Real roles for reel men

There has to be an end to the wimpy deadbeat male characters we see in movies today. But more importantly, there must have been a start, before which cinema actually portrayed responsible, respectable men.

Have audiences not tire of the many man-childs filling the screen? Shallow with the emotional maturity of 15 year-olds, for whom life seem to revolve around sports, videogames and bongs. The thought that film-makers are only producing characters like these because people are able to identify with them makes me worry too much about our young males that I simply refuse to believe it.

The impressionable beings that they are, boys lap it up and start to believe too that is in everyway possible to be a casual worker in your mid-20s, play video games all day and still nab that 10 who buys coffee from you every morning.

It's pretty easy to identify with something when you set the bar pretty low.

What happened to Atticus Finch? Where are the responsible male characters? Not the ones who gain respect through the barrel of a gun (or guns), but through sheer integrity and strength of character. Men who people can't help rising for as they pass by. Men who deserve to be heroes because they can make a difference in the world while still functioning as normal, socially competent, human beings.

Far from this being a nostalgia for a masochistic past, this is a plea for writers, to please make strong men who are able to stand side-by-side with the strong women of today.

It makes no difference if they're square-jawed or lanky or balding, as long as they stop being the joke, in which the laughing audience, unaware, is more than a part of.


  1. EXACTLY !

    thanks for the post. betul lah tu kan. you are right, nowadays boys (and candy looking materialistic girls) sample immaturity. and atticus finch, that role sidney poitier played (i dont remember what) are superb role models.

    There are good men out there.

    ps nak kawin prince hector real life please.

  2. Love this piece, not least because of its Atticus Finch references, but also because of nailing it on the head. One can only assume that Apatow's basing his man-child protagonists on actual men he knows - for example, Seth Rogen appears to be much more decent than his slobbish reel-life personas, but he still has the slightly dopey-slightly dazed childishness to him. The schtick is tiring, though. I agree with Yaya. Bring back strong-willed and strong-minded men who have something to say and things to do. These men can surely be placed next to equally capable women (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? featured TWO such pairs, and was all the better for it).

    That said, I can't help but think that Apatow's depiction on boyish slobs is a sort of pandering to the Gen Y females, most of whom grew up thinking that most men (of their generation) were slobs and good-for-nothings. I see Apatow's cliches as a sort of reactionary gesture to both the above and the highly-violent hero-from-nowhere stereotype of the 80's, by saying, 'Look, these guys are slobs, and sure, they may not be the most responsible lads, but they are lovable, and they're not so unrealistically macho that they'd turn you off. Don't dismiss them yet.'

    The only reason man-children have pervaded the cinema is because Apatow's formula works so well with audiences - let's admit it: A woman might not normally look at the Rogen-type twice on the streets, but after watching an Apatow movie, she might think, 'You know, maybe he's got potential just yet'.

  3. here's a reply from a regular guy. i think i figured out the problem here.

    turning to modern hollywood cinema for characters with personality traits to look up to is your first mistake. their definition for a romantic male has degraded from Clark Gable, to Jude Law to just pale looking teenagers trying to pass off as vampires and werewolves. heck, the last time I've watched a movie featuring a charming, responsible male protagonist was wayy back in '07 with Denzel Washington in The Great Debaters.

    the problem is not Apatow's movies, its not Hollywood, it's us. its the music we listen to, its the books we read. the majority of consumers dont want a movie about morals and role models, what we want is explosions, space battles, sex and the occasional fat guy we all laugh at who lives next door and mumbles half of the time. Hollywood noticed this, Apatow figured out the recipe, and we gobbled it up.

    i have no qualms about Judd's movies. and to him i say "keep them coming". it comes down to why i go to movies. i forked out money for tickets, pulled the courage to finally ask a girl out on a date, and im feeling good about how things are going so far. the last thing i want is a 2 hour character development tutorial that will make me feel like a lesser man and loosing my date to a fictional persona. what i want is me leaving the premises with my date (and myself) going "well at least you're not THAT bad". FTW. and that's my minimum. the catchphrase for every Apatow film is "everyone can be awesome". and that's his thing.

    but ladies, movies with great role models are not gone. heck they're never left. think of it this way. the amount of those movies are proportional to the amount of guys there are out there with those great, responsible personalities that you ladies crave to see on screen. they're just not screening at your big name cinemas. lots of them go straight to Blu-Ray and DVD and they're probably under a massive pile of rubbish American movies.