Last week, I received several Facebook event invitations. Most of them were stupid; one of them was not. It was called "was ernest hemingway hot?" and it is dedicated to exactly—and only—this query.
It was a question that I had surely considered before, yet it was nevertheless also "good"—I could imagine it sparking a debate as rousing as an afternoon of drinking whiskey and reporting on war. Started by Emma Murray, a 21-year-old student living in Westchester, NY, "was ernest hemingway hot?" runs until Friday, January 22, 2016 at 10 PM. Right now a little over 6,000 people are "going," over 7,000 are "interested," and discussions range from whether actors who have played Hemingway in movies are less hot than Hemingway himself to "my gf says ernest is NOT hot but I disagree."
But they all center around one thing, and one thing only: Hemingway's looks. Like Hemingway, Murray is direct; she wants to determine whether the Nobel Prize–winning lion killer and novelist was hot, and she will tolerate nothing outside of this purview. "you will be banned if you try to talk about hemingway's work," Murray writes in the event description. "we are here to discuss his appearance ONLY. things he made with his brain do not matter one little rat's ass." I never met Hemingway, but I'm sure he would have appreciated Murray's simple, direct writing style. We spoke over email about what inspired her to bring this question to the people. Is Hemingway for whom the sex bell tolls?
BROADLY: Where did you get the idea for the group?
Emma Murray: I think I've just known for a very long time that Ernest Hemingway was hot, but when I brought it up to other people, they didn't always agree with me. Mostly they didn't know what Ernest Hemingway looked like. I thought that was really messed up, so I made an event and invited 50 or 60 friends and thought we could have a serious discussion that would culminate in a party where we all sit down and look at a wall of Hemingway photos over some absinthe. It's important to have some discussions on the internet so you have the receipts later.
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Why organize it on Facebook? Did you anticipate it becoming so big?
I think it's fun to use a lot of the Facebook features the wrong way, and events are great for that. I just like to see a timeline full of friends who are "going to" or are "interested in 'was ernest hemingway hot?'" I didn't expect so many randos to join in, but I'm glad they did. Most of them stay on topic, so they don't get banned.
What was your first impression of Hemingway?
I got into Hemingway like most people, by being forced into reading his shitty books in high school. There were usually pictures of him in the books, and I'm thankful for that.
You've already said where you come down in the debate. But do you prefer young Hemingway or the older, distinguished Papa?
I'm a young Hemingway girl. Seeing a bunch of pictures of Old Papa Hemingway toting guns really turns me off. Guns are super unhot. He did have cats in his old age though, and owning cats is hot. I'm pretty conflicted.
What about his eyebrow shift? It seems like Hemingway's eyebrows changed remarkably as he aged—they went from being very straight-across to quite circular. I think this makes him less hot.
I agree! The progression of his eyebrows was yet another super unhot development as he aged. I don't understand why he didn't bother to shape them or fill them in. What was he doing with all of that big book money? He wasn't investing in his look, that's for sure. Maybe if he had lived to the age of YouTube makeup tutorials, things would be different.
It's interesting that you emphasize his looks and not his character or work—would you say there's a movement away from this kind of thing? I mean specifically that everyone knows he was a huge misogynist, and more and more people are starting to notice their idols' flaws.
I think it's about time we move away from looking at Hemingway as a complex human being and really look at him with our eyes: just our eyes. I was forced to read lots of his work; I think it is just okay. Can't say I ever got the hype. It's not like he wrote something really good, like Harry Potter. I don't think he would have been published if he hadn't been pretty. I don't even know if he would be published if he were alive and working today; there are way more people on the earth now who can write well. Eat, Pray, Love is better than all of Hemingway's books combined, and the movie had Julia Roberts in it. Did Hemingway even know Julia Roberts? I didn't think so. It's a good thing he was pretty.
By talking about the way he looks instead of his work or personality, I'm highlighting his greatest talent and achievement. He's kind of a loser when you take that out of the equation.
Does his adventuring spirit play a role in his attractiveness?
I divorced that image of him from what he looked like really quickly and replaced it with an image of him sitting quietly on my couch while we watch the Food Network. If someone finds his adventuring spirit hot, they should think and talk about it constantly. If they don't like it, they can always project a nonthreatening fantasy onto him, like I do. Maybe they can imagine he wrote better books, like Eat, Pray, Love or Harry Potter.
Would you say that older Hemingway had a "dadbod"?
Hemingway definitely had a dadbod. He was a real breeder, a real dad—he earned his dadbod. It's nothing like the fake Leonardo DiCaprio dadbod. How many kids does that guy have? Not even one.