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2016 – Mini Discussion: “The Great American Man”

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Today we had a mini discussion about actors of he past who represented not only the desirable looks but also incorporated praiseworthy traditional virtues (righteousness, sense of justice, readiness to sacrifice oneself for a higher cause, empathy, protection of the weaker, mental and physical strength, excellence in skills and leadership etc.) in the American heroes they portrayed in film. One could argue that American movies did successfully carry American culture to foreign countries, and after WWII a part of this was due to “monumental” actors like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, James Stewart, Charlton Heston or Henry Fonda who became the icons of “The Great American Man” that the world should (and did!) look upon. On the other hand, there existed a group of very handsome actors that embodied the male beauty ideals of their times, and who tended to be cast as rebellious but somehow sensitive and fragile personalities in their films. Their popularity  often surpassed – albeit for a limited period – those of the forementioned veteran actors, and drew a new, young audience into the cinemas. Some of them had great acting skills, but faced great hardships to get deeper roles in Hollywood. James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Marlon Brando and Tyrone Power, to name just a few.  (Hollywood actresses often represented exceptional beauty, but might never have gained recognition as “ambassadors” of American values through film.)

I was wondering in class if you could single out present day actors of the former type: The “Great” American Man (or Woman, if you would be able to appoint one). We are so many and did not have enough time, so I would like to give you here an opportunity for additional input! (I absolutely agree with the idea of “Captain America”, although I kind of feel that it is rather the Marvel character who represents the Ideal American than the actor. What do you think?)

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40 responses to “2016 – Mini Discussion: “The Great American Man”

  1. postnroast ⋅

    John Travolta, John Travolta, John Travolta.

    The great American is an Idea that has become something of an ambiguity in this time and age. To define such individual, one would have to think of what the morality of this time has transformed into.

    If I were to pick someone of this time, other than Grease’s famous local boy Danny Zuko of the late 50’s, it would have to be Barrack Obama. Why ?

    Well, Obama has a great moral standing and he is the photograph of awareness for our present time. The total package. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. The idea that one would produce a symbol of America, in todays day, based off of someone’s aesthetics is absurd. That would be like allowing social media selfie’s to replace empathy and kindness; that role is better left for celebrities sorta like Chris Evans who plays captain America. The new Great American is Aware. That being said, Obama is the president, what better way to choose someone that qualifies as a Great American then by starting at the top.

    in my opinion.

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  2. Eddie ⋅

    I personally don’t believe that at present there is any singular American Ideal as far as appearance is concerned. Perhaps fitness and a some basic atypical American features are readily named however, the country is trying really hard at present to push the issue of diversity in so many facets of life that for all we know Bruce Jenner may be an ideal to some while as seen above Captain America and Barrack Obama can also be considered ideal. Over all I think many Americans desire a self reliant and strong Male figure to in a sense embody the idea of the “American male.” While I personally believe that thee traditional values have their merits I know that many people will readily argue to the contrary citing that due to changing attitudes and the idea of gender fluidity any one can be seen as the American Male ideal. Not sure how far the argument would go but I could definitely understand that it may be a major source of pain for some. Either way, as film continues to change and people become more and more diverse through inter-marriage, immigration, and further advances in Science the Human Male in General will continue to change whether for the best or not is yet to be seen.

    As far as the old iconic images of Marlon brando and James Dean I’ve always found them to be Cliché as the Images of Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page, people looking to the past with nostalgia simply because Humans enjoy looking backwards instead of forwards, often citing times long gone as the best times. But that’s my personal opinion. Either way I can not relate to actors who have nothing in common with my own personal background especially actors who lived so long ago. Were I to decide on any one individual I would probably select Denzel Washington who seems to always play a fairly strong character whether he is a villain or a bad guy. Movies like Philadelphia, The Manchurian candidate, and training day leave him in a very dominant masculine and strong role which I think Americans love and admire. But that’s just My opinion.

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  3. White Rabbit ⋅

    It’s interesting to think of the legendary movie actors like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise representing America. As an American, maybe it’s hard for me to think of an actor representing our country, especially since I am not well-versed with other cultures and how they interpret American values in our actors. I know we discussed several actors in class, but what about Matt Damon, Jeremy Renner, or Christian Bale? Maybe they are all a little old to be considered a modern representation. Neil Patrick Harris is younger I suppose…

    Not sure any of them however are as iconic and representative of America, especially since this concept is relative to who you’re asking. I would personally consider Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise to be “pretty boys”, and not necessarily representative of America’s edge compared to Bruce Willis.

    Some of the questions I would have for someone from another country are: How do you define American culture? What characteristics best represents that specific culture in America? With this information, I think it might be easier to determine which actor best fits that mold. I guess another concern I would have is how to we deduct that an actor does indeed fit this mold? For instance, to we evaluate them based on their personal life, or how they are depicted in a film?

