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June 06 2007

Not super secret anymore. Artist Martin Firrell has revealed on his website the "super secret thingy" Nathan Fillion went to London to work on with him: an audio-visual contemplation on a new model of heroism for men in society titled: "Hero: The Future of Gods, Icons and Heroes."

It takes quite some time for this creation to cycle; keep watching and listening. At the end of the cycle, the title comes up, and more links about the project appear, including a way to send the artist your ideas, get on the mailing list, and a link to a "read this" page that says this: "My thanks go to Nathan Fillion for agreeing to be the exemplar of this new breed of hero where kindness is seen as a greater expression of strength than cruelty." Very rockin', Martin and Nathan! :-)

I'm gonna explode? I don't wanna explode.
Well, you may experience some turbulence first. Besides, it would be Kaylee's fault. ;-)
Kevin is going to London, then.
I love the URL that it's at. I'm still getting accustomed to how the navigation works.
I'd could have done without the choir and I get some heavy Colonel Kurtz vibes off the presentation but it wasn't bad.

this new breed of hero where kindness is seen as a greater expression of strength than cruelty


Hasn't this always been the case throughout history? For me, our best fictional and real life heroes have always been known for their acts of mercy rather than their physical actions.
Nathan Fillion must be listed in the actors' directories under "icon." Or should. For rock he does, billz.
Very cool.
I've posted it to Digg. If you have an account go over and Digg it up. http://digg.com/celebrity/Nathan_Fillion_s_super_secret_thingy
I don't think mercy has "always" been recognized as heroism. I think rather the idea has always been around, and sometimes it is loud and people are recognized for it, and sometimes it's quiet and they're not. I think the idea could always use more publicity, which is also not new, but it's probably more important now that there is a global economy and an act of mercy (as well as actions otherwise) can carry a lot further than before. I think scale of impact is the real social change. So this is kind of neat to see it emphasized in a artsy way on the interwebs.

So... forgive me, maybe I'm missing the point somewhere. Why is the subject men specifically? Or is it men, inclusive, meaning humans?
Agreed, bix. I can't believe the link is actually called SuperSecretThingy. Catchy! ;-)

Simon, I think your criticisms are very good. I would also add, I didn't particularly see how these images inspired this new model of male heroism unless I use my own knowledge of the types of characters Nathan has played -- with a few extremely notable exceptions in Mal's history, Nathan's characters are usually pretty soft-hearted, non-belching-scratching-hitting guys -- Nathan's characters are more likely to get beat up than to beat someone up (successfully), or more likely to give back the stolen medicine to the miners who need it, and will only kick someone through an engine if he's a really bad guy who threatens our friends. So, apart from Nathan's truly interesting insights before admitting he wants to see his face real big ;-), I'm not sure how this work will create more kind heroes.

On the other hand, it wouldn't be Arty if it didn't protest bad stuff. And it was kinda pretty, in a tree pretty sorta way. And, Nathan rocks, yo. :-)
I tend to agree that the idea isn't necessarily anything new qua new.

And I admit, watching it on a library 'puter without sound probably misses essence of it. Just staring at "there is nothign wrong with your monitor, we will control the horizontal" without Nathan's face or with it (and doesn't he look a lot like Ted Shackelford in that shot? -God I'm showin' my age) I guess can't show you much.
Hmm...is there some deeper symbolism to the blue on Nathan's face and some deeper meaning to displaying his face in duplicate across the screen? I feel like I'm missing something. The music was emotive and it's always nice to look at Mr. Fillion but I'm not sure if I understood the visual imagery.

Anyone?

[ edited by kerfuffle on 2007-06-06 00:12 ]
Why is the subject men specifically?

Presumably because as much as, say, Joss tried with, say, Buffy to present something of a new archetype/icon for the strength of women, this work perhaps it trying to present something of a new archetype/icon for male strength.
That's twice today someone in the arts brought me to tears. I think this has more to do with Nathan himself, the man, than with the characters he's played. What an honor to be the model of the new archetype of how men can function in society as we get deeper into the 21st century. Part of what I got from this presentation is that humanity is not progressing as quickly as technology is, and it's something we need to look at (Nathan says that in so many words at the beginning).

