I was looking over my movie collection tonight. Its a modest collection; the few DVDs that I took to college with me, bought for $5 at Target, or got on Amazon. I even have doubles of some of them! (I needed it on Blu-ray too).
This is going somewhere I promise.
I have been thinking/reading about what it means to be a man in this day and age. Some authors think (and rightly so, in my opinion) that the very soul of man has been lost. In Wild at Heart, John Eldredge argues that most males (across America primarily, sorry guys) while nice, are not the men of courage and strength that we read about it the history books.
Fortunately, filmmakers (God bless 'em) have turned these history books into films.
So, back to perusing my DVDs.
I decided over the weekend, to watch one 'man movie' every night. Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart...the classics. One night after watching another celluloid hero save the day and the damsel in distress, I started looking at the copyright dates. Most of the films that I look to as what I call 'The Canon of Manhood' were surprisingly made in the late '90s or very early 2000's. I racked my brain trying to think of any movies in the same vein that were more recent; the 'new Braveheart'. I couldn't think of anything. The only movies I could think of were 'safer' movies with 'safe heroes', guys that just kill everyone in sight (sometimes for no reason), or films about drinking way to much and making the decisions that inevitably follow.
It got me thinking: The movies, tv shows, music and pop culture of 'now' are all promoting a certain kind of man (and woman). In the last few years I have seen a change in this image and the movies seem to back it up. Maybe the films of the 'Canon' were just the dying breath of the resistance. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.
In watching these movies from a few years ago that promote the courage and honor I was fortunate enough to be exposed to growing up, I see the danger that Eldredge claims to see so clearly. I think I might see it too. Manhood is under attack, there is no doubt about it.
My solution; my small way of fighting back was to take a trip back in time and watch these films that promote the best and most neglected traits of manhood. In a culture that never ceases to look forward, I think its time to look back. This weekend I visited soldiers and brothers and and some guys who need to blow up some guns in Greece, just to see what they have to say about the state of things. It wasn't great feedback.
I can't do most of the things they did, but it can't hurt to try and be a little more like them. Watching all those movies definitely made me see some room for improvement in my life.
I would love it if someone started making a new generation of 'man movies' to add to the 'Canon.' However, maybe we don't need more movies. Maybe its time to start acting more like the men we want to be in our workplaces, homes, and favorite bars. Maybe we've watched our heroes fight it out long enough.
I think we could be heroes too. Maybe they'll make a movie about it.