Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 month ago

WB-S2E25 Father's Day w/ Michael Ian Black

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK Ron Block and Meghan Walker are joined by author/comedian/actore Michael Ian Black to talk about his book, A Better Man in a special Father's Day episode.

It's meant to just be a part of the initial conversation, because we have been talking about women and girls for sixty years and the results have been incredible. You know, we're seeing incredible change. Yeah, don't work. People to find you and you don't have to be that. And we're not having us in conversation with our voice at all. No, and and boys are told suck it up. You know, a man, don't slow your emotion. You know that's not the other thing. But the world is turning and leaving them here. And Yeah, and it's not a recognizable space, but they're in any more. That's right, and so that's why books like mine are, I think, necessary. Welcome to the friends and Fiction Writers Block podcast For New York Times Best Selling Authors, one rock star Librarian and endless stories. Join Mary K Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Christy woods and Harvey and Patty Callaghan Henry, along with Ron Block. As novelists. We are for longtime friends with seventy books between us, and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews at inside or talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you are in the right place. Welcome to another outstanding episode of the friends and Fiction Writers Block podcast. Each week we strive to explore captivating angles of the reading and writing world, and today we are all in for a thoughtful, meaningful and fun conversation. I am Ron Block once again. This week I am joined on the podcast by Meg Walker, the managing director of friends and fiction. Hey, meg, all wrong. Thanks for having me back. I'm pinching myself to be able to talk to our guests today. It's a good one. It's a good one. We are thrilled to welcome to the podcast comedian, actor, writer and director Michael Ian Black. Michael got his start on the MTV sketch comedy series the State, which ran from ninety three to nine hundred and ninety five. He's continued working with members of that ensemble over the years, including on the show Viva Variety and in the film which my son says it's in his top ten films of all time, wet, hot American summer. You may also know Michael from his role on the NBC TV Show Ed from the early thousands, or even as the puppeteer and Voice of the Petscom sock puppet or from his recurring appearances as a cultural commentator on vh ones ubiquitous. I love the series. Michael has written several books for children, including the award winning trio I'm bored, I'm sad and I'm worried. He's written two memoirs, you're not doing it right and Navel gazing and essay of election, my custom ban and coauthored America use sexy bitch with Megan McCain. Michael regularly tours the country. Is a stand up comedian and is released several comedy albums. His podcast include Mike and Tom, eat snacks with Tom Cavanaugh and topics with Michael Show Walter. Michael joins US today to discuss his book a better man, a mostly serious letter to my son, which was just released in paperback. This book tackles issues of gender roles and stereotypes, addresses the topic of parenting boys and attempts to answer the question of how we can raise better men. With humor and grace, obvious intelligence and deep research, Michael initiates a really provocative conversation about boyhood and masculinity. He addresses topics like violence, pride, empathy, learning to lose gracefully, learning from failures and how to give and receive love. Ron and I had the chance to sit in on Michael's talk about his book at this abound a book festival back in February and we knew from that very day that we wanted to have him on...