Thanks, billz.
I'm gonna watch that a few more times, but I quite liked it. And I like Nathan even more than I did before. (His helping me do my homework and rescuing my cat from up a tree was nothing compared to doing this...)

"I like words on public buildings" too... so I checked out the rest of Martin Firrell's site. This was very whedonesque-Buffy:

"And it's passion that binds us, one to another, across the great plains and darknesses of feeling, the world's oceans.

And it's passion that binds us, beyond language, beyond sex, beyond death, beyond race, beyond the unbearable smallness of life."


The rest of his stuff seems to suit my taste (and politics) to a big ol' T.

"Do not make assumptions about what is, or is not, art."

"How ironic to live in fear of terrorism and die because of climate change."

"When the world’s run by fools it’s the duty of intelligence to disobey."

I may just be in love...
I agree, Tonya J, the statements at the beginning are the most meaningful part to me. The music and the lights -- as I said above -- were just kinda tree pretty to me. Something I would add about Nathan's statements -- listening to the whole thing again, I noticed how soothing Nathan's voice is. Quiet, self-assured, but not snobby or arrogant, and the humor of admitting he'd like to see his face -- well, maybe that's the illustration of being kind and honest and still being strong and confident -- a hero for today. :-)

QG, I agree, Martin's words are the best part of his art for me. I really like what he has written in those projections, but I don't so much get if there is additional meaning in the colors and music and what-not part. Yes, QG, I am a worthy minion of yours -- words, not art stuff, that's me! ;-)
What I got from the project was a sociological statement that
behavior that we recognize and respect in people ,in this case
nonviolent strength in men , becomes a behavior we gravitate towards.

I noticed that all of the facial expressions that Nathan had on his face were strong with out the slightest bit of aggression.
May I say that Nathan Fillion may just be the most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on. And it's not just his looks. There's something in his soul. And in his eyes.

And I love that nose.

Sigh...

[ edited by madmolly on 2007-06-06 03:30 ]
"Strength without force."

Coming on the heels of everything that was/continues to be said within our community regarding misogyny, I found that a lovely goal that's well worth striving towards. Perhaps it's preaching to the choir here, but I'll take it.

And the congregation is invited to stay afterwards for the annual dinner on the green . . .
Wow, interesting and strange. I'm curious to see where this goes. The "teaser" definitely gets you curious.

...and could Nathan Fillion be any more dreamy? Talented, nice to look at, and someone who wants to give back to the world? Sheesh.
For me, it spoke that even the everyday man can be a true hero through thoughtful actions. Young men are pressured to be tough and even cruel as they grow up. Kindness and gentleness are not generally seen as a strength in men, yet it is right there all over Nathan's face, without the slightest sacrifice of masculinity. He was the perfect choice as the subject of this project. The faces were used as an artistic way to lead to the written words. They turned and looked at the words as they appeared. The compelling nature of the face, the colors, the movement- it all draws you in and leads you. It's not just "tree pretty." It's saying, "This is what all men can be if they will only aspire to it." At least, that is what it says to me. And this is only a preview, a first look. I was mesmerized and moved to tears. I found it an astounding work of art.

FTR my friend billz, Nathan doesn't say he wants to see his face big. He says "and the vanity of seeing my face really big." It is a lovely moment of humility- a hallmark of Nathan- showing that our heroes are very human, as they should be.

[ edited by Ninja MALi on 2007-06-06 08:05 ]
Agreed, Ninja MALi: I liked the self-deprecating moment, because I love when heroes are human, not unreal, impossible superheroes! :-)
"How ironic to live in fear of terrorism and die because of climate change."

Yeah, well we'll have to talk to Mr. Sun about that, considering the evidence (not "consensus science") doesn't support the notion of anthropogenic global warming. Really guys, the Earth's temperature has been both a lot warmer and a lot colder without any intervention from mankind.

