Close your eyes. If I say the word “masculine,” who is the first familiar face that you see?

Who’s the man?

Post your choice in the Comments.

For most people, it’ll probably be somebody famous… an action movie star or an athlete or a rock star. Arnold Schwarzeneggar. Lebron James. Denzel Washington. John Wayne. Bruce Willis. Bradley Cooper. Idris Elba. Justin Timberlake. Liam Neeson. Daniel Craig. Bruce Springsteen.

Masculinity is usually associated with strength, aggression, and virility. But should those be the aspects that make a man attractive and admirable? It seems that the popular idea of “the man” has changed very little in my lifetime. Outside of various fashion-related details — the Tom Selleck mustache, for example — the iconic male remains predictably muscular, brawny, temperamental, and prone to displays of strength.

Will that ever change? Should we hope that it does?

Me, my idea of an “ideal man” is quite different. It has more to do with character than physicality, more to do with creativity and self-control and contemplation than feats of strength.

StandingBarbellCurlOn Monday, May 13, at Hale’s Ales Brewery and Pub in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, I’ll be on a panel with the impressively masculine Dr. Jeff Keuss and the connossieur of masculinity Dr. Christine Chaney for another Kindlings Muse discussion hosted by Jennie Spohr.

Our subject? “The New Masculinity and the Changing Face of Action Flicks.”

We’ll explore how American culture defines and represents masculinity.

We’ll talk about how masculinity is personified in comic book heroes… and whether those characteristics are accurate, overzealous, or absurd.

And we’ll ask if we can see cultural changes by looking at trends in action movies over the last several decades. What did the Han Solo of the 1970s tell us about culture’s ideal man? What about the Indiana Jones of The Last Crusade, a decade later? What does the new James Bond tell us about ourselves compared to the Bond of Goldfinger?

Make your dinner reservation here.

Who says we can’t start the conversation now?

Let’s give ’em something to talk about. If you had to name the best icon of masculinity on the big screen, or in popular culture, today… who takes the crown?

And here’s a bonus question: What movie or television show best explores questions about masculinity?

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