Cocktail Crossfire: Is Ryan Gosling a Hero or Fraud?

As another tale of Ryan Gosling super-hero-dom makes its way across the Internet, we ask ourselves: Is Gosling too good to be true? 

This article is from the archive of our partner .

As another tale of Ryan Gosling super-hero-dom makes its way across the Internet, we ask ourselves: Is Gosling too good to be true?

Ryan Gosling Is a Hero, 100 Times Yes. 

If it is wrong to love Ryan Gosling, I don't want to be right. And the stories in which he has converged with regular people and helped them in their sad daily lives (like breaking up a fight in Astor Place and returning a stolen painting to a street vendor, or saving an unsuspecting London journalist in a pink wig from getting hit by a taxi, among other things) only make me love him more. We have so few superheros, and Gosling does it so well, so dapperly, whether he's wearing a tuxedo or rolled up sweatpants. It does not hurt that he is handsome, of course, but there's more to it than that. His teeth are so white! His gaze is so strong and revitalizing! His horizontal stripes are so horizontal! Watch him, here, a superhero in plain sight, mingling with the masses:

After that incident, he even confessed to being embarrassed about it, just like a real live superhero. In these sad times when celebrities like Alec Baldwin are bullying baristas and flight attendants, we need bashful accidentally crime-fighting street-crossing-guard-celebrities like Gosling, who make the world a better place simply by saying, "Hey, watch out!" Remember when Leonardo Di Caprio attempted to save the tigers, or attempted to save Kate Winslet in that movie you've probably heard about, Titanic? That was nothing compared to Gosling saving a woman from vicious New York City traffic! He is pure, special, untainted by the Scientology-fingers that grasped poor old Tom Cruise, moral in a time when we have so little that is, a good man with a heart of gold who looks nice in pants and a shirt, or whatever he chooses to wear. He is Clooney but better. He can play the piano and sing, too! Kids love him. You almost forget he's Canadian!

Or maybe we're just pretending all of this because we need to believe it so, so badly, and if that's the case, that's fine, too. Gosling is doing a service to all of us by helping us to remember that there are precious, beautiful, kind, generous, hopeful things in this world. And one of them is him. And one of the few great joys left in this terrible existence is wondering what he'll do next. Cure cancer? Cure hangovers? Save this blogger from getting hit by an air conditioner on her way into the office? Save this blogger from a slow news day? Only time will tell, but whatever it is, we know it will be good.

—Jen Doll

Ryan Gosling (or Some Crafty Publicist) Is Trying to Break Your Heart.

Ryan Gosling's work as a good samaritan sounds very impressive. The story of him saving a woman from a taxi is, indeed, heartwarming, and it calls to mind an incident that happened back in March on a rainy night in Los Angeles when a young woman named Heloisa Vinhas was hit by a car whose driver didn't stop to help her. Luckily, the handsome movie star who-could-do-no-wrong was nearby and told a witness to call an ambulance and followed up by paying Vinhas' ER bill. What a swell guy!

That was in 1996 and the star was Tom Cruise. Where was Ryan Gosling? Canada, probably. He was 6 years old and did nothing to help. At the time of Tom Cruise's heroism (helping Vinhas was just one of three miraculous rescues Cruise performed that year and he was still in the life-saving business as recently as 2006) he was still thought of as superheroic and the press were still crazy about him. This was the time of Mission: Impossible and Jerry Maguire, and Cruise was universally well-regarded. (You wanna see white teeth? Cruise's sparkled!) But something about his heroism feels manufactured, as when "a Cruise spokeswoman" told Entertainment Weekly that the star had been in touch with the hit-and-run victim "just to check on how she was doing.'' Sounds a little too made-for-press perfect, right? Sure, the Los Angeles Times got confirmation from UCLA Medical Center that Cruise paid Vinhas' $7,000 bill, but did everyone have to write about it so much and draw so much attention to it? Does everyone have to collude with celebrity publicity?
That's why I find Gosling's current status somewhat dubious. Yes, he's a good actor and seems like an okay guy, but the press is too quick to put a cape on him (as New York's Daily Intel blog did) because he's so darn likable. Sean Penn has saved tons of people in New Orleans and Haiti, but no one gives him any credit for it because he's also a jerk. As soon as Gosling does something wrong—a bad role, an embarrassing fling, a misplaced joke—expect him to seem a lot less heroic and for his antics to be reframed as "showboating," "publicity-hunting," or just plain "annoying." When the world loves you, as Tom Cruise can tell you, you can do no wrong. When the world hates you, as Sean Penn well knows, you can save a busload of orphans and their pet baby pandas from a wrecking ball and you'll still be the butt of a million jokes.
Besides, the world doesn't need Gosling as a hero. We already have heros, like teachers, nurses, and Sean Penn. We should honor these brave men and women and their contributions before handing out the key to the city to every Canadian with a Brooklyn accent and a striped shirt.
Matt Haber
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.