Sunday, September 27, 2009

Conceptualizing the Real Man

The Inductivist suggests two contrasting images of a Real Man, broadly defined as representing the apotheosis of alphahood. He favors Gary Cooper's character Will Kane in High Noon and assigns Family Guy's Quagmire to Roissy's followers.

The use of those two characters as competing Real Man iconic images is not something a PUA is going to agree to. Kane is a bona fide BAMF, willing to let his woman leave him for the opportunity to face down four men out to kill him, alone. He does offer himself to suffer in her place--a beta indicator--but he's far from what Roissy would call a herb.

Quagmire is a sex fiend (and sex offender) who is generally unsuccessful and shamelessly desperate in his attempts to indiscriminately pick up anything with the right kind of orifice, despite his affluence and occupational prestige as an airline pilot. He's closer to George Sodini than James Bond.

A fairer contrast can be made by considering a couple of characters from Mike Judge's King of the Hill series. Hank Hill is the quintessential football coach-type Real Man. He follows his instincts instead of going along to get along, tries to learn from his mistakes with humility and come to terms with the consequences of his personal failings, loves his lawn and his dog, and naturally fits into the traditional patriarchal role of the monogamous married man. While he doesn't seek out confrontation, he's not hesitant to put on the knucks when honor, duty, or rectitude requires it ("I'm gonna kick your ass!"). He encourages Bobby to become the same kind of Real Man he is, but accepts his son for who he is.

Boomhauer is the PUA's Real Man**. Despite apparently being out of work*, he perpetually jumps from one short-term relationship to another with relatively desirable women. He clearly has a healthy libido, but he's not a pervert like Quagmire. He's the show's most cultured character, a skilled mechanic, surfer, and artist. While he has no desire to burden himself with other people's problems, he is personally responsible. He refuses to encourage Dale's asinine antics or Bill's moping sissiness, treating both men with disdainful aloofness.

* In the series finale he is revealed to be a Texas Ranger, but given the inordinate amount of downtime he was portrayed as having throughout the life of the show, it's not very satisfying.

** An argument can be made that Hank's father, Cotton, is an even better pick than Boomhauer. With a penchant for stretching the truth to its limits so as to portray himself in the best light possible, he is uncompromisingly self-assured. He had at least one extramarital affair resulting in the birth of Hank's half-brother. Despite being a crippled, beady-eyed misogynist, when age starts to take its toll on his first wife's appearance, Cotton leaves her for a hottie who is the same age as his son, Hank, is. He's an animated John McCain.


prosa123 said...

King of the Hill was one of the very few family-centered sitcoms in which the wife and mother character was portrayed as anything less that a paragon of wisdom and patience. Peggy Hill had the sort of flaws that almost everyone in real life has, but which are absent from sitcom wives.


The Undiscovered Jew said...


But where do Beavis and Butthead figure into this Alpha-Beta spectrum?

Anonymous said...

Cornholio - Alpha
Butthead - Beta

quimbus said...

Uh, don't you think Boomhauer falls just a bit short on the key "smooth talking" attribute of the PUA style alpha?

silly girl said...

Beavis and Butthead are too low to be beta. No mate value either real or perceived.

mgl said...

High Noon is one of my top ten movies, not least for its astonishingly current (and unintentional) indictment of modern liberalism. Gary Cooper's Will Kane has more or less single-handedly made his town safe for families and honest commerce, but as soon as word gets out that the bad guys are coming back to exact revenge on Kane, the entire town deserts him and opts for appeasement. (Some citizens even blame Kane for antagonizing the outlaws.) In the end, he makes his stand alone while the entire town cowers behind locked doors.

So, yeah, Will Kane is the right kind of alpha. There are two ironic footnotes to High Noon:

1. Apparently, the screenwriter meant it as an allegory for McCarthyism, but it fails completely on these terms.

2. John Wayne (another classic alpha) HATED High Noon on alpha-male principles, because he thought it unmanly for Kane to seek help from the townspeople, and because Kane is ultimately rescued by his wife. He made the almost unwatchable Rio Bravo as a response to High Noon.

Sorry for the digression. I suspect the Roissyites would find Hank Hill to be beta-squared, due to his self-sacrifice and forebearance.

Audacious Epigone said...


Right. Hank is probably more upstanding when all things are considered than Peggy is, virtually unheard of in contemporary sitcoms.


Relatedly, does the game narrative have a place for guys who have lots of alpha characteristics but who are too unattractive and/or unprosperous to hook up with women? I suppose they're probably just not wielding game correctly...


Does the game narrative dictate that those with a stuttering problem or other speech impediment cannot be fully-fledged alphas?

Anyway, Hank comes up short as a patriarchal traditionalist in his deification of his boss, who is hardly upstanding or especially admirable.

The two (or three) are not perfect fictionalized epitomes, but pretty good 'regular guy' representations.


Thanks for that.

An aside: Homer's pretty alpha in the Simpsons episode in which High Noon is referenced.

Steve Johnson said...

"Relatedly, does the game narrative have a place for guys who have lots of alpha characteristics but who are too unattractive and/or unprosperous to hook up with women?"

Unfortunately, no man is too unprosperous to hook up with women. If a guy has lots of alpha traits he is attractive; looks don't really matter except for two things: amazingly good looking men have an easy time with women and looks are often a sign of how alpha a man is (but the map is not the territory).

al fin said...

Males of all stripes need more economic opportunities. If ordinary (beta?) males bring home the bacon, they will find women. If they've been raised to value family, they will have children, and the TFR will likely remain stable, close to 2.

Economic recession and the current war against the private sector is murder on a male's ability to provide for a wife and family. Public sector employees are doing okay, at least.

The "skankization" of females in the US is a society-wide phenomenon having a great deal to do with popular role models. Find a way to provide more solid role models for both boys and girls, and society begins to change to a less skanked-up cesspool.

FeministX said...

Cotton is like a PUA style alpha.

I made my own list of cartoon alpha types too-

Audacious Epigone said...


I might be able to add something if I recognized those characters, but the only one I'm vaguely familiar with is Xanatos, but I don't remember his character in any detail.

You're masculine enough to have watched TMNT--which of the four filled your eyes with the most stars? The game narrative puts little emphasis on looks, so the anthropomorphic thing shouldn't be a hang up. It has to be Raph.

Outland said...

My personal hero is Frits Bolkestein. He's no cartoon or movie character, he's real.

- He was raised in a good aristocratic family, taught at the best schools and lived up to his family name.
- He made a success of himself and led a huge department of Shell.
- He left that company to do something for his country; became a member of parliament, defense minister, leader of his party and finally as EU commissioner. (He also was the only one protesting Turkey's candidacy.)
- He had notable debates with lefty and/ or Islamic crazies like Chomsky or Tariq Ramadan -- and won.
- He wrote (still does) books on letist craziness, classical liberal economics, PC, immigration, etc., way, way back in the 80s (while the Right/ Conservatives was as PC as the left.)
- He had three children and raised them well. After his devorce, he remarried an actress.
- Now, while all his peers are old and retiring he's still teaching at university and working on his magnus opus
- When free, he lives the good life in rural France with all the right wines and cheeses.
- He never smiled in his life, at least sofar, while he always had the last laugh. He also was never wrong on anything, while all his competitors were.

Alpha male.

The Undiscovered Jew said...


Relatedly, does the game narrative have a place for guys who have lots of alpha characteristics but who are too unattractive and/or unprosperous to hook up with women? I suppose they're probably just not wielding game correctly...

Probably not, though I don't think the Alpha-Beta definitions of Roissy were meant to be all encompassing.

varun said...