Omega Access (OA) is a Toronto based non-profit media group ‘dedicated to the idea that outstanding, real-world men can inspire a new generation to see masculinity as a spectrum and not a binary’ (O’Brien, 2015). OA are one of Movember Canada’s newest men’s health partners, who seek to engage audiences in debunking outdated notions of masculinity. They endeavor to do achieve this by celebrating men with healthy lifestyles, alternative identities and productive passions.
OA recently launched a collection of cinematic profiles on ‘alternative men’, funded by The Movember Foundation (O’Brien, 2015). These 5-minute artistic shorts tackle topics, such as, mental health, physical health, vulnerability, family, inner-strength, community, sexuality and gender roles. The aim of these short films is to ‘visually demonstrate the broad spectrum of identities men can have and inspire young men to expand their meaning of masculinity’ (O’Brien, 2015).
These short films are powerful portraits of masculinity; real life stories, beautifully illustrating the multiplicity and fluidity of masculinity. The men featured in the films provide honest accounts of their own struggle in constructing masculine identities. These struggles center around their own construct of masculinity not aligning with hegemonic notions of what it means to be a man. Hegemonic masculinity creates problematic stereotypes, expectations and notions of what it is to be a man, whilst subordinating non-hegemonic masculinities. According to the creative director of this series, Marc O’Brien, OA are “showcasing new male role models that will help break stereotypes”.
These films provide three distinct masculine profiles – Antonio a winter surfer who’s construct of masculinity was shaped in opposition to culturally dominant notions of masculinity in his native Brazil, Sheldon a drag performer from Toronto who experienced homophobic bullying, and Marczyk a violin player who experienced exclusion due to his creativity and musicality. Antonio, Sheldon and Marczyk discuss their experience of being men who were subordinated by other masculinities, and how they used these experiences as reference points to build more modern ideas of manhood and masculinities.
These short films are well worth a watch for anyone with an interest in men / masculinities studies, they may also be useful resources for those teaching masculinities or men’s studies. Built on three pillars – health, community and reflection – OA aims ‘to be a first step in shifting old attitudes of what men should grow up to be, and challenges teens to open themselves up to new ways of living’ (O’Brien, 2015).
O’Brien, M. (2015) A New Web Series For Teens Debunks Outdated Notions Of Masculinity – Open Press Release (09.11.2015)
Photographs / Images used with permission of OA.