Film

Hit Me With Your Car: Thirst Watching Is The Best Way To Be Horny And Cultured

"If there is one thing I have noticed in my years of Thirst Watching alongside other young women, is that it brings us joy. Pure, elated joy."

thirst watching

I don’t know if you have noticed, but celebrities are hot. Like, so gosh-dang attractive I can’t even deal. You know how they do that thing? That thing with their eyes and their hair and their hands and that smirk and that jawline? *fans self*

Hot people doing hot things makes watching movies and TV shows so very enjoyable.

Last year a story went viral about a girl’s retainer breaking from clenching her teeth too hard while watching Michael B(ae) Jordan in Black Panther. Just recently, a Reductress headline also went viral about girls thinking about getting “absolutely railed” by Rachel Weisz thanks to her roles in Disobedience and The Favourite.

I could talk about the mise-en-scene or three-point-lighting of cinema for days — in fact I dedicate my life to it — but it is time to acknowledge another, more common reason why we love the cinema: Thirst Watching.

What is Thirst Watching?

Thirst watching is defined by a passion for actors we love and the (terrible) things we watch them in.

One minute you’re watching a film or TV show on your couch, and then, a character enters with their dashing good looks (Henry Golding), swaggering into frame with the certain way they walk or hold themselves (Henry Golding) and you’re like oh (Henry Golding).

All it takes is for one movie, one role, to pique your interest in someone and suddenly — you’re in love.

Thirst Watching is an internet-wide — and largely female (and gays) — phenomenon.

It ranges from the professional: journalists like Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins, the Patron Saints of Thirsting, taught me everything I know from their podcast Thirst Aid Kit, or Hunter Harris at New York Mag’s Vulture who publishes odes to Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born and Armie Hammer’s voice with levels of thirst I can only aspire — to the amateur online diary, numerous Tumblr accounts dedicated to your fave; Twitter accounts dedicated to Keanu Reeves and Colin Firth “doing things”.

In tune with our fatalistic sense of humour, timelines are filling with lovesick tragics begging for their celebrity crushes to run them over with their car. Essentially, the expression of love and desire can take many forms, and it is so easy to do with the internet!

Next comes the research, the trawling through IMDb and Wikipedia to see where else you can see them in (suddenly you’re trying to chase down an obscure German film with English subtitles at 11pm on a Tuesday night).

It’s all about the deep dive, and to be honest, it’s more than the films and TV shows they appear in, but hours upon hours of interviews on YouTube because you can’t and don’t want to look away.

One of the best things about Thirst Watching is that while at thirst you are drawn in by their looks, getting to know the celebrities’ personality is all the more delicious.

Timothée Chalamet is enthusiastic and cute and just happy to be here, while also being quite eloquent, self-aware and intelligent. Lakeith Stanfield is very mumbly and sweet in interviews, speaks his mind, loves to dance, has soulful eyes that make me feel like he knows me better than I know myself.

Watching your crushes’ entire filmography also allows full appreciation of their talent as actors — you become not only a fan, but a connoisseur. For example, Lakeith delivers such an incredibly layered performance in Sorry to Bother You which is humorous and biting, that I forget that this is the same charming and (devastating) brainwashed zombie in Get Out, who is the eccentric and endearing Darius in Atlanta.

There is nothing sexier than someone who can really hone their craft and excel at it.

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways…

I’m well aware of my vices.

When I say I can’t stop thinking about the Korean arthouse film Burning, what I really mean is I can’t stop thinking about Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) in Burning. Not only because of his stellar performance as Ben, a suave, worldly, and mysterious man of intrigue, but I daydream about running my fingers through his hair.

I daydream about the little yawn and smile he does, a perfect blend of disinterest and amusement that makes me want to cuddle up into his neck and make him pay attention to me — or run me over with his car.

Everything I do, I do for Timothée Chalamet, he of the angelic curly hair and cheekbones you could cut yourself on. I once went through the episode list of his appearances on Homeland, and then used the view-finder on Netflix to watch his scenes only.

And let’s not get started on Armie Hammer. His beautifully large hands, the way he uses them, his deep voice which sounds like honey being drizzled on a warm and toasty crumpet: all of it convinced me to watch all of his films in a few short weeks.

This included The Lone Ranger, which is all kinds of bad and deeply problematic, but I couldn’t resist the sight of Armand dressed as a Wild West outlaw. Wearing a neckerchief that droops perfectly into the unbuttoned V of his chest while he’s riding a horse?

Yeehaw. (Armie Hammer is my niche. Let me review any and all films he is in.)

Sparking Joy

So why do we Thirst Watch?

It is only natural that we want to spend all our time with our newfound crushes. However, unless you are very lucky indeed, loving a celebrity is an innately unrequited affair.

We are all slaves to love: it’s just that the ones I love are famous, don’t know that I exist, and live on my TV/Laptop/Phone/Cinema Screen. It is also a nice entry-level way for women to feel comfortable expressing their desires.

The topic of fandom has always been gendered, with fangirls being seen as nothing more than a hoard of blindly screaming girls, whose crushes and idols aren’t legitimate, their expression to be dismissed.

From personal experience, I can say that there’s no way to diminish the giddiness and desire you feel when in the throes of this kind of fandom — the only way out is to express it, which can be hard in a world where female desire is either invisible or frowned upon.

If there is one thing I have noticed in my years of Thirst Watching alongside other young women, is that it brings us joy. Pure, elated joy.

For real, it is so good to let yourself love something.

There have been many nights when my friends and I just send gifs of hot actors back and forth to each other with a series of exclamation points and heart eye emojis. I love seeing my friend’s eyes light up and turn into a pile of giggles talking about their favourite actor and how mint they were in a certain film.

If anything, this fantasy of our celebrity husbands brings us closer together. The fantasy is false, but our friendship is real.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

To all the actors I discuss in this piece: I apologise for projecting my desire onto you. I mean it with the utmost respect.

If we are to make this my Carrie Bradshaw moment, while collating together all the men I’ve loved before, I couldn’t help but wonder… if my love for celebrities is an instigator for my love of cinema?

Appreciating the aesthetic value of an actor lead me to explore an entire filmography of all different types of films, which opens up a whole new level of cinematic appreciation. Being immersed in an actor’s career highlights the way their talents evolves. And it’s quite a journey.

Swooning for Robert Pattinson in Twilight (yeah, I said it!) leads you to a series of arthouse films one might not have previously been privy to, such as Claire Denis’ latest film High Life. So really, Thirst Watching is good for everyone and cinema as a whole. Or it can just be mindless fun. Both are good.

In the meantime, I have the moment James Marsden, drenched from the rain and sweaty from a passionate rendition of Benny and the Jets, staring into Katherine Heigl’s eyes and admitting “[he] cried like a baby at the Keller wedding” before swooping in for the pash.

Hot damn.


Claire White is a writer, bookseller and Greta Gerwig wannabe. Follow her on twitter to be informed every time James Marsden is on TV @theclairencew.