Boyhood Draws Questions of Manhood

Richard Linklater's New Film, BoyhoodFilm director Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood is unique. Instead of a few month’s production, it was filmed with the same cast over the course of twelve years, allowing the audience to actually follow the development of a young boy, as he journey’s through boyhood. However, according to an article recently completed by The Huffington Post, the platform also allows the audience to follow those who surround the boy and influence his sense of what it will mean to one day be a man.

All of the men—or, as the author disclaims, the ungrown men, who are little more than big boys—that surround the protagonist Mason are stuck in a perpetual state of boyhood. The only strong and mature adult figures in the film are women, with only one noted exception—a photography teacher that actually does encourage some form of growing up and manhood on the boy. Mason’s biological father is essentially a boy, as he repeatedly fails to follow through on his responsibilities of family and career. The relationship’s the boy’s mother engages in all have partners that are equally as fickle and immature as well.

This lack of manhood in Boyhood drew some reflections for the author of the article, particularly in terms of evidence of true manhood in real-life society. Grown men are a rare commodity, according to the author. Instead, society is full of ungrown men—drunks, abusers, workaholics, priest and teachers who take advantage of their position of power, and many more. Most often in society, the models provided as an example of manhood often rely on a false notion of strength—that rash and bold moves equate to masculinity. On the contrary, the author feels that to listen and be willing to seek change is truly a sign of strength. Integrity, a sense of mission and devotion—all of these things are what makes a man no longer a boy, to the author. Often, they are found in those who serve in the military, but are so rarely found in civilians. To the author, that is due to a required initiation of sorts that is lacking in the protocols of ordinary life. In Boyhood, the film ends with Mason on the cusp of manhood—just entering college, he’s experienced work and struggle. However, he knows nothing of real, deep, inner work of the soul, which is required to definitely declare a state of manhood.

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