He’s literally me: Meet the Ryan Gosling fanatics who are showing up for Barbie

By Mason Berlinka

Published Jun 17, 2023 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

You remember sigma males? I’m talking about the meme-obsessed subversion of the cringy ‘Alpha male’ mentality that has dominated the internet over the past few years. In stark difference, sigmas exemplified a desire to “play by their own rules,” exhibiting a sort of stoicism that can only be attributed to characters like John Wick and, of course, none other than the mysterious persona of Ryan Gosling.

While the trend of incels online calling themselves sigma males because they can’t talk to girls didn’t quite earn them the respect they had hoped for, it did in fact gain a significant reputation in the world of memes. In all honesty, it was hard to take an archetype of people who praised nonsensical behaviour and a lack of making eye contact seriously. As a trend, it’s much more fun when people are leaning into the silly side of it.

And now, the meme-loving self-described ‘sigma males’ keeping the archetype alive are beginning to gain traction again on the internet as their obsession with Gosling reaches new heights thanks to his role as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated Barbie adaptation. So, how did the Canadian actor become a poster boy for sigma males, and why are they all going to be showing up in the front row as soon as the Barbie movie hits theatres?

Why is Ryan Gosling the poster boy for sigma males?

It all started in the far off year of 2011, when the acclaimed Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn released Drive, starring the one and only Gosling. The action-packed crime flick puts Gosling into the role of a getaway driver who becomes entangled with a mobster’s wife whom he decides to save.

Far from being the most progressive film of all time due to its generic archetype of the damsel in distress, Gosling’s character was quickly fawned over by men online thanks to his stoic nature, dashing handsomeness and well… sigma attitude. Although the term was yet to be invented, it’s clear to see that the character played by the actor was sigma before it was ‘cool’, thanks to impulsive decision making and a lack of lengthy explanations.

Following the success of Drive, the quiet and broody Gosling persona was further reinforced in films like Blade Runner 2049 and The Place Beyond the Pines.

@rvlzy.edits

He's literally me #fyp #ryangosling #bladerunner2049 #drive2011 #theplacebeyondthepines #anadearmas

♬ original sound - rvlzy

There’s even a surprisingly active subreddit dedicated to the man himself, aptly named r/ryangosling. A quick browse reveals countless memes captioned “he’s literally me,” ironic fancams for the actor and plenty of crossposts from sigma-focused subs.

[deleted by user]
by inSigmaCinema

The new age of Gosling obsession: Ken in ‘Barbie’

Despite the undertones of misogyny present in the sigma Gosling obsession, the actor’s latest persona in that of Barbie’s camp bestie, Ken, is doing a surprisingly good job at shattering the fragile masculinity of these internet dwellers.

@neglectedchild42

#barbiemovie#sigmamale#stupidmeme #fyp#wtf

♬ original sound - neglectedchild42

Fans across TikTok and Reddit wasted no time embracing Ken. It seems like wherever Gosling goes, dedicated memester are sure to follow. The aloof strangeness of the sigma persona had no trouble integrating Ken into its core, in all its pink, neon glory.

@drivertapes

THE PERSON I’M GONNA BECOME WHEN THIS MOVIE COMES OUT….. 😋😋😋‼️‼️ | #barbie #barbiemovie #ken #kenbarbie #kenbarbieedit #ryangosling #ryangoslingedit #fy #edit #aftereffects #viral

♬ original sound - drivertapes

It might seem hard to understand the sudden obsession with Ken on the surface, given longstanding toxic masculinity that stopped us all from enjoying things and characters like this one judgement-free in our youth for fear of being called homophobic slurs. It’s weirdly refreshing to see men embracing a camp and flamboyant character in a movie for a toy that has been historically marketed towards girls.

@gym.radi1

Literally me #fyp #sigma #barbie2023 #fightclub #gymradi1 #literallyme #ryangosling #drive

♬ som original - 愛

In the comments on a Gosling video on TikTok, you’ll find people saying things like: “Real. (I am literally Ryan Gosling).” The amount of “literally me”s is crazy, but hey—it’s aspirational. Accounts like @ryangoslinglover369 show up in the comments too, to say one thing and one thing only: “ryangoslinglover369.” Why not, I guess.

It’s hard to completely pinpoint why Ken has become such a meme among self-appointed sigma males online outside of an obsession with Gosling himself, but at the very least, we’re happy to see boys online embracing a slightly different masculine identity, in that of the bleach-dyed, pink-clad Ken doll. We can’t wait to see them all at the movies when Barbie premieres.

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