Entertainment Entertainment Movies

In defense of Channing Tatum

The guy looks more like an Abercrombie model than an actor, probably because he used to be an Abercrombie model.

In interviews, his laugh frequently turns into a giggle, like he’s unconcerned about possessing the protective coating of his more guarded, seasoned Hollywood cohorts.

Not only has he worked as a stripper, but he has a sense of humor about it (check his endearing, funny turn on “Saturday Night Live”) and has turned his experiences into one of this summer’s most anticipated movies, Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike.”

Sure, it would be easy to hate Channing Tatum, if you’re the sort that looks for reasons to chastise people who are successful and attract shrieks from women. Wait, you say, you only disapprove of the “21 Jump Street” star because he’s not a great actor, right? Just like Dustin Rowles of pajiba.com, who claims Tatum’s success is a product of the “millennial mentality” and that the guy has no talent.

Except Rowles also correctly notes that Tatum’s the best thing in both “21 Jump Street” and “The Dilemma,” so why the continued argument that he has no talent? (Google “Channing Tatum sucks” for more people who think so.) If a talentless person is the best thing in a movie, what does that say about the rest of the cast? I haven’t heard anyone sounding off about how untalented Jonah Hill, Ice Cube and Rob Riggle are. Oh, yeah: Because they’re not, and neither is Tatum.

No, the rising star isn’t much in the drama department. He was competent enough in “Dear John” but so out of his dramatic depth in “The Vow” that he sunk every scene in which he was supposed to emote credibly. Yet he's done well in heavy stuff like "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," and I’m puzzled that an actor who, on screen and off, manages to be appealing even when he’s failing (kind of like a puppy futilely asking for people food) continues to inspire such hatred from people.

Don’t get me wrong: I get as confused and frustrated as anyone when someone invades the big screen without the chops or charisma to back it up. Dane Cook. Nia Vardalos. Even Katherine Heigl. These admittedly easy targets are so grating that it baffles me that they’ve had the cinematic opportunities they’ve had. But it’s hard not to sniff  a certain degree of sexism in the anti-Channing Tatum contingent, which does not seem to mind as much when gorgeous women like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley land big movie roles as, essentially, the hot chick.

Because that’s all many significant parts for women unfortunately require: Beauty over brains, cleavage over character. Men dominate the movies (in a recent study I can’t seem to find, I believe more than 70 percent of films in 2011 revolved around a male main character) and clearly there’s more concern over the acting abilities of the guys on screen than the women. In other words, a smokin' hot woman can be close to front and center, but a beefcake should stand off to the side.

Let's have a sense of scale here. The Situation isn't headlining movies. Great work from people like Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Viola Davis is still deservedly being heralded more than Tatum will ever be. So when the star of a comedy makes you laugh (because he’s funny, not because he’s awful), that seems worthy of praise. Not reason to keep insisting that this funny, likable guy should go back to the catalogue he came from.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com. @mattpais

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Donald Trump says cops should be tougher on Chicago crime

    Donald Trump says cops should be tougher on Chicago crime

    Businessman Donald Trump brought his nascent bid for the Republican presidential nomination to town Monday, warning that crime in Chicago is "out of control" and hurting the city's image worldwide.

  • South Carolina church shooting shines spotlight on media treatment of white, black suspects

    South Carolina church shooting shines spotlight on media treatment of white, black suspects

    I have been to the Grammy Awards. I have had features written about my music in Billboard, XXL, Jet and other magazines I've always loved. Oprah Winfrey told me to my face that she loves my dreads and purple eyebrows. My music is played on TV shows and movies, and I write about my opinionated views...

  • 'Magic Mike XXL' is the summer's best sequel so far

    'Magic Mike XXL' is the summer's best sequel so far

    2012’s “Magic Mike” and its sequel, “Magic Mike XXL,” could have been so stupid, and I’m sure those who haven’t seen either one assume that they are. I mean, think of how cheesy a movie about male strippers could be. Based on the commercials, they barely seem like movies at all—just two-hour thrust-athons...

  • Vince Staples' sprawling double album 'Summertime '06' is relentlessly gritty

    Vince Staples' sprawling double album 'Summertime '06' is relentlessly gritty

    Vince Staples deals in pessimism, for good reason. The Long Beach rapper has seen a lot of violence and despair in his 21 years. He'll tell you about it too, in unflinching clarity that few artists his age possess. There’s little if any hope in his music. Yet even with the darkness oozing out of...

  • RedEye's favorite songs of 2015 (so far)

    RedEye's favorite songs of 2015 (so far)

    As we reach 2015's midpoint, it's clear that the year in music has been incredible, with a little bit of everything, from classic soul, rap, emo, '70s funk, grunge and scorching Southern rock to searing punk, bubblegum pop and jazz fusion. In particular, Kendrick Lamar's rap-funk masterpiece "To...

  • RedEye's 25 favorite albums of 2015 (so far)

    RedEye's 25 favorite albums of 2015 (so far)

    As we reach 2015's midpoint, it's clear that the year in music has been incredible, with a little bit of everything from classic soul, rap, emo, '70s funk, grunge and scorching Southern rock to searing punk, bubblegum pop and jazz fusion. In particular, Kendrick Lamar's rap-funk masterpiece "To...

Comments
Loading