...this podcast. With father's day coming up, I can't think of a better time to talk about this book. Welcome to the show, Michael. Thank you, and you will periodically hear Southern Rolling Thunder throughout our conversation. There is a storm of Bruin here in George's low country, and so if you here the rumble of thunder, that is what you are hearing. I'm all for it. Let's go. So the reaction my go to this book has been really incredible. The San Francisco Chronicle said we need this book. The Chicago Tribune called it essential reading. Peggy or in Stein, herself an expert on the topic of raising boys, said the book cracked her wide open. Has Anything about the reaction to this book surprised you? Well, you know, I guess. If there's good press of anything that I do, I'm surprised. That certainly hasn't always been the case in the course of my career, so that was somewhat surprising. I was surprised there wasn't more pushback against the book, which I take to be a good thing and a hopeful thing. Sure, people who bothered to engage with it, you know, generally I think felt like you know, it wasn't the worst thing that had ever happened to them. So I feel pretty good about that. Yeah, well, before we came out we were talking about how much we love the book and all the things that we thought it was it and it's all of that and more to all the press is right on. Who Do you see is your prime audience and who do you wish would read the book? Well, the prime audience is is probably women. Unfortunately, it's probably mothers and and those in the world who are not men but find themselves dealing with men. That's probably the primary on ends, but it's not necessarily the audience I would like to read it. I would like it to be a book for fathers and for sons and for guys who might have questions about who they are and where they fit in in this world, because it's not always obvious these days what a man is supposed to be. And how he's supposed to be, and I think a lot of many feel that, even if they're not quite able to articulate it, and so this book is really for them. That's so spot onto. But as I was reading the book, I was like thinking of all of these people that I really want to read this book, and it is it's the men that I know, and they need to get in touch with the thinking around all these topics that you talk about. Yeah, and and I knew even when I was writing it that it was going to be a tough cell because if there's one thing men don't like to do, it's look too closely at ourselves and, you know, and wrestle with our own insecurities, feelings of an adequacy, because it kind of flies in the face of what we think of when we think of manhood. I mean even, you know, even doing that work as a guy, right, can't can you know, make one feel diminished as a guy, which is silly, but it's also true. What's that in the book? You call it there's like a sliding scale of masculinousy or something. There's an infinite axis. They have masculinity, US and manliness. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so funny too. I'll just going to interject that I was watching a television program after we IBS in the middle of reading it too, but it was a family that suffered a tragedy. There were three older sisters and a young boy and the somebody looked at the little boy and said, okay, you're now the man of the house, and I was like, my God, is so spot on what I'm reading right now. Yeah, and and what does that mean to that little boy? You know, you're the man of the house. Okay, what's happy? Are Right? What if I supposed...

...to do? You know, am I supposed to break out the double barreled shotgun and protect these women folk here? Like, what is my job here as the man of the house? And you know, for a lot of guys growing up today, it's not obvious what it means to be the man of the house or just a man in the world. Right, right. Well, Michael, you wrote a really powerful at bad for the New York Times after the two thousand and Eighteen Parkland, Florida school shooting, called the boys are not all right and it you said, America's boys are broken and it's killing us. So can you talk to us about what drove you to write that uped and how this book grew out of that. Sure for the last twenty years I was raising my family in the wilds of Connecticut and a little little wooded town there in Connecticut called reading, and my kids were in elementary school when the town next door experienced a mass shooting, the town of Sandy Hook, and that was, you know, an obvious shock to the nation and to our community. It was at that moment that I started becoming vocal on the issue of gun control and remain so through my children growing up. Then, when they were in high school, the Parkland shooting happened and I got on my soapbox again, as I do when these things happen, and started yelling into the void on twitter about guns and all this terrible stuff, and and and then I just posited the question, which I hadn't done before, the question being why is it always boys pulling the trigger? And it's an obvious question, so obvious that we often don't bother asking it. We always just assume it's going to be a guy who is behind these crimes, and so I just asked that question. Why? Why? What's going on with boys that they're doing this, and that's when the New York Times contacted me and said you want to write it or not? That about it, and I did and then the book grew out of the upped. That's awesome. Yeah, I think I find it refreshing what you do on twitter too, because it's just so hard to know what to think, but when you see your words and when we agree with them, it's like, okay, we're not alone, we have kind of the right idea. Yeah, I mean I you know, I'm not doing anything ground breaking, novel, no even or even clever on twitter, but I but I do take on covers, which is great. I do take many commerce, yes, and I think it's important to do that, not because they are necessarily arguing in good faith or that I'm going to convince anybody of anything. I don't suspect I will. But what I do think it can do is crack the door open for people who, you know, maybe are on the fence or maybe wavering a little bit, or maybe, you know, just want to feel supportive in their beliefs or want to have the courage to have that conversation, maybe not on twitter but in their personal lives, with somebody. Yeah, and give them, you know, a little bit of forgive the Pun ammunition, right you to have that conversation with with people. That's true. So the book is really it's a letter to your son. What made you decide to format the book that way and as you read it? So the idea to write it as a letter to my son actually came from my editor. was her idea to do it, because my son was graduating from high school at that time and it felt like a really intimate and personal way to convey the things that I wanted to convey. And I really I it's not that...

