On Bad Guys and Anti-Heroes

I was walking to work the other day and had Mad Men on my mind. It’s a show both my wife and I enjoy and the previous night we had been talking about how, contrary to most people, we actually enjoy it more with Don being happily married and leading the life of a relatively good man.

I was curious so I started to mentally sort through other shows and movies to see if I could find an example of a masculine man who could get the job done and wasn’t fatally flawed. I couldn’t think of one. It seems that all the entertainment that depicts men who are good at being men also uses men who are fatally flawed. Even a show like Breaking Bad, where the main character goes from being weak and pathetic to being a man who gets things done, is really a show about how a man can sell his soul to hell one small step at a time.

I did a post a long time ago about positive portrayals of masculinity on TV and even those are all men who have major character flaws.

It creates a false dichotomy of good men who are effeminate and wimpy or bad men who are masculine and manly. There are few examples of good men who are good at being men. The more I thought

It seems that there is an intentional starving of any masculinity. That way, when it’s presented in the form of bad men, average guys are so deprived they’ll readily drink it up and believe that’s who they need to be. It’s akin to a starving man eating a poisonous loaf of bread just to satiate his hunger.

I don’t think that’s an accident.