“We’ve put young boys and men in a straightjacket, forcing them to conform to a construct and disconnect from who they really are,” says The Mask You Live In writer-director Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
Early on in the documentary The Mask You Live In, which premiered Jan. 23 at the Sundance Film Festival, the idiom “be a man” is identified as one of the most destructive phrases in the English language. That might be shocking to those who believe in adhering to traditional gender roles and the need for boys to learn about masculinity at a young age, but the documentary uses psychologists, coaches, and men of all ages to demonstrate the damage American culture’s rigid definition of masculinity has had on society.
It’s a subject close to writer-director Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s heart. After making her 2011 documentary Miss Representation, which focused on the negative portrayal of women in the media, Siebel Newsom founded an organization called The Representation Project. In the course of the organization’s research, Siebel Newsom and her team found startling statistics that indicated that the problems young women face start — and could perhaps end — with young men. It’s that notion that prompted The Mask You Live In. Read More