I’m excited to announce The Pop Culture Detective Agency! This project a brand new video series that looks at media through a critical lens with an emphasis on depictions of men and masculinity in popular culture.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
This new video series focuses on deconstructing the representations of masculinity we see embedded in movies, television, comic books and video games. The messages pop culture sends to men and boys about our own manhood are consistently both limiting and harmful. The critical analysis I’ll be using is very much inspired by and rooted in feminist theory. It’s through that lens that I’ll be highlighting the ways boys and men can be harmed as a byproduct of hypermasculinity. But this project won’t only focus on the negative. I’ll also be highlighting more positive examples of manhood in media.
You can watch the first positive episode, which highlights emotional expression and masculinity on Steven Universe right now!
Episodes will primarily be long-form video essays (between 10 and 30 minutes). This longer format allows me the opportunity to really delve into how our culture is impacted by media and, conversely, how our media is impacted by culture. I’ll also be producing a series of shorter supplementary videos defining commonly misunderstood terms, as well as some fun supercuts highlighting some of the media patterns I discuss in the longer video essays. There will never be ads on anything I produce. Plus all my videos will be made available for free to everyone (including educators).
This series is being crowdfunded on Patreon. By supporting the project you’ll be helping me keep the project going, upgrade my equipment and eventually make this project sustainable! It takes a tremendous amount of time to produce each of these video essays. At the moment I’m just one person doing all the research, writing, filming, editing, images and after effects. So every pledge of support helps me get closer to the goal of sustainability!
My videos will be made for everyone, but they are very much geared towards speaking to men. I really believe there is a need for media criticism that speaks directly to young men about masculinity in pop culture. With all the conflicting media messages out there, it’s not surprising that a lot of young men are confused about what it means to be a “real man.” So my hope is that this video series can open up conversations about how we, as men, can work to achieve more constructive, cooperative and empathetic forms of masculinity.
I will be producing 2 to 3 videos per month. At least 1 of those will always be a long-form video essay delving into media representations. The others will likely be shorter supplementary episodes focusing on definitions or debunking myths, or they may be critical supercuts!
Hi, I’m Jonathan McIntosh. I’m a video producer and pop culture critic. I’ve been creating online videos about social and political issues for a over a decade. Over the past three years I had the honor of working as producer and co-writer on the first season of Feminist Frequency’s influential web series Tropes vs Women in Video Games. You may have also seen some of my other work, a while back I made a remix called Buffy vs Edward and then another one called Donald Duck meets Glenn Beck.
Head over to Patreon to help support this new series and to see a list of upcoming episodes.
Below is a full transcript of the embedded video.
Have you ever read an article about sexism in the media, and then made the horrible mistake of scrolling down into the comment section? Because if you have, then you’ve seen someone trying to derail that conversation with demands of, “What about the men!?” Now the last thing the guys who are making that demand really want to do is have a serious discussion about the sometimes harmful ways that media represents masculinity. And they especially don’t want to have that conversation if it’s inspired by feminism. And so that’s exactly what this project is going to do!
(Intro music plays)
Welcome to The Pop Culture Detective Agency, a brand new web series that looks at media through a critical lens with a special emphasis on the depictions of men and masculinity in popular culture!
Hi there, I’m Jonathan. I’m a pop culture critic and a video producer. I’ve been making online videos about social and political issues for a over a decade now. You may have seen some of my work, a while back I made a viral video called Buffy vs Edward.
[Clip of Buffy vs Edward]
Buffy: Get out.
Edward: I like watching you sleep. It’s uh, it’s kind of fascinating.
Buffy: Get out or I will drop you out head first.
Edward: I just wanna try one thing.
And then later, another one called Donald Duck meets Glenn Beck.
[Clip of Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck]
Glenn Beck: GET A JOB!
Donald Duck: You can’t do that to me.
Beck: (laughing) Lazy slob that refuses to get off the couch and get a job.
Donald: I’ll show ya! OW!
That remix made one of these two cartoon characters very, very unhappy.
