The Masculinity Crisis and the Death of the Hollywood Hero
Audiences still crave Alpha Males, but movie studios have other ideas...
A quick Google search for 2023’s most anticipated movies brings up some interesting results.
- “John Wick: Chapter 4”
- “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One”
- “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”
- “Creed III”
- “Extraction 2”
- “The Equalizer 3”
What do all these movies have in common? Everyone has a strong, male lead character.
The odd thing is that the demand and desire for these movies come at the very same time as Hollywood is doing all in its power to demonize masculinity and kill off traditional Hollywood heroes.
I’m not talking about the Marvel comic book heroes; I mean the classic, James Bond types. Real men, not men in tights who shoot lasers from their eyes.
In a fantastic essay discussing the emasculation of male actors, Dr. Marcia Sirota, a Toronto-based psychiatrist, describes a “gradual process of psychological and emotional castration” that is draining the “masculine energy” out of Hollywood.
The days of the real American hero are quickly drawing to an end. This is not a bug; it’s a feature. Today, Dr. Sirota opined, the big screen (as well as the small screen) is flooded with “man-boys” who now rival the girls for looks with their “high cheekbones, pouty lips and ultra-long lashes.”
Before, not that long ago, girls wanted to date or marry the men they saw on screen; now, they’re more likely to want to emulate them. The feeling appears to be mutual. In Hollywood, where authentic masculinity is ridiculed and condemned, men have been reduced to emasculated caricatures, pale imitators of traditional masculinity.
Even Brad Pitt, once considered the epitome of masculine energy, can be found wearing a skirt.
#BulletTrain actor Brad Pitt on wearing a skirt: “We’re all gonna die, so let’s mess it up.” https://t.co/c4Ce3LROrj pic.twitter.com/m0RQImAidz
— Variety (@Variety) August 2, 2022
The actors in the abovementioned movies, the likes of Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, and Denzel Washington, are not just physically imposing individuals capable of commanding the screen.
They’re an endangered species.
They are representations of a time that is quickly coming to an end, a time when there was a place (and a demand) for strong males in Hollywood. The characters the three men play resonate with viewers for deep, psychological reasons. They offer a temporary escape to millions of male (and female) viewers at a time when western society has, to some extent, turned its back on men.
The psychologist Tania Reynolds recently discussed the fact that, in modern-day America, men’s suffering is treated a lot differently to women’s suffering. As Reynolds noted, men are more likely to be homeless, imprisoned and to be college dropouts.
As Pew research shows, men, especially black men, are more likely to die from drug overdoses than women. Men are also more likely to commit suicide. In the U.S., suicide is now the leading cause of death for males under the age of 50.
Yet, as Reynolds pointed out, society is still unwilling to fully acknowledge men’s suffering. That’s because millions of Americans still subscribe to a vague, empirically unsound notion that we live in a “man’s world.” If that is the case, then why are so many men so miserable?
The false notion that men, regardless of their social status, financial situation or upbringing, experience unparalleled privileges stems from the idea of agency. Men are, on average, perceived to have more agency, to have greater control over their lives.
This belief contributes to the pernicious aggressor-victim dynamic, where men are far more likely to be viewed as perpetrators of various crimes, and women are far more likely to be viewed as faultless victims.
This also helps explain why, in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, #MeToo quickly morphed into the “believe all women” movement. To believe all women is to, almost automatically, be suspicious of all men.
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Although the effects of the #MeToo movement is not quite as profound today as it was a few years ago, the idea that the vast majority of men are decent, law-abiding citizens deserving of sympathy still strikes many as odd, even laughable.
This brings us back to the movies mentioned in the first paragraph and the escapism they offer. These come at a time when masculine energy is being drained from society, not just Hollywood.
Sadly, though, the days of Alpha-fueled escapism are coming to an end, and fast. Tom Cruise, the star of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, is 60. Denzel Washington, “The Equalizer’s” main man, is 68. Mr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), meanwhile, is 80.
These legends can’t go on forever. The same is true for other icons of masculine energy, actors like Samuel L. Jackson (74), Robert De Niro (79) and Al Pacino (82).
So, if you have the opportunity and the desire, enjoy these actors and their work while you still can. Because, in just a few years, Hollywood won’t have any Alpha males left.
John Mac Ghlionn is a psychosocial researcher and contributor to UnHerd, the NY Post and Newsweek.
That’s why I don’t watch modern movies any longer. There’s a huge amount of movie/TV content that can be enjoyed. More than you can ever see from pre-2000’s. We don’t need Hollywood any longer.
The other problem is we have too many outlets that need too much content. When you had 3 networks and a handful of movies coming out every few weeks, that was enough. Every show or movie was an event. Remember the original Star Wars movies were released 3 years apart! Now we get a new Star Wars TV show every few months. We’re overwhelmed by mediocre content. And studio heads are too afraid to push back for fear of being cancelled by their subordinates.
I’m surprised Mr. Mc Ghlionn didn’t mention new masculine stars like Chris Pratt (age: 43) and Creed III’s Michael B. Jordan (age: 35).
I hope they weren’t dismissed because they enjoyed starring in Marvel films and shows.
The left has been going after Chris Pratt like crazy since he’s Christian. He’s no Clint Eastwood but probably the best we can hope for as a masculine role model. Though he is frequently treated like a fool in the Guardians movies.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a tongue in cheek take on sci-fi films like Star Wars. So, Pratt’s character, Star-Lord, is supposed to be a more foolish take on Han Solo. That’s the joke.
Reb, what do you think of the elite, liberal, Hollywood, woke agenda with hiring so many actors with blonde hair. The blonde population is only about 1 percent. I don’t need Hollywood forcing blonde haired people on me. They think we are so stupid and can’t see what they are doing. They are also trying to cancel anyone with 5 fingers on each hand. The next Star Wars movie will only be hiring actors with 4 fingered hands. Don’t believe me? Look it up.
You said that you don’t need Hollywood any longer but you watch old movies. Those movies were made in Hollywood too. Sounds like you still need Hollywood. Also, when you watch old movies you are still giving money to new Hollywood because they own and profit from their back catalogue.
Alpha men aren’t going away. They are appearing in foreign language productions that were originally made in their origin countries. American movies continue to lose influence and box office to foreign productions. People will get their entertainment elsewhere when there’s nothing to watch. Thus the decline in box office revenue. People will watch Squid Games instead.
This underscores the deeper issues: conservatives haven’t created a viable alternative to Hollywood.
Until that changes, every movie you rent or stream generates profit for liberal Hollywood.
Yeah, as you have noticed Reb is not too bright. He thinks he’s really sticking it to Hollywood by only watching old movies.
We need Hollywood to stop making only woke movies. Top Gun was super woke. There were so many woke messages hidden in the film. Rewatch it. It’s all there. Why was there a woman pilot? Why did Tom Cruise have a woke haircut? Plus the uniforms were all wokey. Pilots don’t wear that. Tom Cruise is not an Alpha male. In fact there was not one Alpha male in the entire movie. They want males to go away.
You stole the words out my mouth.
The irony is that decades ago, Hollywood used to be conservative and(for lack of a better term), “unwoke”. Now they are trying to FORCE things on movie-goers they used to be too smart to allow.