When’s the last time you were told to just “be a man”? How did that make you feel? American Male, a short film by MTV, shows how gender norms about masculinity drive men into violent, self-destructive lives.
Directed by Michael Rohrbaugh for the MTV Look Different competition, the five-minute film follows a young man as he crushes beers with typical “bro” friends, lifts weights, and eventually erupts in violence against a younger man. All the while, the young man recites all the things that women and men are “supposed” to do.
“Order beer not wine,” he says. “And beef not chicken. Never light beer though. And not tofu. Never tofu. Can’t get more gay than tofu.”
The list of restrictions goes on to include clothing, professions, and hobbies.
By the end, the young man is disillusioned with his own identity as he tries desperately to live up to his own gender.
“I am no longer a person, but a set of social cues,” he says.
Watch the full video below.