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  4. pizzaboy ⋅

    I guess for me, I feel that I can only really go by the people that I have personally looked up to over the years. I haven’t always necessarily been inspired specifically by American characters or even film characters in that sources of media have experienced meteoric expansion over the last few decades. It was funny for me because while we were in class doing introductions, I came to the realization that it is way easier for me to think of favorite actors than of favorite directors because I have always been way more drawn to great character development than to the overall feel of a film. It was actually really funny for me when it was stated that Denzel Washington and Will Smith are not the best personification of the modern ideal American male because they are actually the first two that I would think of and are two of my personally favorite actors…Denzel being my favorite. I feel that his characters are very consistent and throughout the decades have been very telling of modern American sentiment and has encapsulated some of the most important American male figures…think Malcolm X. He’s also managed to break out of traditionally positive characters and travel into some of the darker territories of America with films such as Training Day and Man on Fire. I would put him above Will Smith because I feel that modern America is much moodier than it has been in the past, and Denzel gives a much better representation of that. Will Smith tends to be much more upbeat and positive. The same goes for Captain America and Batman. Captain America represents values that are much more passé, whereas Christian Bale’s portrayal of Batman and Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane are much more representative of modern times. The same can be said for The Watchman vice Superman. It’s actually kind of funny for me because I personally still love Marlon Brando’s characters, but I think it’s because it feels more relatable for me being moody and difficult myself. I also love the representations of strife in relatively simpler times, at least as far as America goes.

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    • RM ⋅

      I think really at this point in time there is no great american man. The media has fragmented too much for one face to be dominant. That said If I was forced to pick one actor I think it would be Robert Downey junior. I’m not sure how visible he is on the world stage compared to people like clooney or leonardo decaprio, but I think his leading role in the iron man movies and Avengers movies, has pushed his image to a global audience. Now why do I think he is a possible great american man ?

      Well for one thing, he positively oozes charisma, the character he is most known for playing is smart, sauve. A capitalist, and a patriot. An inventor. These are I think american ideals and Downey embodies these traits on the big screen when he plays the tony stark character. Now some of the things he represents are not great. His lifestyle represents excess, partying, and wealth.These too however are cornerstones of current american culture, so I think In a way tony stark, the ultra capitalist, inventor, tech genius who is insanely wealthy, represents the current american culture we live in. For good or bad. So perhaps it’s not Downey who represents these things so much as the character he is famous for playing. At this point though their images are inseparable, and so stark the fictional characters qualities are in some ways projected onto Downey. Therefore making him the great american man of the 21st century.

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    • BIGANTEATER ⋅

      Your point on you only going by the people you look up to is an interesting perspective. Ive never thought of it in that exact way but it makes perfect sense. Which is why the idea of the great american man is kind of unfairin my opinion. I understand that the essence of the question is asking which actor portrays the ideal image of America but this question is hard for those who arent caucasion to answer.

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  5. itsthesky20 ⋅

    I have always wondered what a great American man really means? Like what are certain characteristics that qualifies to be a candidate for it? After this weeks discussion, hearing my other classmates different opinions and examples helped me understand this topic more.

    Growing up in Asia, I have just been exposed to the mainstream films and don’t have a lot of knowledge in terms of other famous actors. So if I think about who fits the Great American Man I would say, Leonardo DiCaprio is one opinion. He finally got his Oscar award this year. Another opinion would be Tom Cruise. If I were to think of a woman that fits the “criteria” I would have to say Angelina Jolie. This is only my opinion though.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I agree with you. In my opinion, we need to define what the meaning of American. Since there are so many people who have various background, we can’t define what the exact American is. I assume that the definition changes depending on time and how media represents the definition. During the class, I heard our classmate saying Captain America is the greatest one because of his name. to be honest, I like what the person said because in the current, we may accept that the definition of great American is Captain America that is played by Chris Evans, therefore, people may imagine him when they are asked. However, I think that even though we accept that Chris Evans is the great American in the present, his look seems to be similar with the people who might be considered as great American. Based on the similarities, I may conclude what the definition of great American is masculine, higher height, lower voice, shorter hair, not emotional.

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  6. jonsnow ⋅

    “The Great American Man” to me is something that’s kind of an unattainable status, in that you seem to need to have the combination of good looks, a wide variety of film roles, and a magnetism that is palpable on and offscreen. I’ve read in articles before that the best looking people are often the ones with the most “plain” faces. I agree with this to some extent, in that it seems like the most popular and successful “hunky” actors are not particularly striking in their looks, but are sort of plain looking and relatable enough to a wide audience and fan base. When I was younger, I remember thinking that all these white male actors seemed to look pretty similar to each other and go for the same types of roles, starting out with the teenage heartthrob status when they are younger, with coming of age films, then as they get older their roles become more serious and complex. The old Hollywood legendary actors that you hear about all seem kind of similar to me as well. Perhaps it could be that it was another time, another generation of actors, or I just simply haven’t seen enough old Hollywood movies, but to me I have a hard time differentiating their performances. A lot of them play this type of romantic hero that all women want and all men want to be. I think that the definition of the Great American Man has definitely evolved over time. I think that now it’s considered simply too boring and limited for the male lead to just play the romantic hero, because that’s what you’d expect from the good looking male lead. Nowadays your performance receives the highest critical praise if you show a raw type of vulnerability or stark difference to the actor’s usual appearance, in a role that you would never expect to see them in. (i.e. Leonardo in The Revenant, Heath Ledger as the Joker, Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, etc. etc.) To me, this new type of “Great American Man/Actor” is much more exciting to watch.

