Three Things Stood Out in ‘Nowhere Special’ About Manhood
Nowhere special was rather special.
The other day a friend recommended we should see ‘Nowhere Special’, a Northern Irish, Romanian and Italian co-production inspired by true events. Three things around the issue of masculinity stood out for me from this beautiful movie.
For those who have not seen it, here is what the movie is about. In a nutshell, John, a 35-year-old window cleaner, has dedicated his life to bringing up his 3-year-old son. When John finds out he has a terminal illness, he attempts to find a new family for Michael to shield him from his inevitable death.
The pressures of toxic masculinity
At one point, while talking to his son, John mentions the challenges he faced growing up while in foster care. He confesses the pressures of not being able to show weakness to his friends. Any signs of weakness would have cost him dearly. This sadly illustrates the pressures we men put on each other to portray strength, pressures which enforce the dominant way of doing masculinity (I covered this in a previous post here) and don’t allow us to be ourselves.
For many of us, the pressure to feel and project a sense of strength is rather high. Be it mental, physical or emotional, we struggle to show or receive vulnerability, especially when it comes to other men. Research shows that some men find it easier to open up about their feelings to a woman than to a man. Is that because we are afraid to lose face in front of other men? Interestingly, one of the people John confesses some of his frustrations with is a female.
Despite his upbringing, John shows signs of maturity as he’s able to show a range of emotions in different scenes, from anger to sadness and emotional pain while talking about the adoption process with the social workers. And this takes me to the second point that stood out to me.
Men can be caring and still be masculine
Throughout the movie, John is a caring and loving father. Traits that many wouldn’t associate with masculinity or fatherhood. He also doesn’t show any signs of bitterness towards his partner who left him soon after giving birth.