As part of LACMA‘s Veteran’s Making Movies program, I was tasked to make a 3 minute short. Seeing as I make shorts regularly, I thought I’d give myself 4 challenges. Nothing like a deadline to make sure things get finished! Challenge 1: Visual Storytelling. I wanted to create something without dialog. The old adage “Show, don’t tell”. My inspiration was this P&G commercial that is only 2 minutes long but follows the careers of 4 Olympians from diapers to metals, all without dialog. My cinematographer suggested we use film since it’s a silent movie. Bonus challenge! Challenge 2: No Short Cuts. If the story takes place on a Navy Warship, you rent USS Iowa, a battleship! If you need pick up shots of the Navy, you drive to San Diego and the USS Midway. The 3 minute first version was screened but a 4 minute final edit has been submitted to Sundance Film Festival. Challenge 3: Hire veterans. Check, 80% veteran cast and crew. Challenge 4: Raise funds. Currently at 40%. Here we go!
You Tarzan, me Jane. A scantily clad athletic, wild man with long hair saves a scientist from society and it’s shackles to swing through the trees and play in waterfalls. Bonus: He can’t talk much so no mansplaining. Obviously, I love the story of Tarzan, sans how he probably smelled. Warner Bros. is releasing a re-imagined, revamped version of the Tarzan story this summer and after watching the trailer I was quite excited for this pseudo-romance novel film. The leading lady says “a normal man can do the impossible to save the woman he loves. My husband is no normal man.” Wow, what an amazing confidence in the man you love. How special it would make a woman feel. But… what about the normal man?
Doing the impossible? Is that what men expect us to expect? We’d be happy for a flower and stealing away to the forest to swim in a waterfall with a guy with a six pack (original Tarzan plot). The media has been pushing unobtainable standards for women for a long time but now it’s including to men. Impossible beauty standards hit women in their confidence, questioning what it means to be desirable. Now they hit men in their most sensitive spot; are you a man? Remember Trump’s reaction to the insinuation about his tiny hands? Poking at someone’s manhood or masculinity is a sure fire way to find a male’s self-consciousness. Trust me on that one.
Hollywood keeps reinventing what it means to be a man by pushing what is impossible. To me, just keeping my car clean or only having 2 drinks is impossible. The impossible task for Tarzan is to take on 21,000 armed military while he is unarmed. That’s not impossible, that’s insane. To put that in perspective, charging (without cover) a machine gun nest holding 12 enemy might get you a metal of honor. Just compare old 1939 Batman to 2015 Batman. 1939 Batman only needed $10K and free time to be the dark knight. Any man with a strong sense of justice that looked good in tights could apply for the job. Now, there is a $100M barrier to entry to vigilante crime fighting. Batman is a favorite because he has no superpowers, he’s just a man. Modern Batman is an unobtainable standard of Uber-man. Normal men can’t climb a rope, never mind swinging tree to tree. To a “normal man”, climbing a rope is an impossible task that a normal man might muscle through to save the woman he loves. Weekend after weekend movies come out showing a man/men doing the unimaginably impossible. Jane says Tarzan is “no normal man”, meaning he’s special. I wonder how high the self-imposed expectations are for a man that wants to be special.
While the men on the big screen become ever more desirable, it seems the dating pool becomes less so. While women love an uber-man for 90 minutes, dating them is another story. I doubt there is a woman dumb enough to trust that James Bond to be faithful while he’s in Russia, the Huntsman’s hands are too rough to let them wander, and I doubt Tarzan cleans up after himself. The skewing of a “normal man” has hit the male population where it hurts the most. But fear not. The lack of confidence in other men will only increase your appeal. If I told a friend that a man showed up on time, had a rose, and smelled good, she’d reply “impossible…”