And I don't fear terrorists either. I won't give power to a bunch of evil religious zealots, no matter what the heck they do.
I don't have time to access the link right now, but can someone tell me how this juxtaposes with the Joseph Campbell (is that spelled right??!) hero/hero's journey concept?
I haven't been able to watch it with the sound up yet. (I'm at work.) But it looks amazing! It's ridiculous how much fun I have looking at that man.
Interesting. I have to say I am not very artsy fartsy, it is difficult for me to extract the meaning and symbolism from the colours put on Nathans face and the positions etc, but I enjoy the message, and has been stated previously, while it isnt something new, it seems in todays world, that message should be re-iterated loud and clear. Thank you Ninja mali for making sense of this piece and expressing it for me. It is true the way you look at Nathan's face(and god knows we all have seen it often hehe), that one can be masculine, male without being cruel and agressive. Masculinity does not equal agressivity. That one can be tender and kind, compassionate and thoughtful, and these are not feminie traits but human traits that are necessary for our collective existance.

It does feel in the clatter of todays world, that it is easy to forget that. Good to be reminded of it.

[ edited by kurya on 2007-06-06 16:14 ]
Second that kurya, as with a lot of art that's not actually pictures i'm left with a vague sense that I kinda missed the boat and a less vague "Is that it ?" sensation. It'll probably be more effective on site where it'll be bigger (isn't it being installed at the British Museum ?). Looked nice though and I certainly respect the sentiment.

Also, I think it's slightly broken in Firefox, didn't want to get to the words bit for me until I tried it in IE (I sat for five minutes waiting and thinking "Jeez, billz wasn't kidding when he said it took a while" ;).

(and, as per the behind the scenes bit, I totally do that with my neck/back too, being variously told it's completely harmless bubbles of gas popping in the joints or that it's bone grinding against bone and I probably won't be able to move in about ten years. So it goes ;)

I guess though, I have to wonder aloud (ish ;) whether the same impulse that drives violence also drives progress and invention and what might happen to the latter if we completely eliminate the former ? Or is violence purely a symptom of it, open to suppression just as we can't cure the common cold but can alleviate its symptoms so you don't feel bad ? Maybe we need a kind of cultural Beechams Max Strength ;).
It is my considered opinion that violence and aggression are intrinsically linked to masculinity. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is part of our genetics, and thinking that we can wish it away with a bit of social engineering is a bit arrogant. Sure, I want men to be respected for our capacity for mercy, strength, and such, but I want MEN to be the ones to make that decision, from our own decisions, than have it be imposed on us from outside. When I start hearing women whisper to each other -- "Did you see him be so merciful? That's HOT!" I'll start believing that this is a viable alternative to the present.
Saje, the reason you may be feeling a vague sense of missing the boat is that this is but a fraction of the finished project. It's only a small preview of what's to come. You should express your opinions there on Martin's site, positive or negative. It's a work in progress and he is interested to hear from people about their ideas on heroism to incorporate into the project. In other words, we can all be a part of the voice.

Also, there will be downloads and other cool things coming in future updates to the site. This is only the beginning.
Saje: "I guess though, I have to wonder aloud (ish ;) whether the same impulse that drives violence also drives progress and invention and what might happen to the latter if we completely eliminate the former ?"

I dunno about that at all - not particularly sure why that would be so - but I don't think we really have to be concerned about it too much (as for most hypotheticals like that) since, barring Pax in our water supply worldwide (which would, of course, also produce Reavers) it ain't gonna happen.

And re: your neck - my partner does that neck-cracking thingy, and we'd been told both things - it helps and it'll mess you up good. Finally, I went to Physical Therapy for an unrelated neck problem (frakkin' computers) and the therapist said - you can do it occasionally & it's fine and/or helpful. Do it frequently and you run the risk of hurting your neck in the long run by doing a repetitive movement that injures your neck. That made sense to me.
Screwthealliance, I always find kind, gentle men "hot." I find those qualities to be the "hottest" thing about Nathan, not his body, not his sarcastic sense of humor, not his coolness. I am never attracted to "aggressive" men. So yes, there are women out there that find mercy, compassion, kindness, sincerity and gentleness to be the most attractive qualities in a male.
I understood the words of course, but as a whole, I didn't really "get it." Probably because art's not my strong point. That said, it sure was cool.

And Maximus Decimus Meridius was merciful, with extra hotness to boot. It can be done. ;)
Saje, the reason you may be feeling a vague sense of missing the boat is that this is but a fraction of the finished project.

Ah, cheers Ninja MALi, that explains it ;).

screwthealliance said: It is part of our genetics, and thinking that we can wish it away with a bit of social engineering is a bit arrogant.

