Not any more

Aw-shucks: Humble Canadian men shine in music, sports and good looks

In Canada on December 6, 2010 at 20:43

Aw-shucks: Humble Canadian men shine in music, sports and good looks

Being crowned People's Sexiest Man Alive comes with a price. Ryan Reynolds tells the mag: "This gives my family entrée into teasing me for the rest of my life."

Being crowned People’s Sexiest Man Alive comes with a price. Ryan Reynolds tells the mag: “This gives my family entrée into teasing me for the rest of my life.”

Photograph by: Getty Images, .

Men of Canada, take a well-deserved bow.

It’s been a month of startling superlatives for the Maple Leaf male, a true November to remember — and not just because we can grow moustaches for charity.

Four Canadian-born, Canadian-raised, Canadian-educated guys — baseball superstar Joey Votto, pop-music sensation Justin Bieber, Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Reynolds and triple-threat actor/singer/fashion icon Drake — have each shot to the top of their respective fields in the past few days and are now basking in an international spotlight.

For this shining moment, no matter how brief it might prove to be, Canadian maledom should pause and take note that a quartet of fellow Canucks is astride America — the world even — in a way this country has never seen, or perhaps dreamt possible.

From among the 16 or 17 million Canadian men who make up our globally minuscule slice of the 3.5 billion or so dudes on Earth, we can now claim — in the past week alone — to have produced People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive! (Reynolds), a new GQ cover boy and Breakout Man of the Year (Drake), the American Music Awards’ Artist of the Year (Bieber) and the National League’s MVP and the new, undisputed king of America’s favourite pastime (Votto).

Good looks, cool moves, big bat. Kind of sums up what it means to be a Canadian male, eh boys? But enough bragging, since all four of these men (or near-men) are distinguished less by their testosterone-charged bravado than by their aw-shucks, archetypically Canadian humility, sensitivity, vulnerability. Nice guys, sometimes, finish first.

When Votto found out on Monday that he had earned one of the sporting world’s most coveted awards, the 27-year-old, Toronto-born slugger for the Cincinnati Reds did what any decent, earnest Canadian would do: “I couldn’t help but cry.” He immediately thought, he added, about how much the honour “would have meant to my father,” whose death in 2008 had led Votto into an emotional spiral and a 21-game break from baseball during the 2009 season.

Just a few hours before Votto’s historic win, the ubiquitous, 16-year-old Bieber had been humbly accepting numerous accolades at Sunday’s AMA awards, where he was also named favourite male artist and breakthrough artist and collected a top album prize. Another child of Ontario, the London-born, Stratford-raised titan of Twitter said simply: “This means the world to me. I come from the smallest town in the world, of like 30,000 people; I never thought this was possible.”

And did we mention sensitivity? The swoosh-haired Bieber made a special point of giving thanks to one of his musical idols because “without Michael Jackson, none of us would be here.” Such was the magnitude of Bieber’s AMA triumph that another Canadian’s impressive achievement — B.C.-born crooner Michael Buble’s win in the adult contemporary category — was reduced to a mere footnote in news coverage of the event.

Also among the finalists at the AMAs was the 24-year-old rapper Drake, a hyper-cosmopolitan Toronto native and former star of the Canadian high school TV drama, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Drake was edged by American rapper Eminem for the AMA in his category, but the Canadian phenom is having a pretty spectacular week anyway.

All smiles in a bow tie and tux on one of the five December covers of GQ’s popular Men of the Year issue, Drake is described in the accompanying article as a “disarmingly genuine” and “vulnerable” man — a “bi-racial Canadian” who was known, mere months earlier, “for a TV show watched by 12-year-olds.”

Then, as if to remind the world that Canadians, too, can conjure a bad-ass trait or two, Drake is described smoking a joint and dropping the F-bomb a few times. But the article ends sweetly (in the old, heartwarming sense of the word) with the singer — full name Aubrey Drake Graham — remarking on the pleasure of getting home to Toronto for a few days, if only for the chance it gave him to embrace his mother: “That hug means everything.”

Elsewhere on GQ’s 2010 list of 25 uber-guys is another notable Canuck — Cornwall, Ont.’s Ryan Gosling — but he suffers from the diluting effect of November’s deluge of Canadian mega-men.

On one of the other GQ Men of the Year covers this month is the decidedly non-male movie star Scarlett Johansson. Go figure. But her appearance there points to the fourth Canadian man to make waves in the world this month: her husband, Reynolds, the Vancouver-born star of People’s 25th anniversary sexiest-man issue — the first Canadian to ever earn the title — and star of next year’s hotly-anticipated superhero action flick Green Lantern.

The 34-year-old son of a Mountie, a man whose “eight-pack abs have launched 2.4 million Google searches,” People gushes in its cover story, Reynolds nevertheless comes across as a self-deprecating and level-headed Canadian lad. “My body naturally wants to look like Dick Van Dyke,” he admits. Reynolds chooses beer over champagne in a Q & A feature, patriotically insisting he’d “go with a good Canadian beer” such as B.C.’s own Granville Island Lager.

And he modestly deflects all attempts at serious reaction to his new sexiest-man status. Expressing a “healthy appreciation for his native Canada,” Reynolds jokes that the People honour means his country will soon be “trying to nationalize sexy — sort of like Medicare.”

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