Going Greek

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used to think Brad Pitt was hot. I never dug the People magazine "Sexiest
Man in America" airbrushed look, the 80s poolboy-Kato-Kaelin haircut,
or even the sado-masochistic-homoerotic gambit of Fight Club — and
certainly not his Fabio-lous turn in Legends of the Fall. My Pitt
lust began late, with the bespoke Brad of Ocean’s Eleven, as he twidded
a toothpick in the elevator with George Clooney, each man approvingly indicating
to the other, with more pheromones than words, exactly how hot the other
was. After watching Brad Pitt in Troy, though, I’m convinced:
the new-and-improved, ripped and buffed 2004 Pitt cruiser is dream-of-dreams
hot; perfection hot; the New David hot; he-can’t-have-abs-and-an-ass-like-that-and-be-41-fucking-years-old
hot. As the half-man, half-deity Achilles — wearing little except
a barely-there loincloth and his rack of golden muscles — he’s not
just Hollywood hot; he’s god hot.


     My wife’s a heretic; like most straight women I know, she thinks he’s a little gross. She not-so-charitably calls the bland Brad-and-Jennifer borg "a shining example of American mediocrity” (and this woman loves American Idol). She calls the whole mountain-man bearded-Brad period “disingenuous.” And now that Pitt’s shaved — and waxed — off way more than just his facial hair, she’s disgusted. For her, it’s simple: "When guys super-develop the muscles in their pubic area and wear low-rise skirts, I draw the line," she explains. "Those muscles skeeze me out — you should not try to have extra muscles down there; it’s just scary."

     I disagree. If you’re going for Greek perfection, you’d better not cut any corners. And if biology gives us strange slithering muscles underneath and around our pubic hair (no, not that one), someone should sculpt them into Boccioni shapes. My friends agree. After watching Troy, my friend Jasmit didn’t go back and read The Iliad, he promised to double his exercise routine; now he’s biking like Lance Armstrong and looking into gym memberships. My brother-in-law played eight hours of basketball this weekend and says he’s added Pitt to his (formerly all-female) list of approved extra-relationship flings. Me? I feel fat. And not in a belly-rubbing “Mmmm, I like beer” way.

     I thought I had it bad — then MTV’s I Want a Famous Face found Mike and Matt, two scrawny, greasy-haired Arizona twins with train-track braces and Freddy Kreuger acne. The show paid for their Pitt-esque

in Hollywood could such a thing as Brad’s ass be built.

nose jobs, chin implants, and dental veneers. Now they look like thinner Dolf Lundgrens, or uglier Val Kilmers. Close enough — the kids are happy: "He had the perfect jaw, chin, cheeks — that was the masculine appearance I was going for," said Mike, in a post-op wrap-up. "I have my own look," said Matt, "but influenced by Brad Pitt" — like he was a sax player reinventing the standards.

    Mike and Matt are morons, but more importantly, they’re misguided. I don’t care about Pitt’s standard movie-star face any more than I care about Troy‘s thousand ships, set sailing in their pixilated perfection over a too-blue Aegean. No, Brad’s body is the thing, the most stunning special effect since The Matrix. A miracle of modern science and Hollywood whiz-bang, painstakingly crafted by a team of personal trainers every bit as genius as Pixar’s programmers. Only in Hollywood, where set designers invented the elaborate fins for the rears of Chevys, could such a thing as Brad’s ass be built.

     In the film, Pitt’s body — which is really more sci-fi than classical — is introduced with all the sexy bravura of Bubba Clinton marching into the Democratic Convention. As thousands of warriors wait anxiously on the battlefield, Pitt is filmed naked, sleeping off an orgy in his love shack back at the encampment. Roused by a lackey, he peels off women like he’s pushing back sheets.

    On the battlefield, Pitt faces his enemy: a gargantuan Ivan Drago monster, bigger than Shaq and artfully scarred in the way of movie nemeses. Pitt, huge but not freakish, hefts his light sword, starts to jog, then sprints at this roaring giant, dodging his spears and moving fast. Pitt fakes left, goes right, flies into the air, spins and whirls, and with a windmill arc, jams his sword into the 7-footer’s neck. Goliath crumples.

