I was surprised that anyone should complain of losing a few male role models, when we have such a richness of them: models of behaviour, and warnings of what to avoid; bad models as well as good.
The first and greatest male role model is ones own father, and then there are endless books and films and stories. Sitting through Zulu will cure a hundred losses of modern limp literature.
The whole swelling sea of literature and culture has ideals and reproaches in the myriad. A couple of weeks ago when an MP bemoaned the loss to maleness of a main character in a children’s fantasy programme, I had to laugh.
There are good books aplenty, bristling with heroes and villains, with dash and excitement and lessons for life, and films bulging out of every screen. It is only modern works which have had the life scoured out of them.
Lessons in life start in earliest youth. I once spoke to a publisher of children’s books, and she explained that the only books most young children read are those which are in the school library, and schools only buy books which tie in with themes in the curriculum, and so there is no point in their considering interesting books for publication: there is no market. It was an eye-opening conversation. This may go some way to explain the insipid nature of most children’s literature. It also explains why parents who read with their children, and encourage them to read books that have actual substance, bring up stronger, wiser children.
Teenagers are another matter, but the less said about teenage ‘literature’ the better. Dig up instead the many books of an older age suitable for teenage boys: these books loved by past generations, adventure books, all have worthy heroes.
Looking for old-fashioned adventure stories, there are few authors in recent generations who stick in the mind, but there are some good ones. We have more books than ever, but those with the hero narrative are lessened, to leave a trail of pointless or pretentious books, well written but not suitable for educating the mind. Perhaps it is because the writers of old had lived out their stories: the Biggles books were written by an actual pilot of the Great War; the Richard Hannay stories by one who served in the ‘Wild South’ of diamond-rush South Africa and on the Western Front, and James Bond was the invention of someone not much different in his real life. Few modern writers can draw upon such experience. There is little life or heroism to be learnt in the reflection of dull suburbia.
Of the adventure novel, few will be found in a school library, and there are active moves to banish them. The vision of modernity which activists promote is a dull, mechanistic one.
Even so, they do not have a monopoly of imagination, and the heroes are still plentiful to find, and there are still books and films being made, both sides of the Atlantic as well as Australia and of course Bollywood, and a voracious market for them. The heroic male role model is not vanishing.
It is just ‘received opinion’ amongst those who affect to despise the heroic model which would see an end to it, who know that in their petty selves they cannot match up to the ideal and would bring everything low to their level – but even they sometimes cannot help themselves when pen is set to paper.
If I were to write a novel, would it be full of thrill and adventure, with a larger than life definitely male hero defying impossible odds, with gritty fights and grim weapons, unflinching against a relentless foe in exotic locations with women swooning over him? Of course I would. Any first novel is implicitly autobiographical, after all.
Now, with all that said, I have written only of male role models, and that is only half the population, and the half already oversupplied with all that our culture bestows. What of female role models? They are just as entitled to see themselves reflected, and to have a good pattern for life placed before them. I cannot take seriously any wail about a story being feminised, if it still works. (Just leave the established characters alone.) My complaint is that when a character is reimagined in feminine guise, it is too often done badly.
To promote good female role models we do not want not male characters put in a dress, but strong women with feminine reactions. That though is another article and I have to question my fitness to write it.
- The fearsome state of manhood
- Family, faith, flag, freedom
- And hold their manhoods cheap
- Liberals, conservatives and the Jordan Peterson thesis
- By Jordan B Peterson:
- The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Ryszard Legutko
- By Thomas Hobbes:
- By Anthony Burgess: