Daily Mail contributor Quentin Letts poses an interesting question: Why do Hollywood’s leading men seem to be vertically challenged when compared to the mega stars of the past?
In a thought-provoking piece for the UK publication, Letts examines why past male leads were taller than the ones today.
“Actors were once strapping hunks, thick-thighed he-men who had only to arrive at a film premiere to make everyone’s eyes bulge,” Letts writes. “These Adonises towered above lesser mortals and had their suits made specially for them because they were such muscular specimens. That’s the way things were when the likes of John Wayne (6ft 4in), Gregory Peck (6ft 3in), Charlton Heston (6ft 3in) and Clint Eastwood (6ft 4in) were in their prime. They were big men playing big characters, often on top of enormous horses or engaged in butch boxing bouts.
“Compare that with the recent Oscars ceremony, when our own Eddie Redmayne was announced as winner of the Best Actor category for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything,” Letts continues. “The audience members sitting near him leapt to their feet to applaud — and little Eddie was suddenly dwarfed.”
So what does Letts theorize is the reason for this change? From his perspective, the types of roles played by male leads has changed and is continuing to change, and instead of movies featuring ultra macho, buff characters, more movies are featuring sensitive male protagonists.
“Generally, films these days are less likely to contain the sort of bar brawls, tough-guy scraps and derring-do scenes requiring brawn,” Letts writes. “The modern leading man is more likely to be required to burst into tears and go shopping.”
Letts goes on to note that “gender power struggles” may have something to do with the shift in male roles.
“The hunks of old Hollywood were gorgeously suited, big as nightclub bouncers and radiated reliability. But today such men have given way to fluttering, scrawny types in torn denims, who perhaps — like Eddie Redmayne — model Burberry macintoshes in their spare time,” Letts says. “Yet this should not come as any surprise, for it matches the changes in society (in the West, at least — they have yet to buy this attitude shift in Muslim countries). Since the rise of Establishment feminism in the Seventies, men have been allowed, and, indeed, pressured, to become more touchy-feely, feminised, tame. Welcome to the realities of the gender power struggle, as played out over the past 40 years or so.
“It would be absurd to suggest that a tall artiste cannot be sensitive and metrosexual, but the dramatic stereotype today equates fine bone structures and physical petiteness with emotional delicacy,” Letts concludes. “And it is that inner daintiness that film directors, rightly or wrongly, reckon audiences want these days.”
Source: Daily Mail / Photo Source: Daily Mail