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I suppose this is my way of assessing whether or not I am in the minority more than anything. Channing Tatum isn’t so bad, right? In fact, he can be downright enjoyable or surprising in his ability to convey actual human emotion. There is a certain pathos present in those smoldering green eyes. An inchoate ferocity that can catch you off-guard, that can make you overlook that he is essentially the hulking, slabtastic epitome of beefcake supreme. He redeems himself somehow with his doltish charisma and makes you want to believe that what dwells within his tawny, chiseled warrior-flesh is pure, composed, questioning, cerebral.
It’s not that I’ve even seen many Tatum films. I saw Stop-Loss years ago and remember that he was believable as an Iraq soldier, but surely that isn’t much of a strech. I vaguely remember his brief appearance in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies as none other than Pretty Boy Floyd. What I recall most is my sincere disappointment that he was killed so early on and, therefore, wouldn’t have the opportunity to truly show his chops. Even then, before 21 Jump Street, it occurred to me that I had never seen these “chops” myself. It was too late: I’d invested absolute faith in the incipient reign of Tatum. And still the question lingered: Why in the hell?
I have no interest in the male physique on steroids…on steroids. The muscular estuaries that form Channing’s action figure torso leave me indifferent and, in fact, more ambivalent about my mysterious affinity for him. It’s not that a celebrity so hyper-male should raise my red flags, but I should have the good sense to take him completely off my radar. Perhaps my fondness can be lucidly explained if I review those shreds of trivia that create his “still under construction” persona.
I know he is a dancer—apparently a good dancer in the first film in the Step Up franchise. I am a total sucker for men who can move (see: Justin Theroux, Paul Rudd, Sam Rockwell). I also like men that are steadfast and romantic. Tatum has been with his now perky and pint-sized dancer wife for six years. Yet, none of this information sets him apart as an object worthy of my reverence. If anything, it proves that he is a simple and monogamous type with good motor coordination.
Here’s where things could get enlightening: Tatum was once an exotic dancer shaking his tailfeather in seedy Orlando, Florida. More impressive, he is co-producing a film (directed by Steven Soderbergh) about this particular point of time in his checkered past. This demonstrates that Tatum’s interior life is not necessarily pure, but it is unapologetic, humble and slightly wild. Yet, this discovery seems slight. It’s not a solid argument for cheering on a guy who played G.I. Joe and was the latest piece of menopausal eye-candy in a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.
So, maybe all I really need is some validation that these feelings aren’t completely ridiculous. Even though I’ve created a weak and confused defense for him, maybe if I put the unpacking of my thoughts/feelings on Channing Tatum out there in the public sphere, I will be one step closer to clarity of some kind.