Despite founding the Beverly Hills, 90210 fan club in high school, a profound love for Linda Ronstadt/Aaron Neville collaborations , and writing for a pop culture blog, I consider myself a man’s man. I like beer (especially nowadays, as Zima becomes harder and harder to find), cars, and building fires. I believe that there are at least three situations that warrant fist fighting, and I don’t believe that there are more than three situations where it’s acceptable for a man to cry (but, yes, a library closing is certainly one of those three reasons).
So, I was excited when a friend sent me a link to the trailer for Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary, Mansome, which is headed for theaters this May.
However, after watching the trailer, the excitement turned to apprehension.
I think that the topic of being a real man is one that is well worth a feature-length doc. Tony Soprano’s famous quote about the disappearance of the strong, silent type is something that every man has contemplated. We do it mostly in secret, because we’re embarrassed to admit that we want to be that type of man (whether there’s any resemblance or not), and that we have questions as to how to become that man.
I love that someone is asking the question, “what makes a real man?” However, I’m apprehensive, because Spurlock is asking that question of Judd Apatow, Will Arnett, and Paul Rudd. Paul Rudd can’t even play a real man in a movie, much less be one in real life.
I’m apprehensive because I see a lot of focus on facial hair and the easy jokes that come along with it (“I’m embracing my inner-porn star,” says the clever Spurlock). Will this documentary take us behind the scenes at the
free to the public ever-exclusive Million Mustache March in Washington D.C.? Will we hear hilarious, original new spins on the Tom Selleck and Catfish Hunter ‘staches?
I’m apprehensive because Mansome’s trailer shows a lot of footage of tanning salons, back shaving, and eyebrow waxing, and I anticipate at least three dozen references to the term “manscape.” I’m foreseeing a ton of footage of chiseled men in towels or less, pampering themselves at spas and whatnot. If I’m going to see something like that this summer, I’ll just go check out Magic Mike in theaters (don’t worry, if I go with one of my guy friends, I’ll put a bucket of popcorn in the seat between us).
But, I’m mostly apprehensive because I don’t think Mansome will explore how the perception of a man has changed over the past 50 years. Hell, even 20 years. It would be interesting to hear from a generation who grew up admiring men like these:
How a father was portrayed on TV back then:
To how he’s portrayed now:
Look, I’m sure that there’s more to Mansome than what’s in the two-minute trailer. The women in the clip (not Jason Batemen or John Waters, but the women at 0:35 and 0:38) are hopefully experts in the field of gender roles in the media and will help to shed some light on how society’s notion of a man has changed, but again, I’m apprehensive that they won’t.
Will Arnett can be heard saying, “you know, being a man today means a different thing than it did any time during history.” And he’s so right. The trailer clearly states the question in bold type right at the front: “What makes a man?” But my guess is that this film is going to take an irreverent look at things that don’t make a man, like shower gels and wacky beards. And, you know, it will probably make for a funny movie.
But I think a more interesting film, especially if you could get the same star-power behind it, would be to make a documentary that actually takes an earnest approach to the question we all want the answer to, but don’t have the balls to ask: “What really makes a man?”