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Phillip J. Bartell
Emily Brooke Hands,
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Michael Eric Kramer,
Documentarian Christopher Hines illustrates the varying degrees of masculinity in contemporary gay male culture by posing specific questions, and studying the variety of lifestyles of the gay community. The film offers an alternative and new look at masculinity and homosexuality as interpreted by the members of the gay community. There are interviews with rugby players, rodeo riders, writers, teachers, historians, and psychologists, who draw a rich portrait of masculinity and how gay men see themselves and others. Written by
Oddly enough, earlier in the very day I discover The Butch Factor existed, I had a conversation with a coworker that laughed with me that not only do I narrow my "love search" to 10% of the population, I only focus on 10% of that ratio (SEE: title.) Oh, and they have to be single as well.
I think that equals 0.000076%, at least that's how it seems.
Then comes: The Butch Factor, a wonderful documentary to show the mostly unseen side of the gay lifestyle. Though I did enjoy the very quick, but excellently paced and packed with enough appropriately timed examples, I did have a few minor problems. I'd like to get those negatives out of the way so we explore more of the pleasures (no pun) I had with the rest of the movie.
A lot of the subjects filmed seemed to have a deep problem with feminine gay males, or even just ones who show a lot of (hairless) skin and either want to belittle or even eliminate them and the butch (or less "stereotypical,") want to be accepted. I believe the narrator did the obligatory "Can't we all just get along" speech, which I agree, since groups yearning for global acceptance divided can surely fall. Unfortunately, they showed very few who agree with that and hypocritically, they end up alienating themselves while yearning to be accepted just like the ones they oppose. And this leads me to my second issue.
I do believe the documentary set out to show this "side of the fence" and achieved it 100%. But, what I appreciate most in documentaries is showing all sides. They did have one, that I can recall, straight male who was/is a member of one of the gay sports teams displayed. He thought it was cool that "the gays" would/could be playing rugby. I would have preferred to hear more from the other-other side of the fence as that gives me a more well-rounded viewpoint. Sorry, Michael Moore/Food Inc. fans, even if I agree with you (as I tend to) it strengths a documentary, even if I thoroughly disagree with the opposing views.
Okay, that said, this was a refreshing view and though I don't consider myself feminine, nor do I look down upon anyone that is, it does get tiresome to always see queens, or hairless young adults who look like they're 15, representing the gay community. In addition, if TV shows, including reality, do want to show the "butch" side of the "gays," they'll pick the toppest model out there, an Angel Boy, if you will. The guys here are everyday-looking, though some look like they could lift 4 cars while texting with their free hand, and they want to be "normal." They don't want the first thing that comes to someone else's mind is "homosexual," followed by football player, husband, construction worker, etc. They acknowledge that it is only a small fraction of themselves. I am in the same boat; I hate to be labeled as "the gay friend" or "Please meet my friend/You haven't met my friend? He's gay." ARRRG! Please tell me, there's more layers more interesting than that. At least, I think so. My life does not revolve around that and I don't believe many straight people concentrate on their heterosexuality.
The documentary does show many points of view (99.4% gay) of what masculinity means to some men across the country. It dives into different genres, athletics, sports, occupations and dresses, of course. It also makes a good job of pointing out that America(ns) thoroughly put so much effort into stating what it "really means to be a man," i.e. the Marlboro Man or The Clint Eastwood/John Wayne Cowboy. You know, the type where you're a "fruit" if you hug another male. Other countries are not so closed-minded and a lot more secure in their true masculinity. I agree with this and the points made in the film.
I've been very fortunate to be surrounded by good friends and co-workers my whole life that accept me, no matter what and most of which don't make a big deal about my homosexuality. In fact, it rarely comes up which I feel is a plus as if they forgot about it. And I think society is getting better, more free to accept one another and not slam the door as in decades past on anyone at all different. Now, my eyesight might be narrow due to the group of people (most, say 98%) I associate with are straight and accepting and recently, a friend of mind, who happens to be one of the most open-minded, accepting and sexuality-assured (yes, he's straight) person I know said his group of friends still portray homophobia pretty bad. Unfortunately, it's the parents that keep teaching this horrid behavior, even when it's learned from another child at recess, it's still passed down from the behavior they see/absorb, for the most part.
Wow I didn't mean this to turn into a soapbox. My point, and the movie carefully displays this, is: in a perfect world, a man (sorry, they barely scratched the female gender) is defined by his actions, not because he's a man, or because he happens to be gay/bi/etc. I hope more people see movies like this, or get the message to see the person first, see the qualities, bond with whomever and do unto others. If it happens to be revealed the person is gay, and you're not, dismiss it as we all have our preferences and desires.
Dang soapbox once again. I knocked it over, don't worry. See this movie. Maybe it'll teach some, that not all homosexuals can be seen by the naked eye, nor should they.
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