Who would have ever guessed that classic stoner movie “Dazed and Confused” could produce not one, but two actors worthy of People magazine’s annual “Sexiest Man Alive” title? Paddle-swinging Ben Affleck in 2002, .” And last year, none other than naked bongo-drummer Matthew McConaughey received the distinction, thanks to his own recent pair of equally memorable cinematic masterpieces (“Sahara” and “Two for the Money”).

Angela Cesere

Matthew McConaughey? Good-looking, certainly, in a charmingly rugged sort of way – he is, after all, a spokesmodel for Stetson, having appeared in cologne ads as a mysteriously rebellious cowboy with a half-unbuttoned shirt and giant hat. But the sexiest man alive?

People staff writers might as well just take the next step: “Sexiest Man Ever.” The title is so inherently preposterous, and probably meant to be, that it practically mocks whoever’s picture smiles beneath the headline. But even in its goofiness, People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue is usually one of the magazine’s top sellers, and the award’s mainstream audience means its honorees must indicate the societal preferences and shifts in general American culture’s ever-evolving ideal of sexy.

In the late ’80s, for example, “sexy” was all about the hair

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