I’ve been watching lots of old movies and TV shows lately and noticed a huge difference between male characters then and now. I hate to put it this way, but a lot of male characters are just . . . whiney. Crippled with issues. Whimpy. Rude. I know studios and publishers want characters with lots of layers and motivations, but turning them into females isn’t the best way to do it. And no, I did not just call all female characters whiney, whimpy, rude and crippled with emotional problems. Hear me out, folks!
In the olden daysâ€”let’s say pre-1990â€”manly men abounded onscreen. The things which are now considered sexist/chauvinist were celebratedâ€”slick cars, high-tech weaponry, defending the damsel in distress, throwing a punch. I can think of several screen hunks which were admired by men and women alikeâ€”the men wanted to be him while the women wanted to be with him. But if you look for an old-school manly man on screen today, you’re in for a disappointment. The evolution from John Wayne’s Quiet Man to Ross Gellar of Friends has been gradual and I’m sure is tied to the rise of feminism and femin-nazism. Television is riddled with mostly negative male stereotypes, such as the dopey father who can do no right, the larrikin who’s never taken seriously, the shy & awkward geek, and the bad boy who just needs the love of a good woman to change him (as if!).
I know I’m not the only woman who sighs for the return of the man, on and off screen. Not for machoism but for manly qualities which are admirable in any era:
He treats women with respect
He puts others (family) first
He pushes himself to improve
He leads by example
He fights for those he loves
He may get down but doesn’t quit
He recognizes his faults
He learns from his mistakes
He laughs at himself
He accepts responsibility
He does what it takes
There are still characters (and real men) who portray these qualities. In fact, there’s seems to be a resurgence in manly characters onscreen. I don’t know whether to thank the writers or the actors for this, but it’s refreshing to see. But how about in real life? Are we teaching our sons these virtues? Are we raising them to be the men we want to see?
If we want The Man to return, we need to be raising Men and show appreciation to the fine Men already out there.
Stay tuned. I’m going to pick on the ladies next time with The Return of the Lady!