Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Masculinity Conundrum: From The Silver Screen to the Deadening Earth

I have been sitting on two essays for the past six months--essays that certainly discuss seminal films and filmmakers, but that basically only use them as small examples in the much larger context of masculinity in American society. I wondered if they should be shared on a film website, since they are really not much about film at all.

But a recent discussion over at Utah Savage prompted me to post them.

The first is an analysis of America's continuing fascination with the "Frontier," that which describes a territory claimed by men to pioneer their own way of life.

The second is a dissection of the "masculine struggle" as a social construct, which traces the masculine myth from the American Revolution through to today.

In the newly-packaged edition, I am labeling them, "The Masculinity Conundrum: From The Silver Screen to the Deadening Earth."

More soon...


Utah Savage said...

Thank you J. I am really looking forward to this. Despite our early conflict, I always looked forward to hearing from you. You are an incredibly powerful writer. Most powerful when you are not quite so angry. That is probably true of all of us. Anger tends to get in the way of thought. You are truly gifted and I await your papers. I also really appreciate your comments on the Myth of Manliness. You are the only one who really took it seriously and stepped up to the plate. You hit it out of the park. Your comment was actually better than my piece deserved, but like most writers I do so appreciate the smart thoughtful response.

K wrote the second best piece of the day in response to Eck!... It was a cheap and easy joke for me, but she gave it weight it didn't deserve, and by so doing made the post really have power. You guys are quite a couple.

It's, no doubt, way past midnight where you are but I still have forty minutes to wish you Happy Birthday again, K. Remember you have forty to look forward to. That's when the best time of your life begins. Until then it's mostly practice.

Utah Savage said...

While you're sleeping, I want to pose a question. It is film related, but only tangentially. I used to go to all kinds of performances, but film was certainly one of my favorite forms of creative expression. Over the years I noticed a change in the behavior of audiences that eventually ruined the communal viewing experience for me. Mostly I noticed that audiences became noisier. They spoke, they ate, they took their infants and toddlers to essentially adult entertainment. I'm not talking porn, but certainly movies with strong sexual content, adult content, violence. I think they did this to avoid paying for a babysitters, but I always felt that if you can't afford a babysitter, you can't afford a movie. Babies cried, food wrappers made crinkly noises, and talking increased over the years. Eventually I gave up the movie going experience entirely. I had tried as nicely as possible over time to deal the the talking in my vicinity by turning, putting my index finger gently to my lips and saying softly "Ssshh, please." I have then had people tell me to go fuck myself. Get louder. I have gotten up and tried to find a quieter spot in the theater, but in the end the noise of the audience drove me out of the theatre for good. So for years, I only got to see a film when it came out on VHS, and then DVD.

Now I have an old friend, male, my age, retired history professor. I used to love to take classes from him whenhe taught at the University here--great teacher, brilliant political mind with an encyclopedic grasp of the historical significance of our time and place in the larger world. When he retired a couple of years ago he moved back to Salt Lake from DC. He started trying to get me to do things with him. Kept asking me to go to a movie. I told him my reasons for not wanting to enter a theater and his solution was the earliest matinee on an early weekday. So now we have nearly private viewings. He is the only person I will go to a movie with. We like the same kind of movies--I have more tolerance for the very violent films, but he is willing. I've known this wonderful man all my adult life and he is the only man I've known who never hit on me. Not once. Not ever. This is another thing that makes our relationship possible. I completely trust him to be my friend. No BS. No flirting. Great, intelligent conversation, a shared history, and a love of serious film.

This is a lot of history, maybe should have been left in an email, but my question for you is, What the hell happened to our culture that it became acceptable to talk throughout a performance of any kind. When did people become so inconsiderate of the rest of the audience, and why? My theory is television viewing. That the eating and talking just got transported from the living room to the theater. What's your take on all this? Much ado about nothing? Or is this something you notice as well. It could just be my misanthropy. And maybe all this happened prior to your coming of age.