There seems to be something twitching in the cultural scalp that’s got so many folks itching about the fate of boyhood.
There’s this little gem from the fellow over at Wondermark which is just a hoot.
But it got me thinking about Hanna Rosin’s recent report in the Atlantic (WARNING: Much stripping of mystery and manners to the crude and obscene throughout):
One of the women had already seen the [porn] photo five times before her boyfriend showed it to her, so she just moved her pitcher of beer in front of his phone and kept on talking. He’d already suggested twice that night that they go to a strip club, and when their mutual friend asked if the two of them were getting married, he gave the friend the finger and made sure his girlfriend could see it, so she wouldn’t get any ideas about a forthcoming ring. She remained unfazed. She was used to his “juvenile thing,” she told me.
Which in turn reminded me of Jeff Minick’s piece in Chronicles (WARNING: much discussion of the restoration of mystery and manners throughout):
We begin by teaching boys from an early age the romance and adventure of life. How did the adolescent who played a high-minded knight-errant evolve into a sullen, nihilistic teenager? How did that same adolescent become the 30-year-old who wears his baseball cap backward, plays more video games than the teenager, and lives with his parents? Boys who come of age watching sex and violence in movies, or the cynicism offered by most television comedies, who listen to loveless music drenched in ugliness and despair, who possess no sense of responsibility or consequence, will likely join Peter Pan’s tribe of Lost Boys. To buck this trend, we must keep a vigilant watch on the culture. To grow men, we must teach our boys heroism, taking our models from literature, movies, and living examples.
Which in turn recalled that this book will be coming out sometime soon:
From his celebrated appearance, hatchet in hand, in Parson Mason Locke Weems’s Life of Washington to Booth Tarkington’s Penrod, the all-American boy was an iconic figure in American literature for well over a century. Sometimes he was a “good boy,” whose dutiful behavior was intended as a model for real boys to emulate. Other times, he was a “bad boy,” whose mischievous escapades could be excused either as youthful exuberance that foreshadowed adult industriousness or as deserved attacks on undemocratic pomp and pretension. But whether good or bad, the all-American boy was a product of the historical moment in which he made his appearance in print, and to trace his evolution over time is to take a fresh view of America’s cultural history, which is precisely what Larzer Ziff accomplishes in All-American Boy.