‘It Was the Testosterone Talking . . .’

On his publicity tour to tout his upcoming film, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” auteur James Cameron made a splash in the culture war—one that was certainly bigger than the GOP’s “red wake,” er . . . wave.

Within a lengthy interview for the Hollywood Reporter, Cameron, who directed such blockbuster films as “Avatar,” “Titanic,” “Aliens,” and “Terminator,” somewhat casually admitted:

A lot of things I did earlier, I wouldn’t docareer-wise and just risks that you take as a wild, testosterone-poisoned young man,” he says, declining to specify further. “I always think of [testosterone] as a toxin that you have to slowly work out of your system.

Immediately, the Right decried Cameron’s personal reflection as one more “woke” condemnation of masculinity in particular and men generally. In the heat of the moment, the Right’s superficial analysis is excusable, as the remark is often put forward out of context; moreover, such an interpretation is implicit in the larger purpose of Cameron’s admission. Still, the larger cultural concern—for both Right and Left—is often overlooked.

The context was a discussion of Cameron’s relationship with Disney, which had bought Fox Studios and Pandora:

On Titanic and the first Avatar, Cameron clashed with Fox execs over budgets and the films’ potential to earn them back. But his relationship with Disney has, so far, been a smooth one . . . It may also be that his era of F-bomb-laden shouting matches with executives is behind him. 

This is when Cameron made his testosterone remark. Simply, he was trying to ensure his relationship with his corporate partner remained “a smooth one.” This makes eminent sense. The Hollywood Reporter notes that his new film in the “Avatar” franchise “cost more than $350 million, and it’s scheduled to kick off a wave of three more “Avatar” movies, which, if completed, will represent a more than $1 billion investment for Disney on production costs alone.”

The cause of the Right’s consternation, however, was the way Cameron emphasized his willingness to ensure the collaboration continued without discord. He used the language of the “woke” to explain how his behavior had improved over the years. Interestingly, he chose to blame his former, more contentious relations with his corporate partners and others as being the result of self-diagnosed, damn near lethal levels of testosterone. True, he admits he was a victim of himself; but testosterone made him do it. Ergo, Cameron is a victim of himself, but is less culpable than . . . what? His DNA? 

This less-than-fearless introspection is a riff on the “it was the booze talking” or the “drugs made me do it” excuse, one that is often in the forefront of Hollywood denizens when endeavoring to explain away their actions. In the current #MeToo environment, blaming testosterone may seem a bit facile, but who wants to cast that first stone? Besides, blaming testosterone saves production schedules time and money, because, as of the time of this writing, I am unaware of a clinic that will help cleanse a patient of “toxic masculinity.”

As is Hollywood’s wont, Cameron’s admission is a tad theatrical. Presumably, he does not desire the effects of low—let alone nonexistent—levels of testosterone. According to MedicalNewsToday, for men, in addition to physical symptoms such as a reduction in bone and muscle mass, testicle size, and erectile dysfunction, there are psychological symptoms, too: “Some evidence suggests that people with low testosterone levels are likely to experience a lack of focus, irritability, and depression.” None of this would bode well for the continuation of Cameron’s felicitous relations with his corporate partner.

Yet, what Cameron said matters. It constitutes yet another example of the murder of wisdom

Once, people learned from their successes and failures, processed them, and—God willing—garnered wisdom and maturity. It was one of the highest attainments of a life well-lived and examined.  No more.

Thus did Cameron cheat himself by being unable simply to say, “I’m older and wiser now.” But he couldn’t—and humility isn’t to blame.

What is to blame is the woke ideology. It is one of perpetual adolescence, which amidst its puerile, narcissistic, virtue-signaling, self-flagellation fests, ultimately rejects maturity and wisdom as things to be acquired with age and experience. Rather, its adherents believe wisdom and maturity are part and parcel of their Manichean ideology. After all, the woke only need carp about “white men” to be morally superior. For the woke, it is a simple calculation: why bother to earn what one can assume? Wisdom and maturity, in this universe, are just a fashion. They’re something to be put on.

As must ever be remembered regarding the woke Left: all they know is what they’ve been told, and they only talk to each other. Consequently, Cameron was simply expressing himself in the woke terms that hold sway in the Hollywood and corporate worlds. Doubtless, it worked as he intended to alleviate any concerns Disney may have had regarding his cooperation and testosterone levels. Oh, and hats off to the canny director for inciting the Right (mea culpa) to help promote gratis his upcoming film, even while our outrage burnished his credentials among his woke comrades. You’re welcome.

Nonetheless, with all due respect to Cameron and the woke, on the subjects of testosterone, manliness, maturity, and wisdom, there is a far more meaningful statement worthy of musing: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

Photo: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images

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