It being part of our genetics though to some extent almost certainly true is morally neutral and irrelevant to the question of whether it's desirable and, if not, what steps we can and should take to reduce or eliminate it. Reproduction is part of our genetics but, as i've mentioned before, we still have condoms and other contraceptives so that we're not 'slaves' to our genes. Also, you could see the entirety of the law as 'social engineering' and, if violence really is 'wired into' men, it's been doing a reasonable job of reducing it for thousands of years. And of course it seems fairly likely that non-violent cooperation is also part of our genetics, it's up to us which aspect of our genome we choose to emphasise (or, before too long I suspect, change).

I also think the genetics of maleness and the concept of 'masculinity' are two separate things with some overlap. Masculinity as with femininity is at least partly a cultural construct and that's what this piece of art is about i.e. changing the cultural identifiers for masculinity.

I dunno about that at all - not particularly sure why that would be so ...

Well, I wonder QuoterGal if invention and progress are driven by the urge to conquer, to control, even to dominate which, presumably, is also behind the urge to hit people or invade them ? Course, stuff like this art is saying, "Maybe so, but let's channel it another way" and so if not exactly 'cultural Beechams Max Strength' it's at least Lemsip ;).

(and re: neck, by occasionally, do you mean, like, a couple of times a day ? Hoping so ;)
I have to second that, Ninja Mali. I might be a bit skewed by growing up in a household with a violent and aggressive parent, but I gravitate to men who are warm, kind and loving. And I don't believe that this project is something that is being "imposed" on men. It is one artist's viewpoint about how change can start; by viewing the most elevated qualities that men are capable of using Nathan Fillion as an archetypal example. I loved what someone said upthread about Nathan's face being so strong but devoid of aggression. It's a start, a great start on a way of thinking that could change society and I'm all for it.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-06-06 22:03 ]
Saje: "Well, I wonder QuoterGal if invention and progress are driven by the urge to conquer, to control, even to dominate which, presumably, is also behind the urge to hit people or invade them ?

Well, just in my personal experience alone, some of the best innovation, progress and expansion at my last job was done by women working cooperatively together - often while the males in the org. were still fighting over organizational theory and territory - so it may be worth considering that a kind of progress and invention that might be effective for the future might be a combination of assertion and cooperation - a balance of the masculine and feminine principles (meaning the forces, not the folks.)

(Neck thing - the therapist was more like "Once a day if you gotta, but a little less is preferable." There are some folks that do it many times a day, which he said was right out. 'Course, this is only one professional's opinions, and they may differ on this...)


ETA: Yeah, ditto, Tonya, I don't think anyone was talking about anything being "imposed" on men from the outside. And, yeah, gentle, kind men can be totally hot. A little bit of self-confidence never hurt in the attraction arena, which is not the same as being chronically aggressive, which I find (blecchh) offputting. Oooh, and shy can be totally attractive.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-06-06 22:32 ]
Screwthealliance... in terms of "social engineering" and "being imposed upon from outside", I think that society has been doing that on individuals for thousands and thousands of years. Through our parents, teachers, peers, whatever media is available. It is those aspects that encourage certain traits in humans and discourage others.

And honestly, violence and agression is a human trait not limited to males. Females can be just as violent and aggressive as males, it is my opinion at least that social conditioning that has encouraged the roles of male the agressor and that female as the passive one. While there is something to the act of giving birth, I would imagine that in nature, in other species the females can be just as if not more aggressive than their male counterparts.

One of the points about the presentation(at least how I see it) is that social engineering has already been done on males in our society to make us more aggressive and to have our heros and icons be more violent and aggressive. Why not use the same social engineering processes(the parents and teachers in our schools, our peers) to encourage that males can also be kind and tender without giving up their percieved masculinity?

And I guess that a total lack of agressiveness could be a bad thing(not violence), I guess its to have a balance, a ying yang kind of things.

[ edited by kurya on 2007-06-06 22:53 ]
Well QuoterGal, here's where it gets really contentious ;). A book i've been meaning to have a look at for ages is "The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain" by Simon Baron-Cohen (yep, Sacha's cousin apparently). In it he (apparently) talks about how autism is actually the extreme end of a spectrum of male behaviour which is due to biological differences in our brains (i'd have to read it to find out how he separates brain biology from cultural influences).

