I'm a girl. I'm prone to girly things like pedicures and chocolate addition. I have way too many hair care products and understand instinctively the need to swing my hips when I feel that tingle between my thighs in the presence of a beautiful man.
But one thing I've never really succumbed to in my girly existence is the movie star crush. Like most girls out there I've enjoyed a good looking face attached to a well-cared for body. My biggest teenaged crush was Greg Louganis. *ahem* Yeah. The whole sexuality thing sort of evaded me back then.
I don't know what exactly I thought Greg and I were going to do together. I was 12, and though not exactly naive, I just knew that if he ever met me, we'd be the best of friends and have lots of babies. Woe betide anyone who told me he wouldn't be interested in the likes of me. I think my mother was rather relieved at my taste in men.
Over the years I liked many more TV / movie stars, but no one else made it on to my wall after Greg. I'd think of these stars with a smile. I'd admire their looks and physiques as a kind of art. Beautiful to look at, lovely to hold. But my mind never took the next step towards assigning inner goodness (and therefore luuuuv) to that outward beauty.
Then came Mr Ewan McGregor. It was many, many years later. There was an extra element this time. He sang. The physical beauty was matched by something on the inside. As crushes go, it was short-lived--even for a crush. I was partly in love with his character from Moulin Rouge, I was partly in love with the packaging. I knew I was being shallow even as I dreamed and lusted. And the truth is, I was probably just in a receptive mood when I watched the movie, and all of my need for a hero was transferred on to his beautiful self.
But now, now... I've grown. I'm an adult. And now my crush means something. It has surpassed the physical and reached a transcendent place of admiration. Now it's about more than the character, it's about the man. And that man is Mandy Patinkin.
You've seen him in other places. You probably remember him from The Princess Bride. A character so consumed with revenge that he becomes a master swordsman, knowing that when opportunity strikes, he won't have to rely on luck to reach his ultimate goal.
"Offer me money."
"Power too. Promise me that"
"All that I have and more. Please."
"Offer me everything I ask for."
"Anything you want."
"I want my father back, you son of a bitch."
But I'm not talking about the young, passionate Mandy. He was a caricature with clear motivations and goals. No, I'm talking about the adult Mandy. The complex, overdeveloped man who can smile at a murderer and befriend him because he knows that what he gains in the exchange, while it may tarnish his soul, is for the greater good of mankind.
See, in my new place I have extended cable. For the majority of Americans this is no big deal, but I had been living on Limited basic for many years, and all the things that others take for granted in their daily viewing was lost to me. Now, however, I have access to daily marathons of Criminal Minds.
Criminal Minds, for the uninitiated, is another one of those FBI crime shows, where a team of good guys gets called in to stop the bad guy. It's not ground-breaking, it's just well done. The team of FBI good guys are called Profilers. It is their job to show up and figure out what kind of person commits this kind of crime, and then help the locals use that information to track down said bad guy.
Mandy is one of the head profilers. He's often stuck in the position of reasoning with and empathizing with the bad guy so they can find the hostage or bodies or whatever they need from an offender before they cart him off to jail. Mandy plays it so well. He is soft-voiced with melting compassionate eyes and the sweetest smile and somehow, he never loses his humanity, even while confronted by the lack of humanity in his interviewees.
His character loves art, and cooking. He is self-controlled and private, the mythical shaman who, while seeming to remain untouched, absorbs all the negativity around him yet retains his serenity. And he sings too! Criminal Minds is one of the darkest of the crime dramas. They don't hesitate to show the blood. They call a murder a murder without celebrating the perpetrator. They show how devastating a toll work like that takes on the people who do it.
Then, he was gone.
In my investigation as to why the soul of the show and my newest crush abandoned Criminal Minds, I discovered lots of theories. Primary among them was the idea that he was merely playing his Prima Donna card again, as he'd reputedly done in other projects. But the theory that I believe, the one that spoke to me, said that the darkness of the show got to him and he couldn't handle it any more.
Something about that resonated in me. He knew it's just pretend. He knew he's being well-paid for his efforts. He knew his reputation would take another hit for walking off the project, but he didn't care. He had to protect his soul over and above any material gain. That, to me, was heroic behaviour.
He had a weight of expectations on him. A prime-time show on a major network. He had co-workers counting on him and he stuck it out for as long as he could. But when it came right down to it, protecting his soul from the damage of exploring and inhabiting the gutters of human experience was more important than anything else. Many people labeled his actions as selfish. I see them as the strongest kind of heroics. After all, character isn't about someone else's opinion, it's about doing what's best - regardless of what other's think.
How many of us would have the courage to walk away from something that lucrative? To do what's best for our soul in the face of overwhelming expectations? Is it more heroic somehow to stick around and be emotionally and mentally filleted day after day when there's an exit door directly behind you? He faced it as long as he could, then stood up and said Enough. Effectively saving himself to fight another day.
Any heroine worth her salt would stand behind her man, er, crush when he makes the grown up choice to walk away from the pain instead of pretending he doesn't care. This heroine couldn't find a picture from "behind" Mandy, to simulate the experience, so Mr. Patinkin, if you ever want to provide me with an opportunity to support you in real life, just give me a call.
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