I have a confession to make. I have a serious man-crush on Hugh Jackman. It feels good to finally get that out. I’ve been keeping a lid on it way too long, pretending to be nonchalant every time I watch Les Misérables when the truth is, Hugh Makes me feel one with Jean Valjean.
I have begrudging adoration for the dapper Aussie, which is a peculiar reality for me. As a heterosexual man, I am not prone to crushing out on men. As a black man, I also try not to hold broad-brush, negative judgments about groups of people, but I sometimes find Australian guys my age a little obnoxious, to be honest. On paper, Hugh has two big knocks against him.
That said, an honest man, such as I am, has to pay his due respects when his eyes behold a tall, well-built, talented, and maddeningly handsome man who also possesses humility, grace, and authenticity in his conduct and demeanour. There is very little evidence the charm gushing out of him in droves is an affectation. I imagine it’s no easy feat.
All things considered, I should hate Hugh Jackman’s guts for being so lean and well-chiseled. Au contraire, I am no Hugh Hater, but rather a Hugh enthusiast extraordinaire.
As a male entertainer in a highly sexist industry, he masterfully taps into aspects of the masculine and feminine pathos within himself, which bestows the characters he plays with the a well roundedness, a multifaceted humanity to which both men and women viewers of all tastes can relate. He has 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.
Hugh has a lot going for him. First of all, he’s white; a stroke of genetic good fortune that spared him a lifetime of racial indignities from throwing a wet blanket on his aspirations. 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 is hard to like a guy with such a panoply of God-given attributes to recommend him; to look at any of the pictures attached to this blog post and not feel woefully insignificant by comparison. His fame, notoriety and all-around affability would be far more tolerable were he chubby and homely.
I, on the other hand, was born a black man in a white family, and grew up in a bland prairie town where everyone else was white. As a child, everybody insisted I looked just like whatever black celebrity was on their mind at the time. When it was Denzel Washington it was a fine compliment, racially-tinged as it was (given the only feature of mine that remotely resembled Washington was my eyebrows). When it was Fat Albert or Gary Coleman, it was humiliating – and grossly unfair.
There are days where I ruminate for twenty minutes over what cereal I should have for breakfast. I want the Frosted Flakes but am well aware I should be eating a little more fibre. I have a receding hair-line, a naturally slow metabolism, and zits that make me pay dearly for loving chocolate as much as I do. By no means am I poor, but I lack the proceeds to make my life anywhere near as fabulous as it could be; like Hugh’s life.
I am an emotional eater prone to vicious mood-swings that undermine my heroic efforts to stay lean and looking good. My neurosis-inspired junk food binges make it impossible to permanently remove what I call the “Ring of Fire” from my body; the layer of whale blubber that encircles my hips and makes me cringe and cuss every time I out on a form fitting t-shirt. 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.
I’m almost one hundred per cent certain Hugh has none of these problems.
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 is plainly obvious Hugh and I both love Hugh to death. Even his self-esteem, has more going for it than the real me.
Despite all the genetic, physical, ethnic, emotional, and psychological advantages Hugh enjoys, it fails to stir resentment in me. He’s a consummate gentleman. His success did not arise out of the same pile of self-aggrandizing excrement that blossoms most male ambition in our culture. So far, and I am crossing my fingers this does not change, he has not used his success and power as a sex symbol as a pretense to justify chronic sexual misconduct and womanizing.
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, or lacking the budget to divert attention away from my pedantic, introverted personality with a fancy suit or other accessories. I am relieved of the need to shoot helpless, cute and furry wild creatures to hang over the mantle in my man-cave. I am excused of the obligation to signal the stature of my balls with oversized or fast automobiles; with guns, loud, obnoxious toys to announce my presence, or other culturally-normalized substitutes for male primal-screaming.
I don’t have to venerate my manhood by subjugating everyone and everything in my existence to whatever it is my ego desires in the moment.
When hyper masculine men like Hugh Jackman shun the obligatory male-cretin persona it sends a message to other men, and young impressionable boys that the toxic bloviating of alpha-males is not always the key to success. His stature helps to widen our perceptions of the emotional breadth of man. 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.
Relieved of the obligation to engage in the exhausting, pointless posturing of historical males, a man learns to spend his time and energy learning to be comfortable with emotional vulnerability; to say ‘I don’t know’ without shame; to cry without embarrassment; to simply be angry without having to hit someone or break something in return. A man is free to exude sensitivity as a human being; to express feelings other than hostility, rage, and resentment for failing to acquire, by hook or crook, whatever he has been conditioned by society to believe he is entitled.
Go figure: an intelligent, debonair ‘Man’s man’ who is neither a douche-bag nor a flake. Impossible, you say? Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Mr. Hugh Jackman.