Which seems relevant to the question, have most inventions been made by men solely because society was very much geared towards denying women the opportunity to do so or is there actually something about the male brain that makes us particularly suited to detachment and obsessive focus (often to the detriment of most other parts of our lives), which, unhealthy though it undoubtedly is, is also probably pretty handy when it comes to discovering things ? Folk wisdom has it that women are more efficient multi-taskers, is it possible that men are more efficient single-taskers and that there's a biological basis for this ?

I'm very leery of that as an explanation but if the evidence is there then we may have to accept it and figure out ways to best accommodate the differences (your mix of focus and cooperation - minus the pissing contests - seems as good a place to start as any).

(and yep, kurya, that's my take on it too. No idea how inherently violent Martin Firrell thinks men are but he certainly seems to think we're given too much 'permission' to be that way by our role models. In which case, maybe change the role models, right ? Makes sense to me anyway)
kurya said:
Why not use the same social engineering processes(the parents and teachers in our schools, our peers) to encourage that males can also be kind and tender without giving up their percieved masculinity?


Absolutely, and I would add to that our media heroes, who have such a large impact on our society. As Saje said, change the role models- that's where it begins.

I agree, QuoterGal, self-confidence is very desirable and not the same thing as aggression and haughtiness. Being kind, sweet and openly warm does not mean a person should be a simpering wimp. Masculinity can still be retained by men embracing these qualities, while also being supremely confident in who they are as a person. Nathan is the very essence of this type of man.
I know most people who are autistic are male, but there are some females, and there are so many explanations of what causes autism, I would be very leery about a claim that it is an extreme form of gender behavior, Saje. Also, for the love of the gods, leave your neck alone! A little gets the gas in the joints out, a lot puts it in and overworks your joints and lets calcium deposits start forming plus leaves possibility of irritating or harming the many many nerves and blood vessels in your neck in particular (yes, I have a physical therapist, too, why do you ask?). ;-)

Well, isn't most of our lives a question of nature versus nurture? It's a long, slow process to shape nature, so we have to be aware of what we nurture. Although, I guess if women are more attracted to nicer men, then if niceness is in our nature (genes) at all, then those "nicer" genes will be passed on. I know the history of the world to date was that "violent" genes were often the ones passed on through literally, very very sad to say, raping and pillaging. So we can shape our race's future through both choosing better role models and making the commitment to the better role models by, er, breeding with them. Seriously. It's for the future, yo. ;-)

On the role model part of the nature/nurture story: Living in Colorado, a lot of schools have assemblies, etc., about stopping violent behavior *coughcolumbinecough*. Here's a great organization (nonprofit) that makes materials to teach junior high/high school boys not to be assholes (OK, they call it Coaching Boys into Men, but, it adds up the same way): Family Violence Prevention Fund http://endabuse.org/

And lastly, this occurred to me, and I think it will be interesting to consider: Nathan's favorite hobby besides hiking is Halo. He has blogged many times about the sweet joy of video death. He talked about it in Done the Impossible interviews (even got Alan hooked on it). And Halo is a first-person shooter game. So: does getting aggressions out in a video game relieve aggressions, or encourage it? Discuss. (This is just like learning, yo! Either that, or I've been studying for and now taking finals too long already -- and there's way more coming -- *sighs loudly*) ;-)
yo billz yo, I am just butchering it , ain't I? I thought about the issue of Nathan playing Halo. Maybe secretly he is a crazy axe murderer with a strewn of bodies, and the Nathan we see is a facade.... im kidding of course, I hope this does not end up on imdb... which is a reliable news source.

Back to topic, another good example billz, about having sessions to teach kids, to look for approrpriate ways to deal with anger, aggression, conflict resolution etc. I know I have heard there are programs aimed at dealing with bullying and trying to reduce that, having the programs for kids in grade 1 or 2. Its getting to be a bigger problem, so these programs are good! While some people say bullying is normal etc... I think the extent and the reach of it, is getting out of hand, especially with the usage of the internet to bully someone.

