|Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven
Wednesday, December 01, 2004 Whimpering Boys
Are people noticing the lack of manliness in movies and music?
This year we had Troy and Alexander the Great featuring fey, Playgirl pinups Brad Pitt and Colin Ferrell. Producers have tried to make a stud out of Ben Affleck, and the long lasting Tom Cruise can't really be anybody's idea of a man's man, can he?
It seems that Hollywood is having more and more difficulty in finding and casting males who actually exude manliness or virility.
In the music field you have the boy bands with their nasal and whiney falsettos, silly hair, and clownish dance moves. I like Clay Aiken, great voice, but he isn't any kind of Sinatra (who was a geeky, somewhat effeminate crooner in his early days, too).
I was listening to songs at Garageband.com. A site that replaces MP3.com. What I heard was a horde of whimpering boys and bitchy, angry girls complaining and complaining.
Now, there are a couple of basic songs in the world - I'm in love and I'm happy, happy, happy -- or -- I'm not in love and I'm sad, sad, sad.
That's pretty much it for the pop vein. A song, to connect with others needs to be about them, and not about all the personal drama and angst of the artist.
Artist types are notoriously narcissistic so they think that their every stubbed toe is endlessly fascinating to others, or else they have only just discovered (as my daughter was told by an older, more hard nosed co-worker) that first loves never work out.
But there is something unseemly about all these young men moaning in groaning in Dave Matthewesque falsettoes about how close to suicide they are. As if we care and are supposed to feel especially sorry for them. All the young Werthers have simply become too much. An occasional nod to despair, okay, but a total slide into unmitigated nihilism makes audiences want to slit their wrists.
Hollywood throws up a new pretty boy every few months hoping he'll be the next John Wayne, Clark Gable, or Jimmy Stewart (Tom Hanks took that role). Josh Hartnet anyone? Jake Gyllanhall? Toby Maguire? Joaquin Phoenix? Please.
Okay, Russell Crowe succeeds well.
The problem, of course, is as old as the hills. It takes one to know one. Birds of a feather.
Producers and directors don't come from reality tested lives anymore. They come from suburbs, film schools, business schools, and places where all thought is liberal thought. Writers don't have a background in many different jobs among different peoples.
Liberalism has taught so many that only feelings matter. Actors learn how to emote (over emote usually) very well, but no one has ever taught them how to be men. They don't have the core which transmits itself naturally. When they have to play police, firemen, or soldiers no one is really convinced.
John Wayne, who didn't serve in WW2 (because he couldn't get the rank he wanted, so the story goes) made many war movies that, for many, captured the essence of an American fighting man. I'm sure there are many vets who laugh at John Wayne as warrior, but I think their complaints are about the fact that WW2 war movies never captured anything like the real horror and total snafus that they experienced.
Women have a similar problem in that as actors and singers, they have submitted to being complete whores for men in their private and artistic lives, and have no idea how to play women who are not easy.
I was watching a movie, Ella Enchanted (not good but a few good moments), featuring Anne Hathaway whom I found wonderfully appealing and fresh mainly because I realized that she had a virginal quality. Something which is exquisite in an attractive young woman, and yet which you rarely see these days. (I suppose she also reminded me of my daughter and my affection for her.)
There were a few young actresses who had that quality. Natalie Portman had it, but it looks like she's thrown it away. Kirsten Dunst could have had it, but she threw it away as fast as possible.
Melanie (Olivia de Havilland) in Gone With The Wind had goodness in the highest degree, and I remember simply adoring her when I first saw the movie as a teenager. Goodness and purity is winsome, but in movies, theater, music, and art today men are achingly emotional boys and the women are whores.
But the arts industries can't stop themselves. They are on a self-destructive course, not because they are giving the people what they want, but because they lack genuine sense and wisdom. They don't know what life is like anymore. There comes a point where trying to imagine what another's life is like or a situation like war, a fire, a disaster, an emergency room, an ordinary but decent job, an ordinary but decent life, or an ordinary but decent church and minister -- imagination fails when lives are uninformed by actual experience and respect for others.
The artists, writers, directors, producers, actors, and so forth are mostly hothouse flowers kept under special conditions far away from ordinary and harsher realities. (Hollywood is harsh in a much different way. Egotism and despotism runs amock, and there is a viciousness which is real and yet unreal in its perverseness.)
If it weren't for our Armed Forces and their actions, we wouldn't ever see real men in action anymore (and even then it's not easy to hear about or see).
posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:57 AM |