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  7. shmoo ⋅

    I believe the Ideal American Man is still a very sound idea when choosing actors in films. It is the same for women. But as it is 2016, “the ideal man” is receiving a lot of backlash. Why? Well because they are all white, cis, and of a certain physical nature. This makes people angry, because without proper representation of other groups, people begin to believe that because they do not look this way that makes them unappealing. We have Brad Pitt, Ryan Gossling and ,Johnny Depp (In his prime) just to name a few. These men normally have very square jaws, are on the thin but muscular side, and have nice big eyes. To be honest, they all look about the same to me. These men have been casted in dozens of films where color should not matter for the character, yet they are chosen over actors of color or of different body types because that is what fans want to see. They fit this generic cookie cutter image, so they can play all of these roles without anyone questioning them. The American hero has always had a specific look, and I do not believe it has changed all that much since the films that we are watching now. I think it is time to change what the hero can or should look like, to give people’s more positive body image and influences. We do not live in such a narrow minded world anymore (supposedly) so there should be more POC and different sexual identities involved in these films.

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  8. clintrump ⋅

    In a modern world filled with with confusion of race, and sexuality I think it becomes more difficult for most people to identify who as an actor defines a “great American Male”. I think to qualify for this category you would have to be not only an amazing actor but also somebody in the public life represents positive male characteristics.

    I would have to say Dwayne Johnson AKA “The Rock” would have to be the great modern day American male actor in my opinion. Admiringly he does play roles that are somewhat cartoonish like his role in Fast and Furious 6 but it is entertaining. He is the highest paid actor in Hollywood, and at age 44 he has the muscular physique of superhuman bodybuilder! His work ethic is incredible, and his personal persona is very positive setting a good example for other young boys in America. Outside of acting he has had his hands in WWE wrestling, and college football in America. I think Dwayne Johnson is the new iconic American male despite is singular roles as just being a superhero in his acting career. I think that Dwayne Johnson has potential to take on other roles in his acting career, and I think he will continue to grow even though maintaining his insane physical strength may begin to diminish with age. It will be interesting to see where he decides to take his career in hollywood.

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    • youngbillionaire ⋅

      As many have said it in the previous blog post it’s difficult to have one and only “The Great American Man” because times have changed standards have changed races have mixed politics have changed. America today is drastically different from what it used to be back then. This is all true but I think there is white supremacy and white privilege in America even today. So although we all understand that America has changed when it comes to choosing one and only “The Great American Man” is hard and near impossible. But as the face of America for the whole world I think is a different case. The world has an image of America based on stereotypes and movies. So even if America has changed the image of America people have around the world may have not changed as much. That is because other coteries may be not fast in obtaining and understanding America today. So it may be hard for Americans to choose one and only the “The Great American Man” but it shouldn’t be as hard for the world to choose someone. The world still sees white males leading America because of history and media. So naturally the world would expect a white male to be the “The Great American Man”, just like it has been in the past.

      For me to name someone it would be a little difficult as I am not American and did not grow up there. Though for the little I know I had to pick someone personally I would say Leonardo DiCaprio or Johnny Depp. That is because these two actors are one of the most well-known actors in US and worldwide for being American. They may not be the highest paid actor in Hollywood like Dwayne Johnson AKA “The Rock” but are more widely known worldwide, and are more frequently seen in films. I exposure is very important when it comes to “The Great American Man” because when you are exposed more, play lead roles, accepted as great American, known worldwide you are bound to be considered the “The Great American Man”.

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  9. Pedro Rodrigues ⋅

    I think it is very difficult to define the “Great American Man”, especially because I’m not an American citizen. So as Brazilian and non American citizen, I will utilize the American movies and series that I usually watch in order to trace a profile of the American man. In Brazil, we see the stereotypical American Man as it is described in the high budget Hollywood movies. We often see the American Man as strong, funny and popular individuals in the media, as it is portrayed and defined by many ‘blockbusters’. One clear example is Chris Evans, the Captain America from the Avengers franchise. As a symbol of American patriotism, he surely fit the exact profile that Hollywood want to sell to the public. The good guy image plus the good looking fame guarantee more empathy with the audience. Moreover, the patriotism surrounding his character just supports the stereotype of the Great American Man. Therefore, as Brazilians try to choose the perfect example, we usually think on guys like Chris Evans to be the representation of the ‘face of America’.

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    • youngbillionaire ⋅

      This is just a thought on the note of being American citizen. I am also not American citizen, and am from Asia, but perhaps it’s easier for us to see the idea of a “Great American Man”. Because the concept of “Great American Man” itself is a persona and it’s easier to have a persona of someone or something when you are future away from it. It may be harder for American people to think of a “Great American Man” because they know so much about America and those factors in so many things such as politics, race, area, time and ect. For us non Americans it’s about what we see from the dissent far without digging in deep social situation and structure of America.