I do find that while maybe enhanced male aggression has accomplished a lot of things in history in terms of discovery of places and inventions, it has also caused a large number of problems. It may have been necessary for certain things like survival in the past, but I dont think it serves much of a purpose in a world where there are limited resources, a population which is competing for them, and we are all in each other's face practically. What has worked before, will not necessarily work now or will work in the future.

[ edited by kurya on 2007-06-07 02:47 ]
Oh kurya, I think your last paragraph raises a fabulous point! Perhaps this is the very point of Martin's work? God I love this forum!

Billz, interesting question about violent video games. Back in the day when Mortal Kombat was considered horrific violence, I always allowed my sons to play it, with the restriction that if they ever starting exhibiting negative traits of violence or obsession, there would be no more video game systems in our house. To their shock, I followed through after several warnings to my youngest were not heeded to stop playing and come eat dinner. They were without video games for a year (both kids paid the price for the one). A second chance proved golden, as they knew I meant business. But neither of my sons have ever exhibited violent tendencies despite enjoying violent games, perhaps because we had excellent communications concerning the line between reality and fantasy. I knew they understood it. Obviously, Nathan does too...as far as we know. ;-)

[ edited by Ninja MALi on 2007-06-07 04:13 ]

[ edited by Ninja MALi on 2007-06-07 04:15 ]
Very interesting actual example, Ninja MALi. It's good to know that making a distinction between the way you enjoy a game and the way you enjoy your life is not an impossible task! :-)

Here's an interesting question I've been makin' with the theories about elsewhere: since today is the anniversary of D-Day (and I am trying to stuff facts about it into my hurty, hurty brain), it brings up: are there some cases of violence where the ends justifies the means, that is, are there "just wars"? I certainly wouldn't want to be living in the world that would have resulted if Hitler wasn't stopped, and I am very grateful to the millions of men and women who sacrificed their own lives, their families, etc., to stop the destruction of WW2 from continuing. (Although, I think the nuclear bombing of Japan was wrong -- I think there were alternate ways to force Japan to surrender than destroying two cities of civilians -- but I am digressing.) Is protecting the weak an adequate reason to be a forcefully strong hero, not just a kind hero? Would Nathan (or someone like him) have volunteered for the RAF or Canadian forces if he was around in 1940? Would Martin have served in the British forces, if he survived the Blitz?

I personally think there are reasons to fight ("I kinda want to slay the dragon," yo!), but these are difficult choices because what is wrong to me is right to someone else. Also, when is it my business to fight to protect those who are weak, and when would I just make things worse if I stuck my nose into a problem that I am not involved in *coughIraqinvasioncough*? Example: I want to stop the horrible crimes in Darfur, but Sudan has not attacked any country but their own, certainly not the U.S., so what action do I take? (From what I read online, Doctors without Borders and other groups had to pull out of the Darfur region b/c the muhajadeen -- er, spelling? -- were targeting them for murder, so it's hard to find a charity/relief group to support that will help in Darfur.) Ironically, Clinton was criticized for trying to use troops in parts of Africa -- criticized by the same folks who voted to send everybody in uniform into Iraq. Don't get me started. :-(

Another example we all know here: Dua Khalil. This was unbearable, but it didn't happen in our country. QG, Tonya J, and others here are spreading the word and getting people involved. But somewhere down the line, will someone have to take up arms to protect women in oppressive cultures? Will that be justifiable? (BTW, this might be the ULTIMATE situation for the urgent need to find better models of masculinity and male heroes NOW -- the world where violence against women is a form of birth control [as in, I control your body, not you], essentially, where a woman's freedom is grounds for execution.)

Discuss.

(Why is this so much more interesting than school? I guess b/c people here CARE about these subjects, aren't just trapped in a room till the bell rings. Yay us!) ;-)

P.S. Another good group for protection of women, besides Equality Now: Friends of Maiti Nepal. I saw a documentary about this on PBS and almost threw up. Teenage and preteen girls from Nepal are kidnapped by pimps from India and forced to work in brothels. (I'm not saying anything negative about India -- these psychos would probably be doing the same sex trafficking in any other country they lived in.) Maiti Nepal is one of the organizations that either "buys" or kidnaps the girls back, and helps them recover psychologically and physically from the torture they experienced. www.maitinepal.org or, the American support website, www.friendsofmaitinepal.org/
Billz, You pose a very interesting question.

