non-white candidates, like Michael B. Jordan, Sendhil Ramamurthy, John Cho, Mahershala Ali, or John Legend to name just a very preliminary few. And naturally, Twitter users also had a few suggestions of their own:
All in all, many people felt Shelton was a totally disappointing choice, in what has really been a year of totally disappointing choices:
And, well, it was pretty obvious that people weren't even sort of feeling it:
But in addition to the "but there are so many hotter men of color" argument, there's also the fact that, in 2016, Shelton publicly apologized after a number of his homophobic, sexist, and racist tweets made headlines. One example? In 2008, Shelton reportedly wrote, "Grown men who wear Chuck Taylor's may as well write on their foreheads 'Cucumbers turn me on!!!'" according to CNN, while one in 2011 read, "Wish the d*ckhead in the next room would either shut up or learn some English so I would at least know what he's planning to bomb."
Shelton later said that his humor could "at times be inappropriate and immature," but that he never intended to be "hateful." Yet that didn't mean a whole lot to some on social media, who argued that the tweets alone should have put him out of the running for the People magazine honor:
Either way, Twitter definitely doesn't seem to be a fan of Blake Shelton as Sexiest Man Alive, and they've made it abundantly clear. But hopefully the backlash will at least be an important reminder to People magazine that, next year, it might be a good idea to pay attention to who people actually find sexy before they make a decision on 2018's winner.