[Clip of Glenn Beck’s radio show]
Glenn Beck: We are looking into the funding of this gentleman, and the incredible propaganda against me, like you’ve never seen, using Disney and Disney cartoons.
Over the past three years I’ve had the honor of working as producer and co-writer on the 1st season of Feminist Frequency’s influential web series Tropes vs Women in Video Games.
[Clip of Tropes vs Women in Video Games]
Both the Ms. Male-character and the Smurfette principle have been normalized in gaming and in mass media more broadly. So much so that the two tropes usually pass under the radar and are often reproduced unconsciously.
Today, I’m excited to build on that work with a brand new series. This one will focus on deconstructing the representations of masculinity that we see embedded in movies, TV shows, comic books and video games.
The messages that pop culture sends to boys and men about masculinity are consistently both limiting and harmful. At this point, we’re all familiar with the standard media conventions. Men are typically shown as either stoic heroes who use violence to solve all of their problems, or as bumbling fools who are incapable of nurturing or caregiving.
With all the conflicting media messages out there, it’s not surprising that a lot of young men are very confused about what it means to be a “real man.”
In the near future I’ll be looking at how manhood is framed by The Jedi Order in George Lucas’s 6 Star Wars films.
[Clip of Return of the Jedi]
Obiwan: Your insight serves you well. Bury your feelings deep down Luke. They do you credit, but they could be made to serve the Emperor.
And then later I’ll be investigating some of the harmful ideas about geek masculinity that we find on The Big Bang Theory.
[Clip of The Big Bang Theory]
Sheldon: I’m sorry, but in what universe is Wonder Woman blonde?
Howard: Relax. Nobody’s going to be looking at her hair.
Ooophf, yeah, there is a lot to talk about right there.
But this project won’t only focus on the negative. I’ll also be producing a series of videos that look at positive examples of manhood in media. The first of those positive episodes explores emotional expression on the Cartoon Network series, Steven Universe.
[Clip of Steven Universe]
Steven: Do you understand?
Greg: Yeah. Okay. Just…be careful, or I’m going to run fresh out of family.
Steven: Stay with everyone and keep them safe.
A little further down the line, I’ll also be looking at the remarkable ways that empathy and also fatherhood are represented on that show.
These episodes will be long-form video essays, between 10 and 20 minutes long. That longer format really allows me the opportunity to delve into how culture is impacted by media, and vice-versa: how media is impacted by culture.
I’ll also be making some shorter videos to supplement the longer ones. Some of those will be debunking sexist myths, and others will be defining commonly misunderstood terms. You can also look forward to some fun supercuts that highlight various patterns in media. Although masculinity will be the primary focus of this series, from time to time I’ll be creating visual essays about other sociopolitical issues related to popular culture.
You can see examples of all that stuff over on my YouTube channel and also on my Patreon page.
Now there are more than a few YouTube channels that claim to be concerned about men. Unfortunately most of them are aggressively anti-feminist and they just spend their time scapegoating and blaming women for everything. It’s a really bad scene. My new channel will be an alternative to that growing trend.
The critical analysis that I’ll be using is very much inspired by feminist theory. It’s through that lens that I’ll be looking at the ways that boys and men are harmed as a byproduct of hypermasculinity.
So my hope is that this video series can help open up conversations about how we, as men, can work together to achieve more constructive, cooperative and empathetic forms of masculinity.
And this is where you come in. I’m gonna need your support to help keep this project going. Creating these videos really is a full time job. They take a tremendous amount of time to research, write, and produce, especially for just one person.
There’ll be no ads on anything I make. Plus all my videos will be made available for free for everyone, including educators. So the only way this project can continue is if you fund it! You’ll find all the details in the text below this video.
I am super excited for this project and I hope you are too! So please become a Patron of the Pop Culture Detective Agency!
Yeah, I just promised to watch both the Star Wars Prequels AND The Big Bang Theory. That’s gotta be worth some support right there ‘cause that’s gonna be excruciating.