Unreal Men, Unreal Times

There is no question that the concept of manhood is a shell of what it once was.  In popular culture, men are depicted as being slightly dim-witted, obsessed with video games, sports, and fast food.  “Guys,” we are told, rush to Hardees because they can’t fix their own breakfast.  Although one can see a great deal of macho posturing on the set of an NFL pre-game show or pickup commercial, outside of R. Cort Kirkwood’s new book, real men are hard to find these days.

Kirkwood places considerable blame on Hollywood for the collapse of manhood but notes that “men were in charge when the foes of masculinity and manhood marched by in the night and sacked our institutions . . . ”  He paraphrases Garet Garrett, the uncompromising critic of the New Deal: “Some still believe they hold the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road.  But they are gazing in the wrong direction.  The revolution is behind them.”

Although the reasons are no doubt very complex, I would place considerable blame on the postwar prosperity that removed much of the struggle from life.  Material comforts are widely available, and few men do rough physical labor these days.  Prosperity is good, but the downside is that, as life becomes easier, it has a tendency to become less satisfying.  This is evident in the desire for physical challenge among the stockbrokers...

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