I resisted it at first, but I had to really sit with it for a little bit to decide if I wanted to do that, and I think part of my fear about it was do I, you know, am I brave enough to kind of go that personal with it? And ultimately, you know, I decided that if if I didn't want it to be preachy, if I didn't want it to be academic, if I didn't want it to be cold, you know, I wanted to write something personal about this and it felt like her idea was actually a really great way to do it, and so it actually it was so helpful when I it really unlocked the book for me when I started, when actually sat down and started writing, because I knew who I was writing it too. I knew the person that I wanted to read this book. And to answer your second question, no, he hasn't read it. No, yeah, it's D is. Some Day, I guess, when I dad, he will read it and feel very good that his father wrote a book for him. Well, I think it's very effective as a device. I think you it's it felt more immediate and intimate, but more than anything, it's like your heart on the page. Yeah, and that's what I felt like writing it. You know, it felt like I was, you know, trying to open up as a dad and express myself and sort of lay out some things that I wish my dad had said to me. And in a way, writing this book to my son also became a letter to my dad, who died when I was twelve. So I felt like I was kind of writing to both of them at the same time. Sure, yeah, that definitely comes across well. Let's talk about the phrase toxic masculinity. You say in the book that you don't like that phrase. Can you tell us why? Sure, I think the phrase toxic masculinity actually does a pretty good job of illuminating toxic behaviors. It's sort of saying this is, this is a kind of version of masculinity that we don't care for. The reason I don't like the phrase, though, is because we don't have a healthy vision of masculinity to contrast it with. So toxic masculinity is meant to sort of work in contrast to something, but we don't know what that something is and so, as a result, the attributes that I think toxic masculinity is describing end up getting blended with all of masculinity and it affixes itself so easily to masculinity because we don't know. We don't know, we don't know what we stand for, and so it's it's too easy to point to kind of every aspect of masculinity and say, Oh, that's toxic, when it's not. You know, there's a lot of good, positive male behavior in this world and some of it, a lot of it, is displaying aspects of toxic masculinity, but toxic masculinity sort of takes those aspects and goes too far with it. You know, when you know there. There is nothing inherently wrong with aggression, male aggression. Sometimes that's really useful and helpful and sometimes it's really toxic. There's nothing wrong with, you know, male strength and exhibiting strength. When it goes too far, yeah, it can easily become toxic. So the phrase ends up, I think, unfortunately, kind of bleeding into all male behavior instead of just those aspects of it that actually are toxic. Yeah, it seems like it could also be part of the problem that you're talking about in this entire book, which is, you know, boys are taught all of that is bad,...

...right, everything, you know, but you know, yeah, boys, you know, I think that phrase toxic masculinity can create a lot of confusion for boys and shaming, right, and that's not healthy because then it could drive the wrong a certain kind of boy to a certain kind of behavior. The more shaming people are of there, you know, right. And if, and I think if boys feel like, you know, if their natural impulse is could be labeled as toxic, one reaction to that very well could be, well, you know, to throw up their hands and be like well, if that's toxic, I'm just going to go fully toxic. Yeah, right, right, if I ain't you, if that's who you think I am, that I'm just going to be that person. That's true. And then one of the things we were thinking of about talking to you about was how boys that are brought up that way could, it could drive the adolescent boys to act out in the destructive ways. How do you think that you avoided those pitfalls yourself? Well, I mean I didn't entirely. I certainly have exhibited bad behavior, you know, I'm everybody has. I've certainly exhibited some of the worst traits of men. But I also knew from a fairly early age that the environment that I was growing up in, which was like suburban New Jersey in the S, like it really lended itself to sort of outsized, performative maleness, you know, kind of rooster strutting masculinity that you know you when you think of like Jersey shore, like that's that's maybe one degree away from sort of the way like my toime Wasnaan. Yeah, you know it's so it's like I knew that I didn't fit in there, I knew that that wasn't me. I knew that I was going to have to leave that environment and I think sort of growing up with that I towards the kinds of guys I didn't want to be. Helped me avoid maybe some of that behavior and you know, also I just I just wasn't cut from that cloth. True, true, and some of the things that I know that you grew up with is that your mom left your dad for a woman when you were very young, and your sister with Down Syndrome. All of those things had to be a factor in there. One of the things I loved is that you you learn to reframe your relationship with your mother and appreciate the good things while still recognizing the tough things. HMM. Yeah, my mom and I were close up until she died four years ago, and she, you know, was was. She had a complicated life and the environment that she brought us up in with her partner was in some ways abusive, less so from her than from her partner, but it could. It was. It was a it was a very brittle home life. A little man hatery described and it was a lot man hatery. You know, they one of the one of the things that kind of makes me laugh now in retrospect is thinking about my mom's form of being a gay woman, which it makes me laugh because she and her partner really were sort of the caricatures of lesbians from that time. They had a lot of anger and a lot of man hatred and, you know, like all the worst sort of characteristics that you think of any think about, you know, strided feminist like. That's who they were, and it's just funny to me that so much of that rang true in my own household. That being said, I think they had...

