During a brief lull in my pollutant-driven endocrine-estrogenic fog
, it occurred to me that the concept of masculinity has become somewhat adulterated in modern times, a process that started in the 60s
and perhaps reached warp drive
in the late 70s, then prompted a reaction so severe that the resulting juvenilia
virtually finished the job.
The emergence of champions of self-promotion in chess
, and tennis
only made matters worse.
So I've decided to clear things up. There are four kinds of male humans: chimps, sheep, nerds, and men. The chimps
, sociopaths who respect only wealth and physical force, will always be with us. The sheep
are not hard to spot either, and mostly work for chimps. Nerds
have in modern times upgraded their position, and now have the wherewithal
to retaliate. For all the bitching and moaning, I'd guess they're now fighting the chimps to a draw.
Which leaves the real men. A short list. Here are identifying features:
- Friendly enough, but not chatty. This is a recognition of the poverty of discursive intellectual structures
in a world ruled by force and compulsion.
- Doesn't care what you think. This is a recognition that despite the extraordinary energy humans have invested in prescriptive behavioral systems, most people do whatever they want then rationalize it afterward. Real men are disinclined to listen.
- He is reluctant to prove it, but a real man is a better fighter
than a chimp. Or two chimps. Maybe even three
(multimedia, but worth it).
- Real men are all about honor. It is not about "dissing." It is not about fighting someone over a splash of Coke on your tux. It is about going after a seriously bad guy and taking him down
- Real men never joke, though they sometimes smirk or laugh ruefully at the folly of their fellow man.
Here is a brief list of real men (all fictional, of course):
- Alan Ladd in Shane
. Bonus points for an irony- and cynicism-free performance.
- Bogart in The Maltese Falcon
. An anti-hero, but lives by the code.
- Mickey Rourke (yup) in Rumble Fish
. Demerits for the smirk.
- Bronson and Robards in Once Upon a Time in the West
- John Wayne in pretty much everything. Stalin, the Uber-Chimp, pathetically admired Wayne, but also wanted him dead
Here are some examples
who do not meet the criteria
On a happier note, it is nice to be able to say that the old-school ethic has crept back in athletics. Lance Armstrong dominates his sport
without being a jerk.
My favorite example, though, was a Seattle-Chicago basketball game in the late 90s. Gary Payton trash-talked Michael Jordan before the game. Jordan then dropped about 50 points on him. Afterward the interviews went something like this:
Q: Michael, did Payton's comments before the game motivate you to step it up?
A: No, I just try to contribute any way I can for the good of the team.
Q: But surely it gave you some satisfaction to put him in his place?
A: Gary Payton's a fine ballplayer. I just tried to go out there and execute, and thankfully my teammates and I were all on the same page.
Q: Was there some payback there Michael?
A: No, I'm just trying to help our team achieve its goal of winning a championship, one game at a time.
That's a man.
[Quibbles - I must point out, real men don't turn in their friends to the House Un-American Activites Committee, Chimpolitik
if ever there was any, which disqualifies John Wayne. Real Men joke frequently, thought short of jackassitude (ref Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, or say Shackleton in reality. -FSL]