I really love a good submarine movie, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m a guy…
As a matter of fact, the first movie I ever saw (1990) in a theater was “The Hunt for Red October” starring Sean Connery – I was in high school at the time. (Our family was not a theater going bunch!)
I still remember the experience of being amazed and overwhelmed at the big screen and big sound. The slow burning, tense plot in that underwater environment was fantastic.
There haven’t been many really good sub movies in awhile, but not too long ago I watched “Hunter Killer”. (Spoiler alerts coming up… Sorry!)
It reminded me of the Hunt for Red October, but it had a variety of settings -on land (with Black Ops type of soldiers) and political arenas in Washington, with generals, leaders, bureaucrats and etc… (So there was something for those who wanted more than just an underwater adventure – mind you, I wouldn’t have minded if that was all there was!)
In the movie there were quite few moments that appealed to me on a very intensely masculine level. There were scenes of respect between the American and Russian submarine captains – man to man.
There was admirable stoicism shown by the injured American soldier -who took the pain and did his job, even if that meant to the death.
There was the brotherly love and comradery with the small band of soldiers who would risk their lives for each other and left no man alone or behind.
There was the aggression and breath taking admiration of weapons -for example, in one of the final scenes the American submarine is being fired on by Russian military coup leaders. Just before we think the submarine has had it, a Russian destroy unleashes a hail of explosive counter measures that shreds every missile! It was amazing! (Now, I’m not in favour of weapons -I don’t like conflict… but there was something appealing about the whole scenario.)
But the American Psychological Association has set its site on understanding masculinity, and proclaimed that “Traditional masculinity” is dangerous to our health in its “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men. (By “traditional” they mean qualities of competition, stoicism, violence and aggression).
“Traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful,” says a summary commentary on the APA’s website. This explains why men are responsible for the vast majority of violence in society.”
Furthermore, the buzz words that has been forced into our intellectual consciousness is “Toxic Masculinity”. Here are a few titles that have recently surfaced on the internet: “Australian study reveals the dangers of ‘toxic masculinity’ to men and those around them”, “Shaving Away Toxic Masculinity”, “Toxic masculinity impacts men as well as women”, “Gillette’s Close Shave: A Victory For #MeToo Or Toxic Masculinity?” (That’s just to name a few...)
Interestingly enough, those same targeted elements or qualities were all things I observed in the movie Hunter Killer- which I thought to be neither negative or toxic.
I believe there is a problem with labeling half the population with a label. Maybe the real issue is the need for a basic, core understanding of maleness as opposed to a variety of hyphenated masculinities. (For example the APA splinters masculinity into the descriptions of “diverse, dominant, traditional, contextual, expressive, rigid and so forth.”)
Males who are negatively aggressive, unable to have genuine relationships with other men, and are homophobic, (all qualities liberally and unfairly attached to “traditional masculinity”)… well those guys are jerks, (and it should be noted that the playing field for bad behaviour is level despite gender… male or female…)
So, this was the insight I gained from watching Hunter Killer. In my opinion, this submarine movie was traditionally admirable and definitely non-toxic.
What do you think?