“impotent, limp, gutless”
Somewhere decades back as I recall, Pete Hamill, New York’s great journalist, wrote a piece titled I think, “The End of Machismo.” “Machismo was a word which had come into fashion then meaning exaggerated masculinity but it came to be used to refer to any man who was a man. The thing is it didn’t end, machismo/manhood. Machismo/manhood went into exile in Tony Soprano’s New Jersey. And what masterful troupe acting came from that. But the only ones allowed the free play of honor, love, family, sin and responsibility which might be called the “nobility paradigm” in that period were New Jersey gangsters.
Now it comes, out of the closet or the Bada Bing! strip club and back into the light. Anyone with the psychologist’s bent – like that behavioral psychologist executive at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce who looks like Joyce Brothers – might do a “psychological types” study on this new phase because it brings a new paradigm and a vast change is at hand.
But it will bring to America a distinct change of temperament. And it is not really about manlies. It is about clarity, strength and action in collective responsibility. And as the point is made in Hiroshi Inagaki’s “Samurai Trilogy,” the rules are the same for the monk as they are for the warrior and they should carry you all the way to the dust.
I would say it comes – or comes back – from war. Sgt. James turned the tide, and he brought the creative culture with him when he won the award last year as Best Actor. Weasel Man is not good at war. Sgt. James is very good and he is war’s one basic necessity. Hollywood today is finished with Weasel Man. “Impotent, limp and gutless,” Sarah Palin called him. He does not sign his work, but hides behind annonimity. Nor will he hold fast, like Anwar Sadat, to take the bullet in the chest when the time comes.
Look what is coming up this month: “The Town,” with an elementary group of manly individuals: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner (Sgt. James), Jon Hamm (Don Draper), Pete Postlethwaite, who you would definitely want in your foxhole or on a drive through South Boston, and other toughs. And pretty soon on TV, in comes Tom Selleck as top cop; Father Cop; bringing the pattern to full form. Selleck can’t be topped for manlies, as in “Magnum, P.I.” which ran from 1980 to 1988. And we are going there again, I guarantee it.
This is not bad for Obama. He comes to it, but it is not good for the Clintons. It is completely good for women who can drive snow machines, have babies, trim a deer and cook it and make their own money with or without a man like Grizzly Mamas. And it is better for some other people who haven’t got here yet. And of course for Joe Miller of Alaska, who is just starting.
Here in Boston the transition is astonishing. It is no longer Matt Damon’s Boston, it is Ben Affleck’s. The difference can be seen in the unbearable lightness of Matt Damon’s bank robbing crew and Affleck’s group of gnarly boys. And Affleck’s movie is about Boston, the toughest city on earth, which has found its center again, thanks the miraculous acts of Manny & Co. (“Everything is my fault,” says Ramirez, Christlike, “but you have to be a real man to realize when you are wrong.”) It comes to us as well in Scott Brown’s pick up truck and just in the nick of time.