It’s fairly endearing that Nick Offerman, of all people, has become the symbol of manliness for this generation. Somewhere, there is a longer essay to explore this phenomenon about Offerman, his qualities, and the shifting notion of “manliness”.
Why did you decide on having short guides to manliness strewn throughout? You write that you don’t believe you’re manly.
That’s more of a response to the world, that has for some reason decided that I am to be held up as an example of manliness or machismo. The first thing people say to me, infuriatingly, is ‘Why do you think people think you’re so manly?’ So I start the chapter by saying, ‘Look, I understand why on the surface you might think a Snickers bar is a meal — it’s packed with peanuts, it really satisfies, it’s got a nice thick dimension — but when you break it down, it’s actually a candy bar.’ And by the same token, I see the mustache, I use tools, I don’t suffer fools gladly, I don’t mince about in the public eye as frequently, so I understand why people would say, ‘Oh, that guy seems like he’s very manly.’ I’m quick to remind the audience that I’m, of my family and my community, I’m the one who went away to theater school to find a career in the arts. I have studied ballet, I have worn tights, I wear makeup every day at work, I love to cry openly at a Pixar film. So I don’t think I’m as manly as you think.
What do you consider to be manly?
It’s not punching people in the face and firing a shotgun. It’s being decent and loyal and standing by one’s principles and things like that. I also don’t think it’s right to refer to these qualities as manly per se because I think they are ideals that both men and women should strive for.
Do you think it’s possible that you’re the one who has to bear the torch for manliness anyway because there aren’t enough public figures with that kind of machismo, that kind of decency and loyalty that you value, today?
That’s something I haven’t really thought about, but it is quite sad now that you mention it. Our politicians can never remotely approach that topic, they’re too busy engaging in double speak and equivocating to ever stop and talk about decency or standing by one’s principles, because were they to do that, they’d be laughed right off the pulpit.