Millennials get a bad rap. And most of the time — and I’m sorry to pile on, kids — it’s well deserved. Take for example some of the latest news from the Land of the Perpetually Offended. According to the young ones, in their infinite experience and wisdom, James Bond is a gross misogynist, and is also pretty rapey, and they can’t even with him right now.
Especially that hairy-chested Scottish fellow. His Bond films have been described by the safe-space generation as “transphobic, homophobic and sexist”.
Ok, in fairness to the youth, James Bond’s seemingly never ending sexual escapades are a bit over the top (as many literary and film characters are in the interest of entertainment. But we’ll give the children the benefit of the doubt that they haven’t yet distinguished between fantasy and real life). But this same article details how the kids are also mortified by the misogyny and sexism of — get this — the television show “Friends.”
That’s right, Chandler, Ross, and Joey are now predators.
I mean, they would be if they were actual people.
But it leaves one wondering why so many young people have adopted a paper-thin skin and fear of seemingly anything related to the mystery of human sexuality, the traditional roles of men and women, the testosterone of the red-blooded male, and the outright demand by the species to survive through procreation (which is where some of the literary license with the sexy stuff comes from, kids). Where did they learn to be so fearful of their own sexual instincts and urges; as if they, too, may magically become a Harvey Weinstein unless they successfully call out as shameful anything that doesn’t look exactly kosher to their novice eyes?
This reckoning is long overdue. And it can be extended to another genre that has distorted how men behave: war movies. Hollywood has shown itself capable of making excellent war movies (think “Three Kings,” “Paths of Glory,” and “The Best Years of Our Lives”), but most are problematic. Some of the biggest war movies of the post-9/11 era don’t just show violence in ways that are often gratuitous and occasionally racist. They model a cliched form of masculinity that veers from simplistic to monstrous.
For instance, you can see Rambo and John Wayne return to life in the latest war blockbuster, “12 Strong,” which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who also brought us “Black Hawk Down.” “12 Strong” is an extravaganza about a Special Forces team that fought the Taliban in Afghanistan in the weeks and months after 9/11…
…It doesn’t have to be this way. The best war film of the last year, “Thank You for Your Service,” based on the nonfiction book by David Finkel, quietly focuses on the troubles of a group of soldiers after they come home from a deployment in Iraq. The film has only two battle scenes, and both are excruciating to watch because their violence is frightening rather than glorious – the opposite of Bruckheimer’s feel-good shoot-’em-ups. The men in “Thank You for Your Service” are struggling with PTSD, painfully coming to the awareness that the combat that gave them such purpose in Iraq has injured their psyches. Nobody looks like Thor in this movie, nobody behaves like Thor, and the John Wayne style of masculinity that these men might have aspired to emulate is shown to be an artificial and harmful construct.
Got that? The best film about war is the one showing men torn apart by their experiences (which does happen and is worthy of examination) rather than the ones showing men victorious in their missions and proud of the work they did in battle. As one hero of that very war puts it:
We defended the innocent from the violent predations of our enemy.
We were protectors of the weak.
We gave women in Afghanistan the freedom and security to go to school & learn to read.
Shut up. https://t.co/0R96mE2eRN
— Sean Parnell (@SeanParnellUSA) January 28, 2018
We do a disservice to young people seeking to understand the world if we lionize the tragedy of war and shame the victory. We turn their understanding of things — including the power of the male of the species to protect, provide, help in the production and raising of children, and defend all of those things with passion and the freedom to kill a grave threat if necessary — on its head.
Twitter user @rebeca_macias18, who lives in Detroit, posted a message on Saturday (20 January) asking for help to find her missing dog, Negro.
Although some users messaged her with words of support, others criticised Negro’s name. The owner maintains that she named the dog after the Spanish word for the colour “black” but that did nothing to halt the Twitter storm.
One user said: “You definitely ain’t gonna find that dog now with a name like that… It’s racist.”…
…Becky, the dog’s owner, who posted that she was getting tired of the row, replied to one critic who called “Negro” a “weird name”: “Negro is a color, the color he clearly is.”
Some people called out the entire Spanish language for racially aggravating, even though the modern racist slur was taken from the original Spanish word, which was not intended to be used to describe people or the colour of an individual’s skin.
We are literally having to explain to these kids why the Spanish word for the color black isn’t racist. Because we have confused them to the point that they can’t cope. Not just with the masculinity that keeps them safe in their spaces, but with life.
There may be some good (?) news here, though. Generally, generations rebel pretty hard from the cultural norms of their parents. The 60s hippies gave us the 80s yuppies, after all. So these kids, as they grow and are forced to confront some hard truths, will likely rebel against all the whining and hand-wringing the boomers foisted on them. Here’s hoping they find some middle ground and don’t en masse become, God forbid, irrationally violent or intractably coarse in their quest to live in the world outside their safe bubbles.