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Mansome: Men redefining 'manly,' and not just for laughs

Mansome isn't just a movie – it's a reality as the commodification of manhood has men redefining "manly." Clothes matter. Eyebrows matter. Hair matters.

By Leanne ItalieAssociated Press / May 18, 2012

Mansome isn't just a movie – it's a reality as the commodification of manhood has men redefining "manly." Actors Will Arnett, left, and Jason Bateman are shown in a scene from the movie.

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New York

May, it turns out, is a manly month, and a funny one at that.

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The Mother's Day flowers are barely wilted and already there's a heavy male energy in the air – of the wry, ironical, comedy variety – in new books and movies ahead of Father's Day June 17.

We've got "Mansome" from the "Super Size Me" dude, Morgan Spurlock. And "Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity" from Time magazine's Joel Stein. And "Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad," from humorist-at-large Dan Zevin.

Why, when it comes to the discourse on masculinity, is the conversation routinely rolled around laughs? Where, exactly, does all the funny lead? Does it help redefine a new masculinity, make it easier for men to talk about this stuff?

We went straight to the source, the funny guys themselves and some of their foils, the unintentionally funny, to see if they could get serious about the burning issues facing MANkind today.

MORGAN SPURLOCK

In his latest com-doc, Mr. Spurlock takes on male grooming, enlisting the mother lode of funny guys: Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis and "Arrested Development" brothers Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, both of whom are executive producers.

And Morgan Spurlock thinks the point is?

"Men are in a position now where we're being marketed to and targeted in the same way that women have for decades, where suddenly men aren't good enough. Suddenly you're too fat. Suddenly your skin's too ugly, you don't have enough hair. All those same types of things that were told to women to let you know you were inadequate unless you tried X, Y, or Z are now the same types of tactics that are being used on men, all in this effort to try and push this commodification of manhood."

So is that a good thing? For men, that is.

"I'm sure it's good for somebody, but for men in general? Shouldn't men want to take care of themselves? Sure. Should they spend a gazillion dollars? Probably not."

JASON BATEMAN

In Spurlock's movie, he and Mr. Arnett – spa robes on – compare shaving technique, get side-by-side pedicures and facials, take a soak together and try to keep the manly talk light.

What does Jason Bateman think is funny about manhood?

"The men who are speaking about it or presenting it are trying to avoid embarrassment and taking the subject, or themselves, too seriously."

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