THE WARRIORS: Released February 9, 1979
Originally published February 9, 2015.
Recently, my wife and I both experienced similar situations when hanging out with groups of male friends. In both situations, the groups of men all knew each other well and had spent plenty of time together. In both cases, a mutual friend stopped by and joined the gathering. In both cases, the newcomer was a strong “alpha male” type: masculine, assertive/aggressive, independent. The men attempted to integrate themselves into the groups immediately, as a confident male is wont to do. That’s when all hell broke loose. Suddenly, roles became unstable. Behaviors became amplified and assertive. Some behaviors became aggressive. In an instant, old relationships became unstable and the familiar roles became unfamiliar. Men were showing off for each other, passive-aggressive insults (masquerading as jokes) flew. When my wife experienced it first, I assumed it was something about males in the presence of a female. When I experienced it a few weeks later, there were no women present. This was a male thing – a masculinity thing. Ask most men about their feelings about masculinity and we don’t have much of an answer. In a patriarchal society, unfortunately, it’s not something men need to consider very often. When we do, it’s usually because masculinity is being indicted (or at least questioned), and the consideration is overloaded with defensiveness. And yet all of us have grown up in a world that constantly feeds us messages about masculinity and what it means. And one of the most extreme culprits in this process is cinema.