I like this video a lot. And I think the author of the tweet correctly identifies this as a sort of "dudes rock" content. I also really enjoy how it takes a lot of the emotional beats of like, a Lifetime movie, but translates them to encompass such dudely signifiers (the secret handshake, the bluegrass cover band, the check shirts and honestly just everything about both of their looks, etc). Starting out on an archetypically wholesome concept that emphasizes loyalty, tradition, down-hominess: these two dudes take a walk through their peaceful suburban neighborhoods to give each other a high five every week! But suddenly, (the high five journal is dutifully produced to sombrely reflect on what could have been their final high five...) a dramatic illness results in one of the leads being both dramatically bed-bound and amnesiac... At the darkest hour a fateful memory of The Customary High Five comes to the rescue, love saves the day, and naturally, they write a folksy ballad about it too.

This is a cool example of dudes rocking that seems oriented towards the emphasis on "positive masculinities" after "toxic masculinity" has become such a tenet of critique. But "dudes rock" has also become kind of a mantra during Zone's movie nights, especially watching films like Dark Star and The Lighthouse that are far less uplifting in that sense. "Dudes rock" still gets at something here, I think. Maybe it's a way of winkingly enjoying Highly Dude Shit without having to treat the connections these actions, aesthetics, attitudes, etc, have to masculinity as a sort of seeping toxin, an irredeemable aspect that makes these men themselves bad, rather than just people with uh... very interesting problems (in the case of the two films mentioned, anyways).

So I guess we can have "toxic masculinity" and, alternately, reformed "good masculinity" which follows it but it seems kind of incomprehensible, and probably even internalized-ly misogynistic of me to suggest the same process of categorization for femininity. I have a running joke to myself that women in tech initiatives make me internally misogynistic, because it seems like the rhetoric around these spaces so often justify themselves in terms of circular logic: femininity is good because it's the opposite of masculinity, masculinity is bad and therefore the way the tech industry currently operates is also masculine and bad, the way to fix this is to make it feminine, and therefore good. Taking issue with some of the assertions of things which are inherently feminine and therefore good (do not ever bring up Theodor Adorno's observations on Astrology...), certain elements of gender-complementarity or naturalizing sex-difference that come from these initiatives (why does it STILL have to be called XX-whatever?), or even just not being into them yourself (why are you wearing tech worker drag?) all become symptoms of internalized misogyny, aka a YOU problem.

But like, these sort of arguments are unable to fully escape the core issue that is that masculinity and femininity as categories rely on their supposed complementarity and opposition. They're a package deal. Trying to make one good and the other bad is like trying to get sour cream you didn't want out of a burrito. If masculinity is a stultifying, toxic fog then femininity is also an oppressive miasma that attempts to order human behavior; they can so often go hand-in-hand.

So I feel like when I say "this is Dudes Rock to me," I'm talking about how a specific thing epitomizes cultural masculinity in a context where I can consider and enjoy it, maybe squirreling some bits away, without feeling like I have to worry about whether this is "toxic" (it's either "wholesome" or so over-the-top bad that criticism of individual characters' behavior seems ridiculous) or that I have to go sombrely cultivate my enjoyment of something supposedly "feminine" in turn (because, of course, any man who wrote a novel during the 20th century is also a dudebro). Is it both internalized misogyny and toxic masculinity on my part to say that I experience gender mostly as someone trying to sneak two price categories of pick-n-mix candy out of the store in one bag (while believing in my anarchist heart of hearts that all should be able to partake freely and equally in the delights of fruit flavored tootsie rolls anyways)? That I don't want the binary opposition or good vs evil that is so very easy to attach any number of marketing grifts to? That I think to really make headway critiquing the social manifestations and hierarchy of gender we have to attack the idea that they're "natural" and/or "complementary" and/or "opposites" in the first place? I mean, so be it... I'll be cracking open a cold one with the boys (in spirit).