Friday, August 27, 2010

The Z Report 4-01-08 The April Fool?

A wistful conundrum.

The April Fool?

I can think of no more appropriate day to celebrate the rising star of Scottish actor Gerard Butler and all his up and coming films than April Fools day. For a man who hates appearing the fool, he is often thought to be one by some members of a growing fan base of mostly middle aged women that in turn loves to hate him and hates to love him. It is a phenomena that is sometimes hard to understand, yet when you observe the man behind the adoration and derision, perhaps not so difficult after all.

Were Butler just a pretty face on the screen and an insipid personality up front it might be easier for some to dismiss him. But the fact that he is something more....a conundrum...appearing one thing one moment and another the next , he baffles some. Bafflement sometimes carries an element of frustration and the inability to peg this man in a square or a round hole has caused the frustration to boil over into that derision and not a little animosity felt by some of the fans who thought they knew who he was. The same thing that drew them in now sometimes repels them, but in that repulsion they are still hooked because whatever he does, he makes them FEEL something and love and hate are said to be the different sides of the same coin.

The long time observer who has read between the lines could have predicted this reaction. Too much adoration by so many could only follow the pattern of dissatisfaction and question in their own lives and for a man who is sometimes supposed to be a substitute for the lack of excitement in those lives, it is a tall order to fill, that of being the perfect man to fill the unfillable little void that sometimes comes with being human.

Well they sure picked a doozy for that role. Butler is anything but perfect. He is a messy contradiction of a man/boy who has tried to be everything to many and at the the same time and finally, trying to be true to himself, despite what others may think. This fame thing is new and invasive and he likes it and hates it at the same time. The little kid is getting the payoff, finally, only that payoff is sometimes uncontrollable and when the mood doesn't strike him, the payoff still keeps on being in your face in the form of the intrusive razzi that keeps you on the front burner, yet can singe the outer corners of your inner tranquility when you sometimes have a hard time finding it, which, by his own admission, is the case with Butler.

Gerard Butler is not your classic leading man. Ruggedly handsome in a tall frame, his face sports a pair expressive or empty green eyes, depending on the thought processes going on behind them, a mouthful of uneven but boyish looking teeth and lips that women rhapsodize over, sometimes taking on the shape of cupid's bow. To contrast that, in the middle sits a prominent nose that fills out the space nicely and a killer smile that grabs you, depending on the sincerity behind it. That same face can display a guilessness and naivety that immediately shows us the little boy still so present in the man and in turn, the calculated smile of the man who knows there is something to be accomplished with it. The radiant, genuine smile of pleasure that truly lights up his features can just as quickly be replaced by a poker face that lets no one in and gives nothing out and the transformation reminds us we are dealing with a man who acts for a living. 

The actor face that gives nothing.

As someone who has witnessed women's reaction to this man at several screenings of his movies, and just recently at a film festival of Butler related topics, I found myself sinking lower into my seat every time Butler appeared on the screen or his name was mentioned, when the movie theater was punctuated with deep sighs and moans coming from the women around me. I was embarrassed by the display, and yet looking around at the women, somewhat understood some of it. I suspect for many, this man seems to embody the unrequited love for the High School jock that never bore fruit but still shines so brightly in a girl's memory. All these women were reliving their youth via Gerard Butler and although their bodies were no longer lithe or their faces innocent, they were still those girls inside, unfulfilled by something in life or perhaps still reaching out for the unreachable. That this man would at the same time be the same cad the High School jock was or not quiet live up to the memory, or in this case the expectation, is reason enough for all that longing to at times turn to anger, and yes, even hostility. After all, the higher you've climbed, the more distance the fall, when it finally comes, and of course since one can't blame false expectations, the blame has to fall on the shoulders of the object of desire, namely the Scottish actor.

So who is this object that he should inspire this kind of emotional response in the female sex? It is anyone's guess at this point.   From personal observations, he is funny, he is playful, he is smart.   He has a dual nature and is given to rhapsodising when he speaks.   He is impressionable, yet he filters out what he can't use.   He is highly ironic.   He is private, yet he likes the limelight.  He values the friends he trusts and is loyal to them as they are to him. He has said he is perfectionist and a workaholic and it is evidenced by how busy he is.

The rest is still a work in progress and contradictory at best and he likes it that way. He doesn't lie when he talks to the press, as some think. He tells a variation of his truth, it's just that that truth keeps changing because he has that dual nature at work and though he likes quiet, he has to have excitement too!  He likes beauty and adores his family and his dog. He is's just that some don't understand his brand of genuine. The insiders that know him know he can be difficult in his perfectionism, but they are still drawn to the fact he has good instincts and the fact that there is something real about him.  His boyish excitement draws them in as well. 
The genuine smile that gives it all.
 And finally we get down to his sexuality. The 100,000 dollar question. The man has said it. Don't put him in a any way. He's complicated, he's simple...he's both. People will speculate endlessly until, or if, he finally tells us.  Not so different from any of the single Hollywood leading men, though  with him one thing does stand out and it is something people pick up. The man is very sexual. Whether he has a lot of sex or not is a different matter, but he gives off that sexual vibe. However he satisfies it and with whom is of no consequence to some. To others it seems of paramount importance and those are the ones that will keep asking or trying to answer. Whatever questions there may be of Butler's sexuality, it does not diminish him any or make him any less interesting. Perhaps he likes leaving that ambiguity out there. Good for him!  He says he is too busy for love now and, knowing how quickly Hollywood romances burn out, perhaps he's smart enough to know that he can't balance the two successfully at the moment.

Saint or sinner, player or workaholic this guy can draw you in and sometimes leave you wanting more. His charm for me is in his always present irony and humor (even when it's unintentional) and his awkwardness and some intangible I can't quite name...perhaps the contradiction of the old eyes that have seen a lot and the naivety of the boy that still resides within and plays dress up on the screen to delight us with his performances.

Fool? Perhaps.  But I am more inclined to think it is we who are the fools and, in many cases, gladly so.

To all the fools out there, including Mr. Butler, Happy April Fools day!

Signing off,

Zoni with a Z (but pronounced with an S)

Disclaimer: The above report is all in the head of the writer and posted for entertainment purposes only.

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