The Evolution of Modern Man – Why Jack Bauer Matters

History has seen many different types of men come and go, some of which have raised serious questions about what it means to be a man. Probably the most disturbing trends have been those which have come close to annihilating the masculine from the male of the species.

Each age of man has had its positive and negative elements, but until now these ages have been incomplete evolutionary cycles. It is during this, the fourth age of man, that we finally draw towards a more complete picture of man.

The Chivalrous age of men:
Cary Grant Enter Exhibit A, the Gentlemen. Best demonstrated by Cary Grant.

Debonair, refined and decidedly charming are just some of the qualities which define this man. He was intelligent, displayed impeccable manners, possessed a most excellent wit and always dressed appropriately. The gentleman was constantly aware of this place in the world and was often considered to be the provider for his family.

The Introspective age of men:
Ross Geller Enter Exhibit B, the Sensitive New Age Guy. Best demonstrated by Ross Geller from Friends.

SNAGs were all about feelings, being attuned to their emotions and staying in touch with their feminine sides. Men were encouraged to share their innermost thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams with those of the opposite sex. The idea was that in becoming more aware of and developing a greater understanding of their emotions, they would garner more favour from women and connect on a deeper level. Often unthreatening and unintimidating both in personality and physical presence, they were known for their sensitive dispositions.

The Extrospective age of men:
David Beckham Enter Exhibit C, the Metrosexual. Best demonstrated by David Beckham.

Sometime after the initial craze of SNAGS had all but disappeared from most social circles, a new ‘ideal’ man appeared. Entitled the metrosexual, these men were encouraged to look after their skin, pluck their eyebrows, wear jewellery, style their hair, dress in the latest fashions such as form fitting coloured jeans and slimfit shirts, wax away chest hair and maintain an almost boyish physique. It is during this age that the sexes became truly difficult to separate.

The Retrospective age of men:
Jack Bauer Enter Exhibit D, a return to the Real Man. Best demonstrated by Jack Bauer (as portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland) from 24.

Real men no longer have to be ashamed to exist. While they have always existed in the shadows, they are being encouraged to step forward. Thank you Mr Jack Bauer.

Jack is unashamedly masculine. He serves his workplace loyally but first and foremost he serves his country and ultimately his President (unless the President is a dirty rotten turncoat). As for personal relationships – when Jack loves, he loves completely and passionately. However he is also well versed in the ways of loss. This well-rounded experience of life and its opposing emotions means that Jack has an innate ability to understand people and their motivations. He would do anything possible to help those he cares about without expecting the same in return. This loyalty is built from his strong ethical code which he would rather die than betray.

He is fit, healthy and generally aware of his strengths and weaknesses without feeling the need to talk incessantly about either. He is tirelessly resourceful and always ready for action, but always finds time to treat people with an appropriate amount of respect. Dressing appropriately for any given situation whether that be in jeans, cargos or a suit, nothing is overly fussy or too complicated. For Jack clothing is simply functional.

While he is always as neat and clean as circumstances allow, Jack doesn’t get too caught up in grooming and personal appearance. His hair is simple and recognising that is isn’t always possible to shave in every 24 hour period he has even been known to let his facial hair grow from time to time.

The composite picture created by Jack Bauer represents the perfect blend of all the positive elements from the ages of men which have come before. This man’s time is now.

The future of man
Now there is nothing wrong with good hygiene, dressing well and taking care of one’s skin, but somewhere along the way the true essence of what it means to be a man has been eroded away and the line between the sexes has become increasingly blurred. While the previous ages of man will always appeal and continue to be desired by some women, the vast majority of women would not want to see the extinction of all things masculine.

The cycle of these evolutionary ages may not have touched all men, but those that have been swept up or passed by must be left feeling somewhat confused by all the mixed messages. Be a man and yet don’t be a man, care about your appearance but don’t care too much, be stylish but not too trendy. Men are obviously free to choose and follow many different paths but perhaps more attention should be given to the fundamental question of what it means to be a man.