     It’s one of the film’s few original moments — a twist on the colonial-confrontation scene of Indiana Jones where a ninja flashes his swords, and Indy guns him down with a pistol. And if the Romans had no phrases to describe Pitt’s devastating attack, we do: Taking it to the hole. Dunking on his ass. Posterizing.

     After his slam-dunk, Pitt even talks smack to the other
team, shouting the trailer-ready taunt, "Is there no one else?" In
this moment, Pitt becomes the filmic equivalent of the new, run-and-gun NBA — America’s
swift, strong Army of One. Big ogres like Shaq are the past; powerful warriors
who can move (Kevin Garnett) are the future.

     This is why I love Pitt. Sure, we had faster monkey-men
in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, and quicker zombies in 28 Days
but this swift, more perfect union of brawn and beauty is different. Film heroes
adapt to their times — gruff cowboys, tough soldiers, private eyes, suave
James Bonds, angry Rambos, superhero hackers, and so on. And in this moment,
the iconic film hero is Pitt. He’s an All-Star like
perfect — a
high-tech hero fighting for, yes, the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. Call him
Air God.

     I think my Pitt lust has something strange to do with sports — and I think it dates back to my square-jawed, hyper-masculine high-school baseball coach Mike Maness. (I’m not making the name up — he must

is the filmic equivalent of the new, run-and-gun NBA — America’s
swift, strong Army of One.

have been tough from birth; he even married the beautiful chemistry teacher, and thus became his own sort of Greek god to us all.) Anyway, I recall him slapping a hand on his Popeye forearm after a round of batting practice and asking: "Don’t you want to see what these things can do?"

     These things: He was talking about our bodies, like they were hot-rods — because, to him, it just wouldn’t make any sense in the world if you had one of these things and didn’t open her up to see what she could do.

     For a while, I tried it. Like most mere mortals, I had that scrawny man-in-a-box urge that GNC makes money on — but then I got a girlfriend, and got lazy. Eventually, my laziness developed into a kind of rationalized cop-out: I figured that in an age of personal trainers, protein supplements, and shattered world records, I would probably never really see what my body could do — unless I went full-time. So why half-ass it? I quit. And I became a fan.

     Now, my friend Jasmit’s kicking ass in tae-kwon-do class
what might be his way to a Brad-like ass; he says he’s not bothered that he’ll
get there without "a full-time personal trainer and the world’s best nutritionist.”

     "I guess it’s almost like some of that female insecurity,” he says, "that wanting to look like airbrushed 17-year-old supermodels, is finally happening to men. But not quite." Jasmit calls his Pitt lust "qualified envy.” Thanks to feminism, I suppose, he’s more realistic — and says he knows the limit of what ten hours (jeesh!) of weekly work-outs can reasonably do.

     And me? I’m happy as a fan, watching more perfect athletes
play ball — and, better, more perfect bodies charge across the silver screen.
See, I think Pitt’s jock-hot, but he’s not just jock-hot. Mere athletes pump
their bodies full of steroids and hit the gym for singular purposes: hitting
a home run, throwing a fast ball, scoring baskets, knocking down a fighter. Dumbell
dummies lift weights to get big. Even models just sculpt their bodies to make
clothes look good. But Hollywood took Pitt’s body, and subjected it to state-of-the-art
professional sculpting for no other purpose than hotness. Big, but not huge,
cut for no purpose other than to look cut in the unforgiving wide-screen of megaplex
35mm. Hollywood took Pitt, a slim, slight basketball player from Missouri, and
produced the six-million dollar stud (We have the technology.) That’s not acting;
science. As a sci-fi addict, a sports buff, and a movie fan, I love it.

     Why develop those weird pelvic muscles that disturb my wife? Because he can. He’s out there on the final frontier. And all I have to do is watch — with a bucket of popcorn and a fistful of Milk Duds.

©2004 Nerve.com.