Bond's evolution over the decades has been revealing. Not only were the comedic elements gradually stripped out, but it also became a lot less sexy. Connery's Bond would often sleep with 3 different women - the opening gambit girl, the bad girl, and the love interest at the end. Brosnan's Bond would get 1.5 girls: the love interest in the end (always a stronk independent woman), and the bad girl, who would try to kill him before they actually slept together. Craig's Bond, as you noted, was a humorless monster with the romantic personality of a brick wall.

That seems to me to be consistent with the gradual removal of a positive (or even any) eros from male heroes. Multiple sexual partners is a no-no; the man is not allowed to take the sexual initiative; ultimately he must take a subordinate and deferential role to the woman (as seems to have been the case in the lateat Bond film). It's related to the Homer Simpsonization of the depiction of fathers. Men must be foolish and incompetent, always getting showed up by their calm, collected, intelligent wives.

Ironically, this has coincided with the stereotyping of men as sex-obsessed animals who only think with their dicks.

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This is very good. It reinforces my accidental and fortunate discovery that real men don’t suffer fools among women , among men, or among governments, corporations or institutions. We are indeed all in this together.

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Myth is supposed to be bigger than life. The problem with Hollywood had been, their treatment of manhood was about the hero doing it all himself. That is a kind of American mythos, but it is not traditional mythos, where the hero unites the masses. Arthur had his round table and the people loved him, as example. Now Hollywood is trying to reinvent myth in a way no culture has ever believed anywhere in the history of the world, so it should be no surprise hardly anybody is interested. Myth has to at least reflect reality.

This post is a good reminder too, this talk about tonic masculinity needs to get out in the world and be the model.

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Jan 29Liked by Mark Bisone

I don't have anything insightful to add to this one, so I'll offer one random thought. I am in the midst of learning Mandarin, and am amused to find that the character for "father", 爸, looks to me like the old-timey troll meme. It reminds me that one aspect of tonic masculinity is to crack dad jokes and serve as a gentle and loving foil to the (usually developmentally appropriate) stupidities that their children manifest from time to tome. This is in contrast both to inept Homer Simpson and the narcissistic shenanigans of male heroes in previous decades.

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Jan 29·edited Feb 1Liked by Mark Bisone

I couldn't help but reminded by Boy's Club comments of this little self-aware gem from Mr. Show back in the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZCCACfPv-o

But besides that, I find it interesting no mention of TOS/TNG era Star Trek in you discussion of the "tonic" ideal-- it seems to me like both shows portray men pretty much exactly in accord with your proposed ideal. Any reason to avoid them?

And, just as another thought that crossed my mind--I recently got around to finally reading Blood Meridian. It seems part of what makes the antagonist Judge Holden so fascinating is that he manages to take pretty much everything you've laid out as the masculine positive ideal (man-of-action-and-intellect, mentoring/leadership, self-awareness) and still turn it into a monster. I don't really have any more insight there, but it is something that occurred to me reading this.

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Jan 30Liked by Mark Bisone

This is relevant to my interests.

I love movies (perhaps unwisely and too well) and I've been following the Critical Drinker for a good long while. I think he popped in my feed from some Razorfist videos, but I got in before he blew up big.

I've also been a student of violence, though rarely a practitioner with a few memorable exceptions, for most of my life. Violence, the capacity and ability to weird it, is a masculine trait. I'd argue that's even a masculine virtue. A Tonic man wields it to protect others or in obedience to lawful authority (Bond's license to kill...which does invite jokes about 'oi, you got a license?' that underlays so much of Britain's slide into autocracy and mandatory gelding of men). While a Toxic man wields violence to steal, conquer and subjugate. And that struggle between them is an eternal struggle, at least as long as the earth itself survives.

There is no victory over evil, evil simply regroups and comes again. Just like Power never is left alone but seeks to expand itself inexorably. So men NEED to be able to fight, face danger and...kill. Yep, gun ownership can be used for deterrence and most gun-involved encounters are resolved peacefully but the capacity to kill is part of carrying a gun.

