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GQ Attacks Whimsy… I Praise It!

In general, I dislike GQ. I find it inferior to Esquire, which itself is inferior to what it once was. (Let’s face it: Most men’s magazines are not that great, though early-90s vintage Details was awfully good.)

Now some writer at GQ, Julieanne Smolinski, has decided to tackle that scourge of our era: whimsy. Her main beef appears to be the sort of (in her mind) cultivated whimsy which she finds worse than irony because “it pretends to be sincere.” How she distinquishes between real and cultivated whimsy is unclear. What isn’t unclear is her ridiculous, hyperbolic litmus test for whimsy overload:

I’d like to suggest a litmus test for whether or not you are being whimsical. Would Danny Trejo shake his head at you? For example: Let’s say you have named your bike Sharon. Is it a customized Super Glide? Invite your date to ride Sharon! Is it a turquoise beach cruiser? No va, hombre.

So her litmus test involves trying to determine if an ex-con approves of your behavior.

Sorry, Ms. Smolenski, but the world needs more men who can embrace their whimsical side, not less. After all, you know who’s not whimsical? The politicians who lead us into two major wars are not whimsical. The super-macho Wall Street “Masters of the Universe” who ruined our economy are not whimsical. Read Guyland. The psycho little frat boys who demean women and gays are not whimsical.
I’m a martial arts instructor trained in mixed martial arts, Filipino Kali, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. These are pretty tough arts, and I train very hard and have the bruises to show for it. No doubt Danny Trejo would approve. But you know what? I’m also pretty whimsical. I love cats and Wes Anderson movies and Charlie Brown TV specials and The Hobbit, etc. Not very Trejo-like, is it? Yet it is my sense of whimsy is what balances my passion for violent martial arts.

I say we need more whimsy in the world, not less. There is so much ugliness and hate around us, it’s good to have something to take the edge off. Whimsy in a man is a great counterpoint to the overly macho, winner-takes-all, hardass mentality that males in our society are driven to adopt.

At least one commenter at GQ took issue with Smolenksi’s argument, writing
you crushed whimsy, now you should tackle world weary smugness. it might help.
Couldn’t agree more!
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Brandon Bosworth

Brandon Bosworth