Channing Tatum, in his latest movie, exhibits an appeal that can only be characterized as universal; regardless of one’s gender or sexual orientation, one cannot help but love his performance, and by extension him, in both his latest film and its predecessor.
This is because I believe Tatum has passed into what I call “The Justin Timberlake Differential”.
You’re probably wondering where all of this is coming from.
I happened to see the alluded to 22 Jump Street with my better half during the long weekend past, and we both walked out feeling as though our enjoyment of the movie could only be rivalled by my love for that pitch perfect Jonah Hill Call of Duty commercial.
So what does that have to do with Justin Timberlake?
Well, let’s take a moment to appreciate a seminal moment in Timberlake’s career: “Dick In A Box“.
The famous SNL Digital Short likely needs no introduction. Prior to its initial Christmas time airing, I believe Timberlake was a celebrity whom only women had a fondness for. To men, he had yet to divorce himself from his N’sync roots and, as such, was seen threatening and thus unappealing.
However, following his self-deprecating appearance in the SNL short, men everywhere began to like him. His whole image changed, and suddenly, he had broad cross-gender appeal.
Thus, I postulate that once a male celebrity can laugh at himself and have fun whilst also subverting his existing, carefully crafted, lady-slaying perfect male image, he can sit between small threshold of being funny and secure but simultaneously attractive.
However, this requires a delicate balance which Timberlake has mastered. Go too far into comedy and beef-cakeness and you end up like The Rock, who is now too much of a caricature for women to enjoy beyond the superficial but still garners male favour. Or, fail to really embrace the self-deprecation without shedding the perfect male image and end up like Zak Efron, for whom straight male appeal is still eluded.
Thus, as hypothesized, I believe Tatum has crossed into some infinitesimally small zone of appeal which few male stars can aspire to inhabit wherein he is universally liked by everyone — the Justin Timberblake Differential.
He has broad appeal now, maintaining his physique and “cool” factor which makes him attractive to those in the market, be they women or men, and the self-deprecation and easy-going nature which makes him attractive to those on the other side of the fence, like straight men.
Or so my latest theory goes, anyway. They can’t all be the stratum of attractiveness.