My Hugh Jackman Man-Crush
I’ve got a man-crush on Hugh Jackman. I have palpable feelings of affection for the guy, a kind of celebrity-worship I loathe when I see it reflected in shallow media like People, TMZ, and Us. I shouldn’t have such feelings either way for someone I’ve never met, especially an entertainer who leads a life infinitely more charmed and luxuriant than mine.
But I don’t care. I loves me my Hugh Jackman.
As an entertainer in a highly image-conscious industry, he’s masterfully projected both ends of the masculine-feminine spectrum in his choices as a performer. At the same time he’s maintained his status as a hunky male sex symbol without propagating the macho clichés that poison the minds of young boys with falsehoods about what it is to be a man.
When I see Hugh Jackman on a talk show or awards-show I can feel myself rooting for him, brimming with enjoyment. The torrents of envy and ill-will that erupt out of my ego when George Clooney or Matt Damon flash their powdered-up dimples, proselytizing left-wing politics on Letterman before retiring back to their opulent lives, is nowhere to be found when I see Hugh Jackman talking about cooking on The View or Singing in the Rain at the Oscars. It’s not his pecs or broad shoulders – which I grudgingly admit are pretty special – but the female energy he radiates that is attractive to others.
All things considered, I should be welling-up with green-eyed, bilious hatred for the dapper Aussie. First of all, he’s white; a stroke of genetic good fortune to spare him a lifetime of racially-motivated indignities throwing a wet blanket over his natural gifts. He’s genuinely charming, has a toothy smile, non-patchy facial growth, and a full head of thick wavy hair. He has a pince-nez, genuine swagger, and an income to free him from financial worries. It’s hard to like a guy with all that going for him; to look at the picture to the right and not feel woefully insignificant by comparison. His fame, notoriety and all-around affability would be far more tolerable if he were chubby and homely.
I was born a black man in a white family, and grew up in a bland prairie town where I looked like nobody else around me. I have a receding hair-line, a naturally slow metabolism, and a space between my teeth you could pass a roll of dimes through. I am barely treading water financially, am divorced, earn a decidedly middle-class salary, and I drive a Hyundai.
I am an emotional eater prone to vicious mood-swings that undermine my heroic efforts to stay lean and looking good. I’ve managed to attain only a four-pack of abs because I can’t stop stuffing my face with chocolate and pizza when I’m in the grip of a moody funk. My self-loathing inspired junk food binges have left me with a muffin-top over my lower two abs that will never recede. In fact, after tapping out this paragraph I will run to the kitchen for a bag of chocolate cookies to dip in my bucket of tears.
Other than the fact we both have a penis, an Adam’s apple, and widespread bodily hair we have nothing in common. Check that; given Hugh’s unmitigated success, it’s obvious we both really, really like Hugh. We should probably become BFFs.
But I don’t hate Hugh, even if it’s obvious he doesn’t reach for a tub of Ben and Jerry’s every time he faces a setback. I am crushing out on Hugh in spite of his apparent perfection. I get a massive male-ego boner because his success did not grow from the same pile of self-aggrandizing excrement that blossoms most male ambition in our culture.
The more Hugh shimmies on stage singing show tunes made famous by Liza Minelli the less self-conscious I become about being hapless with hand tools, not caring about sports, not having money to dress fashionably, or feeling bad about shooting deer and other helpless, cute and furry wild creatures to hang their sad, dead busts over the mantle in my man-cave. Thanks to Hugh, I don’t feel the need for a man-cave, necessarily. I don’t feel the need to demonstrate the scale of my manhood by subjugating everyone and everything in my existence to whatever it is my ego desires in the moment.
If Hugh Jackman hit on me at a party and intimated we take things upstairs, after the blushing subsided I’d give it some serious thought. It’d be hard to shake the idea that a tumble in the sheets with such a well-rounded and successful man might be the wrecking ball of confidence to obliterate the Hoover Dam of neurosis that’s come between the world and I my entire life. In the end, I’d reluctantly have to say ‘no thanks, mate’. I don’t roll that way, but the offer would give me cause to seriously assess the merits of my chosen sexual orientation.
Hugh Jackman is genuine and unrestrained in refreshing contrast to most other heterosexual male sex-symbols. It’s disarming for both sexes, and endears him to his audiences. Watch Hugh Jackman’s opening of the 2009 Oscars and try to dislike him. It was splendid in its simplicity, allowing the talent and spirit inside the performer to glimmer. He nailed the number without degenerating into glibness and cliche. There were no traces of the stiffness, cheek, or embarrassment that most male egos would unleash to sabotage the performance and excoriate the man for presuming to do “girly” things like singing, dancing, and self-deprecating humour.
He relishes opportunities to sing, dance, and carry a tune on stage. The more a really masculine-looking man like Hugh Jackman does it, the more other broad-shouldered Liza Minellis out there will do the same. Just like that, the emotional breadth of man widens. A man becomes more than a wife-beating, knuckle-dragging, money-grubbing, ball-grabbing ape; more than a pouting cacaphony of unresolved emotions posing as a grown adult. Instead, a man learns to be comfortable with his vulnerability, to say ‘I don’t know’ without shame, to cry without embarrassment. A man learns to own and exude his sensitivity as a human being; to express feelings other than hostility, rage, and resentment for not getting what he’s conditioned to believe he’s entitled to.
