When the Nazis held power in Germany they knew about the power of film to “mobilize emotions and immobilize minds.” They used film for propaganda purposes to establish community and a specific set of values, just like the Allies did when they attempted to utilize film for re-education following World War II. That is because film is a powerful educational tool, and one that filmmakers in the United States have been lazily abusing for a long time. Changing the part that movies play in teaching culture will have a huge impact on the change that we will see!
When a friend showed me this video I felt enormously affirmed, because Colin Stokes’ talk embodies the mantra of my life goals and values: Make movies that teach boys the value of cooperation and respect for women, while teaching girls that they have power, a place as the leader, and can overcome obstacles just as well as men can.
These are affirmative action goals, of course. Movies already teach boys power, knowledge, and heroism, so that won’t necessarily go away; movies already [sometimes] teach girls friendship, cooperation, and respect, so that probably won’t change.
We need to veer away from the assumption, however, that affirmative change in movies requires putting women in the roles typically given to men. Colin Stokes suggests, and I believe rightly so, that these roles in movies are unfit for both boys and girls, that the formulaic journey of a film hero is an unhealthy message to be giving either gender.
Rather, I try to keep two visions in mind for movies of the future:
- Include more women, and indirectly, more options for girls. [Pass the Bechdel Test!]
- Include a wider variety of male roles, and indirectly, more “manhood” options for boys.
- How to pick the right movies to share with kids: Some tips and thoughts from Colin Stokes (ted.com)
- Redefining Manhood Through Movies – Colin Stokes Film Lessons Keynote Introduces the Bechdel Test (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- Role Models for Boys (rarestkindofbest.wordpress.com)
- Is Conventional Manhood to Blame for Violence Against Women? (clutchmagonline.com)