Unnecessary Toughness

I finally finished watching the series Justified. Binge watching is my preferred method of watching these things nowadays, but it still took me two months to watch the whole series. I guess I am a slow watcher. Admittedly my taste in TV shows is pedestrian. I just do not expect TV shows or movies to be art or anything close to art. They are intended to entertain the average person. Against that standard, I would rank the series highly. It was not quite as good as Breaking Bad, but it was better than Sons of Anarchy, which went on too long and ended ridiculously.

I somewhat expected the same result as I entered the final season of Justified, despite the particularly good writing of the first five seasons. These long form dramas seem to lose their footing at the end for some reason. My hunch is the creators produce a great idea that works over a single season. They get picked up and put together a few more seasons and then run out of ideas or they cannot figure out how to bring it to a close. That was not the case here as the writers wrapped it up in a sensible way that worked with the rest of the series.

I do not want to give anything away, in case I am not the last person on earth to have watched the series, but what struck me about it was how the main character was a man from start to finish. By that I mean he was what we used to expect from leading men on TV and in movies. He was not racked with guilt or morally compromised. There were plenty of forks in the road where the main character had to figure out the right course, but there was none of the brooding and self-doubt we see in the modern leading man.

That is not typical today. In fact, it is rare. I mentioned Sons of Anarchy and that is a good example of the modern leading man. The hero of that series is always racked with guilt, doubt and Lord knows what else. The rebooted Batman, the one I watched anyway, is mostly about the hero’s battle with mental illness, instead of his fight with the threats to society. That is the model for the modern leading male. They are emotional cripples struggling to keep from leaping off a roof. Even James Bond has been turned into a head case. The last one I saw had him dealing with mommy issues.

Of course, male leads today almost always look like a pillow-biter’s wet dream. Steve Sailer has pointed out that most casting directors in Hollywood are effeminate gay men. The others are middle-aged women so the casting of male leads tends toward the fantasy male that appeals to old maids and queens. The result is steroidal freaks, who look like they spend all their time at the YMCA working out, among other things. That is something else that is changed. It used to be that a male lead lacked the sort of vanity that leads someone to steroid up and use “product.”

Tastes change and styles come and go so it may be nothing more than that, but I was struck by how out of place Justified seemed compared to modern dramas. The main character is a normal looking man, middle-aged with some gray around the temples. He is not a cartoonish looking brute or a mentally unstable pretty boy. His physical confrontations happen within the laws of physiology, as well as the laws of physics. The striking thing is that he is a genuine tough guy in the old time sense. When it comes time to face off with the bad guy, he faces off with the bad guy.

The classic western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, addresses the issue of traditional male in the modern world. John Wayne is the classic tough guy who operates on the edge of society, protecting society, but never quite part of it. Jimmy Stewart is what passed for the beta male hipster back in the day. Wayne settles things the old fashioned way. Stewart settles things in court arguing the law and morality. The movie never resolves the tension between the two male roles in society, suggesting there is no resolution, just a balance and a tension.

The near total lack of traditional male leads today probably reflects the fact post-scarcity America has lost the will or ability to do the hard work of civilization. Maybe it is simply no longer necessary. The people making TV and movies seem to think that is the case. Hollywood is, after all, the agit-prop of the ruling class. The people in charge want docile males, who are willing to be bossed around by women in Lycra jumpsuits. For the same reason the schools dope up the boys, Hollywood promotes the ideal male as being the Stepin Fetchit for the womyn’s studies department.

42 thoughts on “Unnecessary Toughness

  1. For what it’s worth one of my kids took a liking to old westerns and war movies. American Grit so to speak. As I did, he liked John Wayne, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood… Rawhide, The Rifleman, The Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes, Bonanza…

    I’ll never forget out all the kids in his elementary classes about ten year ago, he was the only one that knew who John Wayne was. We feminize our boys today. Make them soft and in touch with their feelings. They don’t know struggle.

  2. Raylen Givens was not a “normal looking man”. He was seriously hot with a healthy dose of Southern bad-ass charm. But I guess I get your drift in that he was not effeminate in any way. I really enjoyed Justified, and my favorite character was Boyd Crowder. Although he was Raylen’s arch-nemesis, and one of the “bad guys”, he was another real man, handsome, charming, and a complex character whose next move was not always predictable.

  3. “Justified” was a great show. Even the side characters and bit players had depth and complexity.

  4. way, way off topic here——-but did i see Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings doing the DNC roll call?

    Wasn’t she exposed as completely incompetent and fathoms over her head during Freddie Gray…..being hustled off stage by her handlers and all?

