Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity

The question that really comes out of this is ‘why are boys behaving in this way?’ ‘Why is 90% of violence committed by boys and men?’ It’s not just in these few places (like video games or movies) but it’s in what passes for normal culture. It is part of the normal training and conditioning and socializing of boys and men. That’s a point that a lot of people don’t want to hear, but if you look at the culture these kids are immersed in, violence is a normal, natural part, not just of the world, but of being masculine or being a male person in the world. It’s not just in these few places (like video games or movies) but it’s in what passes for normal culture. It is part of the normal training and conditioning and socializing of boys and men. That’s a point that a lot of people don’t want to hear, but if you look at the culture these kids are immersed in, violence is a normal, natural part, not just of the world, but of being masculine or being a male person in the world.

In this innovative and wide-ranging analysis, Jackson Katz argues that widespread violence in American society, including the tragic school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and elsewhere, needs to be understood as part of an ongoing crisis in masculinity. This exciting new media literacy tool– utilizing racially diverse subject matter and examples– will enlighten and provoke students (both males and females) to evaluate their own participation in the culture of contemporary masculinity.

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  • brian

    faggot…lol joke… yeah i get it.. bit boring though, same point over and over.

  • GhostofJohnBrown

    Very disappointing documentary. Really shouldn’t be in the psychology section, there is very little real psychological analysis.

    Right from the start, I think he’s putting the cart before the horse. He’s looking towards the media as a source of cultural definitions of masculinity. But the content in the media is necessarily driven by market demands, so anything in there is going to be reflective of what people want or expect to see. This means that these cultural definitions of masculinity must originate elsewhere.

    Ultimately, there is not real in depth info about male psychology here, he uses a few real world instances of violence perpetrated by males, but he almost always explains this violence by referencing a movie. He never actually explores the real psychological causes of behavior.

    • http://www.phatrootradio.blogspot.com Brandon

      Very informative, he presents a good perspective.

      His point isn’t suppose to be about male psychology, but an analysis of what is considered “manly” or to be a real man. This covers the masculinity inherent in our culture and the influence media has had on shaping it.

      He documented his case well in my opinion. His point about minorities having their pose or ability to intimidate others as a something they CAN use to get respect is right on the money. I can directly apply that analysis to my own experiences throughout high school and college where I live.

      The point about the school shooters using violent revenge as a tool they CAN use to be considered masculine is another excellent point.

      Great watch, don’t sleep.

      • Marius

        Very good documentary. He takes everything that affect people’s view about masculinity into account and exploits their origins. A lot to learn about the evolution of our society, and great examples showing the change from the 1930 to nowadays.

  • Mark

    Disappointing documentary. I understand his points that the culture we have developed promotes the ‘tough guy image’ as a prerequisite to manliness. I disagree, however, that this is anything new or something created by modern media, be it in Hollywood or in sports or whatever. The ‘tough guy image’ is something that has been around for as long as males have been around. He acts like the image of a ‘male’ as the media has created it is responsible for the differences between males and females in violent acts like murder, assault (sexual or otherwise), rape, and gun violence. Yet a quick look through any history book will show that the vast majority of violent figures throughout history have been male, even before the development of the modern culture and predating the influence of the modern media. In this sense, I disagree that the media or culture has created the ‘tough guy’ image and that this needs to change, but that the media representation of the ‘tough guy’ is a manifestation of these tendencies that we had already developed. I agree with GhostofJohnBrown when he says:

    ‘Right from the start, I think he’s putting the cart before the horse. He’s looking towards the media as a source of cultural definitions of masculinity. But the content in the media is necessarily driven by market demands, so anything in there is going to be reflective of what people want or expect to see. This means that these cultural definitions of masculinity must originate elsewhere.’

    The media didn’t develop this cultural definition of masculinity. We did and now it has manifested itself in modern media (and to a much lesser extent than Mr. Katz implies, in my opinion).

    I also dislike how he cherry picks media representations to prove his point but really neglects a lot of other data points that would conflict with what he’s presenting. Sure, there are the movies that present the ‘tough guy’ image, but there also many, many more that do not. For example, up until this past year, the highest grossing movie of all time (‘Titanic’) really didn’t have much in terms of the ‘tough guy image’. It was a love story. And the current movie sitting atop imdb.com’s top 250 is Shawshank Redemption, which is largely about hope and friendship. Andy Dufresne and Red hardly fit the ‘tough guy’ stereotype.

