Shirtless Cute Boys

The shirtless cute boy is a pinup who displays his sixpack (or in the case of  New Moon's Taylor Lautner, pictured, his tenpack) for the delectation of his fans. It's the male version of a starlet (Megan Fox, anyone? everyone?) posing in a string bikini for Maxim or Sports Illustrated. Lately the vealcake on parade (vealcake being the teen version of beefcake) is inescapable. You can't open a magazine (or an Internet site) without seeing a shirtless cute boy (Zac Efron? Corbin Bleu?) bare abs and assets. It's not a new phenom: These male starlets are just giving us the shirt off their backs as Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke), Burt Reynolds (The Longest Yard), John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever), Denzel Washington (Glory) and Brad Pitt (Thelma & Louise) did before them.

While neither a consumer of beefcake nor of cheescake, I suppose the shirtless cute boy is an index of gender equality in that males as well as females are objectifying themselves. But isn't this as dubious an achievement as actors being as ready as actresses to have face work done?

Are you a fan of the shirtless cute boy? If so, which pin-up is indelibly burned in memory? Not a fan? Why? While I have no objections to nudity in films when called for by the narrative, to me there's something self-conscious and gratuitous about pinup shots. I can think of an exception to this: In Alien when Sigourney Weaver walks around the space ship in her bikini underwear, the viewer is so distracted by her body that the shock of what happens next is doubly shocking.