They're calling them "man-crushes": a nonsexual attraction or affection for one man from another. It's become a pop-sociological phenomenon, a cool, eye-catching buzz word for pseudo-scientific studies that make the headlines when Paris Hilton hasn't shivered in her jailhouse bunk for awhile. The thing is, my girlfriend has been using that term for months now, specifically regarding some of the men I admire in the media. So, to jump aboard the bandwagon and justify my affinity for these guys, I've decided to clearly identify and explain my "man-crushes." If only other men would be so bold:
Chris Hansen, Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator. Though I'm sure Chris Hansen submitted plenty of fine news segments to Dateline NBC before, his To Catch a Predator series established him as a veritable urban hero, a lone avenger of the thousands, maybe millions of youth that are unwittingly sexually harassed and perhaps eventually assaulted via Internet chat. With a few specific exceptions, the Internet is still the most limitless forum for expression and socialization in the world, and like every viable technology from the last century, it has been harvested by the sexually perverse for their own ends, and though not all of these acts are unlawful, nothing is more legally and ethically criminal than an attack toward children, but unfortunately law enforcement are too busy with the crime on our real streets to do anything about the Information Superhighway. Enter Perverted Justice, which I understand if the real force of good behind To Catch a Predator, but Hansen has given their organization a face, a proactive personification that exposes these trespasses for the tangible dangers that they really are. In Predator, Hansen's reporters' objectivity is peppered with a puzzled condemnation, a real impression that such a crime cannot be reported with a natural sense of befuddlement and disgust. What he does is dangerous but worth it, and for every story that he's shared, one can only assume that others are simply unfit for prime time broadcast. I'd love to pick his brain over a cup of coffee to learn from the insight he's undoubtedly acquired about the deranged, perverted mind. Chris Hansen has made the predators his prey, which the closest thing to a noble pursuit any ratings-hungry reporter can accomplish.
Duane "Dog" Chapman, A&E's Dog the Bounty Hunter. When a co-worker describes Dog the Bounty Hunter to me, I didn't believe it. A Hulk Hogan wanna-be implementing citizens' arrests on cocaine addicts in Hawaii? The concept sounded like a defunct comic book from the '80s, but when I watched an episode of the A&E reality series following the life and adventures of Dog and his crew from Da Kine Bail Bonds, I realized this wasn't a "concept," but a man. A tough talking bondsman with the body of a biker and the heart of a youth pastor, Dog is the ultimate "before and after" story, overcoming his life of crime to become a makeshift law enforcement officer. Based on his personal testimony, few are more equipped to dissuade a new generation from the allure of "ice," by any means necessary. A recent episode of South Park satirized Dog's methods, but even in its exaggerations it was accurate: by taking these addicts down hard, calling them "dope heads" and such, then reminding them of their forlorn families and forsaken religions or cultures, Chapman and co. exposes them to the consequences of criminal life and the benefits of "going straight." By working with his family, Dog unwittingly reveals the camaraderie of domesticity and embodies the good cop/bad cop paradigm, a technique many cannot emotionally balance and convey. Forget a ride-along with the cops; put me in Dog's backseat and I'm guaranteed to see some action -- if not hear a sermon, as well. Guys like Dog really could be man's best friend, if man let him.
Gordon Ramsey, Fox's Hell's Kitchen. My most recent man-crush, according to my girlfriend, Ramsey is the ultimate "British reality show judge." As I've blogged before, every reality game show seems to have one now, the British judge that assumes his accent asserts a sense of expertise to their overly harsh, sometimes unnecessarily insulting critiques. Simon Cowell started the trend and, before Ramsey, still held the title for actually retaining some sense of comprehensive knowledge of the contest at hand. As a producer, albeit of primarily children's media, Cowell had some understanding of the music industry, but since American culture embraced him and subsequently his British jerk archetype, his peers have diminished in viability. For instance, what do any of the judges from the dancing-oriented reality shows know? Have they ever cut a rug before, or are they versed in the breadth of dance as an art form? See, at least Gordon Ramsey has a track record as both a cook and a head chef. As the host and judge of his show, facilitating the education and the competition of his contestants, he establishes himself as the definitive expert. Unlike Cowell, who has never sung a note in public, Ramsey can cook onion rings around his participants and sometimes does so, and he's familiar with the intricacies of business, which is another unspoken qualification for a contestant vying for their own restaurant. Plus, his insults make any of the other judges look like Mr. Rogers. He doesn't pull his verbal punches, and while Cowell's venom became more potent with his rise in popularity, Ramsey came out swinging in season one, proving that his passion is the root of his apparent evil. He doesn't take giving away the title of "head chef" lightly, nor should he. I mean, by Simon's method, Sanjiya actually almost became the next American Idol. Gordon would've booted him in the first week and told him to "f--- off" in the process. If you can't stand the heat? Gordon Ramsey is the heat!
Well, I have so many man-crushes that I'll have to continue this entry sometime in the near future. The way I see it, the more man-crushes I have, the more of a man I am for confessing them in the first place.
At least, that's what I keep telling myself.