Intellectual Male Posturing
Evolution of Man in Modern Society
Kofi Fosu Forson
Standing among friends and colleagues in an area meant for smokers outside a bar with drops of rain falling I mentioned the name NORMAN MAILER.
Norman Mailer has always meant to me a level of cult among 50's American literary culture. I think of Marilyn Monroe and the book Executioner's Song later the novel Tough Guys Don't Dance.
The most remarkable thing about his persona for me was his Jewishness steeped in savvy and extreme wit. He reminded me of Picasso at once a rock solid presence but somehow had eyes that appreciated beauty.
Mailer along with Picasso were two men who exemplified machismo and vulnerability in their respective worlds of art and literature.
Among the Hollywoodized evolution of the masculine male even the truest of gangster types as Edward G Robinson and later James Gagney had a level of brilliant beauty in their posture. They were more than just men they were idols.
Cagney's performance in Guys and Dolls is an example. Where an ultimate macho like Marlon Brando displays a level of brilliance and beauty. In a way the male macho has always been suspected of being a closet effeminate.
Rock Hudson coming out was an understanding of this. Even Brando in The Wild Ones given the subject matter of a motor cycle gang gives off that homo erotic gentle beauty in the style of Brando's character. Tough and arrogant but beautiful.
Nicolas Ray's handling of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause puts forth the definition of the tough guy macho as wounded and beautiful.
The Black African relevance of this is the Mandigo character. Black masculinity is viewed separate from the white symbol. The black example is rooted in the black male as warrior.
Holloywood lessened that sentiment with buffoonery in those minstrel cartoons. Sidney Poitier would emerge as a solid Hollywood black actor who went on to win an Oscar.
Blaxploitation films depicted a different black macho. The idea of the pimp and drug dealer was more evident.
Shaft a film by Gordon Parks singularly the most brilliant black literary figure of our time promoted the sex appeal of the black male.
Basquiat in the 80's originated the black Neo Expressionist. Bob Thompson before him wasn't quite the rockstar. Jean Michel Basquiat was interesting because he emanated from graffiti culture and yet his association with Warhol cultivated a unique persona.
Hip Hop and RAP Culture was an extension of that 80's art and music culture. Gangsterism followed what then found its relevance in music like Neo Soul.
Since then the black male ideal outside of sports music and politics is unidentifiable.
Historically very few men have exhibited a persona that was macho and not a little reflective and vulnerable. 70's Hollywood men were interesting as they were the most brute in Hollywood history.
The John Waynes of the world. That is why the Rock Hudson revelation was such a shock.
In a song by Steely Dan Donald Fagen sings "I have never met Napoleon. I would like to find the time. Because he looks so fine upon that hill".
PUNK as a go between 70's masculinity and the NEO Expressionism that followed inspired an effeminate nature.
80's male was a combination of both. The likes of Chris Walken and John Malkovich were elegant men who displayed that sense of educated male and bruteness as witnessed in Walken's roles from Deer Hunter to King of New York, a somewhat elegant beauty but masculine.
90's gave way to newfound rock and roll, what was known as grunge. In it you had personas like Trent Reznor and Al Jourgenson display a sense of ultimate self made sexual authority but at the same time express a sense of homo eroticism.
The Metrosexual followed soon thereafter, basically the male expressing femininity to attract women. Much of this led to the propensity of men to fall into the mode of drugs and depression highlighted in what became a combination of heroin overdoses, sadomasochism and suicides.
Kurt Cobain's death defined this generation.
Beginning of the 2000 decade saw movements like Emo culture fused with a generation of post 9/11 children inspired by technology, politics and internet porn as well as digitalized form of music.
As we see it now society is permeated with a disconcerted group of men intellectually depraved removed from the notion of what is man and masculine.
Currently New York a city known for its sense of power and the self made man is divided by the blue collar macho and the effeminate white male.
Men are less driven by thought and are prone to an animalistic sense of the id seen in young men who were Hipsters turned Travis Bickle wannabes and are now young students.
Now New York is more or less a college town.
Men who own seniority are hard working torn between supporting a family and pursuit of independence be it retirement or art.
I sense the idea of power and submission runs rampant in the redefining of sex displayed among Queer Culture, return of sadomasochism and how prison culture and mentality permeates minds of men both young and mature.