Missing Rooster Cogburn

You know, like many of you, I’ve become desensitized somewhat to slurs on manhood, when I first saw that infamous Gillette ad, I didn’t quite get what was so bad. A second viewing fixed that, forever. Then came Lou Aguilar to put it all in context.

[S]omething detrimental to manhood happened in the late Sixties, planting an emasculative seed now sprouting in the loathsome new commercial by Gillette. Many of you have seen the shaving giant’s ad, nagging its male customer base for such unpardonable behavior as approving their sons’ rough play, laughing at a raunchy sitcom, or, gasp, approaching a sexy young woman, while brandishing the “MeToo” movement and “toxic masculinity” like hammer and sickle. What made Gillette think it could do this with impunity — even hiring a radical feminist filmmaker to sell razor blades while promoting pajama boy docility — has roots stretching back 50 years, from the end of a once popular genre, the Western.

We baby boomers, and our fathers and grandfathers, didn’t need Gillette and its ilk lecturing us on the liberal preference for male conduct when growing up. We had the Ringo Kid, Zorro, Wyatt Earp, Shane, Matt Dillon, Davy Crockett, Paladin, John T. Chance, Rowdy Yates, the Magnificent Seven, the Virginian, the Barkleys, and Rooster Cogburn for role models. They taught millions of us boys to be strong, tough, face down bullies, protect the weak, and absolutely respect women. Not one of those men would ever abuse or force himself on a girl, or allow less virtuous types to do so.

In the first classic Western, John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), John Wayne’s Ringo Kid is the only man who treats prostitute Claire Trevor as a lady, shaming others into doing the same. In Ford’s next Western gem, My Darling Clementine (1946), Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda) realizes Doc Holliday’s genteel ex-girlfriend, Clementine, is more vital to pacifying Tombstone than his gun. Shane and his farmer employer’s wife, Marion, never act on their growing mutual attraction, out of respect for her role of wife and mother. An older John Wayne as Sheriff John Chance in Rio Bravo (1959) gets repeatedly flummoxed by Angie Dickinson’s sexual candidness. The Magnificent Seven risk their lives, and ultimate lose four, defending a dirt poor Mexican farm village. One of the seven, Charles Bronson, delivers the greatest speech about fatherhood in all of cinema, lecturing a group of hero-worshipping young boys.

“Don’t you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun. Well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility. For you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there’s nobody says they have to do this. They do this because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery.”

These were the men we baby boomers hoped to emulate in our adult life. Many of us to some extent succeeded.

You remember one of the lessons we learned from all of those films. Yep, that’s the one. There just ain’t no excuses, if you don’t get it done right, you are quite simply a failure. I’ve lived my life according to that time tested rule, as have many of you. But we’ve failed to pass it on. And this:

Yet so positively ingrained in the American male consciousness was the Western Hero, that one lone figure defied the liberal zeitgeist and continued making billions for the cigarette company he represented long after television tobacco ads got banned in 1970. The Marlboro Man rode on in print until 1999, when anti-smoking pressure and the internet finally unhorsed him. But we older guys remember him — roping a wild stallion then lighting up a cigarette, appropriately to Elmer Bernstein’s stirring theme from The Magnificent Seven. Watching him, even I wanted to smoke, and I didn’t. One of the most successful advertising creations of all time, the Marlboro Man could never occupy the same media universe as the chastened beta males currently populating the Gillette commercial. Neither can I. I threw away my Trac II in disgust.

Well, I haven’t although I considered it, but I only use the accursed thing when I have to fly somewhere, so I don’t have to buy blades for my safety razor instantly on landing. I did throw away my package of Gillette double edge blades though, I’ll stick to Wilkinson Sword from now on. If I can’t have the Marlboro Man anymore, I’ll have to make do with the defenders of Rorke’s Drift.

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

28 Responses to Missing Rooster Cogburn

  1. Nicholas says:

    I use a double edge from time to time, but mostly an electric razor. I won’t be buying Gillette products again. I make my own lather with a brush, hot water, and soap, so they can’t even entice me with shaving cream. I use supermarket double edge blades and haven’t had any issues with them. (If straight razors were more reasonably-priced, I’d use one of them, but most decent ones are well over $100).

    I’m getting pretty tired of this anti-male guff. Not only is it insulting, but it’s just plain foolish to attack your main demographic. Sure there are ladies who patronise Gillette for shaving their legs, but I doubt this ad will increase female revenues enough to make up for loss of male sales. Talk about corporate idiocy. Something tells me the Dollar Shave Club will be getting some extra business from this blunder.

    Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      It seems to be as are all the competitors. But Gillette has been overpriced for years, and the smart competitors are starting ad against this one. More power to their elbow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nicholas says:

        One of the reasons I use a safety razor for wet shaving is because it’s more cost-effective than using cartridge razors as a general rule.

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, same here, and shaving soap is a lot cheaper than the aerosols, as well.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          I noted this morning that the President has conceded public sector pay for a 21 day grace period until a deal can be struck. I thought his tweet summed it up quite well.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Haven’t seen it yet, but yeah, but he let slip an opportunity to drain a lot of the swamp, so I’m undecided whether it was a good idea.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          I think we will have to wait to see what happens at the end of the 21 days. If they offer him nothing of substance and he walks away, then he will keep his credibility. If he concedes to a poor deal, then he will damage support from the core base.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Good call, I think. There are reports that he losing support, and the ATC was getting troubling, with airports starting to close down, I agree, wait and see, Trump has made very few mistakes. He should have forced it through last year, probably.

          Liked by 1 person

    • the unit says:

      Yep, electric razor for like a day to go to drive through bank for some cash. Important days when doctor’s assistant look me over and asks “are you depressed” then shave before with grocery store “TopCare” single edge razor. Do like dad did…hold hot wet towel on face couple of minutes before shaving. I do use Barbasol in the can for a little slick creaming. Then a dash of Mennen Afta and rake the razor over one more time.
      And my face only area cute assistant inspects. Although at last EKG she thought she might have to shave my chest, December ’18, but she didn’t. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Scoop says:

    Sadly, the new, effeminate males have no memories of The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports or the numerous Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer commercials; which, did not turn men into girly types who were seeking a Lite Beer to save on unwanted inches on their waistlines. It is amazing to see the difference between the characterizations of men and women in the 50’s and early 60’s compared to characterizations we see them today.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. the unit says:

    Ok, Ok, you boomers had good heroes. Us’ens in the Silent Generation did too. And cared about woymens as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yup, you did, and in fact our heroes overlapped. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Being a late Silent one, loved all those mentioned in blog.
        I particularly have memories of Shane. Don’t remember the exact date, mom was early mother working outside of home, at Sears, the night they stayed open late, Dad took me to see Shane. Fond memories. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          That would be a good memory. Can’t remember Dad ever going to a movie, maybe because he worked for a year at a soda shop/theater. One of his jobs was cranking the projector (yeah, that long ago.) 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Amazing. Had a relative who managed the projector at a theater in Jackson. Was his living and had decent middle class home and living back in the day. Frasier was his name, not the tv famed ones I don’t think. Now the first name came to mind…Harry. Not Hairy as in shaving. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Had to have been a hell of a job, keep it going at the right speed. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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