It seems revolutionary; an emotionally intelligent, well-rounded man who isn’t a flake. ‘Impossible,’ you say? Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce Hugh Jackman. He is everything the Marlboro man, Dirty Harry, every Tom Cruise movie-character in the 80’s, Gordon Gecko and other idealized males in the North American pscyhe are not. He is not the living incarnation of a chastened penis in constant search of validation.
It’s no surprise Jackman is Australian. He didn’t have the posturing-male nonsense shoved down his throat as a boy, so he’s oblivious to the macho stereotypes he mocks by his essence. He is clearly a talented man, but he’s no artistic genius. What is appealing is the fact he’s just doing something really, really unique in projecting himself as a man, which is why people respond so positively to it.
Jackman’s feat goes a long way to driving a wooden stake into the heart of the domineering alpha-male persona to which our culture teaches boys to aspire; that so many women have been conditioned to prefer in a prospective mate. Jackman’s popularity raises the hope that sensitive, expressive, emotionally robust, and artistic are attributes that will someday rival ambitious, wealthy, charming, and aggressive as attributes men are encouraged to cultivate and women are inclined to seek out. I love Hugh for the fact his choices as an artist advance our idea of what it is to be male beyond the evolutionary rut it’s obviously still stuck in; for being living proof men no longer need to act like baboons to be successful winners in life.
Hugh Jackman’s artsy-Adonis image is the foil to the concept of man as primordial conqueror, an ideal that has created scores of tragic male figures whose lives were wasted desecrating history with countless atrocities. It is refreshing and even subversive the way he so effortlessly refrains from suppressing his feminine side in such mass-market venues. It’s one that exists in every man, but is the cause of so much unresolved conflict in our minds; one that too often manifests itself in destructive fashion.
Much of the pathos at the heart of the brutality men have exclusively been responsible for – bellicosity, zealotry, misogyny, genocide, xenophobia – stems from the suppression of such a fundamental essence of our being. It’s a denial that fuels a callous disrespect for the sanctity of life – human, animal, and ecological. The more men embrace their feminine spirit the way Hugh Jackman has, the more well-balanced and less prone to senseless acts of violence men will be.
If only men could find a way to tap into their feminine side to settle their differences. Imagine two men jockeying for the affections of a woman, or in a stalemate over who gets the last buffalo wing, or trying to claim a useless tract of desert as their holy land. As the intensity of the dispute reaches a climax, instead of escalating to lethal violence what if the custom was to break out into “Anything you can do I can do better” and let the chips fall where they may? Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris did just that at the 2011 Tony Awards and it was decisive in dousing their little quibble.
If men could dance away their disagreements there’d be no need for guns, scud missiles, IEDs, and suicide bombs to get innocent folks killed. If men could tap-dance to the beat of their inner angst there’d be no more acid tossed at girls for seeking an education, no more children killed in indiscriminate gunplay, no more teenaged boys plucked from school and handed AK-47s to deliver their fathers’ mortal enemies to their deaths. The human race is spared the affliction of male-inspired misery and everybody wins because they’re alive and entertained.
Hugh Jackman’s female effervescence in the face of the temptation to be a womanizer undermines the idea that a man’s barrel chest and broad shoulders are crowbars to pry a woman’s panties from her hips. His comportment demonstrates that the penis isn’t a brick-bat to knock the shit out of would-be adversaries or an instrument to hoodwink women into sexual submission. For some men, a penis is just a crippling fact of nature, but it doesn’t have to command gratification of its every whim. It doesn’t have to penetrate and colonize every object its hard-on desires.
It’s essential for men to keep the whimsical aims of our insatiable peckers contained safely in the dungeons of our inner-life without giving it the keys to the castle gates. Without denying its energy and spirit, we must learn to take it for healthy jaunts in the community, keeping it close at hand with an emotionally intelligent leash. The approach is more harmonious with modern Civilization than the alternative: all the mindless, pathological sabre-rattling that has terrorized the earth for millennia. Unfortunately, too many men remain lax keeping their plundering dragon walking in step, and the result is a sad, heart-hardening legacy in the spirits of humanity.
But hope is not lost. Don’t believe me? Look at Hugh kicking like a Rockette. I rest my case. We’re not all douchebags beyond redemption. There are some men who genuinely desire to energize the feminine spirit in their hearts for its life-affirming qualities. Whether we men like it or not, we cannot reach our full potential as human beings without embracing the feminine, either by cultivating it in ourselves or opening our hearts to it in healthy, close, mutually respectful relationships with women.
Hugh Jackman is the object of my bro-mantic fantasies because he’s channeled his energies into expressing the female as a prominent feature of his male persona; in stark contrast to the denial of this in the idealized hyper-masculine idea prevalent in our culture. Thanks to you Hugh Jackman, for projecting the kind of man I actually want to emulate; one who is real and whole. I am right behind you as you champion the cause – figuratively speaking, of course.
Now, about that buffed chest, over-sized pipes, and ripped body. I think we need to talk about your little “awesome body” problem over some cookies and ice cream.