This past weekend was valentines weekend had its own resurgence of male characters. This included Billy Crystal from when Harry met Sally. Liam Neeson from Love Actually. I think it is easier to look at characters as people it is easier to differentiate between real male traits and stereotypical traits.
If we look at the stereotypes of male characters we see that they are a little less intelligent than the average person. They are driven by passions and this is shown by an overriding desire for sex. This portrays men strictly in the sense of function: we are no more than a penis attached to the secondary organs that keep us alive. The truth is men are deeper and more complex. We are passionate sometimes so much that it is difficult to express our emotions. We aren’t guilty of “showing our sensitive side”, we are sensitive.
If we look at stereotypes of the fantasy genres in early Disney films. Most of them don’t even have names. They exist to help fulfill the fantasy of true love for the Princess and as a plot device for her to have an over optimistic love interest. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty’s princes only appear twice in the films and one of those appearances is a dream-like sequence. Disney Princes are always able to solve any crisis from slaying the main villain to coming up with the best lyrics and melody on the spot.
Sometimes women get the notion that men exist to be changed into these stereotypically ideal characters. All she needs to do is scrub out his imperfections. If he is too tough, make him gentle. If he is gentle, make him tougher. The good news in real life that it is not a spouse’s job to change the other spouse. In a narrative it must come mostly from the plot or an outside element. In real life it must come from outside the persons too. As a Christian I believe Jesus has a large role but our stories also play a role in shaping our character.
I hope that we as storytellers portray men as characters to show them as people so men can be seen as more than just a gender.