    I understand the idiots in Baltimore voting for her……but do TPTB at the DNC think it wise to trot this post turtle out for national viewing? Are they insane?

    • Do you mean the district attorney? She is the one that blew the Grey trial up.
      The one doing roll call is the mayor, I believe.

      • The DA is another piece of work. But it was Rawlings who told the po-po to sit on their hands and mangled every press conference she gave.

  5. I tried watching this on the recommendation of a non-redpilled friend and didn’t get past the first episode. Oh yeah, White Supremacist terrorists. Click.

    • You cheated yourself. The white supremacist stuff was a diversion that a red-pilled guy would appreciate.

  6. Once they have us all convinced we’re mentally ill, it’ll be easier to medicate us all.

    You know I once almost got kicked off a group blog for daring to suggest that maybe the problem with Arabs was selfish genes promoting tribalism and inbreeding. I also speculated that possibly fighting them wasn’t going to fix the problem and that maybe the only solution short of genocide was to medicate them all. Thanks for providing a place where we can discuss mokita.

  7. As pointed out already, Justified came originally from Elmore Leonard, and he wrote damn good stories with believable people in tough situations. I loved Justified but couldn’t get anyone else in the family to see it was way better than most of the competition, but even so I found it waning from about series four. Never saw it to its series conclusion though.

    I wasn’t impressed with Sons of Anarchy from what I saw and while Breaking Bad was intelligent, clever and even plausible, the last few episodes had the same issues of ‘running out of ideas and we gotta tie this thing up’ came into view.

    If you want to see a series disintegrate then the West Wing is an admirable example. At first it was startlingly good but later on the absence of writer Sorkin and producer Schlamme became all too evident. In the end I doubt anyone cared what happened to any of the main characters.

    But that’s TV. Most series appear to have a shorter life than they imagine (or sign up for) and I can point to all sorts of series that floundered or ‘lost the plot’ after few seasons. So it goes…

    • That’s the thing. TV and movies are not art so you have to expect problems. Breaking Bad’s last season could have been a few episodes, but it felt like they stretched it out to fill the season. Sons of Anarchy was pretty good for the first season, but you needed to stick it out through the first half dozen episodes. I was about to call it quits midway through and then I got hooked. But then it got weird at some point and then it got silly.

      I read somewhere that the cable operators are getting smart and planning the end of these things from the start so as to avoid the drift. Part of the initial pitch has to include how it ends.

      • They mitigate this by splitting up last seasons, like they did with Breaking Bad and Mad Men, turning the last 16 episode season into smaller, 2×8 episode seasons, the final two upcoming Game of Thrones seasons will also only be 7 and 6 episodes respectively, apparently George R.R. Martin can’t think of rape scenes fast enough anymore…

    • @ UKer – I highly recommend Vikings if you haven’t seen it. Excellent show loosely based on historical fact. Well worth a watch.

      • Thanks Karl. Vikings is very good, but I slightly prefer the lunatic Vikes in Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom. But then, I am English and tend to look on them danish invaders as less than perfect. But I have to say, if I ever needed a shield maiden at my side then Katherine Winnick gets my vote!

        • I thought the BBC adaptation was very good – but they couldn’t resist throwing some women into the combat. Made for some utterly ridiculous scenes. The worst was the 90-lb nun who, without any armor could kill spear-Danes at will.

          • Drake: I would agree except that there were warrior women in olden times — okay, maybe not nuns as such — but Boudicca was one of them. We also have to accept that TV, like books and movies and even stage plays, have to bow to the current political climate. Right now we have to say women are the equal of men in all things, so therefore all battles can be won with women. It isn’t quite true, but just like TV ads etc have to show happy mixed race families, it is just what is expected today.

            Mind you, if Last Kingdom and Vikings have one thing going for them, it is there aren’t any migrants pretending to be Brits or Danes. I am sure both the Fjords and Wessex were full of black people, but so far haven’t seen any. Not yet…

  8. Agree regarding tying up the season. Just perfect.
    It’s not always 1 season-worth of ideas. In the case of Supernatural (highly recommended, btw), they originally planned a 5 season arc, which would have had the perfect ending…then continued and had to “resurrect” one of the main characters.

  9. Zee, i would bookmark this link for all your future binge watching needs, just in case something gets removed from netflix and the likes in the future…

    And go with the 2012 Vegas TV series next, as it’s only one season where they tie things up nicely.

      • Don’t you get tired of that. Always some Aussie or Brit instead of an American. Nothing wrong with a little variety, but all the time? Come on! Even in American War movies. I think American Sniper’s Bradley Cooper is one of the few to get a lead role instead of people like Gerard Butler being Secret Service protecting the US President. Stuff like that. Good actor … good movie but still.

