The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boys to men

I wrote about this before but it's worth revisiting. I have also written about how much society has changed since my childhood in the 50's. There's a link between the two, I believe. Let's explore this.

When I was a wee lad, boys were (according to girls) "icky". But boys were also going to grow up to be men and men were not "icky". Men were strong, men were smart, men were heroes. Not all of them, of course, but all boys had that potential. They could grow up to be strong, courageous, and smart. And they were taught this by society. You could be a skinny little kid but you could believe you would still grow up to be a strong man who could provide for, and protect, his family. Just like Dad.

Along the way (growing up), you found ideals. Young men or men that you would want to emulate. Policemen, firemen, cowboys, soldiers, sports figures at first then other, less stereotypical types, less socially important but more common but just as masculine.

Our heroes were on the silver screen or on TV; Dick Tracy, Marshal Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke), anyone portrayed by John Wayne or Errol Flynn. Strong men, firm men. Men with convictions, who were honest and incorruptible, fighting the "good fight."

Then came the era of the antihero. The flawed guy, the one who had the wrong motives or the bad past. "Jim Stark", played by James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" brought that character to the forefront. These characters had been around for a long time. Mostly as flawed men who finally do the "Right Thing" and save the day. But Dean's character was different. He was lost, he had rejected the role society held out for him, he was lost, adrift, and when he did the right thing, it turned out bad.

Over the years since, more and more characters that could have been good role models had flawed lives, made lots of mistakes, with no direction in life. The most interesting thing about them was their rebelliousness.

Eventually, society elevated the anti-social as the ideal for young boys and men to emulate. Today, we have the "thug" as hero, glorified in Rap music (which still seems an oxymoron). I don't know where this will lead but I am not optimistic. I am hoping that the grandchildren of my peers will rebel against this and return to something closer to what I grew up with.

I'm just engaging in some wishful thinking.


Sightings said...

I spent quite a bit of time when I was younger trying to be the antihero ... which is just another way to say "cool," isn't it? And I think the Rap star appeals to a very small segment of our population (i.e. some young males).

The problem is that all those old-fashioned heroes were either fiction, from books and movies, or else mythological, from an idealized telling of history. Isn't the modern hero the one who does the right thing in spite of his human flaws?

Who is a modern hero, anyway? Ronald Reagan? Barack Obama? Tom Hanks? Your dad?  (I dunno abt. your dad; mine was a good man, but he definitely had his flaws.) Anyway, interesting to thing about ...

Douglas4517 said...

I think heroes are always fictional to a great extent, even the real ones.
The stories are embellished, the personality polished a bit. We learn soon
enough in our teens and early manhood that heroes often have "feet of clay."
But it the myths which inspire us, the polished image. It's what an "ideal"
is all about. The dirty underside of the story is a distraction.

I'm a bit different than most. I rejected the concept as a goal for me. I
figured I was not hero material so I had no ideals to strive for. And my
pubescent formative years were at the height of the James Dean ideal; being
"bad", being rebellious was the image we wanted to emulate. I never saw me
being the "Knight in shining armor". My father was a grouchy drudge. It was
only after I hit my 40's that I began to understand him. My son had heroes,
though, sports stars mostly.


Steven Scott said...

He died in 2009, but some claim (with good reason) that Norman Borlaug has saved more lives than anybody, ever.

Douglas4517 said...

Quite an interesting choice. I had never heard of him and I would bet more
people know who Snoop Dogg is. But Borlaug did what he loved, it seemed, and
helped the entire world.