THE BACKLASH OF MANLY MEN
The 1980s were rife with movies heroes who weren’t really heroes. They sort of needed permission from their leading ladies to be tough and masculine. The male icons of 1980s pop-culture, such as Tom Cruise (who had to stand on a coffee can to woo either Kelly McGillis or Nicole Kidman), were a little embarrassed to wield their power, to be on top, so to speak. The 1990s brought us the ultimate sexual icon, Bill Clinton, the narcissistic man/boy, who lacked any sense of moral discipline but who “felt our pain.” The trouble with Bill is that he would feel everything else if he got close enough. He was neither “anti-hero,” nor the self-conscious, apologetic male of the 1980s. But he was sensitive. He could see into the human soul. He identified so deeply with minorities, for example, that he was called by some, the “first black president.” (Sorry, Barak, you aren’t the milestone you would like to think.) Then along care Dr. Phil, a man who would actually listen to us, understand, and be receptive to our innermost vulnerabilities.
But by the end of the 20th century Americans began to grow tired of men pretending to want to play with dolls instead of toys guns and Tonka trucks. We were weary of depictions of men as sanitized, milquetoast, shadows of their biological realities. Where were the John Waynes, the Humphrey Bogarts, and the Ronald Reagans? Where were media portrayals of men who worked with their hands, had dirt under their nails and grime in their whiskers? Where were the men who could kill and field dress a deer without recoiling at the entrails or the calls of “animal cruelty” from the animal-rights Left. They were there, but laying low, saying little, and it would take a “manly-man” revolution to draw them out from the cultural caves to which they had been banished decades ago.
1998 brought us an introspective Jim Carrey in “The Truman Show,” as an exploited nice guy, longing for self-actualization. It also gave us “The Horse Whisper,” in which Robert Redford didn’t have to dominate or “break” a horse, but whose tender utterances subdued the wild beast. Pshaw. But 1999 prompted a much overlooked sea change in the mystique of modern men with “Fight Club.” “Fight Club” was a barefaced, brutal, and somewhat bizarre backlash against the decades of emasculation that men had suffered at the hands of the “Woman’s Movement” and political correctness. Brad Pitt even abandoned his pretty boy persona for a scarred, hardened and enjoyably twisted foil. The tide had turned and it would not be assuaged. “Gladiator” in 2000, “Black Hawk Down” in 2001, “Gangs of New York” in 2002, all signaled a trend towards masculine and gutsy pop-culture themes. Most telling of all may be the Discovery Channel and its programming, a harbinger that the manly-man had been beckoned from obscurity and would not go away again, ever.
I, ReaganGirl, could not give a report on what to watch on network TV. I haven’t watched it with any kind of fidelity since the final episode of “MASH” eons ago (in TV land). But then I am a bit of a nerd, a science and nature groupie, and a tomboy. The Discovery Channel, and its brother channels, TLC, The History Channel, The Science Channel, et al, have given the manly-man firm and fertile dirt in which to dig his steel-toed boots. And the manly-man is alive and well and drawing huge and devoted audiences. “MythBusters” had its debut in 2003. Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage were grown-up men let loose in a wonderland of black powder and cool tools and all kinds of icky stuff. Complete with their receding hairlines and unchecked facial hair, they blew things up. They did cool stuff with guns. They defiled crash dummies in unimaginable ways and once they even stuffed a pig carcass in a 1987 Corvette to measure the effects of rotting flesh in a car’s interior. Fast on Jamie’s and Adam’s heels came Mike Rowe, mucking his way through “Dirty Jobs”. Mike, with his sonorous baritone voice, broad shoulders, toned body, and shock of chest hair just peeking out the top of his filthy shirts, has worked in every stinking, vile, dangerous setting you might find a manly-man, or a very robust woman. Mike Rowe is a man’s man, and a woman’s man. He was the virile voice behind “Deadliest Catch.” Crab fishermen on the high seas, performing one of the deadliest tasks on Earth, had become the diversion of millions of suburban families who somehow identify with men who risk their lives, work with little or no sleep and live in conditions that most would find intolerable. The little secret was that these gutsy guys loved what they did and they really loved the money that came with the risk.
The bulls, by then, were out of the pen, and thundering down the avenues of popular entertainment. Next came “American Loggers,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “Survivor Man,” “Man vs. Wild,” and spin-offs and knock-offs aplenty to sate the appetites of a testosterone starved populace. As 2010 winds down, the testosterone spike shows no signs of subsiding, at least not with most Americans. There is a faction in America, however, that still doesn’t seem to get it when it comes to concepts like “men and women are different“. There is a cultural subspecies that still clings to the delusion that anything outside of their narrowly androgenic definition of the sexes is offensive and politically incorrect.
This subspecies is found primarily in the power centers of the Democrat party, especially in its more Leftist elements. The National Organization for Women, more aptly called The Organization to Emasculate Men and Force Male Characteristics into the Psyche of the American Woman, still clings to the defunct notion that the sexes are the same. Some politicians sort of sense that Americans prefer manly-men but they can’t quite fit their metro-sexual silhouettes into Cabela’s hunting garb. Think John Kerry hunting deer with his ill-fitting camos and pathetic faux country twang. I mean really, can you see Barak Obama astride a Harley Davidson, or an Appaloosa? I still can’t seem to purge the image of him sitting upright on a bicycle, adorned in his polo shirt and safety helmet. That image haunts me to this day.
Having dismissed the fundamental roles of men and women; to marry and form families, procreate, and nurture and protect their offspring, the Left in America has also, to a large degree, lost track of what it means to be a masculine man or a truly feminine woman. The good news is that, in the battle between social coercion and biological instinct, biology has won over the contrived sexual prototypes that the Left has foisted upon Americans for nearly fifty years.
As a semantic exercise let’s just do a comparison of the adjectives used to describe Barak Obama and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, the meteoric Conservative star. Obama: professorial, suave, cool, intellectual, nuanced. Christie: beefy, intimidating, chivalrous, direct, brusque. Which of these guys do you want meeting the barbarians as they approach the gates, eh? And so the backlash of manly-men is reaching its apogee. Manly-men need no longer apologize for their genetic inheritance. Their strapping qualities are necessary for the survival and perpetuation of the species. To all of those New American Feminists out there, be a womanly-woman for your manly-man. Give him the appreciation he deserves. And an occasional back waxing won’t hurt either.
See the link below for the latest manly-man reality show set in the coal mines of West Virginia.
By Marjorie Haun 9/26/2010