Watching and listening to the popular musical Newsies! brings about a thought. This has to do with white masculinity with a little bit of spice. If you have watched this musical directed by Jeff Calhoun and Brett Sullivan, you know exactly what I am talking about. Newsies! shows a difference in masculinity between two different characters, Jack Kelly and Crutchie Morris. The smallest detail throughout this musical shows us how dependent it is on masculinity.
Jack Kelly, the so-called leader of the pack, displays masculinity from all angles. The way he walks with his chest up right, full of confidence, and even stomping when he dances like the man he is shows masculinity. Each and everyday, Jack gets all of his Newsies together and explains how they are going to attack each day. He is a role model and is essential for selling papers each day. His masculinity, as well as his gender, is what carries the Newsies success from day to day. How would this group be different if it was led by a female or femininity? This is an interesting question because the Newsies would operate differently. There may be less violence and fighting, and more brainstorming and action for improvement.
Another way that Jack Kelly shows masculinity, in more of a toxic way, is the way he handles his crush on Katherine Pullitzer. Almost every time he sees her, Jack looks her up and down, which leads Katherine to have butterflies in her stomach. In modern times, when men catcall or look women up and down, it is seen as utterly disrespectful instead of a turn on. Aside from Jack’s looks and looking women up and down, he finds a way to display his masculinity through his outfits. Although he is poor, Jack finds a way to wear a nice vest and dressy shirt to look put together. This could be to put on a show for the ladies or to sell more newspapers. The world may never know!
Jack’s leadership style is a part of his personality by the way he talks, moves, and lyrics he says during songs in the musical. The musical authors of this number were displaying Jack’s masculinity through the songs, lyrics, and dialogue in NEWSIES! For example, Jack goes chest to chest with one of the fellow Newsies who was going to quit the group. He is showing that he is not backing down and loyalty is necessary. Following this, as the Newsies reunite because of Jack, they all start chanting, with Jack leading, “STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!” in the song “Seize the Day.” Another line from this song is, “You’re still our brothers and we will fight for you.” “Seize the Day” shows the ruiniting and determination that the Newsies gained because of Jack. As Jack is saying, “STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!” this is setting up for the Newsies big break: to create their own Union. As complications occurred, a fight broke out! Jack is not scared to sacrifice his body and fight for the ones he loves. By the way he fights and shows these masculine qualities, he is looked at as a father figure or older brother.
On the other hand, there is another guy who is looked upon as a boy, named Crutchie Morris. The form of masculinity that Crutchie displays is different than Jack. Lacking the dominance and physical strength that Jack has, Crutchie shows masculinity in his determination and how positive he is. He values the Newsies as his brothers and looks at them as his ride or dies.
A fun fact about Crutchie and where he gets his name from is because he has to carry a crutch for his bad leg. Instead of using that as a negative or disadvantage, he uses it in a creative way. For example, when the Newsies first decided on going on STRIKE, Crutchie used his crutch and made it into a sign that said “STRIKE” on it. I thought this was a smart move on the producers part of the show because it is inspirational. Crutchie not giving up and continually fighting is rather inspirational.
The musical authors were smart when it came to Crutchie singing the song “Letter From the Refuge.” One of the lines in the song was, “Hey but Pulitzer, he’s goin’ down! And then Jack, I was thinking we might just go, like you was sayin’.” This shows how much Crutchie believes in the Newsies to keep going and take down Pulitzer. I also personally love how this song was written in a “Dear Jack,” form because it is seen as personal. Crutchie looks at Jack as his best friend, role model, and older brother.
The most interesting part of masculinity and gender that came up during NEWSIES! Was between Jack and Crutchie. They are the best of friends and Jack continually supports Crutchie, although he is not the same as everyone else. I felt a personal connection to Jack and Crutchie’s relationship, but through femininity. I have an aunt who is handicapped, like Crutchie. Although she cannot walk and talk, she continually keeps fighting like the strong woman that she is. I feel like Jack in this situation because she looks up to me and I will always be determined to help her and other women in my life. I try to show my femininity through the way I live my life. I try to influence and inspire others who are younger than me to make an influence, just like Jack does. Although Crutchie and Jack are different regarding the way they display masculinity, they are both essential to NEWSIES! Without the leadership, motivation, and determination, the Newsies group would not be together anymore. I wholeheartedly believe that Jack leads by his voice and leadership, while Crutchie leads by example and inspires others.