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March 2, 2013

DODD: Of 'California Gurls' and modern guys

“I would never trust a man who didn’t cry; he wouldn’t be human.” — General Norman Schwarzkopf explaining to Barbara Walters that he cried on the night before he sent young men into battle.



OK, so I watched the Katy Perry full length documentary/slash movie and I cried. There, I said it and I am not ashamed. I know some men think I should be ashamed because I watched it.

One young man asked me why I watched the Katy Perry movie. My answer was simple and straight forward: because I am married.

I am not a rabid Katy Perry fan. Sure, I love “California Gurls.” What guy doesn’t relate to the shenanigans she sings about in the video. And for many people young and old, “Firework” has become an anthem for self-esteem and belief in one’s own talents and abilities. But a fan; well that’s a bit of a stretch.

My wife is a Katy Perry fan.

Kim wanted to watch the movie and not only did I agree, but Cameron as well shared a family night together watching the DVD on the big screen. He and I figured we would get a laugh out of it. I have nothing to be ashamed about by getting a bit emotional while watching the Katy Perry documentary film about her concert tour.  

I really don’t intend to make this week about Katy Perry, rather about men in general. In some ways, it was much easier to be a man when my father was young. There were roles you were expected to play and they were rather well-defined. The evolution of that role has changed so drastically in my lifetime. It’s been almost at warp speed when one speaks of the evolutionary pace.

Fifty years ago we did not have terms such as “bromance” — we were buddies. I am a staunch heterosexual but not sure if I qualify as a metrosexual. I might qualify under a new term I read recently as a “modern male.”

There were just two terms to distinguish between the sexes back then — man and woman. Each had their stereotypical role. Nobody had to analyze and study just whom you were or weren’t. Men didn’t cry at the theatrical showing of “Gone with the Wind”

Somewhere along the way there occurred multiple cultural and social movements such as the sexual revolution, the 1960s and the era of male enlightenment.

My role as an American male seemed to be thrust into a world of sensitivity and shared feelings. It was suddenly OK to engender once taboo social roles. Men once could only weep in appropriate situations. Successful men could have therapy and not be deemed as weak for sharing their feelings.

Not everyone has bought into the new male. I know many traditionalists who are still hanging in there with their machismo and unwillingness to accept enlightenment as anything but weakness.

However, we live in an age were Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Obama have publicly cried in the past couple of years. These are men of great power. Although it might have been the source of some comedic ridicule, I doubt seriously that either has been significantly reduced in their role solely because of choking up on camera.

Young men will learn someday if they have a successful marriage that quite often they will agree to things that I never imagined I would as a younger and more macho male. I am not ashamed to admit sitting through the entire movie “Beaches.” That has to put me somewhere in a pretty elite group of men by itself, and by that I mean who will publicly admit to it. And yes, I got a bit misty-eyed when Barbara Hershey was dying.

But I do have my limits and have not watched “The Notebook.” A man simply has to preserve some tiny level of his ultimate dignity of manhood. Besides that, Kim never ordered it on Netflix for family night.

In my own defense and for guys who will never watch the Katy Perry film “Part of Me,” which is probably the vast majority of men I know, the scene that got to me was of a child who had obviously undergone a tracheotomy and had some medical device in his throat. He was wearing a Make-A-Wish foundation T-shirt. His dream was to meet Katy Perry. The look on his face was pretty telling. When mom and dad spoke about what it meant to him and them, well, pass the hankie and call me Margie.

I know life is unfair. I am not sure it ever gets any more unfair than that.

Yep, I think old Stormin’ Norman and I would have gotten along pretty well on family movie night. I wonder if he ever watched “The Notebook.”

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com

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