      Also it’s important to note that depending on where you’re from may change the image of America. Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa all probably have a different image of America because not all countries get the same level of information and chance to know about America.

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      • Pedro Rodrigues ⋅

        Now, I was thinking about your response and I spent some time thinking about what I could answer back. Although, I think we (non American citizens) cannot judge with precision about the ‘Great American Man’, mainly because we will be doing that just based on the stereotypes and images portrayed in the Hollywood films. In fact, I think we should ask ourselves: what is to be a ‘Great Man in America’? Is it being a superhero? Is it being a example for society?

        I think we cannot answer that precisely because neither we lived in America for a long time (at least that is not my case), nor we were born in their cultural context. Of course, we can give it a try and say some names that we watch in the media. But I think everyone, but mostly every American citizen, has its own ‘national’ hero. And in this specific case, we are too much ‘international’.

        I agree with you that we can give an other type of opinion about it. I thought it was very interesting when you talked about the other continents and their different positioning about America. And that is exactly why I think we cannot say precisely who is the ‘Great American Man’; we are too far away to judge it. Even though, the own Americans themselves must have a lot of troubles discussing about that.

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    • TaiwanSwag ⋅

      I actually think for the fact that we are not from the United States (as an Asian myself), it makes it easier for us to see the idea of who is the Great American Man like youngbillionaire said in the comment. Although it’s easier for us to see, it is still difficult to define and name a actor that is the Great American Man. I put Tom Hanks as my American Hero, and I think he fits quite nicely with your description of what it should be. Although he might not be as good looking Chris Evans, as you mentioned, he definitely has the good guy image and great support from the spectators.

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  10. I think its very difficult to choose who is the “Great American Man” in todays film industry because personally, at the end of the day, it matters of the genre of the film they are starring in.

    As i read other people’s comment, i saw that Chris Evans (Captain Amerca) came up alot. Sure chris evans in my opinion as well is considered to being the “great american man” as of now. The label “Great American Man” changes overtime. Although Chris Evans starred in many films over time, If it wasnt for the film Captain America, who knows where Chris Evan’s popularity would be at due to the fact that Marvel has one of the biggest fan bases through the film industry.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I agree with you. Captain America is a great example for a great American; therefore, the current great American male is Chris Evans. I wonder that if another actor plays the role of Captain America, Crhris Evans may be no longer a great American male but somebody else. So the definition of a great man is depended on the characteristic of Captain America. When I watched the movie, he is tiny, small, and skinny before examining the test, at that time, he was denied by society by failing the entering exam for army. After becoming Captain America, he becomes masculine, tall, and huge comparing to the beginning of the movie, and he started to be accepted by the society and even get a girlfriend. The movie indirectly tells the audience that if we become a guy like him, we can get anything like fame, power, and money. When I was in America, I used to go to gym to work out, and there are so many well-built men working out. One of them told me that if I wanted to be a hero, I was supposed to work out a lot to become bigger and stronger. I thought, at that time, I better start boxing or any martial arts to be a hero because those sports are more efficient and productive for daily life. It’s a bit off-topic, but I got reminded of how much power of movie and media society people are observed and controlled.

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  11. Vera Lynn ⋅

    I am really glad that I waited to post about this until after Sunset. There is a really great bit in an episode of RedLetterMedia on their break down of why people hate Attack of the Clones. In the bit they talk about the relationship of what a young horny Anakin Skywalker is looking for in a woman, and what someone like Padme is looking for in a man. Anakin’s list is 2 items long, and Padme’s is 20 + items. I think this rings rather true. The ideal man needs to be many things, and many different things to many different people.

    What I found very interesting with the reaction to Sunset in the classroom is when Joe fails to live up to the expectations of what a man should be, people found it funny. Someone was nearly screaming with laughter when Norma gave Joe money to by her cigarettes from the drug store. And I find that reaction to be funny. I think had the genders of Norma and Joe been swapped, I think the reaction from the class would have been very different. I think that is something very interesting about the social climate we are living in.

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  12. Nox ⋅

    “The Great American Man” seems to grand to bestow onto any one actor. If you ask someone there answer will almost always be different, it could range anywhere from James Dean to Chris Pratt to Nicholas Cage to Brad Pitt and the list goes on and on. I believe the initial premise of wanting an “ideal” representation of America has always fallen on young, white, male actors and any one of the actors I mentioned above could fit the bill, but what are the prerequisites? Besides being American, what makes on actor the “Great American Man?” It might be a bit hard for me to conceptualize being an American, as I don’t have the viewpoint foreign people do when it comes to American film.

    As far as Captain America goes, it is Marvel but I think it’s safe to say Marvel is pretty American, but I don’t know if that’s what foreign people picture when they think of American films or “The Great American Man.” Sure it’s definitive, but I think to hold the title you would need to be much more than Captain America. But another point to ask is how do we know foreign people are always viewing American films with a male actor in mind? Just looking at pop culture in Japan and what the general consensus is, most youth would tell you they like American artists such as Taylor Swift, or the model Miranda Kerr.

