Last night, after watching "Bride Wars," my boyfriend and I got into a discussion about the portrayal of men in film.
(Despite his willingness to watch chick flicks with me, the bf is what you'd call a "man's man.")
It was spurred by the end of the film (if you haven't seen it, stop reading), where Anne Hathaway's character leaves her fiance at the altar and ends up marrying Kate Hudson's character's brother.
My boyfriend saw this: The brother was a "snake" who finagled his way into Anne Hathaway's heart. She left "the only real man in the movie" and ended up with said snake.
I saw: A girl who probably made a huge mistake by leaving her high-quality fiance, but was able to find a truer love with a childhood friend.
What a difference gender makes. In the end, I thought it was a light-hearted cute film, while he saw it as yet another demasculinization of men.
Admittedly, this is a pretty heavy conversation to come out of "Bride Wars."
But I can't disagree with him - 40 or 50 years ago, the idea of a "man" was characterized by actors like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and even Andy Griffith. TV shows like "Father Knows Best," "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Leave it to Beaver" defined a man.
It's no secret that times have changed and many of those changes are positive. But the issue at hand is the weakening of the male, both in media portrayal and in society.
Nowadays, movies like "I Love You, Man" give us a main character (played by Paul Rudd) who, for all intents and purposes, is more female than male. Where did the testosterone go?
While we've still got Clint Eastwood for a few more years, the portrayal of men has largely taken a step in the sensitive - dare I say, metrosexual - direction.
Do we have another Arnold? Stalone? Segal? Is that type of character still relevant?
I think Gerard Butler is one actor who is bringin' the manly back. Not only is he gorgeous, he plays strong male characters. I mean, who could possibly be more manly than King Leonidis?
Here's an interesting opinion piece from the Western Illinois University's Western Courier from a few years back, making several of the same points I've made.
The Newsweek blog Pop Vox discusses the topic in relation to "Mad Men" here. It's an interesting and conflicted piece - and one I don't entirely agree with. But worth the read.