When Jimmy Stewart died 15 years ago, I remember a discussion of how he seemed to be such a good guy. He was Hollywood’s “nice guy.” Who would take his place? It seemed almost universally agreed Tom Hanks would be the new Mr. Nice Guy.
In many ways, I agree. Both have played characters with big hearts. But in so many of those characters, there is an undercurrent of anger. Deep down, they are consumed with rage. For example, George Bailey:
Young women, let me give you some advice. If a man shakes you by the shoulders and declares he does not want to get married, believe him. It’s only in a Frank Capra movie that relationship plays out to a happy ending. Do not hitch your wagon to someone who so deeply disappointed in the outcome of his life. You will both be miserable.
You will also be less than upbeat if you work for a man like Coach Jimmy Dugan:
This is not the behavior of a “nice guy.” This is the behavior of a raging drunk.
I believe I can speak freely about anger in others. I write a blog called “Damn you, Little Rock.” I know a thing or two about throwing a hissy fit. However, I am rarely referred to a “nice girl.”
Anger is perfectly acceptable emotion for nice guys to express. It is all but forbidden for women and girls. Can you imagine how very differently that would play if a woman had been screaming like that?
In research by James R. Mahalik at Boston College, when people were asked “What do women need to do to conform to female norms?” The top answers in this country:
- use all available resources for appearance
When he asked, “What do men in this country need to do to conform with male norms?” The answers were:
- always show emotional control
- primacy of work
- pursue status
The emotional control refers to “sappy emotions.” It’s the notion that men don’t cry. But fellas are allowed to be angry, violent even, and still be considered socially acceptable. Women who get mad are just not acting right.
I gotta tell ya. That just pisses me off.