“I’m certainly not Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt.” — Jason Statham, 2003
“I fucking made it myself, didn’t I?” — Rick Ford, Spy, 2015
Jason Statham turned fifty on the 26th of July. Can you believe that? I’ve loved his style since 1998’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. I’ve had a not-so-secret crush on him since The Transporter. That oil slick fight is everything. He understands how to be cool on the screen. He’s got style and timing and a strong sense of humor. He’s strong. He’s got the skills to crush some fight scenes. His career may have had its hits and misses, but one’s thing has been very consistent: sex factor. He’s always been a sexy leading man on screen. He looks strong. Virile, you might say. Okay, too much. While I love him dearly for it, it’s a bit of a conundrum to me. How is a sexified action hero… bald?
Most actors who embrace the balding look wind up in comic relief roles. Bumbling buffoons. Wild, unkempt balding heads. Characters who can’t do anything other than take a pratfall. I’m being unfair to those roles. Actors can have career defining comedic performances with that shtick. I love many of them. Even so, when you’re trying to make an impression on a prospective love interest, are you thrilled to hear them go straight to the sense of humor compliment? “I want to take that funny man to pound town. Those jokes!” What I’m trying to so delicately work around is that we all identify with the moment Buffalo Bill asks his reflection “Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me. Hard.” Right? Or, am I projecting?
Some actors embrace the full bic. The thing is, plenty of folks who aren’t bald or balding also opt for that look. If you have a great shaped melon and nice skin, it’s a sexy look. That tends to be the option most balding leading men take because it falls in line with choices non-balding people make. In a weird way, you can pass as a non-baldy by razor-shaving your head. Looks and desirability and culture are strange.
Here is a basic fact about being bald which you might not appreciate. Your hair still grows. For a long time. Maybe for always? I don’t know. Ten years on and I still have to cut my hair every week. If I go a week or two with out, my hair starts to look like a defective Chia Head. I still have to dedicate time to haircuts even though I am bald. Talk about an injustice! Hair will betray you. Don’t trust it.
This surface level bullshit that we wade through, insecurity over what pop culture tells us is desirable, can really get you down. Pop culture is seductive and a liar and wildly inconsistent at best. In reality land, people do form lasting bonds based on their tastes and sensibilities. So, don’t worry baldies. Practice your comic timing. A genuine sense of humor is incredibly desirable.
Statham has always had the physicality. He was a competitive diver before he went into acting, and he graduated from smooth talking ensemble actor to headlining action hero. Everything about him helped understand the importance of timing. What is an action hero if not someone who can consistently deliver a combination of physicality and timing?
I’m a child of the 80s. I remember when Bruce Willis had actual hair. I remember when Bruce Willis had just, oh gosh, like, a really high hairline that was totally not receding. I remember when he went to the wig. And I remember when he committed to being a full fledged action hero. He razor-shaved his head.
It’s a fascinating journey. He made his action hero bones by creating the Every Man Action Hero. He didn’t have huge muscles. He didn’t have special forces training. He was just a man. He wore his underwear around. Made little fists with his toes because a stranger gave him some advice. He worked on his vacation. He struggled with his marriage and connecting with his kids. He also murdered the holy fuck out of a building full of terrorists and taught Al Powell to kill again. He was Every Man.
Willis came from a comedy show. It was okay that he was balding. That’s what made it such a genre-impacting move to make him an action hero. It certainly made space for Michael Keaton to play the Batman. Eventually, Willis left that Every Man behind. When he went full classic action hero, that hair had to go. You can bend some rules, but you can’t break them.
Somewhere between 1988 and 2002, it became acceptable for a baldy to be an action hero. Statham made that leap. Even now, there really aren’t a bevvy of baldy brawlers smoking up the big screen. Vin Diesel has lost most of his hair, but he razor-shaves it. Dwayne Johnson may or may not be balding, but he razor-shaves. I also believe The Rock could simply instruct his hair to grow and it would. Iko Uwais, bad ass star of the new high bar for action film success, The Raid 2, has himself a grand head of hair. And yet! Statham has steadily banked on his leading action man skills. The Transporter had two sequels. He took a turn in the reboot of The Italian Job. He’s had equal billing for Stallone’s assembly of action heroes in The Expendables trilogy. The utterly mad Crank films. And most recently he’s had a turn in the Fast & Furious franchise.
I’m Team #JusticeForHan. But, I’ll be god damned if I don’t want to see The Rock and Statham team up in a spin-off film or their own action adventure series. A razor-shaved head and a baldy, sizzling on the big screen and blowing shit up while quipping hilariously. That literally is my perfect movie.
Ask any man with great hair if they’re worried about losing their hair and they’ll tell you no. But, their panic sweat will tell you, actually, yeah. Like. A lot. We’re constantly told great hair is essential to looking sexy. Well, same for being overweight or having skills. There’s a key difference, though. Fifty pounds over your target weight? No problem. I could solve that. Can’t pick up that heavy object? I could train for that. Are your bo staff skills lacking? Your dance skills? You could train to fix that. Improving your physique is something even plain looking men can do to make themselves more desirable. You can’t train to grown your hair more better. It’s the first permanent message that our bodies will ultimately fail us and we will certainly die. And probably alone because balding people are mostly doofuses.
Jason Statham is the action hero that says baldies can be sexy. You know he works damn hard. At fifty, my man is still crushing it. I’m not kidding. Baldies don’t have it the worst by any stretch. But, it does matter what we see on the screen. And, me? I needed to see a baldy embracing his sexy baldy-ness on the big screen. Love the baldy role models in your life! So, truly. Happy fiftieth, Jason Statham. And happy sixtieth to my dad, a great baldy role model in his own right! But, only one of them flying karate kicked down the door to the action film for baldies. You know, Statham was thirty-five when he crashed into the action hero scene in The Transporter. I’m just saying. It could still happen for me!
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