Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Don't Kill Yourself

So for reasons, a lot of reasons, it's time for me to revisit the concept of MANHOOD! Let me be clear while Donald Trump is the impetus for me actually sitting down and writing something I've been in a perpetual identity crisis since the end of college regarding what the hell adulthood and masculinity mean on a personal level when a lot of the stuff I want to do as a MAN seems just out of reach for me.

And I also want to be clear I don't blame women for any of it though that Fight Club clip might make it seem otherwise.  I've seen those asshats and want to say loud and clear I absolutely fucking hate them. And think they are part of the problem.

I blame racism, classism, and mostly myself for it all but I don't have it in me to do another Marxist diatribe right now. Wish I did but for some reason the wind has been knocked out of those sails.

So let's try something different.

For better or worse I contextualize my life via media (stick a pin in that) so let's talk about two media portrayals that at my coming of age defined the how I wanted my personal vision of masculinity to exhibit itself.  Gran Torino and Scott Pilgrim.

Also this gives me a chance to square my love-hate relationship with Clint Eastwood in an interesting way. Like I said Gran Torino came out at exactly the right place and time to define what adulthood and masculinity mean for me and then the primary force behind it comes out of the woodwork to essentially undercut almost everything I felt that movie was telling me.

Eastwood is so much of a cinematic force that it's easy to forget that a lot of his later movies aren't ABOUT the characters he plays.

At least not in the way his old school "classic" movies are.

If you really want to understand Gran Torino you have to realize it's not fundamentally Eastwood as Walt's movie. It's Thao's.

And dear god if that movie did anything more to make Thao like a 19 year-old me they would have had to turn him into a Black guy with glasses.  The movie is Thao's coming of age story. But it's doesn't adhere to the usual formula of a male coming of age story and in doing so becomes something new and different. Most of these stories are about what does a person have to do to be RESPECTED as a man but Gran Torino is more intrinsic. What does a person have to do to ACT as a man, to BE a man.

And the movie is all about the dissonance between what that means for both Thao and Walt.  Hell that is the foundation of their inter-generational friendship.  For Walt what defines manhood is sacrifice. And all the sacrifices he's made have left him a hollow shell of a man as the world has changed around him and refuses to acknowledge those sacrifices.

Despite not having a lot in common he looks at Thao and realizes he's just at the age where he's going to start making the sorts of sacrifices a man makes and wants to emotionally help him through it by preparing him for it.

Then the film goes into a giant left turn as Walt realizes that making those types of sacrifices will LITERALLY destroy Thao as he picks up a gun to go on a suicide mission to defend his family.

Thao deserves better than that so Walt scrambles to think up some other solution to the immediate problem.


The movie was screaming to guys like me don't be Walt. He's honorable in his way but there might be something better for you all if you choose to grasp for it.

The movie is vague about what that something better might be but it is clear that it's saying that modern masculinity should not be judged by Walt's standard. So what should it be judged by.

Dispite all the fight scenes, sight gags, and video game references Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is fundamentally about Scott's journey from emotional immaturity to emotional maturity.

While the movie isn't about repudiating 1950's style masculinity it is inseparable from the exact moment in time it was made. I could not and still can not escape the fact that if I tried to judge myself by my father's standards I would probably kill myself in the attempt to man-up.

ESPECIALLY as a young black guy. I don't want to say this glibly but a hell of an enormous amount of effort on my parents' part was spent trying to do anything in their power to keep me from anything that might lead to jail. And I DO NOT want to throw all that away.  And still I know people who despite their best attempts still wound up in that system.

I can't.

I can't.

I can't.

There has to be something else.  And Scott Pilgrim lead me to think about that something else. Scott Pilgrim is so far from Clint Eastwood it almost breaks my brain but by the end of it well he's obtained manhood. A different kind of manhood.

Time to stick a needle in Mr. Eastwood's eye. When Scott Pilgrim first game out there was a generational divide that caused it to fail miserably at the box office. There was this generational divide as a lot of older audiences found it to be all style and no substance. But the style was part of the substance.

By filling itself with ephemera seen as to be childish while still making itself about emotional maturity the movie was redefining what that emotional maturity was about. It's not about whether you still like video games, or anime. It's not about how many romantic entanglements you've had. It's not even about how much money you make.

It's about how you treat the people around you and respect their feelings and lives. And yeah the movie is about Scott going from not having a clue to all of a sudden getting that the people around them have their own lives, and emotions and desires worth taking into consideration.

By the end of the movie the quest for Ramona's heart becomes kind of irrelevant as Scott realizes that Gideon Graves represents everything that by then he's come to hate about himself and deserves a right ass kicking as a repudiation of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Facebook Comments

Note: These Comments are from all across this blog.