The beauty of Internet is that a couple of ill-advised clicks can transport you into a completely different universe. This is how I stumbled on an article that discusses Hollywood’s loss of popularity by a passionate character called John Nolte. Instead of discussing Hollywood’s ills, the article’s author engages in a very entertaining public fit of hysteria about actors who do not conform to traditional gender expectations:
We The People love Sandra, Will, and Denzel for a reason. She’s gorgeous, smart, womanly, classy and approachable, and the fellas are masculine, confident, classy, and non-neurotics who take charge. They also make films that deliver. Not all the time. But most of the time we the customers know that if they’re in it, there’s a better chance than not of bang for the buck.
What they are not and what no movie star has ever been is a child playing a grownup (the exception, of course, is comedians like Adam Sandler or Lou Costello). The Orlando Blooms will never be movie stars. Neither will the Michelle Williamses. And don’t get me started on Shia Le-what’s-his-name.
Look at your history, both recent and long past. Hollywood may have changed over the last few decades, but the people — the customers — have not. The human animal simply doesn’t evolve that quickly. Furthermore, stars shouldn’t represent who we are; we don’t want to see ourselves on the screen. Stars should represent who we want to be. Men want to be John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. Women want to Ava Gardner and Barbara Stanwyck.
Who knows why in the strange imaginary life of this rant’s author Sandra Bullock, whose only more or less memorable role was precisely one of a “manly woman”, has transformed into a paragon of femininity.
What I wanted to draw your attention to, instead, is the italicized confession John Nolte makes in this piece. His hysteria over the bad, horrible Hollywood stars who do not fulfill the traditional
gender expectations is driven by a realization that he himself does not measure up. He tells us very clearly that he is not one of those masculine men, which is precisely why he wants to see them on a screen as often as possible. If he could see one in a mirror on a regular basis, he wouldn’t be bothered by not encountering him in a movie theater.
And it’s always like this, people. The greatest partisans of strict gender roles, the worshipers of womanly womanhood and manly manhood are so obsessed with gender for the simple reason that they feel they never can catch up with this elusive, non-existent category. If only somebody were kind enough to tell them that manliness and womanliness are highly subjective, that they mean entirely different things to different people, that searching for the gold standard of gender in real life is futile. Maybe then they would be able to go to the movies and simply enjoy a film.
Keep reading the article. There is a hilarious discussion of how commie-pinko-unpatriotic-anti-American Hollywood actors “insult” the profoundly conservative American audiences with their partisan movies. And then read the comments because, seriously, it’s a glimpse into a different world. There are folks who actually say that Hollywood actors “hate the troops.” Priceless.