I have a serious man-crush on Hugh Jackman. I kind of adore the dapper Aussie. It’s a strange paradox for a neurotic, heterosexual man prone to fits of vitriolic envy for men like Hugh; those who are white, disinclined to emotional eating-induced flabbiness, and brimming with self-confidence.
There are few people I genuinely adore. Let’s face it, holding anyone in high regard merely courts crushing disappointment. Best to avoid the emotional anguish and reserve judgement, either way. Aside from Hugh, my list of adorables is decidedly short: my children and best friends, puppies, and warm, intelligent, authentic people. I’m ambivalent about most other adults, dudes especially. As for dudes who came into the world having won the genetic lottery? Whole new levels of contempt. In that context, my affections for Hugh are disquieting.
As a black man subjected to a lifetime of racist micro-aggressions, I try not to harbour prejudices about other groups of people. That said, it’s been my experience the default behaviour of Australian white guys, particularly when running in packs, leans towards the obnoxious. When I worked in Asia it was not uncommon to hear them primal screaming at locals for, “not speaking English bloody good.” I saw many Aussie blokes stumbling and cajoling at the wee hours after a solid night of binge-drinking; the only kind of alcohol consumption the lads from down under seemed capable of.
On paper, Hugh’s passport and the sheer fact of his male genitalia are two big knocks against his odds of appearing on my list of adorables.
Despite all that, I am smitten when my eyes behold the tall, well-built, talented, and maddeningly handsome Aussie who also possesses humility, grace, and authenticity in comportment. There is very little evidence the charm gushing out of Hugh in droves is an affectation. I imagine it’s no easy feat in an industry dominated by people as real and as deep as a wading pool at a Madam Tussaud’s museum.
I should hate Hugh Jackman’s guts; figuratively because he possesses all the desired physical and extroverted traits I lack, and literally because, except for a small window in early August – months into a daily regimen of self-torture at the gym to stave off shame at the beach – my guts are flabby and squishy. Hugh’s guts, on the other hand, are lean and firm year-round – even in December, the month responsible for seventy-five per cent of my deplorable winter weight gain. I don’t know how he does it, but Hugh’s guts can always be counted on if you need a place to wash a shirt the old fashioned way or crack open a chestnut.
Be that as it may, I am no Hugh Hater, despite the countless attributes he possesses – which Western societies arbitrarily reward – that clamour for a guy so spectacularly lacking in those virtues as I am to loathe in another man. The stack of photos of celebrity males slated for the bottom of my son’s bird cage, for this reason, is already quite high. Thanks to social media shoving their perfection in my face day in and day out, it is nearly impossible to keep the cesspools of bile from boiling over in the bowels of my poor self-esteem thanks to the mugs of insufferably handsome, charming fellows like Brad Pitt, Chris Hemsworth, and Michael Ealy. Would that I could punch just one of these hot, funny, talented, and perennially physically fit bastards in the face I would be a happy, if slightly dissatisfied, man.
My white-knuckle, clenched fists relax at the sight of Hugh Jackman. Jackman masterfully taps into dimensions of the masculine and feminine energies within himself, which I find alluring and engaging. He sparkles with aspects of a well-rounded, multifaceted humanity, which makes him so indubitably likeable. He also manages to maintain the delicate balance of being a hunky, male sex symbol without propagating countless ridiculous clichés about what it means to be a successful, attractive, celebrity man.
Obviously, Hugh has a lot going for him. He was born on second base. First of all, he’s white – a stroke of genetic good fortune that spared him a lifetime of racist microaggressions that suck the life out of the dreams and aspirations of a child. He’s authentic and 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 liberate him from poverty-induced afflictions that rob a person of their vitality at an early age.
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, homely, and sweating the bills. You know, the quandaries of normal schmucks like me.
I grew up as a black kid in a very WASP white family and was raised in a bland prairie town where everyone else was white. As a child kids were always grasping to touch my wiry hair, making watermelon and fried chicken jokes, and telling me I looked like whatever black celebrity was on their mind at the time, which was fine if it was Denzel Washington or Blair Underwood, but not when it was Gary Coleman or Jimmy Walker. It was bloody ridiculous given that, culturally-speaking, I was way more of a white WASP than any of the Polish, Italian or Ukranian white kids dismissing me as a jive-talking brutha from “the ghetto” – a place that did not exist in Canada at the time.
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 am an emotional eater prone to vicious mood-swings that undermine my heroic efforts to get lean. My neurosis-inspired junk food binges make it impossible to permanently eradicate the band of blubber that encircles my hips and makes me hate myself when I put on a form fitting t-shirt. In fact, after tapping out this paragraph I will likely run to the kitchen for a bag of chocolate cookies to dip in the pool of self-loathing tears gathering as I write.
I’m almost one hundred per cent certain Hugh has none of these problems.
Other than the fact we both have a penis, Adam’s apple, and widespread bodily hair (which in my case grows patchy where it’s desirable or expected and with mutant-like alacrity where it isn’t), 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 men will always be expected to be good with hand tools, be zealous sports fans, or have the money to buy cars, suits, or other diversions to accommodate the fact of their toxic male personas. We are relieved of the need to shoot helpless, cute and furry wild creatures to hang over our mantles in man-caves. We are absolved the obligation to signal the stature of our balls with oversized or fast automobiles; with guns, loud, obnoxious toys to announce our presence, or other culturally-normalized substitutes for male primal-screaming. We will have no need to venerate our manhood by subjugating everyone in existence to the whimsy of our testosterone-inflamed egos.
When hyper masculine men like Hugh Jackman shun the obligatory male-cretin persona it is a step forward for us Regular Joes incapable of behaving as a toxic bloviating of alpha-male to become successful. His stature and persona broadens our understanding of the emotional breadth of man who is more than a knuckle-dragging, penis-flailing, money-grubbing, chest-beating 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 the traditional alpha male, a man will spend his time and energy learning to be comfortable with his emotional vulnerability; to say ‘I don’t know’ without shame; to cry without embarrassment; to be angry without having to hit someone or break something for satisfaction. 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 should come as no surprise that 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 male identity-undermining essence.
In the olden days, Jackman’s persona might have been described as befitting a man of genuine candour; a Renaissance Man. It is difficult to discern just how sui generis, how utterly unique Jackman’s persona is, thanks to the infestation of reality television shows for dulling our sense of artistic virtue. His comportment is the absolute foil to all the garishness in the crass, artless, fraudulent performativity-porn that has turned modern, mainstream network television into an intellectual garbage dump.
Jackman drives a wooden stake into the heart of the domineering alpha-male persona our culture teaches boys to mimic. His persona is a beacon of hope for sensitive, expressive, emotionally robust, and artistic males; those possessed of attributes touted as less definitive of manhood than ambitious, wealthy, charming, and aggressive.
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 must necessarily exist in every man. However, a man’s awareness of its presence, and desire to crush it, has caused 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. 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 humanity for millennia. Unfortunately, too many men are lax in keeping their plundering dragon walking in step with civilized behaviour. The result is a sad, heart-hardening legacy among legions of women.
But hope is not lost. Don’t believe me? Look at Hugh kicking like a Rockette. I rest my case. 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 within ourselves in healthy ways.
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.