June 09, 2010

American Macho

I begin my wholly ill-considered project of laying-out a cultural typology of men, the fit and the misfits alike, with the least palatable of subjects. Those of you who have been following along may already have inferred that there is a kind of American masculinity that is not to my taste. A more noble image will follow, I assure you, but there is no getting away from the ugliness that is, for want of a better description, American Macho.

American Macho carries his abundant girth like a badge of honour, and is clad in overlong chinos, a baseball cap and running shoes (never used for their express purpose). He may have biceps of considerable proportions, because fitness can be reduced to the power of the arm. He shouts before thinking, but perhaps never thinks. He is the one bawling ‘You’re the man!’ at golf tournaments and letting off falsetto whoops at concerts, and he will be seen giving standing ovations for mediocrities, if not everything. He thanks God, publicly, when he wins a bowling tournament, or an eating contest, for this is God’s purview. American Macho is highly opinionated about all matters, but utterly uninformed; yet he will never concede a point. He has never travelled, and possibly does not have a passport; yet he claims to know how the world should best be run. He knows to the very fibre of his being that America is the best country on the planet, but he does not know why (for he knows no history, and has not been out of his own State). He will, nevertheless, fight you on this point. His politics are staunch, this way or that, but can be expressed only in the same terms as his love for his favourite baseball team. American Macho does not know how to cope with America’s new reality, and cannot see past his own back yard. American Macho blindly worships the flag, the greenback and the American way of life (which he defines as the freedom to be self-interested). American Macho is all these things, but he is also simply a jerk.

There, it is said. I suppose the image will please no one; it certainly does not please me. I propose no remedies for American Macho, for his antidote is American Manly, and we may trust that American Manly will prevail. But first we must describe the American man who sits between the two, and perhaps comprises the majority type. I shall return, therefore, with what will doubtless be an equally controversial description of Homo Americanus.


  1. Unfortunately, I can find no fault in your observations. And, I only say unfortunately, because I am an American.

  2. Thanks Turling. That is both encouraging and disheartening at once. I hope my other observations also strike the right chords, for then there will be reason for optimism.

  3. I can't disagree with your assessment, but I wonder how different this is from the lower-browed in other countries? I've traveled a little, but when I did I didn't make a study of international stupids.

    On another note, it is a shame that the evolution of society brought us to this. When people became more pastoral, we bred out the alphas, because they weren't built for democracy. Now the idea of settling your personal feuds personally is verboten, and there are no immediate consequences for rudeness and lack of decorum.

    In other words, ironically, the world was probably more civilized when the person you were about to offend was carrying a sword.

  4. Doctor,

    glad to see you back; I read in your new post what must be expected of a man of your station and I hasten to ask a question of you in that capacity: when you suggest blindly worshiping the flag is wrong, do you mean to suggest there is a way of worship that is not blind - or that there is none?

  5. Hatchett, your point the first will be the subject of forthcoming musings, but I will preface those thoughts with the assertion that the American lowbrow is laced with a wholly unwarranted arrogance or conceit that does tend to make it unique.

    Your point the second has much mileage, but I'm not sure how to accommodate my own misgivings that anyone I was likely to encounter in the US could be carrying a gun. At least a sword could be seen, and one could make a reasoned choice about one's battles. It is a wonder to me that anyone is rude in America, since the imaginable consequences are horrific.

    It is a pleasure to be 'back', my dear Kravien. Does your question pertain specifically to flags or to worshipping per se? If it is to flags, then I am certain that an understanding of what the flag means or represents would suffice. Basic semiology has given way, I am afraid, to the celebration of polyester for its own sake. I would contend that flags are not really fit objects of worship at all, but can (should?) rather serve as important objects of understanding. I shall leave off answering the other possibility, perhaps until we may discuss it cum panis.

  6. This assessment is hilarious and soul grindingly scary when you consider how accurate it is. Sadly, you could also be describing Sarah Palin.

  7. Thank you for that, Ms. Guerra. I had actually thought of Sarah Palin as I was writing it. Her status as a female by no means disqualifies her from the definition of American Macho.

  8. We may have won the war, but eventually lost touch with the concept of civility as embodied by the Englishman. I am most distressed to have discovered that American Macho is quite popular with the American woman. Should I consider retiring from polite society and removing myself to a monastery? As an American male I continue to learn from you the ways of gentlemanly comportment.

    Kind regards,

  9. My dear Hilton,
    I would not advise the retreat, for those of us who can must bring our influence to bear. That, so I presume, is part of the role - nay, the duty - of American Manly.
    All best,

  10. An interesting observation sir. I have only met a small number of Americans and other than their strange obsession with a god I find them to be most entertaining. However, on the internet I have many a depressing encounter with their laughable 'opinions' that they simply repeat ad nauseam.

  11. I agree most fervently with Susan, and I'd like to remind Hilton that not all American women prefer Macho. A lot of us shy in the other direction entirely.


  12. Good to know Rhubarb, good to know.


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