The only answer that comes to mind is that force cannot be taken off the table entirely, but it cannot be the first option.
Force is too often a reaction rather than a solution.

P.S. The person that always comes to mind for me in discussions like this is Mukthar Mai.
Yeah, that's the problem. I think (certainly for now) we'll always have to resort to violence on occasion, sometimes there's no other choice, but the problem is you can't be effective at it unless you've had practice. Unfortunately, we're not all Zen masters in complete control of our every thought, emotion and action and so if you maintain the capability for violence (as it seems we must) every now and then it's going to spill over and be misapplied.

A while back I saw a documentary featuring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which, perversely, I found very hopeful. Something like 98% of men that have been in combat have some form of PTSD, nightmares, cold sweats, flashbacks, panic attacks etc. and i'd say that's pretty decent evidence that we're not 'built' for war, that even with cultural encouragement towards violence, most men are actually not that suited to it. We have the right physiology (upper body strength, testosterone etc.) but for the most part, we no longer, it would seem, have the right temperament.

(the other 2% often scored high on measures of sociopathy and tended to gravitate towards special forces - not disparaging those guys, they do a job i'm neither willing nor able to do myself and, for now, we need them)

The key obviously is to know when to apply it and that must surely be only when all other means have been exhausted and only in considered, proportionate amounts (showing heroes that act this way should help spread the message that violence is a last resort, not a quick fix). As the exhibit says "Thought before action".
So pressed for time I've only been able to skim the comments but I *loved* the presentation. The words were simple yet profound and I found the visual presentation unique and mesmerizing. I saw it as a kind of minimalist cyber performance art, it touched me on a very non-verbal level, which is quite unusual for me. I can't wait to watch this evolve, & to have time to get back to the site and comment.
I've always liked Nathan a lot, now I'm officially in love with him.
Interesting thoughts all around. Me like thinking!

I do think violence and war is necessary, sadly. Humans are a species that likes to follow. Very few enjoy, seek, and are charismatic enough to be leaders. We humans also seem to have something in us that blinds us to faults in those we decide follow, whether they be elected presidents, dictators, or athletes. We are especially vulnerable when times are desperate, and a leader presumes to have all the answers. This sets up a dangerous situation that allows power-hungry individuals to grab control and impose their will. Since these type of people will never give up their power without a fight, if we want change, we must fight them. I do think war should be a last resort, but sometimes it's the only answer.

Back to Martin's work...

I enjoyed what I saw, and he's making an important statement. I don't think he is advocating for men to be less than men. Men do have greater potential for violence and aggression, but that's not to say they can't control themselves or we as a society should encourage it. As others have said, humans have evolved with all sorts of characteristics that are now little needed in modern day.

Of course, there is a difference between men tending toward aggression, and society encouraging it. We embrace violence in our entertainment, but are scandalized by sex and nudity. We look down on kindness, perceiving it as weak. We live vicariously through our flashy heroes, alternately placing them on pedestals then knocking them down to see if they can get back up. The people we tend to idolize are the ones with the power, money, looks, and style--not necessarily the ones with the answers. It's not just about men, either (is there an actual reason Paris Hilton is famous? Is Angelina Jolie the only person who has ever adopted or given herself over to charitable causes?). It's about why we elevate some, yet fail to recognize the quiet hero next to us. Until we, as a species, understand what makes a person worth following, we'll be stuck with heroes and leaders who may not be worthy.

Finally, as a single mom raising a boy, I'm thankful to Martin for his work. It may not be a new message, but it's an important one. I've had people tell me I need to let my son be a boy, that I need to push him away, that he's at risk of becoming a mamma's boy. But I see no good reason to push masculinity on him, any more then I would push femininity. He enjoys playing with his trucks and baby-doll equally. :) What I'm trying to teach him is that strength comes from being wholly yourself. Since my son is by nature kind, sensitive, and passive, he will need to be courageous in the face of a society that doesn't value these traits in men. To me, he's a future hero. :)
*Dizzy* .... that was beautiful. Your son is a future hero in my eyes as well, and you are a present hero for encouraging him to be who he is, rather than who society says he *should* be, because of his gender.
Who knows, maybe you're raising a future Joss or Nathan :)

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