Tyler Durden, the unleashed id in Fight Club, rants and raves about how men aren’t “manly” enough anymore. His answer to reclaiming our masculinity is to have us beat each other up in a basement until we look like Eric Stoltz in Mask. My movie-nerd-inspired suggestion? We collect, replicate, and distribute the DNA of one of the manliest men of all time: Clint Eastwood.
Maybe stealing a vial’s worth of blood, cloning it, and secretly injecting his DNA into a coming generation of males strikes me as a surefire way to create a future U.S. that screams, “Don’t fuck with America.” But, truth be told, Clint Eastwood is as manly as it gets. He’s not just a Man (capital intended); he’s ultimately the Man’s-Man Man. More Man than anyone riding a horse and peddling bodywash, or getting paid millions to play sports, or starring in a CGI-laden action movie will ever be. He’s a throwback star and living legend who employs the most lethal of weapons: a growl and an icy stare. Simply put, Clint Eastwood lives, eats, breathes, sweats, exudes, embodies, and is Man. But how did all his Man-tastic-ness come to be, you ask?
Early on, Eastwood’s combination of good looks and bad attitude landed him starring roles in his share of classics (or, as I call them, Dad movies). Westerns (The Outlaw Josey Wales), war flicks (Kelly’s Heroes), cop dramas (Dirty Harry) — Eastwood did it all. While other action stars couldn’t succeed outside their a specific comfort zone (Sly in a great Western? Not likely), Clint traveled between genres with great success. He brought Dirty Harry from the age of anti-heroes (early seventies) into the age of megaheroes (eighties). And when the eighties passed and others struggled to find their niche, Eastwood transitioned with the same ease with which he stared at thugs down the barrel of his gun. When the Western was on its deathbed, the Man who reinvented the Western way back when went on to reinvent it all over again, winning Best Picture and Best Director. Those who disbelieved in Clint’s abilities are unforgiven. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Of all the classic action heroes, Eastwood remains in a category of his own. Stallone and Schwarzenegger filled the muscle bracket. Gibson and Willis are high-voltage smart-asses. Van Damme and Seagal? Martial artists. Eastwood? The stoic minimalist. You can’t name the Clint Eastwood action movie where he just runs around like a human grenade on steroids. He’s the action star who would have made Teddy Roosevelt proud, speaking softly and carrying a big stick — and, by “big stick,” I mean a .44 Magnum. Forget stuntwork, massive budgets, kung-fu kicks, or button-popping muscles. Clint gets the job done with an intimidating presence. His best weapons? His trademark sneer and snarl.
Need evidence? In Dirty Harry, Eastwood instills fear in the hearts of bad men, while wearing a tweed blazer and a maroon sweater. Usually that sartorial combination instills confidence that term papers will be graded on time, not that the law will be enforced on unruly urban streets. Need more? One of his iconic roles is the Man With No Name, in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti-Western trilogy. He exacts revenge, seeks justice, and steals the gold, all without a name. Stop and think about that for a second: he’s such a badass that he doesn’t even need a name. Eastwood could play Jasmine Willow Pants and still intimidate everyone else on his screen. Yes, Eastwood equals Man.
Even aside from the grunts and understated gestures, Eastwood’s a bit of a physical and mental specimen. He reportedly weighed over eleven pounds at birth. A chat with his mother would have left not doubt that Clint was going to be a Man, but I digress. He’s the kind of high-cheeks-and-strong-jaw handsome that plastic surgeons wish they could replicate. He’s smart, talented, creative, tough, and he knows it. Those skills beget confidence, which is another must for the Man. Lesser men can’t get away with talking the way he does and throwing the dirty looks he throws. In the hands of a lesser guy, villains would reply to Dirty Harry, “Speak up, I can’t hear you, Detective Callahan. And what’s with the creepy squint, you freak?” Or, “Make your day? How about you make me some breakfast, pal?” But, in Dirty Harry, Clint had it — and then some. Still does. Always will.
Tough, talented, good-looking, Eastwood embodies the oft-overused expression, “They just don’t make them like they used to.” Hence my plan to replicate his DNA now and preserve it for the re-Man-ification of future generations. Since that’s probably not realistic, we’ll just have to watch, learn, practice, and man up on our own.Read More