    But again, this is only in the context of Japan, and I’m sure it’s different for every country. All in All I don’t think we can accurately pin down what “The Great American Man” is to non-Americans. It could be Chris Evans as Captain America, Or Andrew Garfield as Spiderman, or it could be even be a woman like Scarlett Johanson as Black Widow. It’s all up to the individual’s preference and their view of American film culture.

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    • BIGANTEATER ⋅

      This response isnt only to Nox but to everybody who’s post had the words “white man” in it including mine. Just like the rigged elections, this class has shown me how horrible of a country America is. Don’t get me wrong the films are amazing and all but in the end all we are able to talk about is race and the only conclusion we are able to come to is “the white man”. Institutionalized racism, marginalized minorities, it’s quite impossible to turn a blind eye to these things forever. Im just hoping that this close opens the eyes of those that think America can do no wrong and that all americans are equal because that is clearly not the case. This is a white mans world and everyone else just lives in it. I love you all. Lets join together to make this planet a more livable place.

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  13. clintrump ⋅

    Response to Nox, I agree that it is hard to single out one actor as representing “The Great American Man” considering there are many male actors in Hollywood that could be considered worthy of that title. As mentioned I agree that Brad Pitt, and Nicholas Cage could be considered as being great American men, however I disagree that it has to correlate to the white male as representing great American traits. As I wrote in my initial post I think Dwayne Johnson also known as “The Rock” could easily qualify as being “The Great American Man”.

    Ultimately I think it is up to the viewer to decide who “The Great American Man” is based on their own personal preference and life experience. However, I think suggesting women in this blog is a little off topic, and maybe there should be a separate “Great American Female” blog section.

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  14. dinerbears ⋅

    Personally, I usually not remember the actors name and face when I watched the movie. for this discussion I went back to check all the films I watch this year that who can be the great American. I agree with all the people said during the class time and in the blog such as, Johnny Depp. However, the first actor I come up my mind is Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio and George Clooney. (etc..). For me he is the great American looks when he was young and even now. Some people might think he is too old in the present time has new actors can replace him to be the great American man. According to the past few films we watched during the class time. I feel there is some different between great American man for the past and now. The great American man in the past looks more gentle and skinny. A lot of people think that Chris Evans is the great American right now because he plays the role in Caption America and Revenger. Those movies give people idea for what hero looks like. I agree with this because he has good looking face and his nationality is America. I believe other people has different thought but I will think Chris Event is the great American man in right now.

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    • uruwa ⋅

      For some reason, I tend to forget that Johnny Depp is actually American, and I think that might be true with a lot of people. He’s always playing strange roles with different accents that make you forget where he’s originally from. He’s a well-known actor, that’s for sure, but I don’t think he would be the best fit for the All American Man. I do agree with your choices of DiCaprio and Clooney, however.
      As for Chris Evans, he definitely fits the physical stereotype, though I feel like the only reason is because he does play Captain America. It’s so easy to make that connection from the Captain to the All American Man. He stands for everything that America is supposed to stand for.

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  15. TRONtravolta ⋅

    I have found this to be quite challenging when thinking of an individual that captures the United States of America, or comes to mind when thinking of Hollywood. Deciding if it should be based on work, such as the number of titles that he or she, or their sex appeal can be difficult to put a face or name to. It also has to do with the different generations and age groups. There are some actors or idol types that I have never heard of, even though I am quite an avid film admirer.

    I guess the “American Man,” representing males of Hollywood would probably be Brad Pitt. He frequently appears in blockbuster hits, or because of him, the films he is in become blockbusters. Not only is he shown on the big screen, he is also in the headlines and public eye when not acting. I feel that whether it is good publicity or bad publicity, he name continues to be relevant. Brad Pitt has also played in a variety of roles from the heart throb in “Thelma and Louise, to the violent brigade leader in “Inglorious Bastards,” which shows the diversity in his acting and how he can appeal to a variety of groups. Staying relevant over the years and still making a presence in the media helps maintain his popularity and think of himself as the “American Man.”

    Maybe someone not being from the United States could have a better perspective on what makes someone qualified for this title. I know that there are different countries that have their own ideas of this based on the films and television shows are exposed to them. I know that in Germany, David Hasselhoff has quite the following, since shows that he appeared in, “Knight Rider” and “Bay Watch,” were popular. It is interesting to read through the responses and see the opinions of others, as the class is very diverse.

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  16. I believe the “American Man” depends on who is sponsoring the film.
    If the ideal “American Man” was starring in a B film for example Chris Evans, if he starred in a B film, i feel like his popularity level wouldnt even compare to what it is now without marvel.

    Also i feel like the views on who the “American Man” is never going to change, where its usually a buff, strong chinned white male. I have no issue about it but I feel like it would never leave that bubble even though the film industry is very international.

