Hollywood movies aren’t just entertaining—they help us be better men as well.
This post is part of our “Movies and Manhood” series that gives some of our regular writers an opportunity to share their views on how movies have impacted their thinking about men’s roles today. Our objective is to find the intersection between these films and the themes and topics we address here at The Good Men Project. Be sure to check out our other posts here.
Hollywood movies are mainly a vehicle for providing entertainment. (Well, at least most of them are entertaining.) But there’s more. Movies can also show us practical life skills in action—skills that can help us navigate tough situations and deal with otherwise impossible circumstances.
This year’s Academy Award nominees are no exception. We asked our GMP movie panelists to reflect on the skills we can learn from some of these movies. Of course, these skills aren’t just for men—they’re just as useful for women. Everyone can benefit from the examples of intelligence, bravery, and ingenuity we find in many of this year’s Oscar nominees.
The GMP Perspectives
You can plan all you want, but there are always variables or curve balls. The Martian shows that no matter how well you prepare and execute well-reasoned goals, there is always something overlooked or something unexpected that happens. Life’s guarantee: it will keep you on the ball.
Steve Dustcircle, The Good Men Project Author
While it would be easier to focus on the inspiration for skill-building found in The Martian (I was and remain a keen supporter of the space program) or the single-handed doggedness of a fight to survive chronicled in The Revenant (I am a Boy Scout leader), I’m going with Bryan Cranston in Trumbo.
Trumbo awakens the part of me that grabs onto an idea fiercely, that doesn’t begrudge a principle, and holds tight despite the tidal wave of opposition. That is the skill, the force I need to find once again. Trumbo calls that out in us, in me.
Dalton Trumbo famously wrote The Time of the Toad about the McCarthy era, the blacklist. These days, we are awash in similar sentiments, revisiting those dark times, when the lowest common denominator prevails and demagogues lie and bluster with impunity. Trumbo connects me to that time and place where one man, courage fortified by principles, can eventually prevail. I hope we aren’t too jaded to see that happen again. The times call for a Dalton Trumbo.
Ramsey Marshall, The Good Men Project Author
I’ve been a movie fan since I was a little kid, and learning skills from my celluloid icons seems obvious, thought I probably had never thought of it that way. The impact a film makes in our lives can reverberate for years to come. This year’s crop of Oscar nominees is no exception, and here are a couple.
As much as we can see both Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron exert heroic and brave acts in Mad Max: Fury Road, the one thing that permeates to the top for me is the ability for Tom Hardy’s character Max to see the need to work with others. The necessity of teamwork and the bit of humility that goes along with being able to accept that help is a real testament to getting in touch with one’s own ego and putting it aside.
On to The Martian. Yes, Matt Damon is a national treasure that has cost us billions to save (in a recent article I read, the assumed cost is $900 billion!). Throughout his journey, he has shown some incredible survival skills, but what touches me and what I want to emulate is his ability to take an adverse situation and grow from it. As a student of leadership, I love his ability to continue to laugh in the face of overwhelming odds. That beats learning to grow plants on a barren planet anytime.
Sean Ackerman, The Good Men Project Author
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox Corp.
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