Monday, April 30, 2007

A Hard Man is Good to Find…

Written by Liz from Three Bright Stars

On the two hospital shows I watch, I’ve noticed two kinds of men: the metero-sexual career boyfriend and the hard-as-nails career bachelor with the dark past and heart of gold. If I have my choice between these two idiots, I’ll take the hard man every time.

My soft men are the sweet and adorable J.D. Dorian of Scrubs and James Wilson of House. Their primary skill is relationship assessment: they can figure out where they fit in the social order. J.D.’s skill serves his function as narrator, while Wilson’s defines him as Gregory House’s character foil. Scrubs openly mocks J.D.’s masculinity: in a bar after work, J.D.’s (female) friend comments on his ordering an appletini, “Nice drink. Does it come in hetero?”

What I can’t figure out is how male characters with such an overtly feminine skill set are also the male romantic interests of their shows. These guys are self-conscious, worried how other people will perceive them. They’re not risking anything for love. They express their feelings, and need a woman’s acceptance.

J.D., for example, is much better at expressing his feelings verbally and through facial expression than he is at performing a medical diagnosis. A woman will notice D.J.’s feelings and assume a motherly role long before his knowledge of medicine turns her knees to jelly. Wilson is the lady-killer of House, but his method of seduction involves a protracted period of theatre and museum meetings (“it’s not a date!”) until he maneuvers the woman to consider herself the aggressor.

This is what popular culture now defines as masculine sex appeal? I’m beside myself with lack of arousal. In desperation, although “hard” men are invariably maligned as the worst sort of man with whom a woman could have the misfortune to spend any time, let us reconsider him as a candidate for hot, lusty romance.

J.D.’s opposite is Perry Cox, hard-ass doctor and mentor whose total self-confidence, and corollary disinterest in the opinions of others, releases him to perform better than anyone in his field. Cox is so good at his job that he gets away with berating everyone else, including J.D., to his face. Shouldn’t he, life-saving genius doctor, and not his child-like charge J.D., be the one to make all the girls swoon? Plus, props for the name “Cox.”

In House, Wilson’s opposite is the title character, Gregory House, whose genius for medicine lies in his ability to transform entirely into a robot while solving medical mysteries. He is represented even more cruelly than Scrubs’ Cox as not only socially inept, but a lying, cheating addict, completely unfit for a relationship, romantic or otherwise. But hark: he is an intelligent professional with a quick wit, a large salary, and who also performs feats of heroism weekly. If you read that personal ad on, you’d be one of a thousand to respond with, “I’m a bubbly and charming D-cup, with an understanding that your career comes first.”

And there are other “hard” guys, rough and masculine, such as the ego-maniacal Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock, Malcolm Reynolds of the brilliant Firefly, Alex Tully of the gripping, now-cancelled Drive, and “Sawyer” of the wayward Lost. All of them have a dark, dangerous side, casting them from the potential boyfriend pool. Our culture now pairs everything masculine with everything evil or dangerous, and look at the appalling cost in on-screen sex appeal!

Liz Medwid blogs about her lavish stay-at-home lifestyle on, in which she primarily admires her son’s cuteness and resists writing about her husband’s hotness, out of respect.


nutmeg said...

We've come a long way from panting over muscle men who turn into green monsters when they're angry and men who can build weapons using the contents of a woman's purse!

Surviving Motherhood said...

A man who spends more time and care moisturizing than I do is not gonna light my fire.

What's wrong with a bit of danger anyway, I'd take Sawyer over Jack or House over whats his face (so good I can't even remember his name!) any day of the week. Hell, some days I'd do it twice ;)

Sprite said...

As I was reading this post I could not stop thinking of Christin Lavin and he "Sensitive New Age Guys" -- that woman knows what she's talking about. Here are the lyrics... I really think you would like the album this comes on!

What we need is the sensitive, skin-moisturizing, emotion-sharing softy hidden underneath tattoos, a Harley and a pocketbook and attitude to match. I'll be there!

I'm cool with sensitive, but you better have the "bad-boy" exterior to turn my head and keep me guessing! There I go again, getting myself in trouble! :)

melody said...

Got it all wrapped into one with my husband. And that's a good thing cause I'm too tired to look for another. :)

I enjoyed the post which made me ponder a bit.

Mama Zen said...

Sawyer . . .yum!

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