I have an unfinished dissertation on issue of confession and its correspondences in cinema
When I started to work on this dissertation, I’d realized that masculinity as gender builds himself with a retrospective look as much as daily life performances; with confession, confrontation, delayed regrets, a never ending desire for forgiveness…
I had the corpus of confessing from stretching from Saint Augustine to Rousseau and of course countless bourgeois individual narratives (novel, self-help, etc.) in front of me.
Those who emphasize that we should mind the “times’ when we attribute positive role to confessions, apologies, regrets and compromises; that how the confessions made when the appropriate conditions are formed become an instrument to vindicate oneself and have a role in the new power blocks…
On one hand I was dealing with these infinite intellectual materials, on the other I was thinking on how this obsession of confession forms a language in cinema. Images and sounds most of which were pointing to men were wandering in my mind, the images and sounds mostly created by men…
Bergman, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Zeki Demirkubuz, Semih Kaplanoğlu…
Figure of man who (finally) shed tears with his wrongdoings, mistakes and confronts what he did and didn’t after years pass…
Male characters that get sad while looking out of the window…
Countless movies that focus on men’s world of emotion…The men who look back and write down via modern world’s tools…
I’ve started to ask these questions: Why is virtue attributed in all these films to the secretive men figures (as if it is just them who comprehended the deep absurdity of life) who look somewhere, inwardly sigh and think, unburden his heart only at the end of the movie or don’t unburden at all?
Can there be some sort of fear of being judged as well as instrumentalist hegemony and modern concerns like being remembered behind men ruling artistic language that exposes such “human sould”?
Is it possible that the reason for men to be prone to confession and inner-confrontation is that they are afraid of leaving evaluation of their own life to someone else?
How much are the wishes such as making sense of your life on your own, returning to the field of language by yourself, determining your boundaries included in this matter?
I cannot say that I could have pursued the track of these questions for a long time but I can say as far as I observe in myself and in my close circle that the most frequent form of attitude is not being able to cope with the guilt.
Inclination towards confession-confronting oneself oriented narrative should this or that way be related to this.
Being judged and account for…
When it is about themselves, men want to undertake them. Maybe this is why any criticism, warning or judgement coming from outside lead to major crisis in most of the men. (When men are criticized, expressions such as “accusation”, “lynch”, “defamation” spread rapidly and dosage of criticism or tone mostly doesn’t change).
There is a defense motive behind this: It is me who knows best about myself, I judge myself best and I pass sentence on myself. We shouldn’t forget that self-criticism, language of confession, claims of honesty and openness, and even confrontation (supported by expressions like “I confronted dark spots of my soul” and similar rhetoric) has an important gravity and has become an important part of masculine show of strength.
Men like a lot talking about their feelings of guilt and past mistakes in both daily life and in their artistic productions.
However, when it comes to taking on the responsibility of a behavior, an attitude or a sexist statement in the simplest term, they view the criticism/objection in question as an insult to their personalities and try to evade them quickly. They build high walls of defence around them in a highly organized and rapid manner...
“He is not that kind of man”, “He never does such a thing”, “I know him very well”, etc.
All of a sudden, you start hearing such statements from many people around you.
When you say something against the alliance of “He is not that kind of man”, you feel that a great wall is wholeheartedly being built against you.
It becomes more difficult even to explain an extremely simple thing, to explain that such a sponsorship cannot whitewash anyone and it cannot be presumed that anyone can behave like that for the rest of their lives.
The organized manner of men manifests and reproduces itself not only in the public sphere, on social media or at dıscussion platforms, but in the private sphere as well.
When men become friends with each other, they tend to assume that they are all on the same front with the men standing before them.
It is as if it was not possible that a man could think differently than another. I have witnessed several times before that men view it as ignoring a previously signed pact.
For instance, if you talk about the meaninglessness of statements such as “He is not that kind of man”, you first see an extremely puzzled expression on their faces…
Then, you see that this puzzled expression falls to pieces, the man continues his own words as if nothing happened. Being unable to deal with a thought or an argument that would speak ill of his personality and passing over it, not listening and not wanting to understand it…
The organized manner of men manifests itself not only in the domination over the word, but in the dominance of deciding what is worth listening to and what is not as well.
Moreover, with the recent wave of ‘anti-political correctness’, the state of not listening and the habit of viewing all opposing comments as a threat to their field/freedom of expression have gained ground.
Frankly speaking, I have witnessed in culture-art-cinema circles that it is more the unpleasant statements than the production of political statements that are labelled as politically correct and suppressed; and I have also witnessed that it is done mostly by men who are somehow blamed or who are afraid of being blamed.
The monopoly of masculine word is mostly protected in this way: By defining criticisms as politically correct interventions and trivializing them.
Probably the scene that I have most frequently witnessed: When the statement is not liked, it is put aside by statements such as “You look at it politically”, “You look at it partially”, etc. Protection of the political status quo with such evasions…
It is usually said that a culture of self-criticism does not exist in Turkey and it is true; but, there is a problem more vital than that: The discrediting and marginalization of criticism through the above-mentioned mechanisms. We can probably think of self-criticism as monologue and criticism as dialogue; the elimination of dialogue always plays into the hands of the ones having the monopoly over words.
He is not that kind of man… It is a petrification brought about by having the luxury of not being accountable and by the shows of ‘I am only accountable for myself’. The thinking man wants to be like his statue and to be deemed unchangeable.
His viewing of criticisms as insults to his personality is not only about his avoidance of taking on responsibility, but also about his own self-image being based on a fantasy of unchangeability.
“Live your life, you will evaluate it yourself when you gather enough experience” is the life formula which helps the thinking man escape from the responsibilities of the present time and critical gazes.
For this reason, if you ask me, we should not look in the mirror any more. On the contrary, we should start by learning to listen to what others say, especially the ones who have organized against the patriarchy. We should start right now, not when the time comes. (FY/ŞA/APA/TK/SD)
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