This whole article is godawful, and the smug, judgemental manner in which the author spins it up is probably the worst thing about it. It's not so much an attack on Schwarzenegger as it is a derogatory condemnation of traditional male culture in general. In the past I've enjoyed the LA times Hero Complex blog, but I'm going to bypass it completely in the future.
There are a couple good points about societal "progress", but they are lost in the quagmire of vicious man-hating, feminizing rubbish. Let me know if this gets your hackles up like it does mine!
Meh, overall I agree with the point of the article, could have used a better author that didn't ramble as much and could do a clearer job of defining her modern man as well as her he-man though.
I believe if looked at a bit more objectively, the basis for musclehead action heroes being a thing of the past would hold true. What I thought was an ironic character example usage was the mention of Robert Downey Jr.'s Holmes. While, at least in my opinion, he is actually closer to the incredibly capable Holmes of the books, fans of the older Sherlock movies have accused him of making Holmes into a "cheesy action hero".
I think she was talking about Robert Downey's Tony Stark -- smartass inventor superhero -- not Sherlock Holmes.
Still ... the point doesn't really make sense when he's accompanied by Thor, almost literally He-Man, and Captain America, an obvious callback to "old guard masculinity". Or mirrored by Batman's gigantic franchise, and Superman coming soon. Or The Expendables. Etc. Die Hard just had another movie. There's a Gerard Butler thing coming out this week that looks like Die Hard in the White House.
Scwarzennegger's heyday is over, but I think that has more to do with him than the death of the traditionally masculine action hero.
I thought she defined both pretty thoroughly ...
Nowadays, real men drive hybrids, extol super-foods and worry more about core muscles and resting heart rates than the size of their pecs. Smart is the new sexy, struggling the new strong, insecurity a form of seduction.
The hoardes of smart, struggling and/or insecure guys coming here asking how to land a date would seem to indicate she's wrong.
Or the hordes of guys just begging to know what shoes or hair cut or type of music is manly so that they can follow some guidebook on what will make them a man based purely on appearances wihtout any depth?
Yeah, I read that part, and I thought it was horribly written, it didn't convey shit towards what she was wanting to say. Which is why I said the article and the topic needed a much better author.
Still ... it betrays her point. Smart isn't the new sexy. Insecurity isn't seduction. Women don't like insecurity in men.
She raises Robert Downey's Tony Stark to prove an earlier point about how action heroes have changed -- which they really haven't -- but completely misses how Stark is a counterexample to her point about how 'insecure' is the next big thing in men. Stark is so 'secure' that he's obnoxious.
She's talking out of her ass ... and, I think she knows it. She likes a women-as-warriors, men-as-wallflowers paradigm -- even if she probably wouldn't want to date a wallflower. She likes the idea of angsty, weak, insecure men as "real men" ... and secure, strong women as real women.
It strikes me as wishful thinking from somebody who wants her team to have the upper-hand in a gender competition.
She could find some kindred spirits on the writing team for NBC's Once Upon a Time . They could have titled it; Ineffectual Male Characters, if they were going for honesty.
Granted, the show is a fairy tale rendering of a soap opera, but I've never seen male characters faint and swoon with such frequency. And it's a downhill slope, one can only be unconscious for so long before brain damage starts to set in.
She should have brought up Tobey Maguire's Spiderman instead of Downey's Stark, if she was going to make that point.
True. Though Peter Parker has always been a whiny teenager ... and I don't know that his insecurity qualifies as "seduction". Not sure you can prove much of a point about men with a teenager as your example, either.
Would've made the point better than Stark.
Parker has been angsty since Stan Lee introduced him in the 60's. He was written that way on purpose, so kids without a strong male role model could relate to someone struggling to make it on their own without guidance.
I really think this may be more geographic than it seems. The US isn't as homogenous as she wishes it were. She's writing from California. The coasts like to think of themselves as the cultural centers of the country ... but they're more fringe than they'd like to believe.
I don't know if they're more fringe than they believe or if they just get more attention. Having been in California for 7 years now I can say that, yes, in San Fran and midtown Sacramento and L.A., skinny jeans and hip consciousness rule the day and that population segment is incredibly self-important.
But I live in the mountains where we grow beards, build stuff, fell trees, haul shit around in our pickups. The enormous central valley of California is rodeo country, big time.
I personally think that while women are young and still essentially girls they like young, fashion-foward hairless boys, but at some point they grow up and see the value in a strong, masculine, capable character that while he may sing, grow whole foods, and know his wine, still pees standing up and can carry heavy stuff and fix the house.
The truth is somewhere in between Peter Parker and Conan the Barbarian. The mistake here was taking seriously a review of masculinity by the L.A. Times that dared to wax political in the same breath that suggested warrior women would be seduced by insecurity.