Our Postmodern Era has little good to say about fathers, or a man as protector and provider for a family in general. Feminists tell us that women and children don't need the protection of a man; the Red Pills tell us that they don't deserve any such protection.
But evil exists in the world. It's noteworthy that in the Christian Bible, God's first commandment to Adam in the Garden was "maintain the Garden and defend it." That command has defined masculine duty since the Creation and all the men we admire since have fulfilled it. Defending one's family, one's business, one's community are all forms of defending a man's 'garden'. The men we respect as heroes go further: defending their faith, their nation, and even the world. It's no accident that the superheroes of popular culture---from the ancient Hercules to the modern Superman were often depicted as saving all humanity at various times.
This weekend's film recommendation is a classic Western of that dynamic from 1971, titled Big Jake. It stars the legendary John Wayne as rancher Jacob McCandles.
The story begins with McCandles living in a state of exile from his ranch as a soldier of fortune. The reason for his departure is never given, but the sense is that it was some sacrifice for a greater good. McCandles is believed by many to be dead, and that entices a band of thugs to raid his ranch, kidnap his grandson, and hold him for ransom. His faithful and devoted wife (played by the lovely Maureen O'Hara) summons 'Big Jake' back to the ranch to track down the gang and rescue their grandchild.
Big Jake finds upon his return that his two sons have grown up and suffered from the deficiency of a strong fatherly influence. He brings them on the mission, and they get a good crash-course on growing up and becoming a man along the way. In one memorable early scene, McCandles thrashes his back-talking eldest son by saying, "If you don't learn to respect your elders, you'll learn to respect your betters."
Big Jake is the type of story that would cause those of the effete Snowflake Generation to bristle. Mostly because it deals with reality as its premise. Postmodern culture pretends that we exist in a world of "male privilege". Big Jake is reminder that a man's duty to his family and society is often harsh and demanding and takes courage and fortitude to back down the forces of evil. There's more to being a man than setting fire to trash cans in front of a complacent police force or organizing online troll attacks on women. That's pretending to be a man. The real men roll up their sleeves and take evil head-on.
We are talking about a John Wayne film, so there's no shortage of action in this movie. Younger generations who haven't been exposed to Wayne's mystique and portrayals of unalloyed manhood would benefit greatly from watching a few of his films.
Big Jake is available on DVD, occasionally on the free download sites too. But the DVD is probably the better option. Western film bloggers universally rate Big Jake among their all-time favorites, and it's one of ours too.