Picked this up from the Wall St Journal, via Art DeVany’s site. A pretty cool read - even Testosterone gets a mention. TC, you might consider giving this T-vixen a job!!
A Lady’s Lament
Where have all the Hollywood hunks gone?
BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Friday, March 3, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
This year I plan to conduct my own Academy Awards. And in my newly created category of “Best Red-Blooded Male,” I regret to say that I can offer up only one nominee: King Kong.
Where have all the tough guys gone?
Really, it’s enough to make you cry–that is, if all our leading men weren’t already doing it for me. From its earliest days Hollywood has had a glorious tradition of punch-throwing, gun-toting, testosterone-oozing leading men, and the world has loved every one of them. James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Sly Stallone, Mel Gibson, these were men.
Some were strong and silent, some artisans of broken noses and busted rib cages, some villains, some heroes. But there was no doubt that they had a reason to walk with bowed legs.
And today? These marvelous males have given way to a new generation of Hollywood consumptives, metrosexuals if you will, the most solid thing about whom are their perky cheekbones. Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Leo DiCaprio, Adrien Brody, Ashton (Ashton!) Kutcher. I make it a general rule to withhold my regard from any man I could bench-press on a feeble day, much less those who’ve never had need of a razor. If producers are wondering why box-office sales keep falling, they might consider that America wants something more from its men than pouty lips and foot-long eyelashes.
Early cinema specialized in the supermasculine sort, providers and achievers and gangsters who were always in control. They were cool (“Here’s looking at you, kid”), daring (“Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”) and cocky (“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”). Some were tough through their moral rectitude; think Jimmy Stewart. Others, like Cary Grant, made up for a lack of outright macho with wit, class and unbelievable suits.
The 1950s brought about yet a new type of tough guy, heroes who specialized in fighting wars, protecting the innocent and getting the job done. They weren’t “hunks” in today’s sense of that word, but they didn’t need to be. They had such presence that they didn’t even need to speak. James Coburn had precisely 11 lines in “The Magnificent Seven,” including such masterpieces as “You lost” and “Three.” But if ever a Western has produced a tougher, more deadly gun-slinger and knife-hucker than “Britt,” I’d like to know. By the 1960s and '70s, these tough guys had also discovered the value of props. Clint had his .44 Magnum. Steve had his Mustang GT 390. Sean had his martini.
Starting about 1980, tough guys changed again. This was the beefcake era, and the guys were maniacs. Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated everything in sight. As near as I can figure, Mel Gibson, via “Braveheart” and “The Patriot,” single-handedly killed off the entire English population. Sylvester Stallone sealed his career with characters named “Rocky,” “Rambo” and “Cobra,” for goodness’ sake. None of this was highbrow film, but there was something wonderful about the brute strength. Even women came to appreciate the, ahem, upside to testosterone-flicks. I know girls who will admit that they own “Top Gun” for the sole purpose of watching the volleyball scene over and over.
Sadly, reruns are about all we babe-loving women have these days. The new Hollywood man isn’t noble or daring or silent or even beefy. He emotes. He is fragile and flawed. He is a 40-year-old virgin. He is a hobbit. Take a look at the guys who are up for Oscar nominations, and let’s go immediately to the elephant in the room. Three–count 'em, three–are there for playing men who bat for the other team. Yes, yes, I loved both “Brokeback Mountain” and “Capote,” but that’s not the point.
Some of the older toughies are still knocking around, but it’s getting to be a bit of a geriatric ward. Stallone will be 60 this summer. Even Denzel Washington is past 50. Eastwood is clocking in at 76 and has (wisely) taken to playing senior citizens. My hat goes off to Bruce Willis, who continues to churn out reliable hard-man flicks, even if the tank tops are now gone.
As for the younger generation, I find myself grateful to Matt Damon, who had the courage to make two old-fashioned spy thrillers (as Jason Bourne), the first of which revitalized the concept of a car chase.
Oh, and Vin Diesel rocks.
Where is the next generation of tough guys? They’re out there. They just happen to go by the names Michelle Yeoh and Angelina Jolie. These are our new bad boys: cool, clever and deadly with a six-foot samurai sword. Still, call me a traditionalist; I like my heroes with facial hair, a deep voice and bulging biceps. Which is why, when it comes to this year’s nominees for truly manly men, I’m sticking with the ape.
Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board.