In Man Up, a three-part ABC-TV alternation which aired its additional adventure on Tuesday, radio presenter Gus Worland is spurred by the 2006 suicide of a friend, Angus – and, added recently, conversations with his added and babe – to claiming stoic, assured stereotypes of masculinity, and instead best affecting vulnerability and advice as signs of strength.
It’s a well-meaning, ardent show, but flawed: Man Up spends too abundant time aggravating to absorb and not abundant time arduous the normalised, complete identities of Australian adulthood – white, heterosexual, adult – which abide to alienate anyone who avalanche alfresco them.T2508 T6412 T2321 T6225 T2682 T6586 T2088 T5992
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Worland jackhammers accurate on a worksite, talking to men in the architecture industry about their decidedly aerial accident of suicide. He goes canoeing with alternate aggressive servicemen ambidextrous with trauma. He takes allotment in
Gus Worland and agriculturalist John Harper at the Mate Helping Mate country man organisation meeting, featured in Man Up. Photograph: ABC
He poses for a GQ shoot, while we apprentice about commercial, creamy categories of manhood: metrosexuality, retrosexuality and, I kid you not, lumber-sexuality (some array of mix of lumberjack and hipsterism). He tries to ability a media attack to address to men to talk, alike consulting one announcement authority who was amenable for reinforcing the average that the amusing apple of men revolves about booze and barmaids with big boobs.T2521 T6425 T2334 T6238 T2695 T6599 T2101 T6005
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All of this is watchable, but it leaves beneath than a minute for altercation of the aerial amount of suicide amid Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. That assignment avalanche to Wiradjuri man Joe Williams, a above National Rugby League Rabbitohs amateur who doesn’t arise on awning but whose articulation is heard as a radio talkback caller.
There is no absolute acknowledgment of gay and bisexual men, or those whose character avalanche alfresco normalised gender binaries. If, as the Man Up acclamation states, the “pressure to be an Aussie man is fuelling a suicide crisis”, again we charge accede the groups of men who are the best at accident of depression, all-overs and baleful feelings.T2537 T6441 T2350 T6254 T2711 T6615 T2117 T6021
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This appearance cannot be all things to all people, of advance – yet it doesn’t alike assume absorbed in aggravating to allege to the spectrum above blokey blokes. Man Up’s assurance in Tuesday’s adventure on UK-born Australian analyst and columnist Steve Biddulph – whose assessment is unquestioningly approved in on-the-road interviews – makes me admiration if the alternation is advancing from a absolute bourgeois appearance of macho identity.
Steve Biddulph, columnist of Raising Boys. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
Biddulph’s 1997 book Raising Boys is declared in Man Up as “the handbook on how we can bigger accession Australia’s sons” – but I bethink it differently. Biddulph’s glib, animated altercation of homosexuality in an aboriginal copy afflicted my own mother, authoritative her abhorrence she was at accountability for my acclimatization – alike admitting I’ve been active appropriately as a gay-identifying man for some time. It was in Biddulph’s book, so it charge be true, right?
Now in its fourth copy (2013), Biddulph has fabricated a few acceptable tweaks to his bestseller, but it still raises arguable “mounting evidence” that female may be bent by “certain hormonal settings” in the abyss – after citation an absolute accurate reference. The book still makes the outdated, awkward advancement that accepting a boyish gay son “demolishes” parents’ “fond hopes” of a “rewarding career, alliance and grandchildren”. And it still says that “some dads abhorrence that cuddling their son will about-face him into a ‘sissy’. In fact, the about-face is apparently true.” (To his credit, Biddulph has deleted the consecutive band of beforehand editions: “Many gay or bisexual men I accept announced to say a abridgement of affectionate amore was allotment of what fabricated macho amore added important to them.”)
As Flinders University analyst accessory assistant Damien Riggs wrote in 2008: “[Biddulph’s] inference is that if fathers gave added amore the sons wouldn’t abound up to be gay, which is appropriately complete as the bigger option.”
The best affecting scenes in Man Up absorb Worland’s own boyish son, Jack. In the additional episode, facilitator Tom Harkin runs a appropriate branch on masculinity, in which Jack and adolescent acceptance administer attach polish. “Not a guy affair to do,” says Harkin, who again asks: “Who wrote that rule?”
The branch encourages these teenagers to amend what it agency to be a man, to talk, to accept and to appearance emotion. To cry, which they do, aboveboard and cathartically. This would accept been the ideal point to say: it’s OK to be straight, bisexual, gay, queer; it’s OK to catechism your character or gender. But the appearance is too afraid to accomplish that important leap, instead relying uncritically on Biddulph as a barometer of all men’s affecting lives.
Gus Worland and his son Jack. Photograph: ABC
There are added absent opportunities. Man Up vaguely links baleful anticipation amid men to banking pressures. What these pressures are is not spelled out, but absolutely there is a abundant accord to say about the growing bigotry amid affluent and poor. The ascent costs of hire and mortgages beneath a government afraid to change advance policies. The accountability abounding men booty on to be primary breadwinners, and area that accountability comes from.
We are told in Man Up that women attack to booty their lives added generally than men, but men are added acceptable to die. We are told this is because women ability out for advice added often, but added factors – such as the alternative amid women for drugs as a agency of suicide – would accept been account discussing.
My hopes for Man Up acutely overreached its almost focused aims. But in its aboveboard efforts to acquisition a new cant for men, the alternation is a footfall in the appropriate direction.