The Burden of HOT

There’s a Bench billboard that makes me stare every time I see it in the morning. Along EDSA, seen in full view from the Fort-Buendia flyover, is a young man in nothing but army briefs, with the single-word copy, “Attention!” Quite far from award-winning, but an effective ad nonetheless: I always get the urge to reach out and touch it, just because it’s sooo pretty.

Guilty pleasure indeed.

A friend helped me rationalize this by saying that maybe the ad affects me the same way a good painting does…that maybe I’m just admiring it (the sculpted male body) as a work of art. I said no. A painting jumps at me because there’s something about it that I relate to—there’s a connection between the art (or artist) and myself, that warm, fuzzy feeling of acknowledgment, or in some distant way, friendship. The HOT Bench model just screams hot. There’s no drama, no lingering question, no conflict, no moment of nostalgia to smile or smirk about or maybe even escape to…objectively hot is just that—meant to be looked at, ogled… “Uy, aliw, ang ganda…Wala lang.

I wouldn’t want HOT for a boyfriend. I’m a bad snob, but the stereotype stands until proven wrong from firsthand experience: HOT=boring=dull=no personality. Or to be more fair, HOT=distracting. There’s too much going on, too noisy physically, to even attempt to glimpse a personality, what more listen for an honest voice. The possibility of establishing a personal connection is remote, or again, to be more fair, extremely effortful.

Reminds me of Chuck Palahnuik’s Invisible Monsters:

I wrote the first draft years ago sitting in laundromats and the only magazines to read were like Savvy and Mademoiselle, and I think Glamour and Vogue. So I sort of studied the language of those magazines; the language of fashion description, you know; 600,000 adjectives before you find the word sweater at the end. And I thought, why couldn’t you write a book in this language? So I did, and it’s about a fashion model who is always the center of attention until her face gets shot off in a drive-by shooting. And so she becomes culturally invisible and she realizes there is more power in people being afraid of acknowledging your presence than on people focusing on you all the time.”


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