One of the less self-serving reasons Tom and I started this blog was to create an open dialogue about what it means to be a millennial male or female. Don’t let the “Man” in our blog title confuse you. We’re interested in talking with everyone about everything that’s on our collective mind. It’s important to remember we aren’t all in this quickly changing world alone.
Today, I’d like to definitively say that whoever believes that musicals are for women and gay men is terribly wrong. Perhaps you read that last sentence and thought, “People really still believe that?” My answer is yes, probably, in certain close-minded sections of the world. I’ve heard ignorant people mutter dumber sentiments in some of the more liberal parts of this country, so I wouldn’t be surprised if insecure, self-proclaimed “macho men” want no part in a show that involves singing and dancing.
I should backtrack a little bit. Last night, I was lucky enough to go see The Book of Mormon with my sister, who generously got me a ticket for my birthday. It was one of the funniest, smartest, and wildest shows (of any kind) that I’ve ever seen. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the masterminds behind South Park, created the musical. It lampooned organized religion and conventional music theater. Every second was entertaining and hilarious.
Parker and Stone have a gift for satire. In South Park, Team America, and Mormon, these two geniuses help audiences realize how silly and outdated certain prejudices are. Sure, the duo includes a lot of fart, sex, and race jokes, but they have a knack for touching on themes that run miles below the surface. Themes that matter. It’s amazing how they continue to speak to millennials in comical, but philosophical manner. If you’re in Los Angeles, you should go see The Book of Mormon.
Seeing the show last night – the first live musical I’ve seen in years – got me thinking a lot about the perception we all have about what audiences should look like. What I mean by that is that it’s easy for us, as a society, to assume that a certain type of art draws a certain type of crowd.
For example, some people might assume that musicals draw women or gay men who in turn “drag” their boyfriends, fathers, or brothers to the show. So what does that make a straight man who enjoys musicals? An outcast? A rebel? Confused?
I say that he’s exactly what he sounds like: a straight man who enjoys musicals.
The second we try to turn that man into anything else, we start shutting doors for ourselves. We limit our own self-discovery. None of us should have to fit into a certain box that makes everyone else around us comfortable. As I get older, I’m learning that it’s important to find what makes yourself happy first. People will respect and trust you more if you know what you’re into and what you aren’t.
One of my struggles growing up (and honestly, up until recently) was not feeling like I firmly fit into one “crowd.” For example, I have always been fairly athletic and I love sports. This has meant that I have been accepted in certain “jock” or “bro” circles my whole life. On the other hand, I’ve always loved film and have been making movies since fourth grade. I love creative writing and telling stories. This has led to my acceptance into more “artsy” and “hipster” circles.
I love being part of both groups equally. So what does that make me? What audience should I keep? Can I really continue to be the most artsy person in my bro crowd and the biggest jock in my creative crew? Am I destined to walk some lonely avenue in the nation of Inbetweeners?
These days, I’m happy to not fit perfectly into one place. That’d be too boring. I think the strength of us millennials is that we can openly enjoy seeing a musical on Friday night and watching guys bash each other’s heads in on football Sundays. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I love when I can talk to someone whom society sees as a hipster about professional sports. I love when people whom have been labeled jocks have strong, thoughtful opinions on an Academy Award-nominated film. I think it’s great when a woman knows more about one of my favorite sports than me.
None of this stuff confuses me or boggles my mind anymore. If I went to a Metallica concert tomorrow and saw an 80-year-old grandma flashing James Hetfield (the lead singer) during “Enter Sandman,” I might turn away, but I’d think that was awesome. Why should granny have to sit on her couch and watch a dreadful local news broadcast if deep down in her soul she loves heavy metal?
This is the part where I’m supposed to say “Don’t judge a book by its cover” or something like that. Instead, I’m going to say just do you, man or woman. It’s the only thing that’ll bring you long-lasting happiness. That and The Book of Mormon.
This post was written by Billy Kirland, co-founder of The Millennial Man.