Dear McSweeney’s: I am not Michael Cera or a Different Actor who Looks Like Him

Dear McSweeney’s,
Don’t worry. I am not Michael Cera, or any other curly-headed, lovably awkward Hollywood lookalike. To clarify, I am also not Jesse Eisenberg, a different (but also lanky and intelligent-looking) film actor who received many comparisons to Cera after his cute-but-bumbling breakout role in Zombieland. I’d like to put your minds at ease and just start off this note by informing you that I starred in neither Juno nor The Social Network as an endearingly or perhaps aggravatingly uncool white American youth. Additionally, you can relax knowing that I did not play the title character in Kickass, another adorably maladjusted mop-headed white male coping with the struggles of young adulthood; that is, I am not Michael Cera-lookalike Aaron Johnson.
I thought I’d just let you know that I am none of these popular actors, nor am I a different but similar-looking actor.
Instead, I am a young writer who does not work professionally portraying nerdy white men who are uncomfortable in social situations. While this may be difficult to believe, somehow, without many years of theatrical training followed by popular roles acting opposite sassy brunette women such as Emma Stone and Ellen Page, I believe that I have what it takes to write for the esteemed McSweeney’s readership. I know that sometimes it feels like every applicant to your online and print publications is just another fluffy-haired, gawky Hollywood star, but I thought I’d let you know that other options, like me, are out there. Perhaps I am ill adapted to depict the struggles of insecure young American males onscreen, but I still think that I may surprise you with my writing. As both a young woman and as someone who doesn’t fit the incredibly specific physical and professional characteristics shared by Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera, I believe that I can help McSweeney’s diversify its writing base and explore uncharted literary territory.

While it may seem like a gamble to publish work from a young author who didn’t help write the fourth season of Arrested Development, I can assure you that other authors have found success without starring in either Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist or Adventureland. In fact, many intelligent young white men achieved literary success even before the dawn of television—when it was impossible to portray memorably awkward characters such as Scott Pilgrim in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or Michael Cera himself in the 2013 comedy This is the End. For example, literary darling Charles Dickens wrote his entire oeuvre before the dawn of film; that’s well before Michael Cera won America’s heart as shy preteen George Michael in Arrested Development and Jesse Eisenberg wowed audiences as a fast-talking street magician in Now You See Me.

To go even further, I would suggest that the contemporary short fiction and humor genres would benefit from the work of writers who are not young male actors between 5’7” and 5’9” in height. Although I truly enjoyed Michael Cera’s dark and incisive short story “Pinecone,” presented in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #30, and Jesse Eisenberg’s tenderly sad and funny column Bream Gives Me Hiccups: Restaurant Reviews from a Privileged Nine-Year-Old as published on Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, I do not think that the impressive work of these author-actors precludes the possibility of finding literary talent in young writers who have never been fan-casted in a Spiderman reboot. Although Cera and Eisenberg should be applauded (as they often are at events such as the Oscars or The Ellen DeGeneres Show) for their contributions to the McSweeney’s literary canon, I would dare to suggest that perhaps writers like me—who are neither Jesse Eisenberg nor Michael Cera—could have a place in the future of your publication.
Thank you for your time,

Wesley Cohen

P.S. I am also not James Franco. Fuck that guy.

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