Feed on
Posts
Comments

Who Art Thou?

This post is also available in: German

The time has come for me to reveal myself.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

my good side

I am Ripper… Tearer… Slasher… Gouger. I am the Teeth in the Darkness, the Talons in the Night. Mine is Strength… and Lust… and Power! I AM BEOWULF! 

I vote that the two greatest scenes of manliness in cinema are the fight between a naked Beowulf and Grendel, and the promise made by Jim Braddock to his first-born son in Cinderella Man that he’ll always put food on the table for his family. Why do I consider these scenes representative of manliness? Because they illustrate the purest and most admirable ideals of the protector and the provider — or, if you want, the alpha and the beta.

In Beowulf, Grendel attacks the town’s gathering house and Beowulf prepares to meet him in mano a mano battle. But Beowulf does something peculiar just before Grendel arrives — he strips naked. He explains he wants to meet the monster on its own terms, without shield or sword to aid him. The symbolism is profound. Besides Beowulf’s insane bravery, the act of stripping away his protective garments and weapons is an act of disdain for his own fear. He’s not just facing a monster; he’s facing his self-doubt. Armor and weapons pay tribute to that fear and doubt in the sense of security those items engender.

The deeper symbolism is the relation of his nakedness to the shucking off of all materialism and cultural adornments — a man cannot be closer to his manhood until he has unburdened himself of superfluous attachments. It’s a disdain not just for his fear, but for anything that acts to safeguard him from realizing the full measure of his manhood. The parallel to modern society could not be more apt. The West’s dizzying array of entertainment distractions, stern ideologies, false politeness, weak-willed conformism, and techno gadgets has created a bubble-like pampered existence that has sapped the manly essence from so many men.

Men need the freedom of their nakedness again.

Where Beowulf is the iconic super alpha protector, Russell Crowe’s Jim Braddock character in Cinderella Man elevates the provider beta side of manhood to respectability. He fights through painful injury so his children can have food on the table and he can pay the heating bills. He loves his wife and is faithful to her when he has opportunities to cheat. But Braddock is not all beta in the sense that it has come to mean today. He’s a boxer and a stoic. His betaness tempers his natural alphaness and that makes the difference. Beta is not respectable unless it is paired with alpha.

Had Braddock been 100% beta, he would have succumbed to the beta’s mortal weakness — the lack of ego, which is the opposite of the alpha’s mortal weakness — too much ego. He would have acceded to his fear and quit boxing, taking up a dull 9 to 5 gig to make ends meet. He would have assented to his wife shipping his kids off to her aunt’s so they could eat because his ego would not have been strong enough to be revolted by the prospect of his wife’s relatives doing the job that he couldn’t do.

Beowulf and Braddock — ambassadors for the dueling forces in every man. In order for these forces to reconcile, beta must be subservient to alpha, and alpha must make room for beta. There can be no other way that doesn’t diminish a man’s soul.

[crypto-donation-box]

Comments are closed.