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Raising Boys to be Leaders

If we want to raise boys to become leaders, we have to teach them to have courage.  It is virtually impossible to be an effective leader without courage. Leading a family, operating a business, going to school, and even volunteering your time require courage in various degrees.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the conquest of it. Courage (especially in males) is the willingness to fail. Courage is the defender and protector of all other virtues. Courage emancipates us and allows us to move with freedom and vigor.
So, how do we teach our sons to have courage?  One way is to teach your son that being “nice” isn’t the highest aspiration a man can live up to. In fact, sometimes I think niceness is the enemy of courage. Many times in life a man, husband, or father is forced to make decisions in the best interest of his family or society that do not appear to be nice on the outside. I’ve been forced as a father to make decisions that my children perceived at the time as heartless, mean-spirited, or just plain stupid. But they were always made with their best interest in the long run in mind. If my goal had only been to be nice (or to have been liked), I would have not been able to make the hard decisions that were important to their long-term healthy growth and development.
Our culture promotes being nice as the highest virtue a man can achieve. Many of the newer “guy” movies inspire males to be lovable slackers, with no aim in life but to smoke pot, bed women, and get by without working. But the young men are very “nice,” so it’s okay. And many young women today seem drawn to soft, passive, quiet men who do not ruffle feathers and who do what they are told. It’s a nonthreatening but uninspired vision of manhood.
Niceness and meanness are feminine concepts. You seldom see men complaining that another man is mean or not nice. On the outside, that desire for niceness in males would appear to be a noble goal. However, it’s really a way of neutering masculinity. Being nice takes away the power of a man to lead. It removes passion, conviction, and courage from a man’s soul. Nice guys might not always finish last, but they seldom run the race at all.
You cannot be a leader without at least some people getting mad at you. In fact, you cannot accomplish anything important in life without having someone get upset with you. By its very nature, leadership will offend or upset a certain percentage of individuals. If your son grows up to care too much about what others think of him or whether he inadvertently upsets someone, he will never accomplish anything significant with his life, including raising exceptional children.

Want your son to be a leader?  Teach him to be courageous.  Remember–parents who exhibit courage produce courageous children.
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Does Political Correctness Increase Bullying?

