By Michael Murray | Think Pieces | October 8, 2010 |
By Michael Murray | Think Pieces | October 8, 2010 |
It’s a topic that seems to come up a lot.
My lady wants to have relations with Hugh Jackman.
In fact, her feelings are such that he occupies the first two spots on her list. (This roster also includes boneheads like Clive Owen, Daniel Craig, Colin Firth and more mysteriously, David Byrne.) The fact that anybody—male or female— wants to have a series of urgently intimate encounters with Hugh Jackman is hardly surprising. But as I am a small and petty man— think the anti- Jackman—I have taken it upon myself to hate the man because of this.
First of all, there’s his name. HUGH JACKMAN. It’s ridiculously masculine, radiating the overwrought manliness of the cheap and inky ad for an escort service you might find in a sticky newspaper on the floor of the bus.
Further, he’s Australian, which means he’s descended from sexy outlaws. The typical Aussie man is imagined to be candidly virile, either teaching a shark how to play fetch, sucking poison out of somebody’s snake bite, or pouring a robust glass of red while staring off at the surf from the balcony of the baby kangaroo sanctuary he built with his own hands.
And of course there’s that idiotic accent, the one that my lame-o dorm mate from college adopted whenever he got drunk. Exporting that, and Crocodile Dundee (the missing Village Person!) into my life, was enough to make me hate Australia and root against them whenever the Olympics roll around. Go Serbia! Take it to ‘em North Korea! I love you Congo! Tear those fuckers up, Iraq!
Sitting at the top of this mountain of resentment, self-loathing and emasculation, is Hugh Jackman, the man my girlfriend wants to screw.
The other day I found Rachelle (my lady) mooning over a Japanese ad for ice tea that featured Hugh Jackman dancing all over the place.
I watched it with her the same way that I’d watch the hated high school quarterback throw a 50 yard TD pass, which is to say through bitter, clenched teeth. Summoning all of my skills as a pedantic geek, I vociferated that the ad was derivative and nothing more than a flimsy imitation of the Spike Jonez’s 1998 music video of the Fatboy Slim song Weapon of Choice. In this video—CHRISTOPHER-FUCKING-WALKEN—performed an astonishing dance routine through an empty hotel! It was awesome!
I forced Rachelle to watch it.
She was unimpressed.
“I like the Hugh Jackman one way better,” she said simply.
“Philistine,” I muttered, as I stalked off to check my fantasy sports pools.
Later, in the privacy of my heterosexual man-cave, I watched the Jackman video a few more times and truth was that I liked it better, too.
It was fun, happy.
This was troubling.
Did I actually like Hugh Jackman?
After all, he’s really not even very good actor, or at least not a particularly complex one. In some ways, some wooden ways, he reminds me of Keanu Reaves. When you watch either of these men act, you’re never drawn to consider the interior life of the character, but find yourself content to just skitter along the surface. Still, even if Jackman is comparable to Reaves, he’s a much more engaged, nuanced and appealing version. He portrays simple feelings in very simple and direct ways, and in his handsome face we see a broadly written script that always points us in the right direction.
It’s really an approach best suited for the stage, where the audience is kept at a distance and can’t unlock the intricate clues that the actor’s face— eight feet tall on the silver screen—promise. I mean, nothing ruins the verisimilitude of a Jennifer Lopez movie with quite as much brutality, as when we’re given a close-up of her trying to look like a brain surgeon puzzling out a mystery. Hugh Jackman isn’t that bad, but he tends to stay away from such roles, using his body to express himself more than his face.
He’s a triple-threat, a throwback to the era when singing, dancing and acting were all essential components of a successful movie career. Jackman is a kind of modern version of Gene Kelly, and part of his inescapable appeal is the old-fashioned virtue he seems to effortlessly project. In fact, he seems most comfortable in period pieces where he gets to dress up in top hat and tails, a time long before irony was even invented.
In this context, it might seem odd that Jackman, who emits the canine sincerity of a bygone era, become most famous for his role as modern, anti-hero Wolverine, (Granted, the character of Wolverine is one of such charisma and magnetism that a dong like John Mayer could probably play him and we’d still care.) but Jackman is perfectly suited for comic book roles.
Graphic Novels and old school comics have the poppy visual brio of soap operas— where emotional states are bluntly telegraphed— but still contain a really powerful literary subtext. Jackman looks the part of Wolverine, and when we see him up there on the screen, so vividly apparent, we fill in the blanks. There’s no need to act-the-hell out of the character, the way Christian Bale might, as we write the novel Jackman’s face suggests. He doesn’t try to do too much, and what he does, he does well.
We all know about the rumors of Hugh Jackman being gay. It doesn’t matter that he’s married and has a child, for when people see him up there doing the can-can with a big, old grin on his face, they shout, “Gay, Gay, Gay!” But the thing, the truly admirable thing about this, is that Jackman really doesn’t seem to care. Unlike Tom Cruise, who charges about in a flaming fury of denial, Jackman’s never bothered to make a big fuss of publically defining himself by what he isn’t. People can think whatever they want. It’s an unusually mature, even evolved position for a movie star to take and there’s an uncomplicated grace to the guy, that is, well, kind of annoying.
I honestly wanted to hate the guy, but he just seems so happy, almost joyful and playful in life, that I found it impossible not to grudgingly admit to myself that I liked him, and whether he’s gay or straight, a good actor or bad one, doesn’t seem to matter to him, and so it shouldn’t for us, either.
I will concede this one guy on Rachelles’ list, because the truth is that I get it.