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  17. BIGANTEATER ⋅

    The Great American Man… Well he’s definitely white lol. I remember when Will Smith came to Japan a few years ago to promote his and Jaden Smith’s movie After Earth. I just remember how Japanese people were like ummm why, who are you, leave haha. Smith is obviously well renowned but he doesnt carry that image of a great american man for reasons unknown to me. His classic show from the 90s made him an instant icon and from there he went on to continue to bless us with amazing films. But his missing something that isnt allowing him to connect with the rest of the world as the great american man. Could it be that America has projected itself to the world as a white nation for so long that that is the only thing the world accepts? I cant say for sure But i think its pretty safe to say that especially of late, Leonardo Dicaprio is the Great American man. The reason I say of late is because after finally winning a grammy his effort to save the world from global warming has been pushed to the forefront. He recently released a documentary in partnership with the National Geographic channel titled Before The Flood. In this documentary he is championing for the world to work together in using renewable energy sources or we all die. He’s been in countless blockbuster films. He’s a handsome dude with little to no scandals as well. When thinking of holywood and the great american man instantly him and BuraPi (Brad Pit) come to mind.

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    • uruwa ⋅

      I agree with what you said about Leonardo DiCaprio. If anyone is close to being the current “All American Man”, it’s him. He’s had an incredible film career, and deserves many more awards than what he’s won. He also is still considered attractive by modern standards, and is someone that most people who watch films would recognize world-wide. He’s starred in some incredible landmark movies, also worked on some lesser known films, and continues to be at the forefront of social issues. Overall he appears to be a very likeable guy, and an actor that people of all generations can enjoy and respect.

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      • Sorabari ⋅

        In my opinion, Leonardo DiCaprio is not a great American man but great successful actor in America. When I imagine him, firstly the movie Titanic came up, and he played a role of a gentle man, Jack who sacrifices his life for Rose. In Japan, he is treated as a prince because of his facial structure and the movie. Therefore, he wouldn’t fit in my definition of a great American man. He’s been on screen since he was youth, my imagination of his role is a guy who has a sad background and gets involved in some problems maybe because of Shutter Island and Inception. Please don’t remind me that he sometimes was taken pictures of his private running on the beach.

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    • jonsnow ⋅

      That’s an interesting take on Japanese perception of American movie stars. In America Smith has definitely reached that iconic superstar status and has proved his lasting relevance in Hollywood. It’s interesting to ask why his status doesn’t seem quite as elevated here in Japan. They’ve definitely screened a good majority of his films here, such as Men in Black, Suicide Squad, and I Am Legend. So why isn’t he as widely accepted? The obvious and uncomfortable answer is that he’s black. He’s not considered to be a picture of Hollywood elitism maybe because he hasn’t won an Oscar, or hasn’t had a standout critically acclaimed performance in a while. He’s not seen as the Great American Man, who as you said, is definitely white. It’s actually really funny that you bring up Leonardo Dicaprio as the fold to Will Smith’s status, because once while I visited an ice pop shop in Kyoto, and there was a small sign outside of the shop that stated how Leonardo DiCaprio-san had come to this particular ice shop during his promo tour for Inception and seemed to enjoy to ice pops immensely. Gotta give it up for the Great American Man.

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  18. uruwa ⋅

    There will always be a standard of beauty for men and women, but it always changes. In the nineties, actors like Brad Pitt were insanely popular. Nowadays, I noticed that many popular actors aren’t American, but from overseas. Liam Hemsworth, for example, is an extremely popular actor and is considered to be attractive. He originates from Australia, but plays parts in a multitude of American films.

    However, I don’t think we can pin down just one stereotypical popular good-looking actor. Many actors nowadays tend to stick mainly to one genre, and the people who enjoy said genre look more favorably on them. Benedict Cumberbatch, for example, gained popularity in sci-fi genre films and TV shows, which gained him fans who are interested in that genre. They will have differing opinions from fans who are more interested in action movies, and they will differ from those who love horror films. But I’m rambling now.

    In conclusion, I don’t really think there’s much of an “all American man” anymore now that actors from overseas are becoming popular.

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  19. karltuj

    How do you think about Tom Hanks being called the “America’s Dad”? I think “The Great American” needs more than just looks to receive this title. Like in the old days, John Wayne was not just a good looking guy, but he embodied courage, stubbornness, justice and other qualities that are reflections of American values.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/10/tom-hanks-americas-dad-snl-monologue

    I hope I will hear a few more ideas and opinions!

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  20. Pedro Rodrigues ⋅

    As the classes are almost coming to an end, I had more time to think about “The Great American Man”. I still think that this concept is represented by white American actors who are portrayed in classic American films, such as Vanishing Point, Rocky Balboa, Superman, etc. In addition, America has been shown that the country doesn’t want to get rid of that idea, considering the election of the extreme nationalist and egocentric Donald Trump. So after all, is there still hope for the creation or the introduction of a new American hero?

    I hopefully think so.