If you are like me you are sick of hearing about this topic.  But that begs the question: is bullying becoming a bigger problem within our culture, or does the media just sensationalize it because it is the topic du jour?  If it isincreasing maybe one reason is the constraints that political correctness forces upon young males.
Perhaps because our culture has somehow minimized (or even demonized) the majestic qualities of manhood, many of our boys today seem a bit softer, perhaps more feminized, than in the past. They seem a bit gun-shy—with a deer in the headlights look about them. They stay in puberty longer and delay launching into manhood later than their predecessors. (Why become a man when being a man is bad?)  Others, perhaps because they have been caused to be ashamed of being a male, overcompensate by acting out in dramatic caricatures of manhood—they are overly macho, violent, and sexually promiscuous.
Young men today also have a certain amount of repressed anger. This may contribute to the seeming increase in bullying in schools, but also in a more escalated level or degree of violence among young males. This is possibly caused by not allowing young males to solve their social issues as they have for thousands of years—on their own. In the past when two young males disagreed about something, they went to the playground and tussled around until one or the other acceded.  Generally they both just got too tired to continue and quit. They then shook hands and forgot about it. In fact, many boys I fought with went on to become my good friends. Today, however, with adult interference, boys are not allowed to solve their own problems. They are taught that any kind of aggression or (gasp) violence is bad. So they are forced to repress those feelings of disrespect, humiliation, and injustice, which eventually cause those feelings to fester into frustration, anger, resentment, and bitterness—far more powerful emotions than they were originally faced with. Eventually those powerful repressed emotions spill over and explode into greater levels of violence evidenced by the shootings and stabbings we see of young men across the country.
A big mistake that our culture currently makes with boys is that we unconsciously combine aggression and violence into one behavior. From a males’ perspective the two are not the same. Boys and men see aggression as useful—it is constructive of the self. Violence is just the opposite—it is destructive.  So when our schools, courts, and social service workers confuse the two it does a disservice to boys who actually need aggression in many areas of their life. Our culture just generally assumes now that the more feminized traits like being quiet, sitting down, being contemplative, and nurturing are the right way to act, and the more masculine traits like anger, aggression, confrontation, and one-upmanship are wrong—in every circumstance! That’s not true and does a great disservice to our boys. There are times when it is appropriate to be angry and confrontational instead of passive or gentle.
Our schools and culture’s knee-jerk response to male violence (or even just natural aggression) of establishing a “no tolerance” policy has probably been more detrimental than helpful to young males. (If there is any question that our public educational system has been “feminized” we need look no further than this policy.) One reason is because it’s actually less frightening for a male to “act out” (physically fight) when he feels threatened than it is to have the self-control to face the issue head on. So for instance when a boy gets made fun of on the playground, his sense of honor requires him to respond. But perhaps because he does not have the maturity or coping skills to understand that the more mature thing to do would be to confront his attackers in a non-violent way, he responds emotionally and strikes back. When we condemn his action or response as being “bad” we send the message that his honor is not worth fighting for. And yet he has an innate ego response mechanism that causes him to seek justice when he is disrespected. To not allow him to respond or to require he get someone else (like an adult female) to advocate for him tells him he is powerless, disrespected, and dishonorable. Respect is a key attribute of the core of a male’s psyche. When he does not feel respected or is allowed to be disrespected without recourse, it rots his pride and weakens his level of self-respect.
I’m not promoting that we should teach young males that violence is the way to solve problems. But the myth that “violence never solved anything” is just that, a myth. Violence solves lots of problems—especially violent problems. If someone is trying to murder your wife and children, appealing to their sense of compassion is probably not a good strategy to stop them.
Back in the “old days” when a gym teacher had two boys who had problems with each other (which is inevitable) he put boxing gloves on them both and told them to settle their differences in a supervised environment. Afterward, they were made to shake hands and moved on. Even in the most adversarial unsupervised playground scuffle seldom was anyone injured beyond a bloody nose. Males always respect their opponent after doing battle with one another and frequently become good friends because of the respect they earn for one another. We did not see the problems then that we face today with high levels of violence and the killing of our young men.
However, our more feminized world of total tolerance does not allow a young man to seek justice, which causes him to be resentful and angry. Males are taught it is bad to fight or even be aggressive over any insult no matter how egregious the offense. This frustrates their sense of justice.
Again, I’m not promoting violence, bullying, or unchecked aggression, but this kind of “feminization” of young males not only results in a more intensified level of aggression, but also produces passive men who often internalize this anger and frustration, which then manifests itself in passive-aggressive behavior, which can be just as destructive.
I watched this play out with a group of young males at the local high school the other day. Their horse-playing was becoming somewhat aggressive as young men are wont to do. Several teachers observed this and sounded the alarm that a “fight” was about to happen. This, of course, got all the adults in a dither, running around the building, sounding the alarm. It was obvious from the boys’ reaction to this that they enjoyed the control they gained over the adults who were responding to their “gang fight.” You could virtually see the gears turning in their heads as they somewhat tongue-in-cheek continued the escapades until the teachers and administration had worked themselves into a near panic, at which point the boys quietly disappeared into the sunset with smirks on their faces.
We do our boys a disservice when we do not allow them a certain amount of aggression and autonomy in solving their own social problems. Males are physical beings—they solve problems through action, not by talking about their feelings. (Frankly, to talk about your feelings after having had your honor disparaged does not seem like adequate recompense.) Males often bond with one another through aggression. This means males are biologically wired to be more physically active, more aggressive, and more likely to need physical activity to blow off emotional stress.

Want to stop bullying?  If we want to eliminate physical aggression and fights with young males, we need to find find physical competitions or other direct challenges for them to engage in when they have issues with each other. In addition, directing them into battles that they can use their natural aggression in a healthy way (fighting against sex trafficking, abuse, or other injustices) gives them a more noble vision of their roles in life.  This teaches them to be true warriors who use their power to lift up others, rather than becoming bullies who abuse those weaker than they are.
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Michael Gurian: If I Were a Parent of a Boy…

For the next several months a group of writers focused on the issues of boys and men are collaborating through the writing and sharing of blog posts in order to bring greater awareness to the unique challenges boys and men face in the 21stCentury.  Twice a month these writers will be posting the same posts on their various media formats to spread the word and to introduce their audiences to the great work of their peers.  Today’s post features New York Times Best-Selling Author Michael Gurian, whose book, The Wonder of Boys, is credited with launching the modern boy’s movement.