...a lot of reason to be angry. Both of them were very smart women who probably felt their ambitions somewhat thwarted by their genders. You know, I know my mom had sort of fantasized about becoming an attorney, but they're just wasn't an avenue for her to do that in, you know, the s when she when she would have been of age to go to law school, and she didn't have the you know, the same gumption that somebody like Ruth Bader Ginsberg had to sort of defy the naysayers. You know, she was just a she was just a regular kid from Chicago, you know, who had her own hangups and insecurities and if she were a guy she would have found a way. You know there would, there would have been a system in place to sort of help push her through, but she just she just did and have that, and so she ended up marrying the wrong guy and not having the kind of professional life that she would that she wanted for herself, and she had a lot of anger and resentment about that. You talk a lot in the book basically you seem to work really hard at not parenting the way you were parented, and so I mean your dad. You never really got to have a fullblown relationship with them, since he died when you were so young, you know. But your mom. Did you ever talk with her while she was alive about your misgivings about her parenting, and do you think you could have written this book so honestly if she were still alive? Yes, and yes, there are a lot of things my mom did right. You know. The main thing, as I talked about in my book, is that she was very diligent about letting her kids know how much she loved them. You know, she told this every day, she told us all the time. She was annoying about it and I always felt supported by her, even when I came to her and I was like, mom, I'm going to be an actor. You know, you you know, you could feel her kind of roll her eyes, but she was like, you know, if this is what you want to do, go for it. And and she helped me. You know, she was supportive in that way. I always felt like she had our backs. There were just you know, but but at the same time we were, you know, in an unhealthy environment and she had her own emotional issues that she wasn't deailing with. She had depression. You know, there was no you know, it wasn't. It wasn't all one thing. You know, it wasn't. It was a nuanced way, as as as every household is, you know, their nuance. There's a lot going on at the same time, some of it good, some of it bad. And Yeah, I would have written this book now if she were still alive. I don't think she would have had a problem with it. No, I think I think she she would have really liked the like she was portrayed and I think, yeah, I think so calful and, you know, and and she had she definitely had her own misgivings about the upbringing that she gave us and she expressed those two me and, okay, you know, we we got very enlightened. That's good. Yeah, it wasn't latent. Good. So in the book you also, and on twitter too, you don't shy away from difficult subject matter, of course, especially like politics, and particularly about gun violence in recent events that we've had. Talk about that a little bit and kind of what drives you to do that. A rage, I think ray age is the...

...primary driver the the insanity of our gun policies here in this country. We see the results of them on a daily basis, not just the spectacular killings that take place and grab all the headlines, like we've all day or park land or Sandy Hook. Right, hundred people get killed to day or something like that, you know, by guns. Many more are injured by guns every day in this country. Stupid, unnecessary, easily preventable gun accidents happen every day in this country. People are scared of the police. The police are scared of people largely as a result of guns in this country. We live in what I think is a kind of low level terror in this country because you know every time you walk out the door and you go to the mall, there's a chance somebody's going to show up there with an ar fifteen and just start spraying bullets. It is living in a low level terrorist state, and I use that term deliberately because the policies that are in place by that remain in place because of this. You know, it's really just one party. Republican Party, are the direct extension of the political vision of the National Rifle Association, which makes tremendous amounts of money from gun manufacturers and their membership. When people get killed. It is actually in their best interests for these events to happen because that's when gun sales skyrocket and it is impossible for me to separate the agenda of an organization whose thrust is to make as much money as they can through gun sales. It is impossible for me to divorce that from the idea and the and the awareness that they make more money when these events happen. Yeah, and and that is using a political agenda to foster terror in this country, because their brand is terror. Their brand is you need to be afraid, and that is actually the definition of a terrorist organization and I call them that and I will not back down from that. I think that is it. That is literally what they are. I think that's a spot on description of them and you're you're passionate about it comes through and I just applaud you for that. Sure, and I'm going to get shot. No, it's really an even even my mother, who's eighty three, said to me the other day. She said, I'm afraid to go to the grocery store by myself sometimes because you never know. Yeah, never and she's totally correct to be scared. It's not like these events happen all the time. They are still, I mean, they do happen all the time, but they are still, within the scope of the the enormity of the country, relatively rare. They happen more here than anywhere else. However, the fact that you know they can happen anywhere at any time creates, my estimation, this low level of terror that is totally justified. You're totally justified in feeling and somewhat a friend and uniquely American. It's a uniquely American problem, which is you know, and and it's obscene to me that that we have this problem. That's a perfect word for it. We'll talk to us about your collaboration with Megan became, because I don't think it's any secret that you guys probably have very different politics. So how do you know come about and what was it like to tour the country with her and what did you learn from that? Well, in two thousand eleven, I guess we sort of briefly met. I was doing a television pilot. She was a guest on that pilot. We got along well. We became twitter friends and I was sort of casting around for a new project to do and I just...

