In the intricate world of cinematic storytelling, the illustration of ‘masculinity’ often weaves a complicated narrative, with some darker subjects, like toxic male masculinity. Beyond mere characters on screen, it also delves and constructs societal understanding around ‘manhood’.
There’s no doubt that silver screen has become a medium to showcase destructive stereotypes as characters, laden with toxic traits which starts a massive cultural debate.
Therefore, we asked men in our office to address this issue and reveal their take on how dangerous or effective these characters are in movies. Let’s take a look down below, shall we?
1. “As a man, I would say that this is much more harmful for men because it creates a very unrealistic expectation of what a man should be like. We are not living in the gladiator era, this is the 21st century. The conversations about masculinity, what an ideal man is and the qualities a man should possess have gone way more than man just being a provider. This trend, however, is much more harmful and creates an unrealistic expectation of macho or superhero masculinity. When we think of superheroes, we think of the perfect specimen of a man and a series like The Boys completely destroys it. If a man was supposed to be like Ranbir Kapoor’s character in Animal, he would be put in jail and be thrown out of society.” -Ishan Ratnam, Head Of Content
2. “My opinion is quite vague about it. I’m not ‘against’ the cinema – people can make whatever they want. However, I won’t watch a movie with such toxic masculinity because that doesn’t relate to me. The cinema is impactful and the audience is influenced by them. For example, in movies like Animal and Kabir Singh, they say things about women and how they ‘should’ behave, which is extremely problematic. Nevertheless, I like action movies but extreme action is not logical. I like action movies until they aren’t hurting a section of our society and are between two anti-heroes.” -Anand Thakur, Social Media Manager
3. “The movies are a commercial business and all the makers know is how to grab their audience’s attention. Hence, they exaggerate things to another level to attract a certain type of audience. Nevertheless, I feel this toxic masculinity should not be shown in movies because it impacts people – be it a man or a woman. While every human reacts to these movies differently, this doesn’t deliver the right message.” -Nripendra Balmiki, Producer
4. “I think this male masculinity is exaggerated to a lot of extent in movies. From the maker’s perspective, it’s a fight between art and realistic expectations. However, in real terms, I cannot relate to it at all. For me, any small kind of overconfidence is embarrassing, forget these big action scenes. However, being in this (media) field, I know it’s also done for a reason. I would believe it while watching the movie, but I wouldn’t get inspired by it.” -Nabeel Hasan, Creative Director
5. “The alpha male doesn’t mean slapping someone to be cool, objectifying girls or insulting someone. Alpha male means that men should do things by staying within a limit so that no one’s feelings are hurt. Nowadays, the way masculinity is being shown in Bollywood films is not cool at all. This is not right for a progressive society.” -Mahipal Bisht, Associate Editor
6. “I only watch such movies with the purpose of entertainment. But, when I see rich brat youngsters on the road, I can see that they start acting like these toxic characters. It’s selective, but it exists.” -Deepu Sharma, Video Editor
7. “I watch these movies just like fictional movies and I don’t relate to these characters at all. I don’t think anyone should learn anything from these toxic muscular characters. The one thing I absolutely disliked about Animal is that the protagonist says that there are only alpha males who run the world and others just write poetry. I think that’s absolutely wrong. We need poetry right now more than ever because there’s war all around us.” -Satyam Jha Suman, Associate Creative Director
8. “The makers are promoting alpha-ism in males through these movies. It’s true that every man wants to be a hero or an alpha – and, that’s a toxic approach because not everyone can differentiate between what’s reel and real. Talking about these masculine characters, it’s good to be a fan, but it’s not practical at all. The makers exaggerate things in movies to make them more impactful to the eye and attractive to their audience. It depends on the person – a person with a low IQ would worship the character and an educated person would take it like a cinema experience.” -Ankur Dobriyal, Video Post-Production Supervisor
While some men glorify male masculinity distastefully with fictional movies and characters, these men prove that masculinity can exist without being toxic.