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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Art of Manliness

I was looking for some clips from "guy movies" to use in our pilot program and came across this great website "The Art of Manliness". I wanted to share this site with all of you as a fantastic resource for critical discussions about the dominant stories of masculinity.

I'm also curious about what movies have influenced the shaping of your norms or expectations of what it means to be a "real man" in today's world and/or the subculture that you identify with?

I know the movies that have shaped my ideas are the ones I own and watch, or have watched, over and over each year. Five come to mind quickly: "A River Runs Through It"; "Good Will Hunting"; "Borne Identity"; "Once"; and "Marley and Me". Several questions occur to me as I make this list but the most important is "how do these influence my perception(s) of my own masculinity today?"

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I shape my whole identity around these movies but it is funny to think how many parts of these reinforce several of my beliefs, attitudes, aspirations, and behaviors. For example, a couple years ago I took up fly fishing because of Brad Pitt's character and how effortless and peaceful those scenes look on the river in Montana look. Now whenever I'm fly fishing I hear Robert Redford's voice commentating in the background...just kidding. I have, seriously, always loved the outdoors and getting away from the busyness of city life makes fly fishing alone on a river or lake all the more life-giving.

"Good Will Hunting" had its influence on my pursuit of a therapy degree and my continued work with troubled youth in programs I coordinate as well as where I spend many a volunteer hour. I like "Once" for its indie feel and clean break from American status-quo movies about bands -- that said, with the exceptions of "Spinal Tap" and HBO series "Flight of the Conchords". The Frames did an excellent job of weaving their music around the story without the usual emphasis on sex and drugs. And I really liked how Marketa had her own agency with regards to decision making in relationship with Glenn. "Marley and Me" is a no-brainer in that I am fan of big dogs, especially Labradors, and the influence of pets on people's lives. And I will freely admit that I just like the action in the "Bourne" movies for what it is.

Often, in doing this work we become very critical of the influence of media for stereotyping unhealthy norms of men and women and relationships. Thankfully, "The Art Of Manliness" got me thinking about these various movies I'm reminded media can provide positive inspiration as well as be a powerful educational tool. I hope you all can make use of their site and look forward to hearing from you about the various movies or TV series that have had an influence on your experience of masculinity (or femininity).

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