Via Instapundit and Ed Driscoll, attention is paid to a post “Why Cary Grant Is Mandatory for the Manosphere” by an econ blogger who calls himself “Captain Capitalism” (groan), a post basically about how imitating Cary Grant will help you win the women. The only really interesting thing the Captain says is that Grant shows you how you have to work at charm (something both David Hume and Jane Austen would agree with), and that a key part of it is the precise employment of a wide vocabulary. Driscoll adds little to this other than to quote an old but insightful observation by Frederica Mathewes-Green:
I’m a fan of old movies, the black-and-whites from the 1930s and 1940s, in part because of what they reveal about how American culture has changed. The adults in these films carry themselves differently. They don’t walk and speak the way we do. It’s often hard to figure out how old the characters are supposed to be—as though they were portraying a phase of the human life-cycle that we don’t have any more.
Well, I’m a fan of many of those movies, too, and of Cary Grant’s work in them, by and large. I don’t consider Grant a very admirable person, however, nor do I think that old Hollywood movies are reliable guides to manners and love-life, even if they may provide good places to start for those young folk immersed in the banal casualness of now. For such, watching the American Movie Classics channel can deliver a pleasant shock of stark contrast.
So like Driscoll and Mathewes-Green, I think the overall contrast between the adult feel of the stars of yesterday, and that of the 25-is-the-new-15 feel of the “stars” of today is telling and symbolic.
But I would pose against that archetypal gap, a hidden archetypal connection, namely the fact that Cary Grant Did Acid. That’s the title of post of mine that was part of my larger rock-connected project of sketching the contours of the Intermediate Modernity. Intermediate Modernity, 1920-1965, was what the Full Modernity of 1965-present replaced and famously revolted against in the 60s. As I say therein:
…for those who want to long for the good old AMC-portrayed America before liberals messed everything up, when men were men, women women, and everyone dressed so proper, it does not really compute that Grant became an acid-apostle.
But he did—you can follow a link there to confirm it, one which incidentally acquaints you with his…er…rather active love life, the very thing the manlier-than-thou Captain admires him for, even if it must trouble Christians like Frederica-Green and I, and really any thoughtful person who looks into it closely. In any case, my claim is that in the 1960s:
LSD…represented the total freedom now sought not just in one’s sex life but in all spheres of life, i.e., the freedom to re-form the psyche…
I also riff there on Plato’s Democratic Man, and the fact that Steve Jobs did acid, too, comparing the world-encompassing indeterminate freedom promised by our I-Devices to that promised by LSD, but let me leave you with this warning against AMC/American-Songbook/supper-club/Greatest-Generation nostalgia, and its proponents:
Nor do they want to admit that the free-love of the hippies was to a certain extent an attempt to democratize the Cary Grant [i.e., "movie-star"] experience of fooling around quite a bit. Until one admits the instability of intermediate modernity, and that our major cultural sicknesses go back at least as far as its 1920s arrival, one cannot be a genuine conservative…
That is, the manly and classy Cary Grant of the screen can be usefully posed against today’s wimpy and charmless stars, but the Cary Grant of real life was, in truth, their father.