Assignment: Tough Guise Documentary
Assignment: Tough Guise Documentary
Check out this short video clip on the documentary Tough Guise featuring Jason Katz (Challenging Media, 2006). Using the video clip and other course materials, comment on the relevance of Katz’ thesis in terms of understanding the roles men and women play in our society in 2018. Is it still relevant? Why/why not? You may also want to address the notion that most violent crimes (in particular mass shootings) are committed by men. (Note: The original documentary was made in 1997. It was updated in 2013).
Blog Assignment #12 – Tough Guise
What does the climactic scene of “the Wizard of Oz” as shown in the program reveal about masculinity according to Jackson Katz?
Jackson Katz states that the scene is a metaphor for the “tough guise” (TG) he is trying to describe. That the Wizard of Oz is only showing us his wondrous magic whilst his humanity or vulnerability is hidden “behind the curtain”. This to illustrate that masculinity is only a guise, a show or a facade.
What is Katz’s definition of “tough guise”? Why do young men take on “tough guise”?
Katz states that masculinity is a projection and mask used to hide male vulnerability and calls this mask the TG. Men take on this TG to protect themselves from oppression dealt by their own peers.
What qualities are defined as manly by the young people interviewed in the program? What terms are used to define the “unmanly” qualities? What do all these terms reveal about the concept of masculinity? How do boys learn such concepts?
A real man should be tough, strong, independent and respected and if not fulfilling these qualities/criteria they will be called names such as wuss, wimp, fag and sissy.”Unmanly” qualities are such that are seen as female qualities; fragility, femininity and vulnerability. In other words “emotional” characteristics. Boys learn such concepts from TV, sports, normative culture, peers, music, lack of diversity in popular role models etc. – the list is endless. Examples of these are the Marlboro Man, John Wayne, Rambo, Ronald Reagan, Howard Stern and Ice Cube. However, what we need to think about is that this behavior is cyclical and non of the factors mentioned can exist on their own.
Consider the above question in terms of Swedish definitions of masculinity. How does Swedish media culture define masculinity? How does this differ from English media culture?
We think Swedish media focuses less on looks and centers more on power, success and talent. Examples are Kurt Wallander, Mikael Persbrandt and Fredrik Reinfeldt – not particularly fit, but all possess some kind of charisma, are well-dressed and successful in their area of expertise. Also if you compare Fredrik Reinfeldt and Barack Obama you can see who is more attractive (Obama). A study has shown that it takes undecided voters in America less than a second to decide who they are voting for after they have seen their faces, quite the opposite of how we do it in Sweden. We can look at the Skarsgård family. Abroad Alex, the obviously good-looking son has gained greater recognition than any of the other brothers or the father in regards to masculinity (thanks to his looks). However, the father has had a much successful and interesting international career and is seen as more masculine than his sons in Sweden in contrast to the US. We are not saying that Stellan is seen as less of an actor, but in regards to masculinity his son fits their criteria better (young, strong, good-looking, tall, dominant, confident etc.).
In what way(s) have the images of men changed over the past 50 years? In what way(s) have the images of women changed over the past 50 years? What could be the reasons for these changes and what would a comparison between these images tell us about the culture in the States?
Men have been associated more and more with violence, much of it portrayed against women or feminine males. Women have become objectified. On the other hand, men have also become more liberated due to role models such as the baseball player Mark McGwire and characters in movies such as Boys N’ The Hood, the Full Monty and Goodwill Hunting, and through the growth of female role models as a result of the women’s rights movement females have been able to get away from the housewife ideal. These changes have happened because of greater awareness and activists. However, the negative aspect of the evolution shows that the old oppression that used to be plain stereotypical has grown into actual social restraints of a much more severe kind.
What are the reasons for violence directed towards gay men? What messages does violence towards gay men send to heterosexual men?
Those who appear to be “real men”, but actually are just putting on this TG feel threatened by something that counteracts this guise. Homosexuality challenges the power of the heterosexual TG barrers. This violence shows that heterosexual men who feel insecure or in the least bit “faggy” that those traits are not acceptable.
Why do men of color need to adopt ‘tough guise’ according to Richard Majors, the author of “Cool Pose”?
Because they have to defend themselves against the harsh life surrounding them.
What is the reason for white suburban middle class kids “acting black”? How do black men get their idea of manhood? What does this reveal about masculinity?
Jackson Katz mentioned that there is a proper lack of black role models who aren’t illustrating the TG and as Hip Hop and Rap increased in popularity so did the “black attitude”. White suburban middle class kids who like the music looked up to the artists and copied their style. Black men are almost always portrayed as criminals in all media, which then becomes their reachable image. Here the link between masculinity and violence becomes extremely apparent.
This film is now pretty dated, with many cultural references that need renewal. Can you make some suggestions about more current films/TV shows/media figures that Katz should include in a possible re-make of his documentary? How have things changed? How have things stayed the same?
Be sure to follow up to at least one classmate by Sunday night, as well.
Challenging Media. (2006). Tough guise: Violence, media, and the crisis in masculinity. YouTube. Retrieved from Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity
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