Jackman is everything the Marlboro man, Dirty Harry, every Tom Cruise movie-character in the 80’s, Gordon Gecko, and other idealized, emotionally-stunted males in the North American psyche are not. Hugh Jackman is not the living incarnation of a chastened penis in constant search of validation, despite so many cultural messages telling him his celebrity status entitles him to behave as such. It is no surprise Jackman is Australian. He did not have the American hyper-aggressive, toxic male ideal shoved down his throat as a boy. Thankfully for humanity, he is oblivious to the toxic stereotypes he mocks by his female-affirming essence.
Jackman is, simply put, a talented, self-confident, authentic man. Yet, he is no artistic genius. His appeal derives from a willingness to tap into his most human traits to deliver a well-rounded, genuine performance. He lets go into his roles in a manner that is just right in the circumstances. That humane-ness fills in any gaps in ability he might bring to a part.
In the olden days, Jackman’s persona might have been described as befitting a man of genuine candour. Nowadays the bar for public behaviour is set so low, so inclined to elicit brazen, boorish, and other insufferably obnoxious behaviours from men and women alike. In that context it is difficult to discern just how sui generis, how utterly unique Jackman’s persona is. We can thank the infestation of reality television shows for dulling our attentiveness to Hugh’s unique gifts.
It is cringe-worthy to watch the handful of “Got Talent” shows, given true talents like Jackman, or an opera singer, or every dancer in a ballet or contemporary dance troupe, or any one of the fifty or more musicians at the local symphony. Any one of these artists has put in the time and effort to acquire their skills and regularly displays it for discerning crowds; crowds who do not need to do “whoop whoops” and give standing ovations in the middle of a number for routine, mundane displays of artistic merit – because they are not members of a woefully ignorant audience and take for granted the artists have talent. Hey America, you Got plenty of Talent – at your local symphony, chamber music ensemble, college of music and so on and so on. You will not have to sit through garbage and commercials trying to sell you more garbage if you buy a ticket to a show put on by any one of your local artistic companies.
But I digress. The point is Jackman’s comportment is the absolute foil to all the garishness that exists in spades thanks to the crass, artless, reality-television garbage.
Aside from that, Jackman drives a wooden stake into the heart of the domineering alpha-male persona our culture teaches boys to mimic. His popularity raises the hope sensitive, expressive, emotionally robust, and artistic are attributes that will eventually rival ambitious, wealthy, charming, and aggressive as attributes men are encouraged to cultivate. 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 obviously still remains; for embodying the truth of how men need not behave like wild 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. The feminine exists in every man; its presence is the cause of so much unresolved, internal conflict among young males in societies intent on conditioning the toxic male ideal. Too often, failure to resolve this conflict manifests in destructive, homicidal fashion. It is a tragic collective psychic phenomenon that causes legions of innocent victims, particularly in America where males in the grip of toxic male psychosis have easy access to lethal means and choose to resolve their conflict by taking others down with them.
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: that of the female energy. The denial 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 men could dance away their disagreements, as Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris did at the 2011 Tony Awards there would 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 would be no more acid tossed at girls for seeking an education, no more children killed by angry shooters, 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 are alive – and entertained.
Hugh Jackman’s female effervescence in the face of the temptation to be a womanizer refutes the notion a man’s barrel chest and broad shoulders are useful tools in designs to pry a woman’s panties from her hips. His comportment proves decisively the penis is, in fact, not a brick-bat erected by nature to help men knock the shit out of would-be adversaries, nor is it a magic wand with powers to bamboozle women into unwanted sexual trysts. For some men, a penis is simply a crippling fact of nature, one that need not command its owner to gratify its every whim. The penis does not have to penetrate and colonize any object its hard-on desires. Not all of its needs and desires need be satiated. Ideally, this is why all humans are possessed of advanced regions of the brain – they are fashioned to override the primal drives from the parts of our bodies we possessed as fish, reptiles, and neanderthals.
It is 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 in ensuring their plundering dragon walks in step with humanity. 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 channels his energies tapping into the female substrate he possesses when projecting his male persona. This is in stark contrast to the denial of the female in the idealized toxic-masculine idea prevalent in North American culture. Thanks to you Hugh Jackman for embodying the kind of man I actually want to emulate; one who is real and whole. Given my shortcomings, I fully expect to fall well short of the bar you have set. But at least I can say without equivocation I am behind you one hundred per cent in championing the cause and will work toward doing my part to advance it further, even if I remain perennially miles away from riding your admirable coat-tails.
Now, about that buffed chest, over-sized pipes, and ripped body. I think we need to have a little talk about your “awesome body” problem over some cookies and ice cream.