Womanly Women and Manly Men

The beauty of Internet is that a couple of ill-advised clicks can transport you into a completely different universe. This is how I stumbled on an article that discusses Hollywood’s loss of popularity by a passionate character called John Nolte.  Instead of discussing Hollywood’s ills, the article’s author engages in a very entertaining public fit of hysteria about actors who do not conform to traditional gender expectations:

We The People love Sandra, Will, and Denzel for a reason. She’s gorgeous, smart, womanly, classy and approachable, and the fellas are masculine, confident, classy, and non-neurotics who take charge. They also make films that deliver. Not all the time. But most of the time we the customers know that if they’re in it, there’s a better chance than not of bang for the buck.

What they are not and what no movie star has ever been is a child playing a grownup (the exception, of course, is comedians like Adam Sandler or Lou Costello). The Orlando Blooms will never be movie stars. Neither will the Michelle Williamses. And don’t get me started on Shia Le-what’s-his-name.

Look at your history, both recent and long past. Hollywood may have changed over the last few decades, but the people — the customers — have not. The human animal simply doesn’t evolve that quickly. Furthermore, stars shouldn’t represent who we are; we don’t want to see ourselves on the screen. Stars should represent who we want to be. Men want to be John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. Women want to Ava Gardner and Barbara Stanwyck.

Masculine men.

Womanly women.

Who knows why in the strange imaginary life of this rant’s author Sandra Bullock, whose only more or less memorable role was precisely one of a “manly woman”, has transformed into a paragon of femininity.

What I wanted to draw your attention to, instead, is the italicized confession John Nolte makes in this piece. His hysteria over the bad, horrible Hollywood stars who do not fulfill the traditional

Will Smith, Nolte's favorite manly man, actually looks great as a woman.

gender expectations is driven by a realization that he himself does not measure up. He tells us very clearly that he is not one of those masculine men, which is precisely why he wants to see them on a screen as often as possible. If he could see one in a mirror on a regular basis, he wouldn’t be bothered by not encountering him in a movie theater.

And it’s always like this, people. The greatest partisans of strict gender roles, the worshipers of womanly womanhood and manly manhood are so obsessed with gender for the simple reason that they feel they never can catch up with this elusive, non-existent category. If only somebody were kind enough to tell them that manliness and womanliness are highly subjective, that they mean entirely different things to different people, that searching for the gold standard of gender in real life is futile. Maybe then they would be able to go to the movies and simply enjoy a film.

Keep reading the article. There is a hilarious discussion of how commie-pinko-unpatriotic-anti-American Hollywood actors “insult” the profoundly conservative American audiences with their partisan movies. And then read the comments because, seriously, it’s a glimpse into a different world. There are folks who actually say that Hollywood actors “hate the troops.” Priceless.

10 thoughts on “Womanly Women and Manly Men”

  1. Breitbart.com?

    I sure hope you only read this for its comedic value?

    “When you’re making movies for adults, stop with the indie, nihilistic junk no one wants to see. We don’t want to feel bad. We want to be inspired, we want to be told to aspire, we want to see what life should be like instead of what it is.”

    Is he still talking about Hollywood here? Because this might as well be directed at politicians.

    Also, I like how he contradicts himself so many times. At first he says that Hollywood needs to go back to the classics and then states that it needs market fresh ideas. Also, bringing up the super bowl is really not that a good idea. I mean, it is a real spectacle and is seen by tons of people, but really, how much does it still have to do with actual sports? Not much, I’ll wager.

    And I think he is right on the shitty movies, the shitty movie theatres and the gigantic prices.

    Comments… meh.


    1. I have no idea what this breitbart thing is. Although I’m starting to get an idea.

      I hate Hollywood, too. The films are one-dimensional, boring, the actors are completely devoid of talent, there is nothing but stupid special effects. But the way this guy discusses Hollywood is too bizarre.


  2. Hm, do you know who Andrew Breitbart is?
    It is his site, after all. He is some kind Libertarian-Reaganist and a frequent speaker for the tea party people (Do they still exist? Haven’t heard anything from them as of late).


  3. Funny, Sandra Bullock always seems kind of masculine to me. Which is beside the point, of course.
    I like action-adventure movies, but the good ones are B movies with no known stars in them, Couple ones I just watched: Deep Blue Sea and Blitz. Entertaining and instantly forgettable and a balm after doing a lot of brainwork all day.


  4. Hope this poor fool never learns about Andrej Pejic or his head may asplode.
    The most popular actors among people my age in my social circle at the moment are Benedict Cumberbatch, David Tennant, Martin Freedman, Matt Smith, and Colin Morgan, femme, foppish Brits who make our hearts melt, and I like them far better than any gender binary beefcake, thank you.


    1. This kind of masculinity has been driving women crazy since Golden Age Spain (XVI-XVIIth centuries). Maybe earlier, too. And it angered huge, bushy-bearded macho men then, too. See Tirso de Molina’s Don Gil.


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