Movies as a path: From passive to active watching

What do movies have to do with becoming a mature man you may ask?

And I say: Good question! There is something inherently passive about watching movies. I spend a few bucks and sit down in a comfortable seat for two hours in order to enjoy the work of others. I risk nothing and communicate with no-one. I just…sit there. Instead of living my life in the world, serving others, I consume the fruits of other people’s labour.

Boys consume, men produce, wrote Shawn Phillips in his 2009 article “What is the difference between a man and a boy?”. That stuck with me. If that is true, how can passively watching movies teach us anything about maturity as a man? How can the concept behind this website have any validity whatsoever?

Being in right relationship with movies

Depositphotos_6869712_originalSome readers have rightly picked up on this paradox in the years gone by. It’s a valid point. And yet, many men I speak to have described movies as integral to their growth into maturity. What made it so? Was there something about the way these men were engaging with the movies that was different?

I believe so.

I’m one of those people who enjoy an intelligent conversation about a movie after watching it. I’m not speaking about conversations where we compare our vast body of movie knowledge, name dropping actors, composers and directors. No, that is likely just ego stuff in the interest of image crafting.

I’m talking about conversations where we speak about how the movie impacted us, how we see ourselves in it, how we were inspired by it. Conversations where we together tease apart the psychological life lessons that we just witnessed, integrating the movie experience as opposed to simply intellectualizing it.

Given the strength of the medium, this way of relating to movies can provide enormously valuable to an open heart and mind.

One example of that from my own life comes from watching Braveheart when I was about 17. I was a vulnerable boy, so afraid. And yet, watching the courage, passion and masculine love of William Wallace opened something in me. Me and my buddies walked out of the movie theatre with our jaws dropped, breathing heavily, as from  a deeper place in ourselves. We were feeling into the possibility of being powerful. It was way more than mere entertainment.

The dangers of entertainment

The desire to be entertained can be a dangerous thing. In fact, I see that desire as one of the greatest sources of misery and destruction in the modern world. Looking for entertainment, constantly fleeing from the ever-approaching spectre of boredom, we become numb to life, slaves to our impulsive desires. We are drained of willpower, constantly on the search for the next temporary entertainment-induced high. We become mindless consumerist robots.

So check in with yourself – how do you relate to the movies you watch? Do you just absorb them like an idiot wanting to pass the time so that you can be a little more numb to your pain on your journey towards death? Or do you relate to them consciously, talk about them, journal about them, reflect on them, mirror yourself in them, do dreamwork based on them? Do you allow movies to wake you up?

man-of-steel-superman-logoWhen you start relating to movies like that, you may find that a lot of movies that you once liked start becoming uninteresting. Or you may notice how they are trying to manipulate you to think in certain unconscious ways. You may start feeling a certain disgust with those movies and the people who make them. They’re weaving the most uninspiring takes on the hero’s journey imaginable based on demographic surveys. Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay come to mind. There is no soul in their work.

But there is hope, brother – you can be entertained and watch a movie with depth. The new Man of Steel and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy are perfect examples of blockbusters that manage to be entertaining as well as provide food for thought. And so is the original Star Wars trilogy, packed with thrills and special effects as well as deep mythological wisdom.

Don’t be merely a thrill-seeker. Proactively seek out the movies that are both entertaining and filled with consciousness and then learn from them.

This is a website where you will learn just that. Here you will find careful analysis of loved movies that have something to say about the male experience. I analyze movies through the filters of archetypes, myth, psychology, spirituality, integral theory, sociology, gender studies and mysticism so that you can get to know the movies you love in a deeper way.

It may change your life!

Where to start?

american-beautyThe most loved review on this website is probably the one I did for American Beauty. On this website, you can also find one of world’s most popular articles on the King, Warrior, Magician, Lover archetypes.

If you realize it’s time to step into leadership, you can find an inspiring clarion call for why this is the time in the short blog post Taking on leadership in a burning world.

You can also read controversial articles about the shadow of Hollywood in the popular article Hollywood as a lens to the American shadow or the limitations of the feminist Bechdel test in the article thousands have read and loved The Bechdel test: Application, historical context, and introducing a male equivalent.

That’s just some of the many things you can find here. Explore, make yourself at home. 

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