Magic Mike: Is There More To Channing Tatum Than His Abs?

The much-anticipated trailer for Magic Mike debuted yesterday. Let me be more specific: I was highly anticipating it. When I heard the pitch: "Steven Soderbergh directs a semi-autobiographical story of Channing Tatum's life as a stripper," I was sold. Not because of Tatum's abs, but because of a previous Soderburgh film, The Girlfriend Experience. an art house tale of a highly-paid escort. I thought it shed some light and created some perspective on the sex work industry.

I should have lowered my expectations. Magic Mike, from what I ascertained from the trailer, appears to be a comedy, perhaps even a bro-centric romantic comedy. Although Channing Tatum did surprise me with his comedy chops in 21 Jump Street, it looks like he's back to his Step Up 2 Tha Streets persona. His dream is to be a furniture designer? That seems more like the plot of a Duplass brothers Mumblecore flick than a mainstream release.

In movies and film, women who are strippers are often depicted as pathetic, weak, or damaged. And often their faces are not even shown. Heaven forbid any stripper is seen as enjoying her job; that would be incongruent with a likeable protagonist. Not only is Mike's stripping career somewhat comical, he enjoys it for "the women." In most scenarios, the male customers of a female stripper are lecherous and something to be feared, whereas Mike seems to hold the power among his adoring female fans.

Another obvious draw for the film are the beefcake hunk-o-rama supporting cast, including Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer from White Collar, Joe Manganiello from True Blood, and Matthew McConaughey, who is playing his usual "sexy cowboy" persona. These archetypes of masculinity will likely cater to a gay male audience. Listen, I'm not at all familiar with the male stripper scene (except for one time in college; no need to revisit that), but I also would believe that male strippers often perform for a gay audience, which doesn't seem to be addressed here.

Before you can say that I am overthinking this trailer, let me remind you again that this is directed by Steven frickin' Soderbergh, who usually delves beyond the surface for his stories and characters. For that reason, I haven't completely written off Magic Mike.

Is it just me, or has Matthew McConaughey sort of turned into a parody of himself?


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