Clint Eastwood’s Endurance And Restraint

By , November 15, 2010 3:40 pm

With the end of men looming, is Clint Eastwood the man we need to re-imagine masculinity? Stephen Marche makes his case in Esquire:

Oct. 10, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - CLINT EASTWOOD arriving at The 48th New York Film Festival closing night premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' ''Hereafter'' at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in New York City on 10-10-2010.  2010..K66529HMc. © Red Carpet Pictures

Eastwood’s endurance is the endurance of saints, and what he embodies more than anything is the definitive virtue for American men both then and now: restraint. He rides the line between his own terrible desires and the world as it is with the grace we all aspire to.

Marche breaks down Eastwood’s supposed macho image. He calls macho, “a preening pose assumed by men who aren’t sure they’re men and who compensate by needing more, having more, showing more.” Eastwood, Marche says, “has always been about needing and having and showing less.”

This simplicity and restraint, according to Marche, has not only allowed Eastwood to live to 80 years old, but to thrive at an age when most people think about retiring.

Eastwood’s endurance is one of the rare phenomena that make me genuinely hopeful about men. It’s not just that he proves that you can be awesome when you’re eighty. He proves that it’s possible to be open-minded and creative and daring and still hold on to the old virtues.

When I hear terms like “old virtues,” it’s often yearning to recapturing a sense of masculinity that was lost: A nostalgia for the 1950′s, pre- Civil, Women’s and Gay Rights definition of white masculinity. Marche isn’t talking about that. These virtues are restraint and simplicity. If the undoing of the modern man is partially due to boys who can’t focus and “sit still in kindergarten,” then these virtues could turn that around. Walk away from your Internet addiction of choice, turn off the flatscreen and gaming system, and focus on something productive.

Muscles and gadgets may not be mandatory in whatever new masculinity ideal will be imagined, but endurance and restraint surely will be.

Read the full post at Esquire.

2 Responses to “Clint Eastwood’s Endurance And Restraint”

  1. Bea says:

    Clint doesn’t have to prove he’s a man. Check out those old spahetti westerns. A man of few words who rides in on a horse to save the day. Lean,swagger and all things man; cigar, sweat and squint. And don’t forget about the gun(s). Those boys who can’t sit still in kindergarden will grow up to be “boys” who walk with a false swagger, etc., because they have not been taught to shut their mouths and view the world around them with a squint to save the day-saving themselves.

  2. Exactly. Paying attention to one’s surroundings and restraining oneself from pursuing every fleeting impulse could help stop the boys from growing up to be the false swagger boys you talked about.

    “to save the day – saving themselves.” Deep.

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