                In working with her family therapy clients over the last twenty years, my wife, Gail, has said, “If I were a parent of a boy, I would really be worried.”  She is referring to her fear for the social, economic, emotional, and spiritual lives of America’s boys.
As we raised our daughters, we asked our girls what they thought of the gender landscape around them.  Gabrielle (then 16) came home from school in 2006 and said, “We had a discussion in social studies about boys and girls—everyone was talking like girls had it hard but boys had it easy.  They were in denial.” 
Davita (then 19), came home from college for the holidays last year and reported a discussion with her college friends.  “I’m really glad I’m a girl, not a boy.  The boys aren’t sure what to do, but the girls are doing everything.”
These discussions were anecdotal, of course. Both girls and boys, and women and men, can experience suffering in our world.  Girls don’t have it easy.  Women don’t have it easy.
But it is also true that boys and men are in substantial trouble today.  They increasingly fill our principal’s offices, ADD/ADHD assessment clinics, and rolls of the homeless and unemployed.  Boys and men are more likely to be victims of violence than girls and women, commit suicide at four times the rate of females, and suffer emotional disturbance, behavioral and other brain related disorders in higher numbers. They are suspended or expelled from school in much higher numbers than girls, receive two thirds of the Ds and Fs in schools, and lag behind girls in standardized test scores in all fifty states.  They abuse substances and alcohol at higher rates than girls and are incarcerated at exponentially higher rates (for more data in all these areas, please see www.whitehouseboysmen.org).  
Especially telling, the majority of government and philanthropic funding for gender friendly-programming goes to programs and innovations to help girls and women. The existence of this funding is to be celebrated, but the disconnect between the reality males face and the social justice attention males get needs to be examined by each of us. 
We are in denial about our males.
I believe this denial will continue (and we will ultimately rue and mourn the dangerous, socially debilitating consequences) unless we change our academic, media, government, and philanthropic programming to include a new ideological truth:  just as the traditionalist paradigm regarding girls and women needed to be deconstructed and replaced by the feminist paradigm in the last century, the feminist paradigm, especially as it regards boys and men, needs to be deconstructed and, at least in part, replaced now if we are to meet the needs of both genders
Why does it need to change?  Because it posits that females are victims of a masculine society that oppresses them systematically, and this isn’t true in the developed world anymore.  While individual girls and women can be dominated and demeaned by individual boys and men (and vice versa), we do not live in a culture that systematically teaches girls and women that they are second class citizens and boys and men that they are superior.
While some areas of life are still male dominant (mechanical engineering, senior leadership at some corporations and some areas of government), other areas of life and work are female dominant (management, medicine, education, mental health professions).  The original feminist paradigm posited systemic male dominance in our culture, but male dominance is only systemic in small pockets of the culture and female dominance also exists in others.
Can our culture open its mind to our new reality?  To answer yes, we will need to make a distinction between gender issues in the developed world and the developing world.  In many countries in the developing world, systemic and brutal patriarchy does prevail and the feminist model of male dominance/female victimization is essential for encouraging social justice.  My own parents, while they served in the State Department, helped build schools for girls in Afghanistan against impossible odds.  In that world, systemic degradation of females was and is prevalent.
But in the developed world, we can’t keep operating out of a gender lens that blinds us to reality.  If we do continue to remain blind, we will continue to avoid fulfilling our most human of imperatives:  to take care of our children.  If we do not fix what ails our sons–if we do not love them in the ways they need to be loved–we will create an increasingly dangerous society for girls and women, too.  No parent of either gender wants that.

Copyright Michael Gurian 2013
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The War on Men

Guys, we need to stop being ashamed of being men. Virtually every behavior that is natural to a man is now being criticized and we are made to feel ashamed about being our gender. Perhaps if we spent more time uplifting men instead of trying to annilate masculinity, we’d have better men.

 I recently posted this comment on a social network site. Not a huge fan of Men’s Health Magazine, but this ain’t bad advice: “You can’t be a topnotch man unless you’re deeply grateful. For what? Glad you asked. For the gift of your gender. For those muscles in your back. For those neurons in your brain. For your mirth. Your lust. Your courage. For your possibilities. A man in full appreciates the twist of fate that made him so strong, so cunning, so stalwart, so alert, so sexually skilled, so fully equipped, so good to go. Live the appreciation, by using it all.”

 The point was that men should have an attitude of gratefulness. Is there anything wrong with a man being grateful? Hardly—I’d say it’s one of the foundations of authentic masculinity. Men were almost embarrassingly silent regarding the post, but a number of women responded with snarky comments like, “so humble” or “vain,” or “very prideful.”

 Really? Are we so threatened by passionate, proud masculinity that we (as a culture) are programmed to immediately take steps to keep it squashed down. After all, if we can keep men ashamed of themselves, we can keep them docile. And docile men are easy to control. We’ve raised a generation of docile sons and we now call them slackers. If I had posted a note encouraging women to be proud of how they were created I’d have been lauded as an enlightened and highly intelligent human being.

