Sunday, 1 February 2015
Channing Tatum - A wrestler controlled in 'Foxcatcher'
Channing Tatum in the Wrestling Arena
Those of you who enjoy my stories of hunky male stereotypes being controlled and dominated might enjoy watching the film 'Foxcatcher' which I discovered this week. A fleshy Channing Tatum plays a Gold Medal winning, Olympic amateur wrestler (above). His character is one of the US team taken under the wing of a wealthy sponsor, John Du Pont, who wants to help them win more medals for the US. As part of the deal they have to live and train in the grounds of his mansion.
Channing Oiled up
Du Pont takes a particular interest in Channing' s character, showering him with attention, using his image to promote the venture (above) and parading him to conventions to talk about it.
It soon becomes apparent that Du Pont is delusional about his abilities as a wrestling coach but the wrestling establishment is enthusiastic about the live-in workcamp arrangement and the hefty financial sponsorship he provides.
Channing in the back seat
There's a suggestion that Du Pont's interests in his sportsmen are homosexual as he repeatedly contrives encounters where Channing is partly undressed - like personally oiling him up for the photoshoot or visiting his cabin to confer on training late at night.
Intimidated by the man's confidence and wealth, anxious not to rock the boat and flattered by the attention he is getting, Channing accepts the offer of friendship and gradually falls under Du Pont's spell. His increasing hero-worship and subservience also contributes to that 'is-it-gay?' theme but it's just a hint. There's no confirmation of a sexual relationship but he ends up performing personal, menial tasks for his mentor (above).
Channing hammered in the Ring
Gradually Channing's training suffers and his performance in the ring deteriorates (above), he fails to win a second gold medal and retires to a lesser existence as a coach and Pro-wrestler (below).
Channing stripped for action
The gay angle has caused something of a spat with the author of the story, Mark Schultz, whose own real life story the film is based on. He denies having any homosexual relationship with Du Pont but this outrage seems to have been triggered mainly by the predictable insinuations of the media following release of the film. Prior to that he seems to have found the manipulations and closeness shown in the film and Channing's moody and slightly dense portrayal as acceptable.
Channing leaves Camp
It's rather sad that Schultz believes it matters to anyone important whether he was seduced or not, or that it's a matter of shame. He certainly would not be the first young man to experiment or to fall under the control of power and wealth. Actually the film is harder on his character than his sexuality. It suggests that he was groomed and no more. He is humiliated but proudly walks away from it all at the end, explaining "You know why I can't stay". But sadly his sporting career is already in ruins.
There's a lot more to the film than this, which I won't give away, but just as a study in mitchmen-esque grooming and control of a strong and attractive man it makes fascinating (and disturbing) viewing.