Wednesday 9th June, 2004

 
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The Pitt and the pendulum

There are undercurrents to men’s feelings for men that most men are downright not prepared to look at.

Time to start looking, fellahs. Tic-toc, tic-toc.

While, for instance, men are always promoting themselves as being more visual than women, this surpassing “visuality” supposedly does not encompass members of their own sex. To which I calmly remark, “COME ON!”

As with other glory-boy glorification movies, Troy cleaned up at the box office because he-men shelled out their chedder as much as the women who went to swoon over — take your pick — Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom.

Each main masculine character served in storytelling to succor men’s instinctual machinations that insist in a still, small voice, “Temet noce.” Know thyself, bruthuh. True.

Pitt, as Achilles, offers the tortured hero toing and froing between his sacred and profane. His love affair with the “holy woman” Briseis retrogrades to religious folklore of St George battling the dragon: described in Jungian terms as a man’s attempt to unite the male and female sides of his human character.

Achilles, wrestling with his soul’s-cages, is on “everyman’s” personal pursuance to sunder himself from the sexism that stymies him from seeing a truly good man cultivates yang into his yin. That is to say, he must put some woman into his man. Sometimes that can only happen via tantric corrections...basically when he tries a little tenderness, and puts his “man” into a woman.

In Eric Bana’s Hector, we are presented with the balanced male, the warrior of compassion, the man who would be king.

This, to me, is essentially what every boy knows he should aspire to become, until sexism steps him and tells him he has to be exactly like Achilles was before he opened his heart chakra and learned to shudder to the core of his masculine/male foundations.

Hector delivers the code — “and it is a simple one” — “Honour the Gods, love your woman, and defend your country!” A sharp contrast to Achilles’, “Take it! It’s yours!” The former walks in peace until he must protect all that’s dear to him. The latter tramples to take what never was his.

Tragically, the good, good man is killed by a man who is his lesser. This is happening around us every day today at genocidal proportions: loving, honorable men slain in the war of dogs.

Bloom, as Paris, delivers the Peter Pan flying about in every man: wanting to grow up, be responsible, love selflessly, live in honour; but thwarted by the equal longing to be Puer Aeternus, the eternal boy, who takes what he wants when he wants — be it Wendy, Helen, any woman, any how — without thought for consequences.

In the fairly happy Hollywood version Paris, too, comes to manhood; depicted as he (what else?) kills his opponent. Ah, yes, the mark of a real man. And we wonder why boys turn murderers.

This psycho-babble is all well and good. But I gotto tell you that movies like Troy are so popular with men because it gives them a chance to ogle other men without having to explain themselves.

Edward Lucie-Smith, in his book Adam: the Male Figure in Art, explains: “In their most recent manifestations, elaborate tattoos have often been part of a specifically gay subculture...it allows the male to attract the masculine gaze without compromising his own masculinity.”

Manly-man movies allow men to bask in appreciation of what is considered the real measure of beauty, the aesthetic norm: the male body. Yet, men can take uninhibited eyefulls of the various man-flesh on display without fear of being taken to be womanly.

And while no man grunted out loud, as did the women in the audience, when Pitt first disrobed after battle and, all a-sweaty and blood-splattered, began splashing cold water on his nipples and shoulders, I would be hard-pressed to believe that men in the audience didn’t behold that demigod-ish body and mentally mumble, “Oh my God” in tones that would have made Plato cross-eyed and weak in the knees.

This fact is all too evident in the world: many men love men more than women, hence why they don’t see women as equals.

Men love men. And in putting aside childish things, and the better to understand themselves, their relationships with other men, women, the Earth, men need to start asking the right question about this love.

Not, “How much?” But, “How exactly?”

 

 

 

 

 

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