Take a look at our recent movie heroes. Instead of John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant, we have violent, muscle-bound clods like Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”), Samuel L. Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal, or even Arnold Schwarzenegger. There is a tendency for young men to shave their heads, cover themselves with tattoos, and even dress like big-time bad asses.
Even women are not immune to mthis effect, starting with Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 (1991). This was taken all the way to the top by Quentin Tarantino with Uma Thurman as Beatrice Kiddo in Kill Bill 1 (2003) and Kill Bill 2 (2004).
I wonder why we have to look so tough. If we ask ourselves what do we gain by looking tough, I would have to answer, “Practically nothing.” You may choose to shave your head, grow a scraggly beard, get tattooed like a Maori warrior, wear a hoodie, and practice your scowls in a mirror. Will that really protect you if you get caught by someone who really is tough and sees through to your marshmallow-like interior? Will you be able to convince your fellow inmates at San Quentin that you can successfully protect your ass if you drop your soap in the shower?
No, I am not being facetious. These are existential questions. And they relate to the way that America is faring in the world today.
Let’s say you’re a Navy Seal or a Ranger. What is your record of success when military decisions are being made by a draft-dodger with a terminal case of bone spurs? Our tough guys abandoned Syria to the real bad guys when the Trumpster decided to pull out. (Were his bone spurs bothering him?)
Well, I suppose if you’re so fortunate as to avoid someone who is willing to face you down, you can drive around in your Tesla or Hummer and make yourself the envy of pouting teenagers.