...pitched to her the idea over twitter. Hey, do you want to write a book together? You know, Democrat, Republican, travel the country, see if we can't find some common ground. She was like Shuh, and so that's what we did. You know, we made a book proposing and we sold it and we rented an RV and we traveled the country for about four weeks. We didn't know each other, we were strangers, sleep in the RV. No, I now version of a simple life with Paris. Yeah, I know it was. We were roughing at that much. I mean not that the hotels were that Nice, but and we wrote this book together and became really close friends. We remain close friends to this day and our politics, yes, absolutely differ. She, as anybody who is familiar with her nose. Is Passionate about the things she's passionate about. I am passionate about the things that I am passionate about. We have had many heated discussions over the years. I expect we will continue to have many heated discussions over the years, but we've also friendship and, yeah, we also really love each other, you know, and I think people see that playing out in their families and their friendships all the time and it's hard. It's nice to watch that on goold publicly between the two of you, because I think there's people who can't even sit across the dinner table from their family members at Thanksgiving and it would be nice to find a way to bridge that divide sometimes. Yeah, I will see. I will add this caveat. If maigan had ended up being a huge trumper, I actually don't know that our friendship would have survived that because to me that goes beyond policy disagreements and gets into something a little more fundamental and I don't know, I don't know that I would have been generous enough of spirit to maintain that friendship if that had been the case. Thankfully it wasn't and and actually the fact that she didn't kind of affirms my trust in our friendship to begin with. You know, she she's you know she she was pretty clear in her feelings about him, although he was also very clear in his feelings about her family. So I guess there's there was no love lost there. But yeah, but it's a great example of the two sides of like the people that can actually find middle ground, but then, like Meg said, the people that just can't even see that between them. And there's so many stories I hear about that and it just makes me so sad. It is sad and it's it's so frustrating and I think both sides probably feel that same frustration. It's like, you know, you have it's almost like people are living in sort of parallel worlds and and they can't quite see into the other person's worldview. I don't I don't know what to do about that, you know, I really don't, because there's something going on in the country that to me, is so ugly that I can't I can't see into it. I can't see into it and under in fully grasp it in a way that that makes me sympathetic towards that world view. And they see the same. You know, for them it's the same looking across into mine. Okay, make do you have something that's a little like we're gonna lighten this up. So I don't know if they keep statistics on this kind of thing, but I do think that my husband and I might be the actual number one fans of the state. Fantastic. So...

