Directed by: Jason Innocent
Written by: Jason Innocent
Starring: Bruce Burrell
Society’s perception of male masculinity is undergoing a (very) gradual evolution. But, while we like to think we live in progressive times, there’s still a long way to go; a lot of work needs to be done before we get things right. Only in the last few years have we begun talking about the appalling rate of male suicides, the fact that men are 3X more likely to commit suicide than women, and question why that might be. But why has it taken us so long? Enter filmmaker Jason Innocent, as he attempts to decipher the meaning of masculinity by looking at our male-dominated history, and explores the effects of toxic masculinity on both men and women.
The decoding of centuries worth of male idealism isn’t an easy task for a movie a mere 15-minutes in length. Or any film, for that matter. Innocent’s solution to this problem is to keep things simple. But by not overstretching his gaze, Innocent can keep his film incisive and short, while still doing right by the subject matter. The movie consists of interviews from both men and women giving their personal views on contemporary masculinity, intercut with Bruce Burrell’s brilliantly read narration, which looks at ‘manliness’ through the ages.
The film is generally well put together, but there are a couple of issues here and there. There are a few moments where the edits happen a little too quickly and some of the video and audio is of poor quality. However, the editing problem only occurs once or twice and is easily ignored. While the varying quality of video and audio – caused by interviewees using mobile phones, webcams and other such devices – could be down to the lockdown we’re currently experiencing? Either way, this isn’t a big problem at all, and everything is communicated clear enough for the viewer to understand.
There’s plenty of insightful information here, particularly on the issue of toxic masculinity and the media’s involvement in its spreading through society—both historically and presently. And, if there's one thing Innocent makes absolutely clear, it's that men are incredibly insecure about society's idea of masculinity and what that means. It must have been a daunting task, to decode such an enigma, especially within a 15-minute time frame. But Jason Innocent’s concise and well-crafted documentary, which tackles one of the more pertinent issues of our time, is a resounding success.