        • @ LetsPlay – I always thought it was odd that non-American actors played major roles in “The Patriot” (Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger) and “Band of Brothers” (Damian Lewis, Shane Taylor) given their significance in American history. But still, great shows. I have to make a point to visit Major Winter’s memorial in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont next time I visit Normandy.

          • I have to believe it is part and parcel of the Hollywood bow to socialism in Europe. They cannot promote anything manly, virtuous, or American by using Americans because the historical topic is more than enough. It’s kind of a backhanded slap at America’s “exceptionalism.” I’m sure if people like Spielberg were interested they could make it happen. But of course, nothing.

  10. I’ve never lived “country” but when I first encountered the show Justified, I found it fresh, interesting, and bold in a politically correct time when we are told to leave things to the justice system and we can’t defend ourselves. It really doesn’t matter that the people are country because no matter the setting you find the same attitudes everywhere. Just look at what is going on with the DNC shake up. They, the leadership, won’t take responsibility. Now it is about failed computer security and Putin messing around in US elections (a little payback for what Hillary did to him?) not about a rigged system of ego maniacs.

    Usually pretty clear lines between right and wrong; a man willing to do the right thing and help those in need and take down the bad guys; even resist dumb-ass higher ups and TPTB. He is smart and picks his battles and isn’t afraid to get dirty. He is justified in his actions, does not hesitate, and delivers swiftly, and deadly when necessary. Yes, Rayland Givens walks tall, speaks softly and carries a big stick and isn’t afraid to use it.

    The 21 foot rule is just another example of what bureaucrats and administrators will latch on to in determining ROE for the people on the front lines when they, in fact, do not have their ass on the line. They can afford to be politically correct. They do no understand the realities on the ground either for police or the military, or the regular citizen (oh! we can’t have violence! violence is bad!). And they won’t for the most part even make the effort to try to understand.

  11. Elmore was a Western writer writing updated Westerns. His good guys often had much in common with his bad guys which also made all his characters more interesting.

    • Never having read the book, I’m left to guess how Elmore wrote the main characters. My guess is he intended for them to be a mirror of one another, a sort of ying-yang deal. Two men loyal to what they are as men, but the exact opposite of one another.

  12. I think I warned you that “Justified” was damn good teevee.

    Just binge watched it again myself because nothing else current holds a candle to it.

    My favorite character was the perennial f^%k-up bad guy Dewey Crowe, whose character was played by Australian actor Damn Harriman.

    The bit where they tricked him into thinking other bad guys stole his kidneys had me in stitches.

    The series also had some of the hottest women that have ever lived.

  13. They had pretty good “gun stuff” on Justified, too. None of these vastly ignorant “Glock clocking” noises that get added in post-production whenever the hero or a bad guy points a striker fired gun. They even referred to Dennis Tueller’s classic article in SWAT Magazine that got turned into the “21-foot rule,” which (spoilers) the gator-wrestling Crowe from Florida found out wasn’t a limitation for Raylan. Decently-written gunfights, too.

    Being from the back woods, I related to this show pretty well. When I was growing up, there were people like the supporting cast’s characters. I have known men like Raylan Givens. I have known, in my backwoods childhood, Mags Bennett and Dickie Bennett (who reminds me of a cousin), Mr. Limehouse, The Brothers Crowe, Yolo, and the rest of them. At least in archetype.

    • I grew up in the country too. I saw a lot of familiar faces in the series. The Mags Bennett character reminded me of this woman down the road from where I lived growing up. I think the Crowe family lives in every downscale southern town.

      I laughed my ass off at the 21-foot rule part. I’ve sat in carry classes where the instructor will tell people they have a right to use lethal force when an armed person is within 21-feet. In Virginia, the range exam puts the target 21-feet out. Funny how these ideas take on a life of their own.

    • Quite true. Hollywood seems to think striker-fired pistols have invisible hammers that exist for the sole purpose of allowing the operator to convey sincerity. Good guy points the gun at bad guys temple, bad guy doesn’t give a shit. Good guy “cocks” his Glock, bad guy shits his pants and spills the beans on his boss’s whereabouts. Amazing doohickey, that invisible hammer.

      Another thing that gets me (although it’s gotten better) is how badly TV guns rattle when waived around. Apparently handling a firearm is supposed to sound like you’re digging around in your silverware drawer. Ummmm, dude, I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with your gun. Seriously, put that thing down before you blow your hand off.

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