Masculinity & The Blaze III

Masculinity in Focus

Concluding the Masculinity and The Blaze series (so far), is Heaven, the most allegorical of The Blaze’s videos.

It follows a man on a sunny day in a field, where he and his friends, male and female, have parked up their cars and bikes and are enjoying the sunshine.

The opening of the video shows a dog and a baby in a car. The doors are open, the dog seems comfortable, and the baby is asleep. The camera moves unmotivated to show them, displaying intention from the filmmakers to tell us, the audience, something. The dog seems to be watching over the baby, while the film’s protagonist, walks through a field towards his partner. We assume these are the baby’s parents.

The shot opening on him is low angle and from behind, showing his back and his hairstyle, which is cut short. I’ve seen a similar type of shot in another film, Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond The Pines. See here. Tracking shots involving barechested men, assumedly to hype up their raw masculinity (think films with Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy and such), are conscious about what they’re doing. I’ve even found myself doing this walk at the gym after a workout. Your muscles are full of blood and you feel pumped, so you swing your arms slowly, and your gait becomes longer. I wonder if this is influenced by pop culture like this, or whether it’s a natural thing that men do when we feel powerful.

Once the man reaches his partner, he touches her tenderly and then kisses her. We see him at his most gentle with her.

Throughout the video, we see his playful side. He’s a joker. Even when he’s carrying the baby he’s trying to wind up his friends. When he leaves the baby with his partner, he runs off, sliding in to tackle two people playing football, pulling down another’s trousers, and dancing with a girl while smoking. Again, it’s hedonism, presented very rawly.

This one, I think, is about the responsibility of parenthood for this man. He loves his child, and his partner, but he also loves the fun he has when he is free, and although the film doesn’t show him in anguish about this (he seems to be comfortable), it is about how you can balance the two. Feeling free to enjoy life, and enjoying the responsibility of parenthood and commitment.

The final shot sees the camera rise from his family and friends to him sitting on the branch of a tree, looking down at them. He is protective of them, looking down, but then taking a toke of his roll-up. He is balancing those two sides of himself.

We don’t hear his thoughts, we don’t hear how he communicates with his friends, his spouse, his child. But we are allowed in to his world, and what he has now. He thinks he’s got it all, and depending on your definition of happiness, he has. He’s in heaven.

The Voice: Nope, not the TV gameshow. The voice in The Blaze’s songs, and therefore videos, is unmistakably male. It’s obviously because The Blaze is made up of two men, but it’s a distorted male voice. It doesn’t have a distinctive accent, and sounds a little like what a movie criminal might use to distort their voice whilst speaking to the cops on the phone. It’s a song by men, and they’re trying to communicate something to men. We’ve just gotta listen. Also it’s bang-tidy music.

Thank you: To The Blaze. Having done these three reviews, I feel I’ve come to a new understanding of the videos, and greater appreciation. They’re the only music videos I have ever cried at, and I think that’s a testament to the fact that they’re doing important work.

This is a message to storytellers and artists out there, and all the men doing all kinds of work: Just because you have a penis doesn’t mean you can’t be exactly who you want to be, communicate how you want to communicate, and show love to those you love so dearly.

Masculinity in Focus

Written by

Talking about masculinity and how we are coming to define it in the modern age. Examined in pop culture, literature, and wider culture. By Sam Ainsworth.

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