In this extended Father’s Day episode, Asher doesn’t laud fathers (since that’s what everyone else is doing). Instead, he explores the mission of fatherhood to convey a child from uncertain youth to confident adulthood. And what can anyone do about it, if a father abdicates that responsibility?
Who’s a tough guy?—John Wick, Rambo, or Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino)? Asher makes the argument that the John Wick TYPE, while a fantasy meme for self-appointed warriors in general, is actually a wussified representation of their delicate disposition. These cultural icons are fundamentally different beings with a distinct ethos, and John Wick represents the sociopathic prig among us who is just as likely to participate in a mass shooting or overreact to a mask mandate. Asher also conflates Gran Torino w. El Camino (faux pas!).
A lot of us would like to go back and do things differently (learn guitar, study karate, skipper a boat) except, to start over we’d have to go back. Or do we? Asher cast shade on bucket lists, giving up, and getting old (in the sense of setting aside childhood dreams). He makes the case for telling “Dad” to go to Hell (if need be), relabelling 50 (if that’s us) the new 16, and getting off our ass to do something cool. Screw the midlife crisis. There’s a midlife awakening!
Asher introduces the rock music writings of non-traditional feminist Camille Paglia (in extenso). Quoted with interspersed commentary by Asher, Paglia’s paean to RAWK comes through, effectively “mansplained” by Asher (because just reading books on the air is not fair use). Asher underscores Paglia’s observation that one cannot simultaneously laud masculine energy and denigrate the experience out of which it arises. Paglia calls rock musicians “America’s most wasted natural resource.”
Asher invites guest and colleague Steve Pruneau to answer the question, “Will there ever be another David Bowie?” (or The Clash, Blondie, The Police, etc). Steve agrees to search for “good” 21st century version of classic rock music, and Asher bets hard against him. Inevitably “Free Bird” comes up, but also Mumford and Sons and Townes Van Zandt.
Asher wants to know why there’s no good contemporary rock music, why there’s not a current Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rush, or Pink Floyd. Comments on Classic Rock, Prog Rock, and music with balls. Asher argues something has changed, and it’s not just the ‘natural evolution’ that always happens, but a dilution from which you can’t get back to awesome.
Asher invites guest and colleague Steve Pruneau to comment on the “Talk Like a Man” episode. Asher shames modern movie dialogue and the cultural fad of avoiding words that contain commitments. In a world of indirect utterances, there are no tough guys, only understatements. Comments on Aaron Sorkin, Jerry Brown, Ed Rendell, and others.
Tired of circuitous speech, vocal fry, upspeak, endless qualifiers, and the word “like” in every sentence? Asher goes through examples of categorical speech from Mad Men, Humphrey Bogart movies, and Gone With the Wind. He calls for us to embrace rather than fear ManHearted communication. Asher argues current, fashionable speech patterns and fad-banter lacks heart, soul, and brains.
Expanded Show Notes
What is Manhood? At a minimum: it's duty, honor, courage, industry, self-reliance, self-regard, and resilience. Those are widespread human qualities, not exclusive to men. So what does masculine culture have to say about them, and why are they so central to a man's identity? And what do any of those things have to do with tools, dogs, cigars and Scotch, cars and trucks, fishing and sports, protecting and providing, risk-taking and leadership? Host Asher Black explores what it means to be a man in an unapologetic, often irreverent way. Warning: contains enthusiastic swearing. Parental discretion. Views don't reflect.
Manhearted gets to the heart of manhood while rejecting fringe views on either end of the polar spectrum. With bombastic glee, Asher roasts nihilists and nutjobs equally, satirizing all attempts to shut down conversation between men about what it means to be men. "If we're to head off misandry and misogyny from the peanut gallery on the periphery, we have to build a strong center, predicated on a deeply-held cultural consensus that's wholesome, decent to everyone, that scoffs at extremism and condemns mistreatment, and doesn't let any faction get strong enough to trounce our basic dignities and freedom."