In the past, men’s conferences such as Promise Keepers were met with criticism and distain by the media and women (even Christian women). They were portrayed as men getting together to plot and scheme with some ulterior motive to dominate or control women, putting them back under the thumb of oppression. Recently a Christian men’s conference focusing on inspiring men to act more manly has been heavily lambasted by Christian men and women in the media as being chauvinistic and rather stupid. Comments such as “Why do men need a conference to teach them how to be men anyway?” were cavalierly tossed about intending to humiliate the men who attended (yet interestingly national and local conferences that teach women how to live fulfilling and satisfying lives as wives, mothers, and women are thriving).

As a culture we seem to be highly threatened when groups of men get together so we do all we possibly can to demolish (or at least integrate with females) men’s clubs, boys groups, or any other male-only domains. After all, we wouldn’t want men getting together without the supervision of a female—who knows what might happen? When men have gotten together in the past they’ve only done things like, oh, put a man on the moon, or write the Constitution and Bill of Rights for the greatest country ever created in the history of the world.

 Men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they make no efforts to improve themselves they are criticized as being lazy and self-centered. If they do try and improve themselves by learning from other men they are accused of trying to usurp a woman’s rights and it’s assumed that there must be some nefarious motive behind what they are attempting. And when they do good and right things (like the young Catholic men in the photo above who were praying together to protect a Catholic cathedral from vandalism) they are mocked and chastised.

 Guys don’t buy into it. You need other men in your life. Learn from them what healthy (and unhealthy) masculinity looks like. And when you make mistakes (which you will) learn from them and don’t be ashamed. If you are not making mistakes (and getting criticized by someone), you’re not accomplishing anything.

 Now go out and figure out how to accomplish something great!

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Does Niceness Destroy Courage in Males?

Our culture currently promotes being “nice” as the highest virtue a boy or man can achieve. After all, like the bumper stickers say, “Mean people suck.” It is easier to drift along with the current of the culture than to try and swim against it. All the newer “guy” movies inspire males to be lovable, “nice,” slackers, with no aim in life but to smoke pot, bed women, and get by without working as much as possible. But they are very “nice” so it’s okay. And young women today seem drawn to soft, passive, quiet men who do not ruffle feathers and who do what they are told. It’s a nonthreatening, but uninspired vision of manhood.

While on the surface this may seem like a grand virtue, niceness may not serve your son’s best interests in the long run. Teach your son that being “nice” isn’t the highest aspiration a man can live up to (mom—I know this goes against your nature but bear with me). In fact, sometimes, I think niceness is the enemy of courage. Many times in life a man, husband, or father is forced to make decisions in the best interest of his family or society that do not appear to be “nice” on the outside. I’ve been forced as a father to make decisions that my children perceived at the time as heartless, mean-spirited, or just plain stupid. But they were always in their best interest in the long run. If my goal had only been to be nice (or to have been liked), I would have not been able to make the hard decisions that were important to their long-term healthy growth and development. Niceness and meanness are feminine concepts. You seldom see men complaining that another man is mean or not nice. On the outside that desire for niceness in males would appear to be a noble goal. However, it’s really a way of neutering masculinity. Being “nice” takes away the power of a man to lead. It removes passion, conviction, and courage from a man’s soul. Nice guys might not always finish last, but they seldom run the race at all. I recently sat next to two men–one older and one younger than me—who are both very “nice” guys. We were having a discussion about a recent upheaval at our church. The older man made the comment, “I really don’t want to know the details behind what is happening because then I will be forced to make a judgment.” The young man agreed and said he would rather not have to face the problems because then he would be forced to choose a side. I was shocked and not a little disgusted in their responses. They’d rather stick their heads in the sand than have to take a stand and be perceived as being judgmental. They lacked the courage to stand up for what they believe in. When did judging the value of anything become such a sin in our culture anyway? Anything except whether a person is nice or mean, I guess. You cannot be a leader and not have at least some people get mad at you. In fact you cannot accomplish anything in life without having someone get upset at you. That’s part of the problem with today’s politicians (besides the media) is that they try to make everyone happy. They water down their message and policies until they are so inoffensive that they end up accomplishing nothing. By its very nature, leadership will offend or upset a certain percentage of individuals. If your son grows up to care too much about what others think of him or whether he inadvertently upsets someone, he will never accomplish anything significant with his life, including raising exceptional children. It’s not that being nice is bad. Men should be nice, polite, compassionate, empathetic, and understanding as often as possible. But when men are only nice, they live shallow, frustrating, and unfulfilling lives—as do those around them. To accomplish anything of significance in life requires us to offend at least some people. Men who are only nice are not willing to offend anyone—they never take a stand. A man can have many attributes that can make him successful in life. But if “niceness” is the most dominant character trait he has, he is probably not someone who can be depended upon to be a strong leader. I know several very nice young men who are struggling with issues like lust, faith, relationships, careers, and a variety of other issues. We talk about them and I give them some strategies and new perspectives on how to deal with these issues, but the truth is that all men deal with these struggles. I think at some point it becomes a matter of courage (or lack thereof). Are you struggling with lust? Well welcome to the club—all men struggle with lust. Don’t mope around about it. Get some stones and deal with it. Good men struggle with sin and vice just as much as bad men—they just have the courage to deal with it in a productive manner. Don’t sit around analyzing it to death. Lack of courage causes us to become paralyzed and not take action in order to solve problems. I tell these young men to stiffen their spine. There are three billion men on the planet and almost all of them deal with the same issues, especially lust. Some deal with it productively because they love their wives and children; others deal with it by engaging in prostitution, viewing pornography, or having affairs. Which kind of man do you want your son to be? This is an excerpt from Rick’s book A Man in the Making. You can find out more at www.betterdads.net

