Ryan Gosling Doesn’t Understand How or Why He Became a Meme

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Years later, Ryan Gosling is still totally baffled about that “Hey Girl” meme. You know the one: the meme is usually referred to as “Feminist Ryan Gosling,” a label to which Gosling isn’t necessarily opposed, although he doesn’t know if he deserves it. (Earlier this year, he had this jokey response to the meme: “Feminist? That’s a title you’ve got to earn!”)

Even now, reporters are still asking Gosling about the meme as he does promotion for his upcoming film La La Land. This meme will probably haunt his entire career until the end of time. Not such a bad fate, though, and Gosling has a pretty good attitude about it, although he did feel the need to clarify to Variety, “I’ve never said that.”

As a response to the memes of him in general (such as the cereal meme, about which he is also a good sport), Gosling elaborated: “Do you remember when Fabio got hit in the face with a pigeon on the roller coaster and it broke his nose? Sometimes I feel like I’m the pigeon and the internet is Fabio’s face. [Gosling pauses] Actually, I don’t know if I’m the pigeon or I’m Fabio’s face. Depends on the day, I guess.”

Gosling’s LaLa Land co-star Emma Stone was just as flummoxed by Gosling’s memeified status, saying: “I don’t even understand. I mean, you’re great, but why have you become this — why? Do you at least get paychecks on your coloring book?” Gosling clarified that he does not, nor does he receive any residuals from the sales of the Feminist Ryan Gosling book, put together by blogger Danielle Henderson, who originated the meme herself back in 2011.

It’s a good thing that Gosling doesn’t seem too annoyed about any of this, since Danielle Henderson’s choice to use his photos as her own mouthpiece has had interesting results: this study showed that men are more willing to listen to feminist theory if it looks like Ryan Gosling is the one doing the talking. So, basically, the “Hey Girl” meme is tricking men into, y’know, listening to women. Thanks, Ryan Gosling, for serving as a cardboard cut-out that helps make gender equality seem like a cool concept for cool guys to care about!

So, Ryan Gosling, that’s the answer for why you became a meme. Makes perfect sense, when you think about it. I mean, it’s depressing that men can’t just listen to women, but listening to imaginary Ryan Gosling is step one, right? One can only hope.

(via Variety, image via YouTube screenshot plus my own ingenuity)

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Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).