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Letter to the Editor: Real men wear wet shirts

Remember when Benedict Cumberbatch served us all a tall drink of water in his 2014 photographs for the charity “Give Up Clothes for Good?” Women around the world of every age thrilled with delight reliving the steamy lake scene at Jane Austin’s Pemberley featuring our dear Mr. Darcy, played by Colin Firth, in the PBS production of Pride and Prejudice.

Cumberbatch, a modern-day Darcy to his devoted followers, is again invoking Pemberley with the wet look for the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair. In his role as Phil, the sadistic villain in Jane Campion’s psychodrama, “The Power of The Dog,” the enraged Phil dives into a dark and gloomy pond. An homage, to his polar opposite, the fully developed, quintessential model of manhood, Mr. Darcy. This juxtaposition is, in a nutshell, the point. In his review, Zach James describes Phil as “unlikable as they come — just a complete monster of a man, crass and cruel. His relationships with everyone within his house are strained and on the brink of collapse, but he’s looked upon fondly by his ranch hands; they’re his not so close confidants and coworkers. He lacks human intimacy, both sexual and otherwise, because of it. His only close relationship was with a skilled horse rider named Bronco Henry who…has been dead for over twenty years.” A flawless performance by Cumberbatch of toxic masculinity.

Another long-time favorite, Sam Eliot, appears recently to have lost his mind, making himself a fool with a rambling stream of “F-bombs, in his critique of the movie. As if his movies are always historically accurate, or movies have never before been filmed in alternate locations. Reminding us that certain men should learn to keep their mouths shut, remember their place, and are better off just looking pretty.

Naturally, Cumberbatch opted against getting down into the mud with Eliot in his response to the “very odd” remarks. Explaining that gay people exist, and they likely existed in 1925. More to the point of the movie, he spoke about troubling societal male attitudes and behavior. ”The more we look under the hood of toxic masculinity and try to discover the root causes of it, the bigger chances we have of dealing with it when it arises with our children.”

Me, I’d love to cancel ignorant bullies. Can we do that? We could cancel lots of ugly, nasty things, while we’re at it, and replace them with better things. The world could use more men like Austin’s woke heroes. Dignified, polite, intelligent men of character, with courage and honor. Who posses the capacity to grow and learn from life, like Mr. Darcy. Like President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It’s enough of rude, aggressive, emotionally stunted, performative machismo.

Helene Day


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