Then there's fighting, which is not the same as killing. Physical competition, where one man fights another for the joy of victory, for the joy of the fight, or for the joy of discovery. Because in extreme exertion, you discover your limit and you find that your limits are further out than you thought. But...and this is also part of the struggle...you know there ARE limits. Time, age, injury, just bad luck comes for every man. And you are constantly struggling, first to improve yourself, then to hang onto what you've made, then to adapt to the loss of strength, stamina, ability, and even mind in the end. All you are left with, perhaps, is will.

So in summary of that, violence IS masculine. It is fire, it is a double edged sword and it is either a friend or it is something to be feared indeed.

I think you might be reading too much into the Drinker's choice of images. It take a heck of a lot of time to edit a video essay and it's simpler if you focus on a smaller pool of images. You'd rather he had more images of mentorship. Ok, fine but it's not really critique so much as preference of your own.

The 'Lone Wolf' critique is also odd to me. Movies tend to focus on the underdog, for dramatic effect. A story about an efficient team working well together is...kinda dull. Now you can have conflict and drama even with a competent team, Oceans 11 or the Mission Impossible movies show that. But the fact that there is a group (or a pack, to keep the wolf metaphor) does lessen the drama as opposed to the 'one good man' against greater odds which drives most masculine drama from High Noon to Rambo First Blood Part 2. One of the reasons sports drama don't really appeal to me as dramas is that the stakes are so low and the conflict so minor - you almost always have more or less evenly matched teams after all. With a large cast, you can't focus on any one player, you can't put yourself into the story the way you can with a lone wolf protagonist. It's just better storytelling.

Now for the Bond bit. One of the major draws of James Bond is that it is wish fulfillment. This is particularly true in the books, which were a direct outgrowth of the old Pulp stories with tough spies, hot girls and unambiguous/cartoonish bad guys. Guys want to bang hot chicks, most men lack the confidence, opportunity and...shall we say the physical attributes to attract top shelf tail. The Bond stories, book and movie alike, are day dreams of action, exotic locales, sex and power. Bond is given permission to do all the things that most men can literally only dream of.

It's also worth noting that Bond is rooted in real events and real people. In the early books, Bond fought SMERSH, a real Soviet organization until his publishers (who were probably communist sympathizers if not outright Reds themselves) objected and the cartoonish supervillians of SPECTRE were substituted. But there were indeed men who would drink, gamble, womanize and then blow up a train full of munitions...and do it all without any angst or weeping or regrets. You say sociopath, I'd say superhero. Civilization needs attack dogs to keep the wolves at bay.

Anyway, I could go on a bit more but I think you're mostly a fan of the Drinker as I am and I'm a fan of yours as well. So I hope my critique of your critique of a critique is taken in that spirit.

All the best,

Mark Andrew Edwards

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Love, love, LOVE the Critical Drinker. Probably my favorite YouTube channel at the moment. I even quoted him extensively in my piece on House of the Dragon. I love this piece too-- well-intentioned criticism makes everyone better. Cheers! 🍻

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Jan 29Liked by Mark Bisone

TM™ 😉

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More good stuff on TM (which should replace the TM known as "transcendental meditation." Came here from a link regarding Bond, and found a review of the Drinker as well. Outstanding!

Also glad to see Sherlock H getting some props. I wrote about "The Baker Street Männerbund:

Some Thoughts on Holmes, Watson, Bond, & Bonding" here: https://counter-currents.com/2016/06/the-baker-street-mannerbund/

On Bond and Bond Girls: Kingsley Amis was the first to write a "serious" appreciation of the Bond series (the indispensable The James Bond Dossier, 1962). He's the kind of critic who does things like count how many times Bond has sex or gets tied up in each book and does a statistical analysis. He looks at the evidence and concludes that Bond really just has a few hookups, like any healthy male. Also the "sadism" charges are bunk; it's mostly Bond who gets beaten up, and not that frequently. Of course this is only the canonical books, not elsewhere.

I think I may have recommended elsewhere a piece on an episode of Mad Men that demonstrates how manly men work together to win against a soulless corporation, Oceans 11 style: "Mid-Century Männerbund: Mad Men Mans-Up", here: https://counter-currents.com/2021/07/mid-century-mannerbund/

Are you familiar with Jef Costello's The Importance of James Bond (Counter-Currents, 2017)? Much discussion of Bond and masculinity, and its effect on the Boomer generation.

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