We'd give him an Oscar — but would we give him our delicate maidenhoods?
Everyone seems to agree that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a great actor. But in this week's Premium Rush — and on the covers of the classier men's magazines seemingly every month — he seems to be vying for the role of thinking person's sex symbol. Has the kid with Hanson hair from 3rd Rock from the Sun successfully made the jump from squeaky-clean to sexy? After running a number of complicated algorithms through the Nerve Super-Computer and spending a weekend sifting through Fuck Yeah Joseph Gordon-Levitt Tumblrs, I think I've answered the question.
1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn't "nerdy-sexy…"
The internet keeps trying to convince me that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a "nerdy-sexy vibe." This "nerdy-sexy" concept has always been strange to me. Every woman I know thinks intelligence is sexy, so, since this isn't a 1950s beach party, can we officially drop the extra qualifier of "nerdy?" Besides, a skinny tie and pair of glasses do not a nerd make. Just because JGL looks like he knows how to read doesn't mean he's a nerd and doesn't make him sexy. (Although conversely, it's true that illiteracy is not sexy. Stay in school, kids!) Bottom line, if you're not getting swirlies, you're not a nerd.
2. …because he seems pretty cool.
Besides being a great actor, Gor-Lev runs hitRECord.org, an online production company that shares its profits with contributing artists. HitRECord frequently holds variety shows in which the actor puts his own musical chops to the test. Granted, he's not much of a musician, but his song selections are choice — he's performed everything from Nirvana's "Lithium" to a Jacques Brel song in its original French. And his technical shakiness almost works in his favor. He's cool in the same way that the skater from your neighborhood who could only play The Ramones and one Yeah Yeah Yeahs song was cool: they're not trying to prove anything. Sure, they could get better, but they're working on other things right now. ("Like getting signed and going pro, you know?")
3. He's probably going to age really well…
You have to respect a guy who went from looking like a miniature Paula Poundstone to Heath Ledger's distant cousin. And I'm predicting that we haven't seen the best yet — JGL strikes me as a future Hot Dad. During some play date at a carnival, his daughter's best friend is going to want to sit next to him on the Ferris wheel for reasons unbeknownst to herself, and will be confused by her squishy feelings after they inadvertently touch knees, until he starts popping up in her dreams during college, causing her to drunkenly write some lurid emails to him that never get sent but instead are published in her school's erotica zine under the title "Ferris Feel." Hot Dads. It's a thing.
4. …but he still looks so boyish.
While Joseph Gordon-Levitt's big, goofy grin and resulting dimples are utterly endearing, they still make me think of the darling orphan from Angels in the Outfield. Even when I came across this S&M-influenced GQ spread, I thought, "How are the Angels going to win the pennant if you're busy tying up Claudia Schiffer?" It was unfortunate that the Inception cast included Tom Hardy, because every time the two were on screen together, I daydreamed about how Tom Hardy could probably kick JGL in the head, and how hot that would be. And then I realized I was daydreaming in a movie about dreaming and that I just got incepted. So anyway, he's cute, but cute is not going to cut it. Cute just leaves you getting kicked in the head.
5. He looks great in a suit…
A man in a suit is the sexiest thing in the world. Just ask any of the first-year analysts who cluster together in your neighborhood bar: even if they're wearing something their mom bought them from a Men's Wearhouse clearance sale, they'll still end up with new lady-numbers in their BlackBerrys. And JGL blows these style rookies out of the water. It's not like he just read Esquire once and then decided to buy a cashmere blazer; homeboy is a sharp dresser.
6. …and I'd prefer it if he left that suit on.
JGL's long, lean, and mysteriously hairless body evokes a boy with a beat-up copy of Portrait of the Artist in hand and a feminist pin on his messenger bag, like you'd meet on the quad at Sarah Lawrence. Seeing him shirtless is like seeing your little brother shirtless, in the sense that there's not a whole lot to see. And hey, for some people, that works! A close lady friend of mine has an intense attraction to sinewy men (including Sharon Needles, from RuPaul's Drag Race) so she probably loves JGL. But for my part, I can't help but think that if you threw him into a pair of cargo pants and a Camp Baco t-shirt, he'd make the perfect To Catch a Predator decoy.
NEXT: "I'd love to spend a night with JGL…"
7. He's completely safe…
If I had to walk down a dark alley opposite one male celebrity, it would Chris Kattan, but JGL would be a close second. He just seems like such a good guy — someone my dad would call "bud" or "a real straight-shooter." He's like the long-term male best friend I'd spontaneously kiss one rainy night and then think, "Yes, of course! This makes sense! It was always this, wasn't it?" He would text me the next day. He would plan really thoughtful dates. He would say "I love you" first, and cry during The Iron Giant.
8. …completely safe.
In our hypothetical relationship, I wouldn't fight with Gor-Lev, because I wouldn't have enough passion to. We would spend our nights watching Iron Chef and sharing soup, and there would always be something missing. Eventually, I would break up with him, and he'd probably look at me all doe-eyed and immediately forgive me. He would make a really great Spotify playlist to help him "process." We'd stay in touch. I'd like his new girlfriend. After a while, we would barely remember that we even dated.
9. I would love to sleep with him…
I bet Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an amazing kisser. I bet he kisses in such a way that you feel it down in your spine. His snuggle game is surely on-point, and you know he has nice sheets. I'd love to spend a night with JGL: get wine-drunk, listen to yé-yé records from the '60s, pull off his bow tie, maybe let him get to second base, and then curl up beside him and fall asleep. The next morning would probably be equally blissful, involving a home-cooked breakfast and a bad movie or two. Then, when anybody would ask if I had sex with him, I would roll my eyes and tell them that it wasn't like that, that what we had was something special, that Joey was different.
10. …but literally, just sleep, because I can't imagine being penetrated by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
That's it; when it comes to JGL, I would be perfectly content with a PG-13 rated love affair. The desire I feel for him and his freckles and his impish features is entirely naïve. I don't lust after him. I can't imagine what his penis looks like, even when I really try. (Here, I'll try again right now. Nope, nothing.) He's a riveting young actor, absolutely dreamy and adorable, but is he sexy? Not in my rom-com. But who knows? Maybe one day JGL will have me fanning myself like an old woman feeling the spirit in church. Just remember what Angels in the Outfield taught you, Joseph — Ya Gotta Believe!