There’s a hole in the cage! – Brief notes about a revolution in the air
There’s something going on with the men in movies.
You know that cage where they’ve kept men for so long, with nothing to breathe but the tired clichés about the strong protector, the hero, the victorious womanizer? I’m sure you’re familiar with the place. Almost every male movie star you can think of has been locked up there for years.
Well, now someone has made a hole in the wall! It’s true! You surely must have noticed?
Fresh air is coming through. I can feel it. It’s not like a hurricane, rather like a breeze and I wouldn’t say that the passage is free for all yet. But if you’re hungering for freedom, if you’re looking for adventure and new perspectives, you can make your way through it and get away from the tight grip of the stereotypes.
In the last couple of years I’ve seen Ryan Gosling portraying men whose first priority is to be close to and take care of their babies, despite the efforts from the babies’ mothers to keep the father away (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines). I’ve seen Mark Duplass being vulnerable and insecure in every movie he’s been in. Recently I saw Mads Mikkelsen challenging the women-only culture in the preschool system in The Hunt.
Violent, testosteronious men, like the ones in Bullhead, Rust and Bones and Tyrannosaur, aren’t looked up to, aren’t considered manly, impressive or powerful anymore. They’re rather regarded as people in urgent need of help for their mental illness.
Our ideals aren’t what they used to be. The man who women want to be with and who men want to be is someone who leads a complete life, someone who is in touch with his feelings and can communicate them. George Clooney may look silly when he runs, but he knows other things that are more important: how to connect with your children and have comfort ice cream with them when that’s what they need.
Why it matters
When I look at what I’ve written so far in this post, thoughts of doubt come up in my mind.
Why do I care so much about how men are portrayed in movies? They’re already overrepresented as it is. Shouldn’t my focus be on women? They if any know what it’s like to be locked into a cage.
However I don’t think you can separate it. A revolt against the old view on what masculinity means will also affect women. We’re moving away from outdated stereotypes that feed racism, ageism and sexism towards something new, a world yet-to-come, where everyone is free to be whoever they want to, regardless of gender. And we’re in this together.
Someone has scratched a hole in the cage wall so let’s help out making it wider and permanent:
Keep bitching. If you think the movie is full of tired clichés and a ridiculously outdated view on men and women, say so in your review, even if it feels as if you’ve said it a gazillion of times! You never know who’s listening.
Keep exploring, keep questioning, but also remember to encourage and spread the word about filmmakers who dare to seek out new ways to look at masculinity and femininity in movies. Again: you never know who’s listening.
Inch by inch, movie by movie, we’re moving forward towards a future when labels such as “masculinity” and “femininity” have lost their meaning or at least become a lot blurrier. There will be openings where we can slip in and out as we want to. The cage won’t be a prison, just a place where we go to play for fun sometimes.
There’s a revolution in the air.
This post is a part of a blogathon run by the Swedish film blogging network Filmspanarna. The theme was “masculinity”. Here’s a list of links to the other participants (all other posts in Swedish):
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