July has been a remarkable month in that we have seen more than the usual number of negative examples of masculinity. Two political conventions, Obama's failed military posturing, violent street riots, screaming media pundits, and the Game Cultists; all of them loud but hardly specimens of masculine strength and confidence.
Some of us wonder: what ever happened to the strong, silent types? We've chosen one for this weekend's viewing---next to Gunsmoke, the second-most popular Western of television's Golden Age: Have Gun Will Travel.
Have Gun Will Travel ran an incredible six seasons on CBS from 1957-1963, and even had a corresponding radio show which ran on CBS Radio from 1958-1960. The series followed the exploits of a Western hero known only as Paladin, a name taken from the Knights of the Round Table whose character he very much mirrored. Now today the archetype of the White Knight who believes in Chivalry is held up to ridicule---especially by those in the Manosphere who can never attain to ideals of this kind.
Paladin is a West Point graduate, a Civil War veteran who makes his residence in the Ritz-Carleton Hotel in 1870s San Francisco. There he mingles with Society; a connossieur of fine foods and wines and often accompanying a pretty girl to the opera. He reads classical literature (and the Bible!) until duty calls. Then he dons his black hat and six-gun and sallies forth in the cause of justice. Although Paladin is well-paid for his work, he will often work for free when the cause is a just one.
Paladin represents a masculine type that has largely disappeared from our culture and completely disappeared from the media: a combination of strength, intelligence, refinement and moral character. With that many masculine qualities combined in one character, it is small wonder that effete postmodern audiences are not keen about Have Gun Will Travel.
The idea of a chivalrous knight-errant, too, is repugnant to Postmoderns. Our culture recognizes only one masculine virtue: strength and, by extension, power. Hence we see the Cultural Marxists disempowering men, while those in the Manosphere/Alt-Right elevate raw strength and power into a fetish. But that is not real strength, it is simply domination.
True masculine strength is not based on some nebulous deference to the so-called Feminine Imperative, as some in the Manosphere claim; nor is some equally ethereal Patriarchal Oppression, as the Cultural Marxists believe. It is rooted in humility, a concept from Christianity and Ancient Chivalry. The truly strong man has humility enough to understand that he is still less powerful than God. Because he answers to God for his actions, he defends God's creatures less powerful than himself.
Those who worship power for its own sake recognize no God higher than themselves; and consequently must resort to instilling fear in others with continual displays of their strength. It is said by many that we, in 21st Century America, have become a nation of bullies---and this is why we have become so. The truly strong man gains power by earning the respect of others; it is those who are only superficially strong who must resort to fear.
Have Gun Will Travel is great viewing for its action, intelligent and morally-challenging plots. For those who would enjoy seeing too, what the masculine ideal really looks like, Paladin is a character-study about as close to it as one can get. It is available on DVD and episodes are widely available on Youtube, Dailymotion, and Vimeo.
As a side note, Richard Boone, who portrayed Paladin, was a producer and director in his own right, produced a dramatic variety series on NBC from 1963-1964 titled The Richard Boone Show which is also in the public domain and worth watching. Every episode opened with an immaculately-dressed Boone emerging from behind a theatre curtain amidst a crowd of tuxedoed men and elegant women, all celebrating. Boone would address the live audience: "Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for joining us for tonight's presentation." He then waved his hand at those celebrants, "May I present the players in tonight's program."
Ahhhhh...those old days of male power and privilege! Before the personal became political people could actually enjoy life without feeling guilty about it.