Saturday 12 December 2015

Stand Aside, Citizen! This Is A Job For Beta Man Male!

Jonathan McIntosh opines:
A staple of the superhero genre is the tendency to concoct these elaborate scenarios where "good guys" end up having to fight each other for some reason. This is often framed as a way to resolve their interpersonal issues before they can go beat up the “bad guys” and save the world. The ultimate macho pissing contest. Who’s the toughest tough guy of them all? How do superheroes make friends? By punching each other. How do you resolve conflicts, big and small? By punching each other. Whose plan will be followed? How is trust built among teammates? Face-punching can accomplish all this and more. We need to raise questions at the model of male bonding and friendship-building by way of violence.
Do we? OK. If you say so.
Back before The Avengers were household names, superheroes were the domain of geekdom, and particularly “geek guys” who, to some degree, felt personally ostracised and disillusioned by the ideals of stereotypical tough-guy manhood in mainstream culture. Despite being made to feel subordinate to concepts of hypermasculinity, many geek guys have nonetheless embraced superheroes that embody hypermasculine traits and values. They tend to idolise those ideals despite being alienated from them as individuals. This self-identification with hypermasculinity is no doubt one of the factors in the rampant misogyny that plagues the comic book industry and community. The particular brand of superhero masculinity represents a popular conception of what it means to be a “real man,” a conception that is not relegated solely to the realms of fantasy. Hypermasculinity manifests everywhere in our culture and can be seen reflected in politics….

Eh? What? Sorry, I must have drifted off there for a bit.

I’m awake now! Pray carry on, Jonathan!
One common reaction I encounter whenever I bring up these questions is….
A solid punch on the nose? No?

… the concern that there's no way to create exciting dramatic tension or conflict in movies, other than resorting to violence as the ultimate resolution. Of course, that’s not true, as evidenced by one of the most exciting and intense pictures of the year, The Martian. A remarkable thing about that film is that it contains absolutely no violence or killing. All problems are solved through science, cooperation and human creativity. And yet the filmmakers behind The Martian managed to create a widely successful, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat blockbuster. Given the current state of the world, we could certainly do with a hell of a lot more heroes who solve complex problems with innovation and ingenuity rather than by punching each other in the face. Perhaps it's time to move on from these tired masculinised concepts.
*sighs* ‘The Martian’ is as much a fantasy as superheroes dukin’ it out. They are all fantasy. They are entertainment. Nothing more.

If you can’t handle that much excitement, there’s always a ‘My Little Pony’ rerun on the Cartoon Channel, or something.


Antisthenes said...

Indeed it is entertainment, Escapism from which after watching we return to reality unless of course you are intellectually challenged like this bloke is.

If he really wants to know why we like this kind of thing, men and women, because it is in our genes to do so. Two natural forces drive us survival and procreation and here is procreation at work. Being more manly than the next bloke is more likely to give that bloke the chance to procreate or at least more often as women like manly blokes(alpha males).

DavefromTacoma said...

First off, the premise of men finding themselves in deep doo-doo who then "engineer the shit" out of it is not exactly a new one in the movies. As a boy I loved the movie "Flight of the Phoenix" (which came out in 1965). Just like I loved the movie "Apollo 13". Guess what, us men admire and respect people who can "engineer the shit" out of a problem.

What Mr. McIntosh seems to want is one, and only one, plotline that resolves a problem. Meanwhile, mature and rounded people understand that, as in life, there are different ways that problems get resolved.

Anonymous said...

"Drama is conflict" is a cliche but none the less true. Without opposition from someone or something there is no drama. This is NOT the same as "drama is violence" which no one sensible has ever said because it plainly isn't necessarily true.
In The Martian the principle conflict is with the environment of space. Few environments are so hostile so few stories can use environment alone as the source of conflict.
In most stories the conflicts are mainly between people, because most environments or (non-Sci-Fi) creatures don't produce enough complex conflict alone to sustain a narrative.

This is all very basic stuff for anyone who actually creates fiction. Sadly, it's the sort of basic stuff which writers about fiction can't be bothered to learn or chose to ignore.

Vanessa said...

Read some drivel in my time, but hell this takes the biscuit.

Andy said...

I rather like the idea of disputes resolved with a punch-up. Politics as pugilism could really take off. In the Blue corner David Cameron and in the red corner Angela Merkel, the smart money is on Angela to win in the first. The World Champion would, naturally, be Vladimir (alpha) Putin.

John M said...

You have to marvel (geddit?) at how some of these people get jobs at the broadsheets, because my 12 year old neice could write a more intelligent piece than that.

Lord T said...

It is only recently in human history where the guy in charge didn't put himself in danger and fight for his principles.

Sadly that seems to have gone out of fashion and funnily enough at the same time we get career politicians whose only skill set is lying so convincingly that people believe them for a very long time.

If Cameron, Obama and Merkel had to don armour and go out to kill, and risk being killed, then there would be a lot less wars. Note I ignored Putin there as he probably would.

Crazed Weevil said...

You should note that this man has quite the reputation for being a blithering idiot bad in fact that he has his own hashtag; #FullMcIntosh.

JuliaM said...

"If he really wants to know why we like this kind of thing, men and women, because it is in our genes to do so."

Can't buck nature! (though the SJWs are desperate to try).

"As a boy I loved the movie "Flight of the Phoenix" (which came out in 1965)."

The remake wasn't terrible, either.

"This is all very basic stuff for anyone who actually creates fiction. "

I don't think Jonathan creates much, do you?

" bad in fact that he has his own hashtag; #FullMcIntosh."