...the state, for anyone who's listening doesn't know, as a brilliant sketch comedy show that was on MTV in the mid S and it had the true ensemble cast. So if you would like to Google any of the sketch from the state, I'd say that the best ones are to look up porcupine racetrack and pants. The one where Michael Learns how to wear pants is fantastic. Thank you, and then one international signs, where the guys choking them in any case, but if you watch it you'll recognize that pretty much everybody from that cast has gone on to do pretty incredible things. So you were pretty young when you signed on to do that, pretty much like in college, fresh out of college, and we met. We met as fresh well, I was a freshman, they were some of them with sophomore some of them are fresh and why you? HMM. So tell us what it was like to work in that sort of collaborative environment it with all those brilliant minds, and how did that MTV get come about for a free guys? Well, for us it was a college comedy club and it was just a fun thing to do. None of us really knew anything about making sketch comedy or really making anything at all, so we really kind of taught ourselves how to write a sketch and performing a sketch and direct a sketch and and in doing so we formed these really close friendships. And in doing so, because we were really operating by ourselves, we, I think, developed a voice that maybe wouldn't have emerged if we were sort of being guided by somebody else or if we were being mentored. Like the voice that emerged from that collaboration was really organic to us. We spent all of our time together, you know, much more than you would if you were just doing a dumb club like. We work together every day, you know, we rehearsed every day, we worked on stuff every day for hours at a time and didn't really think much of it. You know, we just like Noah, this is what we do. We get together every day and our work on sketches of all things, for no reason. I mean there's no upshot. It's not like any of us were going, well, and what then? And then we'll get a TV show. How did it come out that? Now did you get the big break with MTV? We go from one of our lot bods out there in their dorm room like writing funny stuff with their friends. It was literally a case of right place, right time. We were in New York at a time when MTV was sort of transitioning from a pure music station into developing original programming. One of our guys had an internship there when they were developing the show called you wrote it, you watch it, that John Stewart hosted, where basically people would write letters in I mean at a time when people wrote letters about recounting funny experiences and then comedians would reenact them. We pitched ourselves as a troop that would interview people on the street, get their funny stories and we would reenact them. They hired us to do that after some reluctance, and based on the strength of that they gave us a TV show. Incredible. So how do you think that shaped your career moving forward, like how did that lead to the next and the next for you where you are now? Well, you know, it was obviously my first break. It was all of our first breaks. We gained our first taste of notoriety with that show. It had a good reputation and it taught all of us how to work hard and how to be collaborate arrators, and those lessons have...

...served me well since. So there are times when I'm writing on a television show or helping to create a television show or just acting on a television show, but I feel like I have a real sense of how to be a team player and and how to keep myself in check, because one of the things that the state was really good at was puncturing egos. We, we, we, we, we were pretty hard on each other, but we all loved it. Loved it. Well, I'm not saying we loved it, we definitely didn't love it very painful. So, Michael, you've written kids books, essays, memoirs and now a parenting book of sorts, which I just want to put in here that the New York Times Book Review said that it's corny maybe, but helpful like a dead, which almost seems like the best compliment you could get. Yeah, I mean, like you know, I, I. I. I definitely don't shy away from being corny when it comes to parenting. I think is a kid. Maybe that's what you want. I don't know that you want the Cool Dad. Cool Dad's I think over burden. You know, do you really want Lenny Kravitz to be your dad with pain in the ass? That would be oh no, that's our neighbor making. But not sure. My friends. Sure, definitely, absolutely your friends dad, but that'soutely you don't want to come. You don't want to compete with the coolest guy on the block. You don't want that to be your dad. So it's like kids roll their eyes, go it's just my dad, that's just my dad, Lenny crabits so strutting around in his leather fringed coat. So what do you have on the docket? What's next for you that you can talk to us about? Oh, nothing. I'm very unemployed, okay, incredibly unemployed, just stuck in the muck and mire of unemployment. I'm touring, you know, I'm doing stand up, and that's fine and fine and I enjoy it, but I would like to be working on a television series. HMM, I've a feeling it's coming from your mouth wrong. Yes, right, odds is love. We had Carter Bays on last week. Let's see we can connect the to this. All Right, was MTV around the same time? A really yeah, you have an internship. I feel like one of those summers rest years that you know cool. Yeah, so, so, obviously you took the writing of this book, I'm Super Seriously, but you know, you're touring the country right now doing stand up and you're a comic at heart, and all that work he did on the state and everything else. So obviously you brought a lot of humor into it, which makes it very accessible, but you did a ton of research to do you want to talk to a little bit about the research that would into writing this book? Yeah, I mean when I committed to writing the book, I was sort of like, I don't even know where to start. I I'm in I'm an idiot on this subject, like so many of us are. I got you know, I'm not a gender theorist, you know, I'm not a sociologist. What do I know about anything? And so I just started casting my net very wide to reel in whatever books I could find on this subject. So I was reading, you know, everything from Susan Flute to Bell Hooks to, you know, this this guy named Michael Kimmel who really is devoted his career to doing research about men, to you know, two books about, you know, gender and war and gender and fashion. I was reading Simone de Beouvoir, just,...

