Zac Efron has a film called 17 Again coming out on Friday so he’s everywhere and it’s impossible to miss him. When you do see him it’s impossible not to be astonished by how powerful his charms really are. I’m seeing the film in an hour and a half and all I’ve been able to think about all day is Zac Efron. I can think of nothing else and it’s not just because I’m a fag.
Zac Efron is as beautiful as Britney Spears music is catchy. It’s impossible to not have some kind of infectious reaction to him because his appeal is engineered by PR Executive Psychiatrists to be generic and easy enough for anyone anywhere to be affected by his cultural powers.
The interesting thing about the way America consumes someone like Zac Efron is that they actually consume him in parts. There’s his hair, his torso, his eyes, his singing voice and I actually think they are the primary assets he has. Teenage girls think they see Zac Efron as a complete human but they don’t. He is marketed on the strength of those things because those are the things that people notice first and most and they react to them as strongly, simply and immediately as they would the corn syrup in their twinkie or the meth in their crystal.
America has this tendency to compartmentalize the human body for the purposes of marketing. You can buy medication and appliances to treat and improve different parts of the body and the narrative involved in first gauging the product to feeling the need to buy it, buying it and using it is centered around an isolation effect which is fundamentally designed to induce panic that can be placated through purchase.
There is that nail polish that uselessly contains green tea extract (for what purpose? So you can lose weight and fight free radicals with a polymer that feeds your body caffeine and antioxidants through the dead matter at the end of your fingers? Totally!). By inferring that your nails need all these magical ingredients the manufacturer infers that not only are nails vitally important, they are in trouble, they need to be fixed, there are multiple ways to fix them (which infers that there are multiple things wrong with them usually linked to weight and age anxiety – two of the biggest motivators in western culture) but don’t worry – this product will help you. It’s the same with those inflatable water filled bags that go over your legs like pants made of water that apparently act like a self contained spa. The great thing about these pants though is that they don’t get you wet so you can stay in your arm chair facing the TV.
So, the internal monologue at this point is something like "Quick, I need a self contained spa for my legs that doesn’t get me wet. I need it because I’m going insane from trying to make sense of all these absurd products and the fact that according to TV, my body is no longer one entity; it’s a menu of items that all need to be catered for separately.
Zac Efron is a product that, like an non-wetting leg spa bag, caters specifically to one facet of our being. In this case, it’s the tide of mainstream America’s weird sexual identity and libido. Everyone either finds Zac Efron creepily fake attractive or they’re attracted to him because they don’t know any better. On the strength of his eyes, hair, torso and voice it’s impossible to find him completely repulsive or to genuinely have no reaction to him. Unless you are Siddartha Gotama.
I was watching him on The View yesterday and he is unnervingly mesmerizing. I’ve never cconsciously thought that before because I don’t care about the products he is involved in and I’ve never bothered to watch his movies. If I had I would have been completely mesmerized way earlier than yesterday. His jeans, shoes, hair and eyes were out in full, high impact force as he walked out to sell the hell out of what I think we can all safely assume will amount to a pretty obvious and average film.
Fundamentally though, no human is that powerful unless they are crafted by a team of professionals and because he is crafted as such, Zac Efron is full force American pop culture teenage sex object like no one else. So much so, in fact, that Sherri Sheppard made some weird joke about how she was fantasizing about him for the full length of the film when she saw it but the way she explained it sounded odd and Whoopi Goldberg looked really uncomfortable and then the ladies of the View just made jokes about how Sherri Sheppard is a cougar for the rest of the interview.
It sort of reminded me of when Travis Fimmel went on Sharon Osbourne’s absurd talk show and he just sat in silence while the women in the audience screamed and then that was the interview.
But you know, I think it’s OK to be hypnotized by Zac Efron’s beauty because he is designed by a massive corporate machine to be that attractive to everyone. Constantly. It’s the same kind of thing with deciding to numb your brain by watching The Hills. When you’re done interacting with it the effect wears off and you go back to being about as smart as you were before you started watching it. It’s meant to hit you hard and fast but not to last. In that sense, I guess you could say that Zac Efron is the polar opposite of Wagner whose work creeps into your soul and then just sits there and it adheres to you forever. If you want to be discerning and earnest about Zac Efron's influence on your life then just look the other way until he goes away. His powers are mainly visual anyway.
My guess is that Zac will probably vanish in the next few years anyway – unless he does a Gus van Sant or Gregg Araki film that has him cast as a rapist or alcoholic (or both!). Romantic lead roles might be likely and graspable for Efron but they lack the necessary edge that it will take to wash off the sickly plastic stench of his years as a Disney product. He needs to have dinner with Charlize Theron and take some pointers on how to be taken seriously when your physical beauty is so great it threatens to destroy you.