    Conforming I stated in the other section post, I realized that the audience of American films has been changing and constantly giving opportunities to nonstandard American heroes. It is clear that personalities such as Will Smith, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Austrian- American actor), Benedict Cumberbatch (English actor), etc. are popular between American audience. Independent of the current moment of each of those actors, they are easily recognized by the America public, what makes us question if the world around us is more open to different ethnical groups as protagonists. Well, surely not completely, but it is possible to see some changes.

    Therefore, I hope that more actors, and actresses as well, can dig their space in the film industry. As I cited previously, Viola Davis is an example to be followed and admired by everyone. Personally, I think Will Smith is pretty in a ‘rising point’. He is an idol for America, especially considering performances and iconic characters such as Will in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. So, I think Will Smith can be considered an American hero and icon, despite the rejection of many classmates to this statement. Of course, society is still not progressist enough to accept that kind of idea, but I think we can have our personal opinions and contradictions as well. I hope the world to change significantly in these specific aspects.

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  21. mkt18 ⋅

    It is difficult to define what is the Great American Man because for me the American man is like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruse and heroes of Avengers. I used to watch Hollywood film since I was young and they were my image of American when I was young. Actually, I did not know any man in films we watched in class. I think the idea of great American Man is depend on person. Because I am Japanese, I watch America outside of there, so the image might be different from American. For example, foreigners tend to think Japanese hero is Samurai or Ninja, but I do not think so.

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  22. GreenBanana ⋅

    The Great American Man in films nowadays share a lot of the same qualities with the ones we’ve seen in the past though some fit into one specific category or another. I think that there are two main roles that men fulfill in American films. The physically appealing and brooding type, and the trustworthy or family man type. However some men fall somewhere in between but anyways. Some examples of actors that fit the physically appealing type are Channing Tatum (Magic Mike XXL), Chris Pratt (Jurassic Park), and Chris Hemsworth (Thor). These men are known for their good looks and have starred in a number of blockbusters within last few years. Actors who fit in the stereotypical righteous, family man image are, for example, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. These actors, in my opinion, are seasoned highly reputed actors in the American film industry.
    I think men in American films are symbols of what is popular and ideal in terms of men’s appearance and demeanor in cinema worldwide. In American films, usually a man should always be “manly” in terms of stature and build and “cool” but also have a heart to marry the ladies. To have both is somewhat unattainable by any typical man. The things that make the “Great American Man” great are ideal to have for any man, but nobody can have the physique of Channing Tatum and have the heart of Tom Hanks.

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  23. liarina ⋅

    I think it is difficult for me to truly define what the great American Man should be since I am not an American citizen so all my images of the typical American men are come from the film. some people might have the certain image of westerner should be tall and blond hair, I also do the same thing too when I was a child. Back in that time, I think Brad Pitt is the great American man but only for his face. However, after watching several films of him, I start to look at some special qualities in Pitt such as his way of acting and my personally favorite is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Also, Tom Cruz is also considered as the great American Man due to his famous series Mission Impossible. However, in the younger generation, I would say the role of great American man doesn’t have to be extremely handsome or charming, but it is important for the actor to act in the action movies and save his country in the film such as Chris Evans in Captain America, Chris Pine in the new series of Star Trek and Channing Tatum in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

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  24. TaiwanSwag ⋅

    After hearing discussions about which actor represents the great American man, I actually have a different actor in mind that might be very different than the others. For me, Tom Hanks is the best representation of the great American man. I would say he is somewhat good-looking and also a very likeable guy. He looked very sincere in every movie and I was not surprised when he won the most-trusted person in the 2013 Reader’s Digest poll. Everyone has a different definition for the great American, but in my opinion, good looking could be one of the elements but not necessarily the most important one. Sure, he is not as handsome as some of the other actors in the Hollywood, like for example, Captain American. But that actually makes him more of a great American man representation in my opinion because it is not realistic if the actor is too handsome or good-looking. I remember some people was complaining about you putting Will Smith’s picture on the presentation slide for this topic. I don’t actually agree with them because there are plenty of reasons why Will Smith could be considered as the American man, not just simply saying that he’s not handsome.

    I rarely watched movies until three years ago so I couldn’t think of anybody on top of my head that’s a better representation, but for recent years, Tom Hanks is the guy for me.

    Like

    • itsthesky20 ⋅

      Hi TaiwanSwag, I really like that you suggested Tom Hanks! I can not believe that I did not even think about that. Tom Hanks is one of the American actors that I look forward to seeing. I also think that he could also be one of the best representation for this specific category, The Great American Man. Why? Because I think the roles that he gets are mostly decent. Also I like that you emphasized on the whole idea of physicality. I like that you said that a great american man does not have to be necessarily super handsome because yes I agree it is in fact not realistic to look up to somebody like that. And sadly to say when we are told to think about somebody that we look up to as human beings we have the tendency to think about physical appearance first which I think is natural but I dont think it should not merely be the case.

      So thank you for your honest opinion, I enjoyed reading it!

