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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
A Quick, Fun Film Designed to Provoke... Share and Enjoy
I have a problem with people who leave overly negative reviews about documentaries. The simple reason being that people do not seem to know what a documentary is supposed to accomplish. Documentaries are not objective narratives, structurally. Documentaries are essays. They present a thesis statement, support that thesis with background research, present the supporting evidence and draw a conclusion from that thesis based on the evidence presented. The ultimate arbiter of the success of this argument is the viewing public. Objective narrative is still only the province of journalism and tax reviews. If you feel you did not see enough support of "the other side" you are watching the wrong film.
In a few words, "The Butch Factor" was excellent. I have shared this film with many people to see their reactions and this will really touch off a lot of discussion to hash out next time you are at the pub.
As to the film itself, I was at first a little put-off by the hyper-kinetic feel of the film, but it settles down quickly and looks at the recent "discovery" that gay men can be gay and masculine at the same time. Or more to the point, "The Butch Factor" wants to start people talking about what does it mean to be masculine as a gay man. What does that even mean in a larger context when the majority culture judge gay men, by definition, as less "manly" than any straight man just for being gay?
It is a fact that masculinity is prized in N.American culture over femininity in men. So I was initially concerned that the conclusion of the film would be that one is better than the other. That does not happen at all. In fact the TRUE meaning of the conclusion of "The Butch Factor" is the part that will start all the best pub arguments.
I was relieved by the amount of respect that was shown for feminine gay men by the other interviewees. Presenting as a masculine male allowed many of these men to avoid the pitfalls and outrages that happen to us growing up; for more feminine men, passing was impossible. Often the more "butch" men in the film say how the feminine men they have known are tougher, more resilient men for being who they are and that message was gratifying to hear. One interview subject, who presents as feminine brought up the fact that gay men's defensive use of caustic wit and flippancy is "often put on as a mask that protected them from being hurt growing up and too often we take that to our community and turn our ammunition on each other." It was a refreshingly honest answer and one that more people need to hear in the community.
Was this a flawless documentary? No, there were many points they could have fleshed out more that seemed to zip right by, but on the whole it was a quick, fun and thought-provoking documentary, one that I recommend and one that also wants me to seek out more of Chris Hines work.
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