If I were to propose a movie night to my buddies, I imagine it going something like this:
Me: “Hey, let’s go see Magic Mike XXL.”
Silence. Cue the crickets.
The aftermath following that awkward silence would be filled with questions and a little playful “why do you want to see it?” banter. Thus is the way with guys (occasionally). Admittedly, at first glance, a movie like Magic Mike XXL won’t appeal to the straight guy; in fact, some men might make a variety of assumptions based on deeply entrenched stereotypes.
Even a certain trio of comedians made fun with this “audition” a few years ago.
For instance, I work out six days a week. I don’t look like Channing Tatum because I don’t quite have the time or money necessary to utilize a full-time Hollywood trainer. That being said, I’ve been into various forms of exercise, including weightlifting, for about 12 years, and I’m well aware of the stereotypes. The word “musclebound” never precedes any positive term, let’s just put it that way.
Hey, I get it. Looking good gives one a boost of confidence and sometimes, that confidence can become cockiness, which can in turn ratchet up the jerk meter. So, I’m guilty of looking at the buff dudes in Magic Mike XXL during movie previews and going, “well, that can’t possibly have a brain behind it.”
Not so quick. While it probably won’t win any awards, it should get an award for pulling off the impossible: Somehow proving that guys who hit the gym hard, who shake their money makers (sorry I stole from you, 1994), can actually be fun, cool guys. No misogyny. No abundance of bathroom jokes. No adolescent or otherwise insulting behavior (for the most part). I love this quote from Polygon’s review: “This is what Entourage could be like, if it were about likable people.”
Yep. Amazing how that works, isn’t it? A quick, witty and ultimately brave screenwriters Reid Carolin and Tatum (who also produced the film) dared to show a bunch of muscular guys, stripping down in front of crowds for money, who are, in fact, loyal friends and generally charming dudes. And oddly enough, it’s fun. We won’t kid ourselves and say the movie isn’t about impossibly chiseled bodies; we all know why many individuals are going to see it. But those who end up being dragged along may find themselves grinning at the screen in the darkness, hoping nobody sees them grinning.
But it’s OK. Grin away. This is an entertaining movie that portrays good-looking young(ish) male strippers as good ol’ American guys with strong friendship ties and no interest in objectifying women. In fact, the movie deftly avoids objectifying the men, which doesn’t seem possible but it happens. It’s like a magic trick- hey, is that the reason it’s called “Magic Mike?” For this reason alone, you gotta check it out. Just trust the straight guy, the one who said when Magic Mike hit theaters:
“If I have to go to that movie, you’ll have to pay, and you’ll also have to pay for the herd of wild horses it will take to drag me there.”
Hey, surprises abound in this life.
Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male by Andrew P. Smiler PhD (Jossey-Bass, 2012)
In the groundbreaking new work from Dr. Smiler, one myth is smashed to bits: The idea that all male teens are individuals who can barely control their sex drives, which can lead to all sorts of serious health, emotional and financial problems. Dr. Smiler shows that the majority of teen boys don’t fit this stereotype and that a man’s sexual development is quite complicated. Tackling the idea of the Casanova Complex and how it has changed over time, this book sheds light on a controversial but important topic.
Male Sexuality: Why Women Don’t Understand It-And Men Don’t Either by Michael Bader (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010)
There’s a lot more to male sexuality than you might think. Respected psychologist Michael Bader offers a candid look at various issues including sexual boredom, fantasies, and the explosion of Internet sex. He also offers a bunch of illustrations with intriguing examples from his practice. The author’s goal is to “enhance individual self-esteem and improve communication in relationships” and very often, such improvement begins in the bedroom, and an understanding of the bedroom. Great for both women and men, this one is an eye-opener.