What’s the plural of Channing Tatum?

Imagine a world of Channing Tatum clones unleashed

By T.T. Stern-Enzi

Photo: If Hollywood created a legion of Channing Tatums, would the “Magic Mike” Channing always be shirtless?

I love the idea of the BBC series, Orphan Black, with its speculative science fiction premise of a situation where human cloning exists, somehow operating on a level below mass media exposure. It is reminiscent of, say, NSA surveillance programs involving the coopting of telecommunications, but handled ineptly, as any conspiracy must be, because no individual or system is able to keep this kind of practice secret.

So I’m all in, waiting for the day when cloning comes above ground, no longer scurrying in the shadows or the marginal hinterlands of Canada or the Pacific Northwest, with relatively anonymous clones tending to families or serving as police officers under investigation by internal affairs or even attacking one another with the haphazardly honed skills of crazed assassins. That’s all so first-generation Orphan Black. I imagine cloning elbowing aside the notion of using CGI to populate cinematic frames with waves of Agent Smiths for Neo (Keanu Reeves) to kick, shoot and dominate as he swings uprooted metal poles.

I want to not have to worry about actors struggling to get into character after character, all of those abrupt shifts full of tics and backstories that must somehow be processed and then left behind. Why not breed actors for specific characters? Think about it. Why should Channing Tatum have to bounce from “22 Jump Street” with its deadpan humor and all of the madcap hijinks to the sullen aspects of a character like Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz in “Foxcatcher”? It is thrilling, our conception of actors inhabiting such diverse roles, but there’s a degree of inefficiency in the process that cloning could eliminate.

Tatum, for instance, has a full schedule ahead of him. Not counting the work that’s already in the can for 2015 (the rollout of “Foxcatcher” and then the Wachowskis’ February release of “Jupiter Ascending”), but he’s got the sequel to “Magic Mike” and the rumored “Gambit” movie (expanding the “X-Men” franchise), plus there’s news out that Tatum would like to join Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” (who wouldn’t, right?). The man’s fans out there would say that this slate fails to offer enough Tatum to appease them, which opens the door for a more practical use of cloning.

Hollywood could breed a legion of Channing Tatums specifically for upcoming projects and slot them into the roles they would be perfectly suited to inhabit. Just think: the Channing Tatum of the “21 Jump Street” franchise would be on-hand and readily available for however many iterations the creative team could dream up. The same with the “Gambit” version of Tatum. This performative solution reduces the downtime between possible franchise installments, creating a system of unfettered production and the resulting content for hungry audiences.

It also offers more Tatums for his adoring fans to love, because the one Channing Tatum we have is simply not enough, am I right? Who knows, maybe there would be a couple of Channing Tatums who wouldn’t be actors at all. Imagine walking into a business meeting and finding a Channing Tatum sitting across from you during a pitch session. That handsome lantern head with those blazing eyes staring back at you, causing you to dream of him jumping onto the conference room table and sashaying to your favorite club jam while stripping down to his perfectly cloned naughty bits.

Orphan Black: Channing Tatum is not science fiction. In truth, it is neither hard science nor hard fiction. Not yet.

Reach DCP film critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at Film@DaytonCityPaper.com and visit his blog for additional film reviews at terrencetodd.wordpress.com.

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T.T. Stern-Enzi
Reach DCP Film Critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at Film@DaytonCityPaper.com and visit his blog for additional film reviews at TerrenceTodd.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @ttsternenzi.

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