America's Masculinity Crisis and the Death of the Hollywood Hero

If you have a few minutes, quickly Google search ‘the most anticipated movies of 2023.’ The results of the search may surprise you, with the likes of John Wick: Chapter 4, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Creed III, Extraction 2, and The Equalizer 3 all popping up. What do all of these movies have in common? Every one of them is led by a strong, male character. The type of guy that opens beer bottles with his teeth, wrestles with bears for fun, and eats steak for breakfast. You know, manly men, the kind of guy your dad would approve of. The rather odd thing is that demand for these movies and their manly stars comes at a time when Hollywood is doing everything in its power to demonize masculinity and put an end to traditional Hollywood heroes. To be clear, I’m not talking about the heroes of the Marvel Universe. I’m talking about the classic, John McClane types, not men in tight leggings shooting lasers from various orifices. 

In a truly glorious essay discussing the emasculation of Hollywood males, Dr. Marcia Sirota, a psychiatrist based in Canada, describes a “gradual process of psychological and emotional castration” that has, in recent years, drained the “masculine energy” straight out of Hollywood. The days of the American hero are, she warns, coming to an end. This is not a glitch in the system; it is the system.

Today, Dr. Sirota emphasizes, our screens, both the big ones and small ones, are flooded with images of pathetic “man-boys," many of whom now rival females for looks, thanks to their “high cheekbones, pouty lips and ultra-long lashes.” In the 90’s, girls wanted to date or marry the men they saw on screen; fast forward 30 years, and they’re more likely to want to emulate them.  These “man boys,” it seems, feel the same way about women. If in doubt, let me point you in the direction of Brad Pitt, once considered the manliest of men. In recent times, the Fight Club star has developed a fondness for wearing skirts. Whether Pitt actually enjoys wearing skirts or just wore one to score brownie points with the woke mob is really a pointless debate. The fact that he - again, BRAD FREAKING PITT - wore a skirt tells us everything we need to know about the masculinity makeover currently taking place in Hollywood (and beyond). 

The actors in the movies mentioned at the start of the piece, the likes of Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, and Denzel Washington, wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt, onscreen or offscreen. These men aren’t just fine actors capable of carrying a movie on their shoulders; they are an endangered species, politically correct iconoclasts have them in their crosshairs. These men and the characters they play are reminders of a time that is quickly coming to an end, a time that once celebrated strong male actors. The reason why characters like Indian Jones and Ethan Hunt, the main protagonist in the Mission: Impossible film series,  are so popular is that they resonate with us on a deep, psychological level. Whether it’s a young boy who wishes he was a little braver, or a woman who longs to be held in the arms of a strapping, unapologetic man, these characters offer viewers an escape from a world that punishes the celebration of masculine energy. In fact, they offer viewers an escape from a world that routinely punishes masculinity, full stop. 

During a recent interview with the podcaster Chris Williamson, Tania Reynolds, a widely-respected psychologist, spoke about the ways in which society minimizes men's suffering, while at the same time overemphasizing the suffering of women. In 2023, right across the U.S., as Reynolds noted, men are more likely to be homeless, imprisoned, and to lack a college degree than women.  Moreover, as Pew Research shows, males, especially black males, are more likely to die from drug overdoses than females. They are also far more likely to take their own lives. In the U.S., suicide is now the leading cause of death for males under the age of 50. Yet, as Reynolds highlighted, we, as a society, either consciously or otherwise, constantly fail to acknowledge men's suffering.

The idea that we still live in a “man’s world” is not just wrong, it’s idiotic. We live in a hyper-feminized world, where men are constantly told that they are useless, dangerous, and toxic. The millions of men suffering in silence feel invisible, unloved, unwanted, and grossly misunderstood. They certainly don’t feel privileged or powerful. Don’t forget that we are still recovering from the effect of the “believe all women” movement, which, by default, painted all men in a truly disgusting light. 

So, if time permits, enjoy the likes of John Wick and Mission Impossible while you still can. Because, soon enough, Hollywood will be nothing but a bunch of men in skirts. 


Image: Title: craig-mclachlan-8B_DYG7Iaa4-unsplash.jpg
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