podcast-o-rama and the definition of a man in film

Ah, the podcast.

Such an excellent creation. I very much enjoy both the podcasts themselves, and that they are educational, fun, and absolutely f%*king free! This being a boring and slow Sunday afternoon in June, I decided that I would subscribe to some podcasts: that I might learn something new and interesting instead of spending my spare time sitting around, paying a creepy amount of attention to the actions of my friends on the ever nagging existence of the god we call Facebook. Seriously. That website is eating us all alive; never mind the fact that we all so dearly love to be eaten. Oi.

Meanwhile, on to my discussion about podcasts, which will be followed by a brief foray into the world of western films and the American view of masculinity – so stay tuned!

When I first got my 30GB video iPod in Fall 2006, I fell in love with it, of course. I put a load of music on it, and went on my merry way. Then I realized that I didn’t have any video on it, which was really a shame, since I’d love to have videos that were portable and therefore could distract me from the mess my life had become at that point. So, I spent an entire Saturday afternoon (and some of the night, too) piddling around looking for video podcasts that I would enjoy. My first video podcast was the BBC 10 O’Clock News, and I loved it. I watched it all the time, much to the detriment of whatever important thing I happened to be doing when it became available every week.

As a side note, podcasts (unlike music and other video which must be paid for) are fair game, no matter where you are in the world, since they’re free. This makes me immensely happy, and is a great thing for anyone who is annoyed with having to stick with Americanized Canadian culture (though I have found a few uniquely Canadian podcasts, which also pleases me greatly).

I expect that my recently acquired podcast of The Hour will be much the same, though it might be for different reasons. The BBC, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the best (if not the best) and most reliable sources of international news in the world, and if I can get access to it for free, I’m going to take advantage, damnit!

Speaking of taking advantage, I have also come across some language podcasts that are going to come in extremely handy. Did you know that you can learn French by podcast? No? Well, now you do! Now, I do actually know quite a bit of French, but I need to oil up my rusty language joints, and if I can do it by podcast, I’ll be fixed up in no time. You can learn a lot of languages by podcast, and you can learn a Hell of a lot more about your own language via podcast as well. I recommend The Word Nerds, which I’m pretty sure is found in the United Kingdom iTunes Store. If you’re interested and can’t find it, let me know.

My ultimate point in writing this entry is to let you know, or remind you, that podcasts are an amazing resource of knowledge and foolishness, and I think everyone should take the time to sift through them. You never know what you might learn, or see, or love!

And now for the more obscure section of today’s post: American masculinity and the post-heterosexuality of John Wayne. It seems a strange thing for me to write about, for sure. As it happens, I bought a magazine at Chapters about a month ago, and didn’t pick it up until today. The focus of the whole issue was masculinity in film and such, and there was a feature article on John Wayne, who is apparently still the king of the masculine identity in American film.

The magazine is called film international, and it’s printed in England, which makes it pricey here in silly old North America.

The article I read this afternoon on the patio, in the much-welcomed sunshine was called: Post-heterosexuality: John Wayne & the construction of American masculinity. One of the first points in the 10 page article that struck me as overwhelmingly true was that the uber-masculine American man is often not associated with women, or feminine sexuality at all. I mean, sometimes he is associated with being a ladies man, but there is often not a conscious effort to have him understand women or their ‘mysteries’, as such. I mean, certainly in western genre films, men are often gun-toting, and tough, and seriously big on male bonding and cattle wrangling. This is all fine and good, I’m not saying it isn’t, but it does remove the feminine from the picture, both literally and figuratively. It makes me wonder whether it might have something to do with the Christian influence on the film makers.

It seems to me that the American brand of Christianity does not often smile upon the ‘mysteries’ of femininity, and so there’s a likelihood of that having predisposed westerns to be largely devoid of thoughtful insights on male and female relationships. Meanwhile, it could just be as easy as to say that westerns are bad ass flicks, and women don’t have much place in them, but I think there’s a larger socio-cultural issue there. One only need look as far as James Bond to find a prime example of the opposite philosophy: Bond is all about the mysteries of the feminine – and conquering them, to an extent. There are any number of strong female characters in the Bond series, giving the British a hero whose success or failure is often intrinsically tied to his female allies and counter-parts. Now, one string of common thought between both John Wayne-ish characters and James Bond-ish ones is that they don’t ever remain involved or interested in one woman for very long. Life partners are not sexy. Having multiple partners, or the allusion of such, is certainly a common goal for masculine heroes, or even anti-heroes, for that matter. I don’t blame them, sometimes. It’s difficult to be bad ass, save your country, the world, or whatever/whomever needs saving and carry on some sort of meaningful relationship with a mysterious and sexy woman. Those are rough things to co-ordinate! I would love to know the opinion of anyone reading this.

And so ends this post. Because I’m off to do some productive things, like look for a job that I likely won’t get, and watch The Nature of Things.

’til next time.

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