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Training Up Leaders


Pray not for lighter burdens, but for stronger backs.
–Theodore Roosevelt

As a culture we are losing our most valuable resource—male leadership. Young men have grown up in an age of cultural suspicion, and they have found that it is difficult to exercise any kind of leadership without raising someone’s ire.
Cultures that allow families and communities to exist with no stable, healthy male authority and leadership devolve into chaos. Healthy masculine leadership protects the weak. It uses its influence and power to provide safe, life-giving encouragement and provision.

A healthy man doesn’t shirk his responsibilities. He undertakes tasks with a “can-do” attitude and does not gripe or grumble when they become difficult or times become tough. He provides for his family as part of his manly duty. He takes pride in solving his own problems. He willingly shoulders his duties and doesn’t face his responsibilities sullenly. Aubrey Andelin says, “His acceptance of this responsibility adds substance to the faith his wife places in him when she leaves the security of her parents’ home to make her way with him.”

Boys need to hear words like strong, brave, talented, and noble in order to assimilate their duty as leaders. They need to have the adults in their lives intentionally speak affirming language that inspires and uplifts them to willingly assume the mantle that leadership imposes upon him. They need to be taught to relish the satisfaction that duty and honor bring to a man.

I am blessed and fortunate to continuously see the fruits that my ministry labors produce. To live a life where people frequently contact you to say that you made a difference or changed their lives and the lives of their families is an awesomely gratifying experience that carries with it great responsibility. Many men who know me look at my life with envy, but few are willing to make the sacrifices or take the risks necessary to achieve it. We need to encourage boys from a young age that God has a special plan for their lives. We need to train them early to be leaders and prepare them for the responsibility that comes with that role. We need to be intentional in equipping them with a bigger vision of what life is about rather than just letting them “settle” for whatever life throws at them. We need to inspire them to use the gifts and powers that God has endowed them with to make a difference in the world.

When we do that, not only will men become men again, but the world will be better because of it.

Question: What does being a leader look like to you. Talk with your son about the burdens of responsibility.

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My 10 Favorite Manly Actors


Here’s a list of my favorite “manly” actors from today’s movies—there’s a whole new list from yesteryear. Most of the young actors today don’t have the chops to compete with these guys in the acting or masculinity departments. Interestingly, most of these guys are known conservatives (what a coincidence). I intentionally left off Bobbie DeNiro because he’s too obvious and he’s been in too many bad movies lately. Although with classic movies like Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale, and Godfather part II, he definitely deserves to be on the list.

Robert Duvall: Perhaps one of the best actors of all time—he’s been in a ton of movies. If he is in a movie you can just about bet it will be good. He’s been in some of the greatest movies of all time. Coincidence—I think not.

Movies: To Kill a Mocking Bird, Godfather parts I & II, True Grit, Apocalypse Now, The Natural, Lonesome Dove, The Great Santini, Tender Mercies, Secondhand Lions, and Open Range.

Liam Neeson: Another “manly” guy who’s been in some great movies. An Irishman, he’s also got a great voice as evidenced by being the voice of Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia movies. Besides anyone who can make a great movie like Taken, deserves to be on this list.

