RIP The American Manly Man (1776-2014) (Volume I)


Catherine (Rooney Mara): So what’s she like?

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix): Well, her name’s Samantha and she’s an Operating System. She’s really complex and interesting…

Catherine (Rooney Mara): Wait… I’m sorry. You’re dating your computer?

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix: She’s not just a computer, she’s her own person. She doesn’t just do whatever I say.

Catherine (Rooney Mara): I didn’t say that. But it does make me very sad that you can’t handle real emotions, Theodore.

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix): They are real emotions! How would you know…

Spike Jonze’s Her (2013) best streamed the American Manly Man’s interconnected loneliness and technical dependency on the big screen. Set in 2025, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), an introverted romance letter writer, falls in love with Samantha, his operating system (sultrily voiced by Scarlett Johansson) before “she” spurns him for a higher operating system intelligence.

By 2014, Hollywood’s villains were no longer the dwellers of caves or dingy Russian boxing halls but the skinny denizens of Internet cafes. They were mastermind coders who no longer threatened with bombs or bullets but cables and emails.

In the James Bond franchise reboot, Skyfall (2012), disgraced Double-O-agent-turned-nefarious-hacker Silva (Javier Bardem) boasts of the new world order, where data felled governments:

Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem): Destabilize a multinational by manipulating stocks? Easy! Interrupt transmissions from a spy satellite over Kabul? Done! Rig an election in Uganda, all to the highest bidder.

?James Bond (Daniel Craig): Or a gas explosion in London?

?Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem): Hmm. Just point and click.

Raoul Silva harkened to the age’s new most feared foes: Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, physically rootless but digitally connected refugees, who browbeat governments and corporations with the threat that anything they said—could and would—be used against them in the court of public opinion.

Zuckerberg Assange

Hollywood’s greatest hero, too, dealt in more RAM, less bam, by 2014. Cultural backlashes to steroids and HGH in sports shriveled the rock ‘em sock ‘em American jingoism of 1980s and 1990s cinema. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, once the rippled poster men of 1980s and 1990s testosterone but now faded, swollen anachronisms, wheeled out for today’s forgettable, recycled summer sequels (E.G. The Expendables III; Rambo V). Less punch, more punch line.

The brawn of Superman and the athleticism of Spiderman paled in the box office next to technical wizardry of Ironman. Actor Robert Downey Jr. modeled billionaire playboy and possible drunk Ron Stark off PayPal/Tesla founder and tech billionaire impresario Elon Musk.

Yet even Ironman rusted next to a teenage girl adept with a bow and arrow. Jennifer Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire singed Ironman 3 in the box office as the highest grossing domestic movie of 2013 ($415 million).

Iron Man

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Back in my day, curmudgeonly Baby Boomers griped, we had to walk 10 miles uphill both ways to school. Back in my day, cranky Generation Xers lamented, we had to blow on our Nintendo 64 cartridges to make them work. Back in my day, Millennials would soon vent to their children, you had to plug in your electronics make them charge.

In the American Manly Man’s defense, he couldn’t help it. He was a product of his environment. Every successive generation enjoys nicer innovations than its predecessor. If the latest innovations did not boost quality of life, they would not be the latest or most innovative anything. By 2014, the American Man more than anyone else enjoyed the Apples of technology’s exponential curve.

Even if he did not always savor it.

Reddit Question

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Please check back for RIP The American Manly Man (Vol. 2): Michelob ULTRA’s Fruit Infused Pomegranate Raspberry.


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