American men: caricatures of themselves

Jesus-machoMany American men have macho insecurity complexes. Buzz cuts, shaved heads, t-shirts with sleeves ripped off, struts, postures, afraid to express themselves in ways that may not be considered macho. Then there are the accessories such as horsepower cars, motorcycles, boots, leather, moustaches, head scarves, etc.

European men are more confident and natural, they let their hair grow longer, don’t strut when walking, and dress casually. American men try so hard to be machos that they represent bizarre caricatures of themselves. (Source)


America Has a Macho Problem
Andrew Cotto, 01/18/2013

America has a macho problem. Too much of our culture is informed by the idea of manhood being defined by toughness. We love the idea of the bad ass as the good guy, doling out physical justice to those who have it coming. The archetypal American “hero” is often promoted through our narratives, particularly our film heroes.

Just look at the trailer for the new Tom Cruise film, where the eponymous character of, from the Lee Child novels, is brought to life. The trailer features a scene where Cruise as Trapper is in the middle of the street surrounded by a posse of apparent bad guys with bad intentions. Cool and collected, Trapper mocks and dismantles his foes with devastating force and ease.
Talk about fiction. I imagine this scene is in the very beginning of the film, not part of the primary plot but merely a vehicle for characterization, though it dominates the trailer for a reason: Many men eat this shit up. Too many of them think Clint Eastwood is actually Dirty Harry (based on his attempt to bully a chair that supposedly symbolized our sitting president, Eastwood might actually think he’s Dirty Harry, too).


Tom Cruise – Jack Reacher

It’s easy to sell this macho schlock to men because most of us are susceptible when it comes to the idea of toughness. Most of us are taught from an early age that tough is good. Tough is character. Tough is necessary. Being tough makes you a man.
But the truth is that most of us in America never get within an arm’s length of real tough. Most of us are just too privileged to be exposed to the conditions which require mettle to survive. Good for us. And some of us appreciate this, but for many young men indoctrinated in the gospel of tough, not being tough leaves them feeling insecure as grown men.

Men need to recognize the macho culture
for what it really is: insecurity

By Dan Treadway, Christian Momnitor June 9, 2010

Sexism, homophobia, and lack of discipline are not necessarily the norm and it’s most definitely not accurate or fair to generalize all college-aged men as the character Bluto, a drunken unprincipled character in his seventh year of college, played masterfully by John Belushi in the movie “Animal House”, but it is important to point out that this behavior does represent a definitive segment of the population – one that needs help.
Yet it’s not the job of society alone to question how we can expect better of these young men; rather, it is the job of young men to make a concerted effort to expect better of themselves and one another.
The trademarks of this group of young men include a patent disrespect for women and an unflinching embrace of a culture of machismo.


Animal House

In one of my sociology lectures, which held in excess of 100 students, the professor asked everyone in the class who was a feminist to raise their hand.
I observed as several females raised their hand in support. One lone male did the same, garnering grins and laughs from his fellow male counterparts. Apparently, showing open support for equality in gender is not cool, and certainly not macho.

This macho culture causes a sort of cognitive dissonance among college-aged males. On one hand, they are in the midst of a very unsure time of their lives and they’re discovering a lot about themselves while on their own for the first time, but concurrently, the prevailing macho culture dictates that they must never show weakness or emotion. This combination of feelings results in a rabid overcompensation when it comes to masculinity.

It is the responsibility of college-aged males to let one another know that the perceived manly image they believe they should strive to attain is bogus. …


Brokeback mountain


Brokeback Mountain
By Roger Ebert, December 16, 2005

Ennis tells Jack about something he saw as a boy. “There were two old guys shacked up together. They were the joke of the town, even though they were pretty tough old birds.” One day they were found beaten to death. Ennis says: “My dad, he made sure me and my brother saw it. For all I know, he did it.”

brokeback_mountain_This childhood memory is always there, the ghost in the room, in Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain.” When he was taught by his father to hate homosexuals, Ennis was taught to hate his own feelings.
Years after he first makes love with Jack on a Wyoming mountainside, after his marriage has failed, after his world has compressed to a mobile home, the laundromat, the TV, he still feels the same pain: “Why don’t you let me be? It’s because of you, Jack, that I’m like this — nothing, and nobody.”
But it’s not because of Jack. It’s because Ennis and Jack love each other and can find no way to deal with that…

The movie is based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx. The screenplay is by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. This summer I read McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove trilogy, and as I saw the movie I was reminded of Gus and Woodrow, the two cowboys who spend a lifetime together.
They aren’t gay; one of them is a womanizer and the other spends his whole life regretting the loss of the one woman he loved. They’re straight, but just as crippled by a society that tells them how a man must behave and what he must feel.

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