I’d Like to Blame Sex Negativity for These Cringe Celeb Interviews

Ayo Edebiri was asked about Jeremy Allen White's underpants far too many times for someone attending a work event.

I’d Like to Blame Sex Negativity for These Cringe Celeb Interviews
Screenshot:ExtraTV (Other)

Not once but twice during her award-winning night on Sunday, The Bear actor Ayo Edebiri was asked about her co-star Jeremy Allen White’s recent Calvin Klein campaign. The tasteful seminudes that the brand is known for quickly went viral after they were unveiled online and on massive billboards IRL, prompting TikToks and tweets and a few hundred thousand people making the same “yes, CHEF!” joke. According to WWD, it generated $12.7 million in media exposure in 48 hours because everyone’s a thirsty little freak, apparently.

Edebiri and White appear to be genuinely great work friends—and that’s not usually a “check out these photos of my bulge” relationship. Even if it is (I don’t know your life!), those pics usually aren’t popping up on your social media feeds or on huge billboards as you meander through your city. And you’re certainly not being asked about them at work events—imagine, you’re at an industry conference and someone goes, “Hey, did you see those ass pics Larry posted on Twitter last night? What do you think of that?”

When Edebiri was asked about the ads on Sunday, she seemed noticeably (if good-naturedly) over it and deftly steered away from the topic, pointedly calling him “my coworker.” But as a viewer, I found it very weird that multiple red carpet journalists thought, “You know what? I’ll make this woman look at pictures of her nearly naked colleague and ask what she thinks!” Not to mention the fact that she was a nominee—and eventual winner!

The second time Edebiri was asked about White’s campaign, she was with the main cast of The Bear, including the Calvin Klein model in question. The interviewer (Melvin Robert from Extra) held up a massive poster of White in his underwear (I can only imagine the Slack conversations about procuring this high-quality print) and asked, “What went through your mind when you all saw this?” Edebiri promptly stepped forward, took the photo out of the interviewer’s hands and hid it off-screen, while saying, “That’s my boy! That’s my boy! This is a work function…You know what I mean?” The secondhand embarrassment I felt watching this shaved years off of my life.

What the fuck is going on? Actors have been in their undies in Calvin Klein ads for decades, so why did it come up so much at the Golden Globes? The unrelenting push to sexualize an actor isn’t new, but lately it’s felt different. This focus on White’s ad campaign feels the same way last year’s obsession with Pedro Pascal did, where The Last of Us actor couldn’t attend a single event without someone asking him to read thirst tweets to camera.

Their goal is clearly to create a moment ripe for TikTok virality—at the cost of being a thirsty little weirdo to an actor in person. I may openly pine for Henry Cavill’s luscious thighs on my social media accounts, but if I’m sent to interview him for his upcoming Warhammer movie, I’m not going to open the conversation with “Hi Mr. Cavill, would you choke me?” Because I’m a professional. And also, because I have sex in real life—which is likely the key problem here. Y’all are not fucking enough.

This cringey interview practice is happening in tandem with a large swath of young adults adopting what I can only describe as sex negativity: In an October study from UCLA, nearly 50% of Gen Z respondents (aka people aged 13-24 which, to be fair, is quite a broad range) said they want to see less sex on-screen. But the internet remains horny as hell: from people tagging TikToks of firefighters or hot doctors as #BookTok fodder for the romance novel girlies; to the ever-presence of fanfiction about horny ‘ships on Archive of Our Own; to award-winning video games like Baldur’s Gate 3, which is so horny that Xbox was banning players for recording and accidentally uploading its sex scenes to Xbox servers.

Getting the internet’s latest crush to acknowledge social media’s collective thirst seems to be what’s driving this increase in inappropriate interviews. But it’s weird as hell to feed into this parasocial horniness by making real people uncomfortable offline.

You’ve heard the saying “touch grass,” right? I’m gonna need people to go out and touch some actual ass (consensually).

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