Jon’s: Point of View

We’re excited to announce a new addition to the Meganda Films family (well he’s already family, but first time MF blogger!) – Jon, whom not only is Megan’s oldest brother but he has been a long time supporter of Meganda Films since its inception; will be giving his point of view on current films, shows and pop culture events that are happening now. Check back often for Jon’s: Point of View. Jon’s first review examines Entourage and how the show has portrayed hyper-masculine men.  Check it out and let us know – what do you think of Jon’s Point of View?

Fall TV: Entourage, the New Girl, and the Demise of Men?

A couple of weeks ago, I watched the series finale to Entourage, and the entire time, I had but one thought:

This can’t be right.

You see, for a show that prided itself on escapist, materialistic hyper-masculinity – with the guys teaming together in one of the most prolific poly-bromances in history to make lots of cash, movies, and sexy-times with beautiful model-esque Hollywood debutantes – it finally questioned the show’s entire premise for seven episodes, and then threw that premise under a bus in the finale.

SPOILER ALERT. 

The final season’s focal points centered around E’s broken relationship with Sloane, Vince’s meditations on his superficial existence (via short interviews with his various one-night stands), and Ari’s inability to reconcile his dysfunctional marriage. And like a page out of a script from, well, Entourage, everything works out: E gets back with Sloane, Ari beats Bobby Flay to get his wife back, and Vince, out of nowhere, as if they had no where else to go with a dead-end character, gets married. Both Turtle’s and Drama’s wishes come true, one becoming a semi-self-made millionaire and the other a permanent fixture in a primetime adult cartoon (which, by the way, should have been made into a spin-off).

Despite its classic predictability, what didn’t fit for me was not how the show ended, but how its hyper-masculinity disintegrated. From the beginning, the show was designed for my demographic – twenty-something males, who chest-bump and take shots, watch and practice MMA and freestyle rap in taxicabs.

I graduated college in 2004. The show first aired in 2004. And what the show depicted at that time was the current value system for the American male. A value system that was derived from Bush-era politics, MTV cribs, Jay-Z songs, and the subprime boom. The aim for young men was to get rich quickly, and to party and land more women than the next guy, all while maintaining a set of washboard abs. The show was about making it, really really making it, according to these standards. And although I hadn’t watched the show until this year (partly by choice, partly due to never having a subscription to HBO when the show aired), they were the standards that my guy-friends and myself dreamed about.

The thing is, if this was the value system the show derived its base from, and that value system preached womanizing, money-making, and brotherly loyalty above all else, then why did it end with Ari denouncing his high-paying, ball-busting career, E planning to leave his crew for a woman who at the time couldn’t stand him, and Vince leaving for Paris to marry a woman he only knew for a few weeks? This is where I believe the ending completely contradicts the entire show’s character, and where I believe the show plays a tipping point for a larger issue at hand.

According to a current Slate article, and Intelligence Squared debate, men are, quote un-quote, “finished.” With staggering evidence, men in society are losing ground to women. In the Slate article, Hanna Rosin, author of an article entitled “The End of Men,” argued that:

men are through dominating because they’ve failed to adapt to a postmodern economy that places a higher premium on traditionally feminine attributes (consensus-building, social intuition, empathy, and communication skills). Men have narrow, inflexible ideas of what it means to be a man, and thus have pigeonholed themselves into dying industries. Women, on the other hand, are more flexible and malleable than ever before. There’s “some special formula required for succeeding” today that women seem to have in greater abundance,” Rosin said, while reeling off favorable statistics. In 2010, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in American history. They now hold 54 percent of managerial jobs, and are set to dominate 13 of the 15 industries projected to grow the most in the next decade. They’re more likely than men to receive a college degree. Meanwhile, one-fifth of men are out of work. And images of the “omega” male (imagine the slothlike, video-game entranced, drugged-up, potbellied guys you see in Judd Apatow movies) dominate movies and television shows. “We’d like you to think of this as the writing on the wall, the sign that points to an inevitable future,” she asserted. 

Just FYI, “omega” men are the same men who watch shows like Entourage. They are the same men who internalize the show’s lofty, yet ultimately shallow, values, yet like almost every guy out there, fail to live up to its expectations.

Women, on the other hand, ARE more flexible than their male counterparts. They ARE doing better in college, and although there are more male than female executives in the business world, they ARE surging ahead in managerial positions. For a long time, men have been stuck in a narrow perception of success (i.e. the Entourage model of success) and have not adapted to the multi-tasking, pro-austerity flexibility requirements of the current labor market.

What’s even more striking is how this new emergence of women is playing out in our collective conscious, AKA, television. For example, try googling “New Fall TV Shows,”, and you will get one article with the headline “Women Dominate New TV Shows this Fall.” Another will read “The Emasculation of Men on TV.” Women are taking over the tubes – in fact, this may be the best time in Television’s history to be an actress, as opposed to an actor. Women are now taking over procedurals (see Law and Order: SVU), and action series (see Charlie’s Angels). Even more surprising is TV’s ability to portray a woman who can control two extremely virile men (see Trueblood).

Even more interesting is the fact that TV’s most lauded and appraised drama is a show that portrays hypermasculinity as an artifact – in a “way things were” kind of way, Mad Men has not redefined the masculine, but has only reminded us of what men used to be like, versus what they’ve become now.

But that’s not to say that this all a bad thing. I’m totally rooting for women, to have more rights, more upper management status and executive offices, more positions of social, political, and cultural leadership, and ultimately, more respect. The “bad thing” is that we as men seem to be failing at being just as flexible, and at being able to redefine our roles, comfortably, in a way that benefits men as well as women. Instead, we’ve held on to past beliefs – that money=power=women, we’re to place bro’s before ho’s, and we’re to feel entitled to success for the very fact that we’re men. And we all know what happens when this is what we aspire to. Some men are very good at upholding these past beliefs; however, as I hoped this article would show, the world is rife with change, especially when it comes to man’s relationship to women, which is something that Entourage tries to reconcile, unsuccessfully, in 30 minutes.

At the very least, what men have now in terms of our relationship to women can be summed up in the series premiere for The New Girl. To quickly summarize, Zoey Deschanel becomes a matriarch for a loft-full of testosterone as three guys sublet their extra room to her in their attempts to bed her model friends. Just like Entourage, the show is far from perfect. But like Entourage, the show portrays new expectations for men. During the Intelligence Squared debate, author Christina Hoff Sommers claimed that we’re not seeing an “end to men” but are more accurately experiencing an equalization between men and women. In similar fashion, it is up to the guys in The New Girl to save their matriarch from a date gone awry. Entourage failed to see this after seven years, until the very end: that the world needs less Entourage and more equalization, and that it’s up to us men to make sure we don’t get left behind. Because if there’s one thing that an Entourage series finale and a New Girl series premiere can teach us, it is this: we need each other.

– Jonathan Segarra

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