    And, for the record, many of the stuff he represents aren’t really correct:
    -Violence in sports really hasn’t increased. He cites football and hockey, which have been around since long before the current media image of the ‘tough guy’ existed. And, in general, injuries from both (along with the number of fights per game in hockey) have been going down, not up. In the ’80s the average number of fights per game was over 1.0. In the ’06-’07 season, the average number of fights per game was 0.61.

    -Violent crime has decreased pretty dramatically over the past 20-25 years. Not something you would expect from the rise of the ‘tough guy’ in the media.

    -The perpetrators of the Columbine massacre were not a part of the Trench Coat Mafia, this has long been debunked. They also were not outcasts. They had a wide circle of friends (including girls), which just didn’t happen to coincide with the jock/popular circuit so many saw them as outcasts.

    -He seems to imply the a culture of guns being a rite of passage to manhood could be contributing to the rise of gun violence and school shootings. This isn’t my experience growing up, but even beyond that there’s a real simple conclusion as to why school shootings occur where kids have easy access to guns: it’s kind of difficult to shoot up a school if you don’t have a gun.

    -The one main thing that the vast majority of school shooters have in common: mental issues. I’m sure there’s a component of manliness and feeling the need to prove their toughness and mettle in there. But to try and claim that it is the driving factor is not only wrong in my opinion, but also incredibly irresponsible, as it shifts our focus towards changing societal norms rather than looking at what really seems to the problem and getting these kids the mental health services they desperately need.

  • ih82bl84f1

    I thought this was a very good and well thought out perspective and very much agree with his presentation.

  • Annie

    This could be very interesting but he keeps repeating the same facts over and over and over. It becomes dull very quickly. Also, if I hear the term “tough guise” one more time, I might actually resort to violence – and I’m a woman 😉

  • Fran

    Stupid that you had to start your documentary out with BS feminist male violence statistics.  Feminist Men’s advocates suck.  95% of domestic violence is commited by men, hardly.  In fact the highest incidince of domestic violence in relationships happens in lesbian relationships with the least violent relationships being gay male couples.  Women don’t need to commit violent acts anyway they just get a guy to do it for them.  All a girl has to do is a shed a few tears and say so-and-so abused me and there is half a dozen guys out to beat the guy up.

    The tough guy image isn’t anything new it’s been around for thousands and thousands of years.  There is one reason men are competitive, violent and aggressive.  That one reason is: women sleep with men who are violent, competitive and aggressive.  That’s it, that’s the only reason.  Women want men to be like this.

    • logic

      fail

  • Nomail

    This documentary would have held true in the 70’s and 80’s. Now it is NOT the case.

  • Nomail

    This documentary would have held true in the 70’s and 80’s. Now it is NOT the case.

  • Angelica Guerrero

    This man is smart. I appreciate that he is willing to bring issues like these to the forefront. Having testosterone is no excuse to not have self control and behave like a decent human being.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chai-Oath/100001352012846 Chai Oath

    While not entirely solid,  It is a valid point he talks of and something that does need to have much scrutiny over.  Overall an important issue and for anyone to make light of it can’t be a bad thing.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnFitzgeral12 John Fitzgerald

    I just wasted an hour of my life on this documentary. This film better explains how men are stereotyped and simplified, particularly by social scientists, to extreme degrees rather than illustrate why men/boys act the way they do. Social science is in dire need of balance. It is far too reliant on feminist viewpoints and theories.

    Men and women have evolved together for thousands of years, so why is the part about women choosing more violent, domineering and aggressive men only broached at the very end and for about one minute? Am I suppose to believe that media influence overrides the male’s desire to get laid? Point is, if women were attracted to the ‘nice guy’ more nice guys would be around. Conversely, if more men were attracted to honorable women (as opposed to promiscuous ones) more of those would exist as well.

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  • eric strickland

    o women need to stop all there bicthin if all violence stop tomorrow the world would be a very boring place look at sweden very feminist and very boring

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