Literally, I ripped this out of the Oct 5, 2015 Time Magazine. Enjoy this snippet of an interview with Nancy Meyers, writer and director of The Intern starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathway. (online version of interview)
Why did you write about a friendship between a young female boss (Anne Hathaway) and her older male intern (Robert De Niro)?
I wish as a young woman I had had someone who was not my shrink, not my parent, but a wonderful person watching my back. Ben (De Niro) is not damaged, and a lot of the men I’ve written have been. It made me think about men I knew when I was a little girl—my dad, my grandfather—and how that kind of man seems to be disappearing. (emphasis added)
In The Intern you posit that today’s young women grew up with girl power, but men did not receive the same encouragement. Are young men stunted?
In the movie I talk about “take your daughter to work day” as a broad umbrella over how you girls were raised. When my daughters were growing up, Oprah was on TV every day at three o’clock pushing girl forward. Meanwhile, boys fell in love with video games. These boys turned into men who wear hoodies and don’t shave. I think there is a reluctance to embrace adulthood. (emphasis added)
Meyers presents an effect (the “disappearance” of “that kind of man”) but seems confused about the cause that led to the effect.
Let’s start with “that kind of man”… what kind of man? Answer: “a wonderful person watching my back.” I haven’t seen the movie, but from previews I take it that De Niro plays “a wonderful person watching my back” - a mentor, an encourager, just like Meyers describes her father and grandfather.
The insane part of this interview is how both Meyers and the interviewer seem completely baffled by why “that kind of man seems to be disappearing”. But Meyers herself is partly to blame. Did you read her words… “Ben (De Niro) is not damaged, and a lot of the men I’ve written have been”? Meyers wrote damaged male characters! She did not write about damaged males, she created and wrote dialogue to advance the damaged condition of males. (I don’t watch a lot of movies and I certainly don’t watch many Rom-Coms (romantic comedies), but you can see a list of the movies Meyers has made and judge for yourself how she has portrayed males.)
While Meyers bemoans the disappearance of healthy males in society, she appears incapable of understanding that she, herself, has advanced the narrative that men are either bumbling fools, misogynist predators, or at “best boys fell in love with video games”, “who wear hoodies”, “don’t shave” and are reluctant “to embrace adulthood”. Maybe males have finally learned to live up to expectations?
Meyers gives another clue to the cause of the disappearance of “that kind of man”. For a quarter of a century, “Oprah was on TV every day at three o’clock pushing girl forward.” I think it should read “pushing girls forward”, but maybe “girl forward” is an Oprah meme. I don’t know. Nevertheless, the cause is clearly connected with the effect, even if Meyers can’s see it - the “girl forward” movement has not run alongside a “boy forward” movement, it has run against it!
This whole War On Men blog is about documenting the strong theme in popular culture that men are idiots and women save the day. Why are most of my illustrations tv commercials? Because they are the best sign of what’s happening in the day to day lives of everyday citizens. Why does Progressive Insurance constantly attack and humiliate males? Because Progressive believes that females are the decision makers when it comes to buying insurance and they believe a message that “empowers women” is the way to capture that market. Unfortunately, Progressive’s message is not at all about empowering women, it’s about communicating to women “Progressive is on your side against the boys.” Don’t believe me. I remind you of Progressives current ad campaign.
And this “girl forward” movement is not limited to tv commercials and rom-coms. I watch even fewer Ted Talks than I do movies, but somehow, I wound up watching this one:
John Gerzema wrote The Athena Doctrine: How Women (And Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule The World - a “girl forward” book that advocates that female values and attributes are the needed new wave of leadership style in business, politics, and culture. (By the way, proceeds from the book benefit the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign. So, I guess technically it’s Girl Up, not “girl forward”.)
While Meyers finds in her effect, she misses (pardon the genderist pun) her own effect. If you write enough damaged male characters two things will happen. Men will wonder if, and some will eventually believe that, they are indeed that damaged male. And women will wonder if, and some will eventually believe that, they have been stuck way back in line behind generations of damaged males who got “cuts” to the head of the line by being more aggressive. From Meyers own words, this conclusion is inescapable.
War On Men is not about propping up the prominence of the male gender - say, the Martian Doctrine. It’s about fairness. All women are not weak and all men are not bullies. Neither are all women… to be blunt… ball-busters nor all men milquetoasts. Maybe Hollywood can’t find strong and supportive males because they are not found in their scripts - the boundaries of their knowledge. I once heard a scriptwriter explain his source of information on Lee Harvey Oswald - “I discovered the character through the prose I wrote for him.” Sounds eerily similar to what I ripped from Time Magazine today.
And I kid you not, I did my ripping in the lobby of a senior community in which I work. I ripped, I stood, I turned… to see a tv commercial… of Flo… screeching “that’s enough out of you.”
I couldn’t agree more, Hollywood, that’s enough out of you.
P.S. Did you notice this conundrum… “I wish as a young woman I had had someone who was not my shrink, not my parent… It made me think about men I knew when I was a little girl—my dad….”