The Surveillance Scandals

06.10.13

‘Blow My Whistle’: How Edward Snowden Became an Internet Sex Symbol

For some, the NSA leaker is a narcissistic traitor. For others, he’s a sexy nerd with an irresistible rebel swagger. Lizzie Crocker on the Team Snowden fan club.

Thanks to a 12-minute video interview with The Guardian, the world has finally gotten a good look at Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who leaked major national security secrets—and they like what they see.

“I know this is far beyond the point and making light of the situation, but Edward Snowden can blow my whistle,” one particularly ribald Twitter user proclaimed.  (#ifyouknowwhatimean) 

And there’s more where that came from. Within hours of his big reveal on Sunday, the 29-year-old Snowden became somewhat of an Internet sex symbol. Social-media users are gushing over his “Geek Hot” appeal, his five o’clock shadow, his rebel swagger. An abundance of memes, a Tumblr page dedicated to his hotness, and even “Team Edward” and “Team Snowden” T-shirts are now making the rounds online. “I’d move to Hong Kong to be with him,” another Twitter user effused, referencing Snowden’s hideout. 

Even Bret Easton Ellis was practically salivating: “Edward Snowden is one of the more attractive people I’ve seen this week,” the author tweeted

Of course, it’s not just Snowden’s chiseled features that have the Internet lusting after him as though he were Mick Jagger. After listening to Snowden wax eloquent about a government granting itself “power it is not entitled to” and why that inspires people like himself “to go further than they are allowed to,” one Twitter user elevated her opinion of him from hot to “super hot” and “y’know, righteous and intelligent.” Clearly, the latter figures largely into his “super hot” status.

The fact that everyone from Glenn Beck to Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, has called Snowden a hero makes him a lot sexier than just another good-looking celebrity. He abandoned his girlfriend, his $200,000 salary, and his proper home in Hawaii. He risked his life and his personal safety. And he did it for you—for Team Edward and every other person who may have been victimized by the Obama administration’s potentially unconstitutional mass-surveillance program.

Of course, Snowden still has his share of critics. The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin called him a “grandiose narcissist” who should serve jail time for spilling the government’s secrets on a court-approved program. And yet that narcissism has apparently come across as a twinkle in his eye to fans who just can’t get over what a babe he is.

He did it for you.

In the words of one Team Snowden member on Twitter: “I know I should get past the ‘Edward Snowden looks totally hot’ thing and focus on the issues. Maybe I’ll get round to that next week.”