Jennifer Siebel Newsome’s new film, “The Mask You Live In,” explores the effects of a culture where men are not allowed to express or even experience the full range of their own emotions.
At a young age, boys learn that to express compassion or empathy is to show weakness. They hear confusing messages that force them to repress their emotions, establish hierarchies, and constantly prove their masculinity. They often feel compelled to abide by a rigid code of conduct that affects their relationships, narrows their definition of success and, in some cases, leads to acts of violence resulting in what many researchers call a “boy crisis.”
The film argues that the effects of this crisis are manifesting themselves in the increased rates of behavioral disorders, prescription stimulants, school drop out rates, alcohol abuse, violence and suicide affecting American men. Just look at gun-related violence in the first half of 2013; there were 14 mass shootings in the United States, almost all of which were committed by American men.
Our society’s failure to recognize and care for the social and emotional well-being of our boys contributes to a nation of young men who navigate adversity and conflict with an incomplete emotional skill set. Whether boys and later men have chosen to resist or conform to this masculine norm, there is loneliness, anxiety, and pain.
The goal of the film is to provide insight and name potential solutions for the problems of male socialization in the public school system, sports culture, and male-focused mass media — especially pornography and video games. How do the pressures to be tough, to be strong, and to posture constantly against the manliness of other men affect a man’s development? His relationships? His parenting style? Society at large? These are questions The Mask You Live In seeks to explore.
The deadline to pledge support for this project is August 8, 2013. You can find out more about The Mask You Live In on Kickstarter.