Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Mark Ruffalo Effect. I had to write this article for work this week about the various Nobel Prizes, and why they gave them to those people, and why those people's theories contributed so much to world knowledge. You know, I have some theories too. Of course, my theories may not change government fiscal policy, or explain why quarks behave the way they do, or how our sense of smell works, or how proteins biodegrade. Instead, I have a number of theories named after various actors.

If you went to my show or ever subscribed to The Incredible Melk's Booty Squadron you would be familiar with the Tobey Maguire Effect, aka Secret Buff, which I formulated after seeing Spider-Man. You see, you wouldn't realise Tobey was buff in that film until he took his clothes off. Or maybe, as my friends cruelly suggested at the time, I just liked Tobey because he had "girly lips" and "looked about twelve". But anyway. It got me thinking about all the hot guys you just walk past, not even realising how buff they are. After glimpsing him with no glasses or shirt on, I have formulated a theory that my housemate Shion is secretly buff.

Then there's the Mark Ruffalo Effect. Here is a picture of Mark Ruffalo that doesn't really do him justice, but as I'll point out, that's kind of the thing. I liked Mark Ruffalo in Suddenly Thirty. I also really liked him in Eternal Sunshine, with the nerdy glasses. Basically, the Mark Ruffalo Effect is that some men are just too beautiful to be in my league, but others are approachably sexy with a kind of self-deprecation. I like Mark Ruffalo because he gives the impression that I might have a chance with him, should I see him in a bar or meet him at a party or something. But he also gives off a kind of intelligent vulnerability, like he knows he should only be a supporting actor, not a romantic lead, and that any girl is only with him until she finds someone better. Other actors who have the Mark Ruffalo Effect include John Cusack, Ducky from Pretty in Pink, and that guy who plays Jack Berger in Sex and the City.

And here's the Nobel Prize-winning genius of this theory. The female equivalent of the Mark Ruffalo Effect is the Janeane Garofalo Effect. It rhymes! I have always really identified with Janeane Garofalo in all her films, particularly The Truth About Cats and Dogs, in which she's a female Cyrano de Bergerac to Uma Thurman's Christian. But she's not actually ugly; she's just pert and smart-mouthed and has a sexy voice, completely according with that rom-com genre convention of the comic sidekick to the heroine. Like her male counterpart, she always seems to have an affecting awareness of her sidekick status. Other Janeane Garofalo Effect actresses are John's brother Joan Cusack and newly minted lesbian, Cynthia Nixon.

There was a film on TV with Janeane Garofalo the other day called The Matchmaker, in which her selfish senator boss makes her go to Ireland to trace his heritage, and the local busybody matchmaker sets her up with a bartender called Sean, who has terrible 90s hair. I had the volume down so I could listen to Nina Sky, but it was such a joy to watch Janeane's face: watchful at the start because people are always taking advantage of her; then shyly happy as the wacky locals draw her out of her shell; then belligerent as, due to rom-com misunderstandings, Sean takes up with an inexplicably redheaded Saffron Burrows. Then, sad. And finally, blossoming into a disbelieving smile when Sean serenades her at the end.

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