      Like

  25. mkt18 ⋅

    I like to watch hero movie in my life because American hero is cool and I cannot imagine other foreigner hero in other country. For me i like American hero has a woman hero. In American film, woman can be a hero and save something. I watched many films which a woman is hero. It was difficult to think that a woman is a main character and fights enemy in the past. Like we watched Sunrise, woman claracter is weak and see seems that she does not power to fight against a man. However, becasue of society has changed, now woman can have a power.

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  26. Peach ⋅

    When viewing the Hollywood produced $100 million over blockbuster films, while at the same time being entertained by them, sometimes it makes me feel slightly shallow by the fact that these kinds of films entertain me. When looking back at the typical blockbuster films that I have viewed in the past 5 years, all of them seem to have the central theme/style, where the white, masculine, testosterone filled, or charming looking male protagonist, with his gorgeous looking female side-kick tries to prevent the so called “evil” plot of the big bad and also good looking antagonist, throughout brute violence, which he eventually succeeds. Although there maybe various differences in techniques, plotline, puns, and cliffhangers within the various movies, what I just stated in the previous sentence seems to be shared in a majority of the so called blockbuster Hollywood movies that has been released recently. In fact when looking at the worldwide film box office ranking, 8 out of the top 10 are films which are so called blockbuster films. The only exception is the film Titanic and Frozen, which both of them to a certain extent follows my description of the typical Hollywood films. Now in regard to this cold-hearted fact, I question myself, why does the public demand, glorify, and idealize the white, good-looking, and physically well-built male depicted on the screen?

    One possible answer to this question is the concept of the Great American Male. Because this concept is something abstract making it hard to explain to the full extent, in summary it is basically the concept about the ideal American male the public perceives on to. Perhaps it is the ideal imagery of the viewers about the American he or she wants to become. In simple language the cool and popular guy we see on the screen. For example actors such as Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt, and fictional characters that we see in films such as Steve Rogers/Captain America acted by Chris Evans. Perhaps the actor John Wayne notorious for his acting in the Western genre may fit in this criterion as well. All of these actors and perhaps many of their roles have common shared characteristics such as their appealing looks to a certain level, well formed body structure, athleticism, and the fact that they are usually armed with some form of weapon.
    Tom Cruise, for the past 5 years have stared in movies such as Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation, Edge of Tomorrow, Oblivion, and Jack Reacher, which all the main protagonists that Tom Cruise acted fundamentally shares the complete same characteristic throughout all these films. More specifically, Ethan Hunt who is the main protagonist within the Mission Impossible franchise performed by Tom Cruise is a character depicted as a special government agent who is tasked with various highly classified government missions, which usually ends up into a mission to save Countries, millions of innocent lives, or the risk of national security etc. Tom Cruise performs this character in a cocky and athletic fashion depicting a character with high self-confidence, pride, resourceful, and most importantly highly skilled believing he is an individual who can actually “save” world. Another character is William Cage also acted by Tom Cruise. Set in a Sci-fi like near future this character is a military Major in the public affairs section and is demoted to private due to his arrogance thinking that he can blackmail his way out of actual combat ordered by his superior. Again this character eventually develops into an individual who is highly skilled, resourceful, and athletic, who in the end actually “saves” the world from an invasive alien species.
    These two fictional characters from my perspective seem to be strikingly similar so as the entire protagonists that I have stated previously that Tom Cruise performs.
    Brad Pitt have stared in films such as Allied, Fury, World War Z, and the Oceans franchise. Again all these films have a strong essence of violence and action, and in the final outcome the main protagonist “saves the day.”
    With Chris Evans he has starred in over 7 films as the super hero Captain America within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All of these box office successful films have the common characteristics that I have stated previously, supporting my opinion.
    Although the concept about the Great American Male maybe supported by the public, proved by the ridiculous amounts of profit been generated by films depicting these types of characters, I recently find it boring and mundane. The action and suspense maybe a cheap kick that entertains me but towards the end the lack of creativity and mindless repeats of the same usual plotline bores me so much that the urge to either stop watching or walk out of the cinema constantly crosses my mind. It is understandable why the Emmys and Oscars don’t select these types film with mundane and shallow characters for their prizes.
    Now why is it that these films, which are notorious for having no actual storyline massively success? I think that it is because the Great American Male characters depicted within the various films fulfills the unmet needs that the modern individual cannot fulfill. These needs can perhaps be things such as inferiority complexes deriving from looks, money, and talent. In a sense we perhaps try to self-reflect ourselves to the main protagonist and try to synchronize his/her activities to our selves to try to fulfill our unrealistic expectations.
    Maybe this is the reason behind why blockbuster movies can’t win Emmys and Oscars and dark-depressing movies such as the Revenant is able to do so. Unconsciously we realize that these blockbuster films, staring The Great American Male characters is the product of pure unrealistic fiction and discard them as art. On the other hand, dark, depressing, and to a certain extent realistic films such as the Revenant and Moonlight because of their heavy theme and deep dialogue that sometimes portrays real life problems, truly attracts the interest of viewers and critics. It is a pity that these films can compete on box office.

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