Does Magic Mike Have Anything To Stick Himself With?

grey Does Magic Mike Have Anything To Stick Himself With?

Magic Mike — the money shot.

The anim­ated gif above will save you £8 and 109 minutes of disappointment.

Yes, I’ve done my invert duty and been to see Magic Mike. Which, accord­ing to The New York Times, gay men are ‘flock­ing’ to see in num­bers not seen since Brokeback Mountain.

Even if they’re not all as jaded as me I think they’re going to be very dis­ap­poin­ted. And not because in Magic Mike gay or bisexual men don’t exist, even as a fam­ously gen­er­ously tip­ping audi­ence for male strip­ping – except as a punch­line. In one ‘hil­ari­ous’ scene Alex Pettyfer’s uptight sis­ter thinks for a hairy moment he might be gay because he’s shav­ing his legs. Phew! He’s not gay. He’s a male strip­per!

No the betrayal is much, much worse than any of that. And judging by how quickly the mostly female audi­ence in my cinema aud­it­or­ium stopped gig­gling and hav­ing fun it’s not just The Gays who are going to feel betrayed.

Magic Mike just doesn’t deliver the goods. The junk stays in the trunks. It’s a 110 minute prick-tease without any pricks and very little tease. Most unfor­giv­ably of all, this male strip­per movie – star­ring Channing Tatum – wants to be taken ser­i­ously. It thinks it has a plot.

And the plot is… another fuck­ing Hollywood mor­al­ity tale. Will Tatum man­age to escape the sleazy, druggy, boys-together world of male strip­ping and Alex Pettyfer’s win­some grin and end up with his judgey, bossy sis­ter, Cody Horn?

Who cares?

Especially since there’s not nearly enough sleaze on dis­play. I can’t remem­ber the last time I was so bored. Oh, yes, I remem­ber now. Watching Brokeback Mountain.

Fatally, this strip­per movie has no sense of tim­ing. Not just in the lit­er­ally point­less strip routines. Magic Mike suf­fers from per­haps the worst case of pre­ma­ture ejac­u­la­tion in cinema his­tory. Two minutes into the film you get the money shot – two seconds of Tatum’s smooth bubble-butt in all its firm, bouncy glory head­ing for his en-suite in digital Panavision. Which is very nice.

But that, as they say, is a wrap.

Except you’ve got another 108 minutes to go. Another 108 minutes in which as far as I can remem­ber you never see Tatum’s ass prop­erly again. In this movie about male strip­ping and the com­modi­fic­a­tion of the male body. Given that you can see Tatum’s bouncy ass scene for free in a trailer for the movie it’s the con of Captain America all over again – but even more of rip off. The wrong kind of rip off.

It goes without say­ing that you never even glimpse his cock. Floppy or oth­er­wise. Or even a dangly bol­lock. It is, after all, Hollywood, and while Tatum may have worked as a male strip­per in the past and worked that past to get where he is, he is now a Proper Hollywood Star and Proper Hollywood Stars don’t show you their cocks. Because that would be low class. Especially in a move about male stripping.

And apart from a glimpse of a couple of sil­hou­ettes of clearly pros­thetic pen­ises you don’t see any­one else’s cock, either, floppy or oth­er­wise. Magic Mike is essen­tially a movie about cock­less male strip­pers. Male strip­ping with no strip­ping. Which could have been inter­est­ing in an avant-garde, sad­istic sort of way. But of course, it’s really not that sort of movie.

Maybe I under­es­tim­ate the dir­ector Steven Soderbergh. Maybe he decided to ruin his career by delib­er­ately mak­ing a crowd-pleasing sum­mer movie that didn’t please anyone.

A more likely explan­a­tion how­ever is that Soderbergh was frantic­ally try­ing not to scare straight male punters. And safely sub­lim­ated homo­erotic sub-plots aside, he does work over­time in this movie to reas­sure that the male strip­pers are all a) straight and b) dudes. But if he was pan­der­ing to straight men he failed there too. Straight men search online for pic­tures of (big) dick as much as they do for pussy. They are going to be at least as dis­ap­poin­ted as every­one else. Except maybe lesbians.

What’s going on here is yet another instance of the pur­it­an­nical American Phalliban at work. Protecting the sanc­tity and power of the phal­lus by mak­ing sure the cock is never shown in pub­lic. After all, no mat­ter how freak­ish, the cock never lives up to the prom­ise of the phal­lus. Even if Magic Mike had the balls to show us… balls it would still have been some­thing of an anti-climax. As I put it in Male Impersonators back in 1994 (which, let’s face it, is really the era when Magic Mike is set):

The myth of male strip­ping mes­merises pre­cisely because it con­tra­dicts itself with every dis­carded item… No mat­ter how freak­ish his gen­i­tal attrib­utes, no mat­ter how craft­ily engorged and arranged with rings and elas­tic bands, no mat­ter how fran­ti­cally it is waved and wag­gled, the stripper’s penis, once naked, never lives up to the prom­ise of the phal­lus: the cli­mac­tic finale of the strip is… an anti-climax.’

Femininity is tra­di­tion­ally seen and rep­res­en­ted in Hollywood movies as ‘mas­quer­ade’. The clothes, the hair, the breasts, the heels, the make-up all stand in for the ‘miss­ing’ phal­lus. Masculinity mean­while is meant to just be there. Because men have the phal­lus. Women appear. Men act. Or so the tra­di­tional reas­on­ing went.