...you know, whatever I could find and sort of sifting it through my feeble little brain and seeing what kept and what fell through. And it was great. It was, it was, it was. It was great to read kind of wide ranging on the subject and and see where people stood and and see where they agreed and disagreed. And it was interesting to me about it was the research kind of painted a picture of masculinity in crisis, but so much of it seemed seemed to be in agreement with each other, which kind of surprised me. You know it and when you think about the issues at play, a lot of its really common sense stuff. A lot of a lot of the issues have to do with men's place in the culture and how it is changing. By necessity. It has to change. It isn't that the culture is becoming you know, as some critics a feminized or whatever, and therefore men are becoming feminized. It's that there are physical, technological, global economic changes that are inevitable and unceasing that, by definition, mean that men have to adapt to them. There was, there used to be, an economy in this country that was predicated on Braun. We know that that economy no longer exists. You know, the the attributes, the traditional attributes of masculinity that served men well in that economy are no longer as important. The attributes that served women better, creativity, empathy, compassion, are much more in demand in today's you know, for where, you want to call it, information economy, collaborative economy, Gig economy, where people are sort of moving through a more amorphous economy and job market and having to learn how to negotiate, navigate and have a certain amount of emotional intelligence to deal with circumstances that are constantly in motion, in fluid and there are certain number of men who haven't adapted and don't know how to adapt. And when you when you talk about white men in particular, which is a which is a WHO I am addressing this book to, primarily because I'm writing to my son, who's a white dude, and I'm a white dude and that's who I know. When we put that into the equation and we talk about the changing demographics in this country, which are changing and will change, the country is becoming less white. So when you when you combine that mix of white guys feeling like they are no longer the majority, which they will not be, and the jobs that reduce or the or necessarily the soul bread winners, right or and and and they don't have the tools to key in this economy, there is in and when women's choices are much broader in terms of how they live their lives, that may affect how they perceive you and your say, desirability as a partner. When you combine all of that stuff, it starts you start to sort of understand the picture a little bit better about why a certain segment of the population, male segment of the population, feels angry and...

...disaffected and UNMOORED, threatened and threatened. Yeah, yeah, I like the I like the way you put it in the book where you say that there's been an ongoing conversation in this country for a really long time about women's place in the culture women's place in the society and there hasn't been a corresponding conversation about boys and men and what it means to be a man and what the definition of masculinity and so you know, your book is an excellent start to opening that conversation. Well, thanks, and that's all it's meant to be, you know, it's meant to just be a part of the initial conversation. Yeah, because we have been talking about women and girls for sixty years and the results have been incredible. You know, we're seeing incredible change. Find you and you don't have to be the yeah, that, and and we're not having that same conversation with our boys at all. Know, and, and it's it. Boys are told suck it up. You know, don't see a mention. You know this. That the other thing. But the world is turning and leaving them here. And Yeah, and it's not a recognizable space that they're in anymore. That's right. And so that's why books like minor I think necessary. I think so. Totally agree. So, in fact, you closed your two thousand and eighteen New York Times. I've been with these lines. If I'm not advocating a quick fix, there isn't one, but we have to start the conversation. Boys are broken and I want to help. So I think with this look, this is exactly what you're doing. Well, thanks, I appreciate that and we've admired your work over the years as a comedian, as an actor, and I think you're also a brilliant writer. All thanks. That's really nice of you. I appreciate that. So, Michael, thank you so much for being here. I encourage everybody to go get the book. It's just out in paperback. It's exactly what I'm going to do in my own family. This is a book that really can start a conversation and it start a conversation among all kinds of people and there's just something in there for everybody to kind of jump onto and just have a really meaningful interaction about. So I so appreciate that. In the book makes a great father say gift, considering father says that's true. Totally. Yeah, so we hope that everybody listening I get as I said, I'll go out and buy this beautiful book and thank you so much, Michael, for coming on this show. All my pleasure. Wrong, my pleasure right. Thank you, guys so much. For having me. We've been looking forward to this since Savannah like Oh we have on. Glad we made it happen and thank you all out there for listening. We appreciate our listeners support so much and look forward to connecting with you all next week. Thank you for tuning in to the friends and fiction writers block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate and review on your favorite podcast platform. Tune in every Friday for another episode, and you can also join us every week on facebook for Youtube, where our live friends and fiction show airs at seven PM Eastern Standard Time. We are so glad you're here.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (203)