The Subversive Boyhood of Steven Universe

The Cartoon Network series Steven Universe is an adventure show about a boy with super powers derived from an interstellar gemstone in his belly. But in many ways it’s also a coming-of-age story about a young man growing up and trying to find his place in the world. In this episode we discussing how Steven’s empathic superpowers function as a subversion of traditional boy hero tropes.

This video was made possible by support from viewers like you! If you’d like to see more videos focusing on the intersections of entertainment, politics and masculinity, please head over to my Patreon page and help fund this web series.

Below is a full transcript of this episode Read More »

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Military Recruitment and Science Fiction Movies

The sequel to the 1996 mega-blockbuster “Independence Day” hit theaters this summer but there was something a little strange about many of the trailers. What looks like a clever marketing campaign centered on joining the fictional “Earth Space Defense” was actually a cross-branded recruitment tool for the US Army. It’s part of a multi-million dollar joint advertising venture between 20th Century Fox and the United States Military.

This video was made possible by support from viewers like you! If you’d like to see more videos focusing on the intersections of entertainment, politics and masculinity, please head over to my Patreon page and help fund this web series.

SOURCES
U.S. Army Using Independence Day as a Propaganda Tool
List on US military interventions since World War II
Infographic of US interventions in Latin America
• How Many Countries is the U.S. Currently Bombing?
U.S. Escalates a Shadow War In Somalia
McCann Worldgroup’s Lisa Nocella on NPR
US Army spends 200 million per year on advertising
Only 15% of military recruits get the promised college degree
Soldiers Forced to Repay Enlistment Bonuses After Going to War
National Coalition for the Homeless – Veterans Facts
Sexual Assault in the Military – Fact Sheet
Suicide rate of U.S. veterans rose one third since 2001
Military refused to assist on original Independence Day
US Navy collaboration on Battleship movie
X-Men cross-promotion with US Army
History of Military collaborations with Hollywood
Hollywood and the Pentagon: A relationship of mutual exploitation

RECOMMENDED READING
An Ordinary Person’s Guide To Empire by Arundhati Roy
War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges
Killing Hope by William Blum
Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs by Noam Chomsky
Propaganda and the Public Mind by Noam Chomsky
Necessary Illusions by Noam Chomsky

FAIR USE
All multimedia clips included in this video constitute a ‘fair use’ of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright law, which allows for criticism, comment and scholarship. Learn more about fair use with this awesome app by New Media Rights!

CREDITS
Writer/Producer: Jonathan McIntosh
Logo Design: Justin McIntosh
Music: Jonathan Mann

Below is a full transcript of this episode  Read More »

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Every Tear on Steven Universe Supercut

This supercut collects every tear from 107 episodes of Steven Universe. You can see my full video essay about emotional expression on Steven Universe here.

ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Pop Culture Detective Agency is a brand new video series that looks at media through a critical lens with an emphasis on depictions of men and masculinity in movies, television, comic books and video games. Support this video series on Patreon!

FAIR USE
All multimedia clips included in this video constitute a ‘fair use’ of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright law, which allows for criticism, comment and scholarship. Learn more about fair use with this awesome app by New Media Rights!

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What Is Toxic Masculinity?

You may have bumped into the term toxic masculinity during your travels around the internet. It usually shows up in connection with particularly abusive male behavior, but what does it really mean? In this episode we take a closer look at the term using Biff from Back To The Future as our example.

If you’d like to see more videos tackling sociological topics related to media and manhood, hop on over to my Patreon page and help fund the Pop Culture Detective Agency.

LINKS
• How Toxic Masculinity Feeds Rape Culture
Toxic Masculinity and Murder
6 Harmful Effects Of Toxic Masculinity
• Toxic Masculinity on Geek Feminism Wikia

RECOMMENDED BOOKS
• The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks
• The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy by Allan G Johnson

FAIR USE
All multimedia clips included in this video constitute a ‘fair use’ of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright law, which allows for criticism, comment and scholarship. Learn more about fair use with this awesome app by New Media Rights!

Below is a full transcript of the embedded video. Read More »

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When Men Are Harassed Online

I did two things that garnered a torrent of harassment this week from angry men on the internet.

First I launched a new critical video series focusing on harmful ways masculinity is often portrayed in media. My first episode highlights the importance of open emotional vulnerability as seen on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe.

Second, in keeping with the theme of open vulnerability, I tweeted about how I found the fighting aspects of the augmented reality game Pokemon Go a little “unsettling.” Specifically the game mechanic where users pit their cute monster friends against each other in battles. I expressed some slight discomfort that the ultimate goal was to have your Pokemon fight each other. Of course, this kind of “pet/monster” fighting is essentially the core of the franchise and has been for 20 years. I knew that expressing even mild discomfort and asking questions about the messages this combat mechanic sends would be an unpopular thing for a guy to say out loud. So I expected disagreement and some amount of pushback from fans of the game. What I got was an avalanche of hate, harassment and abuse.

Before I post examples, I think it’s important to point out how this online harassment differs from the harassment faced by women. The abuse directed at women is often of a decidedly sexual nature and is characterized by sexual objectification, sexual harassment, obsessive stalking and specific threats of intimate violence. As such the threats can be terrifying in a very personal, invasive and sustain way. I saw this first hand while monitoring harassment of the Tropes vs Women in Video Games project, where I worked as producer and co-writer on the first season.

When straight men are harassed the tone and tactics tend to be different. The harassment of men primarily focuses on emasculation. This is done by trying to associate the men being targeted with “women” or “femininity.” Accusations of weakness, of being too sensitive, and/or of being controlled by women are common, as are homophobic taunts. The not so subtle accusation is that targets are “not real men.”

In short, men insult other men by calling them women. This behavior can be merciless, vicious and harmful. It very directly contributes to a culture of hostility towards women and femininity more generally. It also works to police masculinity by shaming or threatening any man who deviates from the status quo and dares to be openly vulnerable, empathetic or sensitive.

One thing remains consistent though, men are the vast majority of the ones doing the harassing of both women and other men. I should also note that as soon as I mentioned the harassment on Twitter, it quickly increased. This is because men are supposed to “toughen up” and “take it like a man.” When we refuse to bury our feelings, we are then attacked so as to bring us “back in line.” These cultural ideas about macho manhood also mean that men often don’t receive enough emotional support (especially from other men) when they become targets.

I need to give a content warning here because what follows under the fold is particularly vile.

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