But Magic Mike, because it’s a cock­less movie about male strip­ping, is, inad­vert­ently, a good if bor­ing example of mas­culin­ity as mas­quer­ade. With thongs and leather and cop uni­forms and oiled tanned pecs and really bad, unsexy dance routines stand­ing in for the phal­lus. A kind of male Showgirls, without the camp or the fun. Or the ‘show’. There’s a scene where Tatum is dan­cing dressed in a thong, a SWAT cap and black webbing ammuni­tion pouches over his torso. It looks like a butch basque.

Perhaps because it can’t show us dick, and because it’s try­ing to reas­sure an ima­gined straight male punter, Magic Mike does though keep ram­ming down our throats that the men have cocks and women don’t – and is mostly unable to nego­ti­ate women’s act­ive, assert­ive sexu­al­ity, some­thing that of course the com­modi­fic­a­tion of cocks so char­ac­ter­istic of today’s cul­ture is based on.

By way of a pep talk Matthew McConaughey, who plays (with real rel­ish) the owner of the male strip club, likes to ask his male dan­cers: “Who’s got the cock? You do. They don’t.”

Or as Tatum, dressed as a cop in the now fam­ous open­ing scene of the main trailer says to a nervous sor­or­ity girl he’s about to frisk:

Mike: You don’t have any­thing sharp on you that I can stick myself with, do you?
Kim: No.
Mike: Good. ‘Cause I do!
[rips off pants, women scream]

But does he? After all, we only have his word for it. And any­way, those words are highly unre­li­able. Don’t his words actu­ally tell a dif­fer­ent story to the one the movie is telling us? Don’t they say either:

a) I have a penis large enough to fuck myself with — please allow me to demonstrate


b) Stand back ladies and watch me use my night stick on myself!

Sadly, he doesn’t do either, of course. That’s an entirely dif­fer­ent and much more watch­able movie. One that I sus­pect we might have been able to see if Channing Tatum hadn’t had the mis­for­tune to become a Hollywood star, and instead of being con­demned to the­at­rical releases on the big screen had gradu­ated from strip­ping in South Florida clubs to live shows on our PC screens.

grey Does Magic Mike Have Anything To Stick Himself With?

15 thoughts on “Does Magic Mike Have Anything To Stick Himself With?

  1. Tatum & Statham’ could be the new Persuaders…

    I agree that Tatum can’t really act. But are you say­ing that Statham can?

  2. You could start with Mr Statham’s chin… or his fore­arms… It wouldn’t really mat­ter where coz the whole nine yards super­lat­ive in my book. Never thought of it before but would be nice to see the two of them cast together in some action thriller — Tatum & Stathum, I mean… The lat­ter on top… Trouble is the former can’t really act. But then, he wouldn’t have to!

  3. Now that’s gay cinema I could get into! Remember the golden rule of a real gay film– no cum shot = don’t bother.

  4. Any role you wish, Mark. Including invit­ing the black mesh bri­gade or recently dis­graced sol­diers, sail­ors and marines.

  5. Now THAT’S a movie I could get behind. Or in front of. Whichever pos­i­tion needs filling, really. But most of all I want to be the tweedy someone read­ing out the lav­at­ory graf­fiti at the lec­turn. Pretty Please? I spent most of my pre-internet life col­lect­ing it.

  6. Okay, Mark. Now we have an answer to “Magic Mike.” A sort of homo­sexual revenge. A “Marienbad” with wall-to-wall cocks. Could we not simply col­lect all the Al Parker films, leave out the music (I know. I know. Omitting ersatz porn disco is a major sac­ri­fice) and then show it all on a white wall, ala early Warhol. Invitation only at some tiny gal­lery, LSD-laced punch. Women in silly hats, men in black mesh. And some tweedy someone at a lectern, provid­ing the voice over, Reading French graf­fiti found in French lav­at­or­ies.. And every now and then the Al Parker films would be inter­rup­ted by slow track­ing shots of point­lessly ornate ceil­ings and lawns topi­ar­ied into balls and pyramids.

  7. Actually, you’re right.

    But maybe ‘Last Year at Marienbad’ remade with lots of cocks would work?

  8. If the poster does prom­ise tease that’s almost as mis­lead­ing as prom­ising peen. As I say, this film has no pricks and not very much tease.

    John C: ‘A movie about male strip­pers with­out male mem­bers is like a movie about an ocean cruise filmed entirely in Death Valley.’

    Actually, that sounds like a movie worth see­ing. Though it would have to be shot by French dir­ector and have lots of mean­ing­ful ‘longeurs’.

  9. Wasn’t gonna bother with this one: Had “Hollywood Morality Scholck” writ­ten all over it in the trailer… Waiting for Mr Statham’s next shoot ‘em up, m’self…

  10. A movie about male strip­pers without male mem­bers is like a movie about an ocean cruise filmed entirely in Death Valley. As the wise old woman once said, “Where’s the beef?”

  11. At last! Someone (else) who thought Brokeback Mountain was a pre­ten­tious yawn­fest. Thank you.

  12. Well, given that the (jock)strapline on the posters is ‘The Boys who aim to tease’ (or some­thing like that), what did you expect?!

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