Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ogle-worthy Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Inception. The movie started, and I was instantaneously absorbed. Leonardo DiCaprio. A beach. Japanese. Grossly unconvincing movie makeup. A gun and a spinning top. Ken is that you? Leo in voiceover. Then BAM! "3rd Rock from the Sun"-guy! "What Mr. Cobb is trying it say is..."

I spent a good portion of the movie ogling Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Needless to say, little Tommy Solomon with the girlish hair from my youth had grown up into someone ogle-worthy. I mean, even when I had seen him last in the previews for (500) Days of Summer back in the summer of last year, he was still steeped in geekish charm a la Cameron James of 10 Things I Hate About You. That is to say I've always found Gordon-Levitt charming since the days of 3rd Rock from the Sun - I suppose it was my affection for the novelty of long hair on guys that had me hooked from the very beginning - but how did he turn into an appropriate target of ogling?

Perhaps it was the slicked-back hair and the sharp-lapeled suits or just the general likable character that is Arthur that did it, but upon further rumination I found a far more involved explanation that perfectly suits my fancy for theories that are so ridiculously plausible. I remembered an idea that I had posited back in the days of 10 Things I Hate About You that was then met with outright disdain and outrage: Joseph Gordon-Levitt bore a resemblance to heart-throb, hunk Heath Ledger.

After their brief collaboration in 1999 they both went their separate ways. Ledger rose to the challenges of Hollywood stardom. 10 Things I Hate About You effectively established his teen heart-throb status and he did play to that role, I think most notably in A Knight's Tale. Gordon-Levitt slipped into the indie film circuit and supposedly established himself as an indie actor, although I wouldn't know for sure. I just lost track of him after '99. Ledger continued to stay in the mainstream, and I don't think anyone could disagree that his roles in Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight were the highlights of his career. But who am I to say? I didn't watch either of those films. But what is most notable about Ledger's life and career is that it ended prematurely in 2008.

It takes no stretch of the imagination or a quick Google search, if you prefer, to realize that, as far as hunkiness is concerned, the then 18-year-old Gordon-Levitt was no match for the 20-year-old, new-face-on-the-block Heath Ledger. That fact never did refute this notion of brotherly resemblance. In the course of ten years Gordon-Levitt has achieved the level of hotness with which Ledger burst onto the Hollywood scene back in '99.

What I saw in Ledger and Gordon-Levitt was prophetic in a sense. Just as if he meant to fill the void left by brother Ledger's untimely passing, Gordon-Levitt emerged from his spell of anonymity in 2009 with (500) Days of Summer. And here we are in the year 2010 where with Christopher Nolan's Inception we are blessed to witness the birth of a new heart-throb a la Heath Ledger in Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Is it a coincidence that Christopher Nolan bridges the gap between the death of Ledger's and the birth of Gordon-Levitt's ogle-worth? Perhaps. But it's no coincidence that with the swirl of rumors that now surround Gordon-Levitt's supposed role as the Riddler in Nolan's next installment of Batman, any Joe Schmo can come to the conclusion that Gordon-Levitt bears a resemblance to the passed Heath Ledger.

So, what does it all mean? Well, I suppose all it really means is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is attractive because he just is and because he always was. But for girls like me who watched 10 Things I Hate About You as a pubescent girl and basically grew up with Heath Ledger as a proper target of ogling, the rise of Gordon-Levitt in 2010 to the manly attractiveness of that of Heath Ledger '99 is something to behold. Heath Ledger was and will always be an icon of our youth, and when he died, knowingly or not it exposed the truth about the vulnerability of youth. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a welcome, familiar face that we are perhaps trying to use to patch our broken psyches.

Whatever the case may be, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur in Inception is the just the appropriate ogle-worthy target for the likes of a 23-year-old like me. Just when I was feeling too old to like barely legal Taylor Lautner and pubescent Justin Bieber, just when I was feeling that the at-one-time staples of Hollywood hotness like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp etc. had crossed the boundaries of middle-age-dom, Gordon-Levitt comes to save the day.

There is still hope in this world.

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