Denzel Washington still makes black women swoon. He is still exalted as our black-sexy-chocolate-bed-me savior. Um, Denzel Washington is 53 years old -– which brings me to the point of this post. We are so longing to have our superstar sex symbol actors like whites have their superstar sex symbol actors that we are still exalting Denzel to sex symbol status -- even at age 53.
Of course Denzel Washington is a very handsome man. Sexy, too. But his time has passed. Actually, for the first time, in his 2006 film, Déjà Vu, the signs of aging were evident to me. He is supposed to look the way he does because he is beyond his youth. He is a middle-aged man, for Godssakes.
Women still want to have sex with him as if he were a youth of 20. Teenagers probably hang his posters in their bedrooms.
It was like that with Billy Dee Williams. We kept hanging on to him as our sexyhottiehunk, way past his prime.
So Denzel Washington presents as another case of the eternal sex symbol. There is nothing wrong with this; nothing at all. However, the continuous acknowledgement of the sex appeal of our aging sex symbol brings to light that which is unmistakably absent.
Aging white male sex symbols are merely viewed as handsome and sexy for their age. I doubt that 17 year-old white teens have 46 year-old George Clooney on their walls. 25 year-old white women don’t want George Clooney. Why would they? There are dozens of hot, handsome white male superstar actors in their 20s and 30s to choose from.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Orlando Bloom, Jude Law, Jared Leto, Shia LaBeouf, blah blah blah.
George Clooney is certainly not presented by white media in the way Denzel Washington is presented by black media.
This kind of sex symbol status (and staying power) does not happen to everyone. I think Denzel Washington is a sex symbol, in part, because:
- He’s tall –- at 6 feet.
- He is strikingly handsome -– and not of the cutesy or pretty boy variety.
- He is completely masculine with absolutely nothing effeminate in his manner, voice, style of dress, etc.
- He seems to be “nice” and is thought to be a family man.
- Scandals don’t surround him (oh there’s the occasional chatter that he has cheated on wifey) but I don’t think any of this stuff has ever stuck.
- During interviews, he comes across as intelligent, personable and grounde.
- He maintains a certain maturity –- even when he was in his 30s.
- He is a very talented actor -- an Oscar winner, and his work is generally "safe" and doesn’t raise eyebrows.
- He’s respected in the industry.
- The invisible (class, charisma).
So, there’s Denzel. And only Denzel.
I don’t think we have any superstar actors who are young and sexy. At the moment, I can’t think of any. So, we hang onto 50-year-old Denzel. Our actors might be young, they might be sexy but who is young and sexy and qualifies as a superstar? I can’t think of one.
Will Smith? Superstar, yes. I don’t think Will Smith is
marketed as a sex symbol of any kind. And Will Smith is older than 35. Terrence Howard? Not yet. Terrence Howard is over 35 and not a superstar. Not enough starring vehicles. Morris Chestnut? Fairly young but still over 35. No box office strength. He’s not a superstar. You get the point.
(Being over 35 doesn’t disqualify them. I only mention it since they’re on the older side of young.)
Black female teens have to look elsewhere. I suppose that’s why they look to 50 Cent. 50 Cent is a superstar. He is young. He is sexy. And he is rich. And these days, an actor. Producer too, as I understand it.
I’ll be glad when the sexyblackactorsavior-thing dies; because his death will represent the birth of the myriad of black male actors who are recognized superstars -– dudes with talent, class, sex appeal, good looks and charisma -- men who are ineligible for AARP membership.