Movies: Schindler’s List, Rob Roy, Kingdom of Heaven, Taken, Star Wars Episode II, Batman Begins, Seraphim Falls, and The Grey.

Daniel Day-Lewis: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie where Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t take over the screen. Also an Englishman/Irishman. He’s an intense guy, remaining in “character” during filming. He’s also probably pretty private as you never hear anything about him. Reportedly he’s very selective in the films he makes, often waiting five years between roles.

Movies: My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, Last of the Mohicans, The Crucible, and The Boxer.

Pierce Brosnan: I’m not sure why there are so many Irishmen on my list, but here’s another. Earlier in his career (during his Remington Steele days) I was not that impressed with him, but as he’s gotten older I find myself enjoying the range of acting he provides. He seems to have worked hard at his craft over the years to become better. He hasn’t been in many great movies but I find myself enjoying him in small parts when I see him. He produced and acted in a little known film called, Evelyn, which was a wonderful movie—catch it if you can find it.

Movies: The Thomas Crown Affair, four James Bond movies, Seraphim Falls, The Matador, and Bag of Bones.

Sam Elliott: Best voice in movies today hands down. Not since Robert Mitchum has an actor’s voice been so distinctive. Great in any “manly” role from cowboy to biker to soldier. Classic supporting performances in Mask and We Were Soldiers. Beef—it’s what’s for dinner.

Movies: The Shadow Riders, Mask, the Quick and the Dead, Conagher, Tombstone, The Big Lebowski, and We Were Soldiers.

Tom Selleck: A former male model and beach volleyball player, but still a “manly” guy. Never been afraid to sport facial hair either. Starred in the TV series Magnum P.I. before switching over to the big screen. He still does good TV work starring in the popular Jesse Stone series and Blue Bloods. He’s also supportive of the National Rifle Association (NRA) which makes him a good guy in my eyes.

Movies: The Sacketts, Shadow Riders, Three Men and a Baby, Quigley Down Under, and Crossfire Trail.

Mel Gibson: I know, Mel has fallen out of favor with the Hollywood political correct crowd. He made some big mistakes, but who hasn’t. But he’s also made some of the greatest “manly” movies of all time. Besides he’s a Three Stooges fan. So get your panties out of a bunch and just look at some of his work:

Movies: Mad Max (series), Lethal Weapon (series), Braveheart, Passion of the Christ, The Patriot, The Year of Living Dangerously, The Man Without a Face, We Were Soldiers, Signs, and What Women Want.

Russell Crowe: Russell Crowe is also out of favor with the Hollywood elites. Crowe like Gibson is an Aussie, which may have something to do with his unbreakable spirit which rubs people the wrong way. He’s also in a rock band and owns a rugby team. The Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda wanted to kidnap him.

Movies: Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, LA Confidential, Master and Commander, Cinderella Man, The Quick and the Dead, 3:10 to Yuma, and a surprisingly good Robin Hood.

Bruce Willis: Bruce is always good for an enjoyable action flick where you don’t have to think too hard. He’s also not afraid or too vain to show off his bald dome. Became popular in a TV series called Moonlighting in the 80s.

Movies: Pulp Fiction, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Sin City, Die Hard (series), The Story of Us, The Fifth Element, Grindhouse, 16 Blocks, and Tears of the Sun.

Gene Hackman: Perhaps my favorite all time actor (next to Clint). Any movie Hackman is in is a good film. Like all great actors he has longevity—he’s been consistently good for a long period of time. He’s also a fiction writer with four novels under his belt.

Movies: Bonnie & Clyde, The French Connection, The Conversation, Young Frankenstein, Hoosiers, Unforgiven, Uncommon Valor, and Mississippi Burning.

Clint Eastwood: Okay, here’s the bonus. The granddaddy of all “manly” actors—Clint! He’s a masculine icon for generations of men. From Rawhide to spaghetti westerns to a dirty cop, Clint’s perhaps the most productive producer, director, and actor alive today. He works with the same crew every film and has great loyalty on the set. Besides that he was the mayor of Carmel, CA. If I’m bored—I’m looking for a pizza and a Clint Eastwood movie. Go ahead—make my day.

Movies: Sergio Leone’s trilogy of spaghetti westerns (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), Dirty Harry films, Kelly’s Heroes, Play Misty for Me, High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider, Heartbreak Ridge, Unforgiven, The Bridges of Madison County, Million Dollar Baby, and Gran Torino.