Dr. Anthony Fauci was dubbed the “sexiest man alive” by The Guardian newspaper, prompting some on social media to question whether the British daily had shifted to satire.
Fauci, 80, was given the unofficial title by the paper in an Instagram post Monday highlighting a new film about the Brooklyn-born physician who has become an “unlikely” cult hero.
“The US diseases expert has been spoofed by Brad Pitt and lauded as the ‘sexiest man alive,’” the post read. “Now the pop culture phenomenon is the focus of a documentary appropriately titled: Fauci.”
The documentary co-directed by Emmy winners John Hoffman and Janet Tobias was released Friday. It’s billed as an intimate look into the life of Fauci, whose career spanned seven presidents and was bookended by two pandemics, including HIV and COVID-19.
“At the core of Tony’s popularity is that people intuit that this is a man who is speaking the truth and will not let anything stand in the way,” Hoffman told The Guardian. “Tony is the signal amid the noise. People are able to sense that there’s a lot of noise and their ears are trying to find the signal and Tony is the signal.”
But Instagram users weren’t wowed by the newspaper’s take on Fauci, with one person writing, “satire I assume?”
Another wondered whether they had stumbled onto The Onion, a satirical news outlet.
“Where is Ashton?” one person wrote, referencing the former host of MTV’s practical joke show. “I’m being punk’d, right?”
Others flatly asked if the post was a “joke,” while one woman said “turning doctors into messiahs” was not helpful.
“He’s just a bloke who is quite knowledgeable about disease,” her reply read. “When we make one of them ‘the oracle’ though, that’s when the trouble starts. Science works on proven fact, not the cult of the personality. We are not all looking for a definitive answer in some guy with a tie. Can’t we just accept that it is a moving thing right now and not tie ourselves to one person as the “expert”?
More than 28,000 people signed a Change.org petition launched during the early month of the pandemic calling for People Magazine to name Fauci its sexiest man alive in 2020.
“His comforting and intelligent demeanor has helped to lessen our national anxiety,” the petition reads. “He speaks truth to power, a strength few have at this time. His kind face and manner of speaking bring calm during the storm.”
Actor Michael B. Jordan, 33, ended up taking home last year’s honor.