As with so many dilemmas, simplicity is often the best answer. So ignore the trends, be true to yourself, and never neglect your masculinity. If that has you being even a little like Jack Bauer than that can’t be half bad.

10 Comments

  1. TerraPraeta

    Agreed! I’m not much for TX so I have to admit I have still never watched 24… but the character seems right.

    I’ve always preferred men that were both masculine and unafraid of their feelings. You know the type — they don’t broadcast, they don’t wallow (especially in public), but when they are with those that are close to them, they have no fear of having and expressing emotions to their loved ones.

    tp

  2. jan

    An excellent post as always. “24” is the one show that I follow every week, the first I have followed since…ever.

    It occurs to me that Jack Bauer is the idealized version of father, the picture we have of father when we are very young. He is a fierce protector of those he loves and a fierce warrior against those who would harm them. The other archetypes seem superficial, self-indulgent, sometimes silly, and often feminized. Jack Bauer shows that being protective, loyal and gentle to the innocent is a very desired masculine trait.

  3. Tracey

    Hi TerraPraeta – I could not agree with you more on your views on men. Masculinity is great, but it should be tempered by the ability to have complete comfort with the sharing of feelings and emotions with those special few people…there really is nothing more appealing in a man. You should definitely check out 24 sometime as the character of Jack Bauer (and the performance by Kiefer Sutherland) Thanks for your thoughts.

    Hi Jan – I’m glad you like it…I’ve been trying to conjure this post up for a while and finally the time seemed right. I think you’re probably right about Jack being an idealized version of a father. He has all the right kind of elements that’s for sure. His character is so rich and can be viewed from so many different angles the opportunities to write from some other viewpoint about him feel endless.

    24 is one of the best made and highest quality shows I’ve ever seen on television. The writing is high class, the performances cannot be faulted and well you just can’t get away from the wonder that is Jack…it’s always nice to meet another fan!! 8)

  4. Dave

    I like your examples for each stage of evolution or development. I think we are in a real transition stage right now.

    I am conducting a study about men and in the interviews, the issue of what it means to be a man comes up. There is a theme of confusion and frustration from many men as they work hard to be kindler and more sensitive and how the media makes fun of those roles (“Everybody Loves Raymond”).

  5. Pingback: Engaging the Disquiet » Blog Archive » Is Jack Bauer the role model for today’s man?

  6. Tracey

    Hi Dave – Thanks for your kind comments on the article. I had been thinking about some of the issues and ‘evolutionary’ cycles for some time and it felt like change is very much in the air at the moment. It will be interesting indeed to see where the concept of ‘man’ goes to next.

  7. Stuart Baker

    Real interesting observations.

    I think some of the core of this comes down to truly being yourself, which varies from individual to individual. Yet for a guy to be emotionally aware and communicative, respectuful and to also have his share of testosterone and take-chargeness, this sounds pretty accurate and realistic to me. To try to put yourself into some model of timely-approved behavior may well not be you.

    Dave’s valuable work with The Disquiet is delving more and more into what gives definition and meaning to manhood, and how lingering uneasiness can signal big potential doorways for growth.

    Thanks. This is good stuff.

  8. Tracey

    Hi Stuart – Thanks for your comments.

    I could not agree with you more. Being true to yourself and acting accordingly is really the best that anyone can aim at achieving. Like any trend or fad, they should not be entertained or followed just because ‘everyone else is doing so’.

    As you point out, this really is a fascinating area where much more analysis can be undertaken and discussions can be shared.

    It will really be interesting to see what concepts of ‘man’ arise in the future and how they are interpreted and accepted (or not) by wide society.

  9. Joycellyn

    Love what you’ve done with the evolution of the man.

    I’d love some insight on the modern man’s expectations of women, so please have a look at my blog entry for today…

    http://womanwiththreelives.blogspot.com/

  10. Tracey

    Hi Joycellyn – Thanks for your kind words. I’ll be dropping by your post shortly – sorry for the delay I’ve been taking a blogging break for a while.

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