Walter Mitty Rides Again
September 5, 2006
Fantasy seems to be a constant theme with modern man (you’ll be seeing the term “modern man” a lot over the next ten Shaveblog installments, because some research study in the Netherlands asked me to do a series of essays on “modern man”, offering 200 bucks upon completion — shyah, like I’m ever going to see guilder one, but it’s a good excuse to get off my ass and write about a subject I know next to nothing about).
The rise of the Internet has made it possible for modern man to work, play, feed and clothe his family, and make his own Mr. Goodbar without ever leaving his house. So with all that free time and isolation, I guess it’s only natural that modern man turns to fantasy to keep his ever-widening, fishbelly-white ass perma-locked in his blind spot.
When Beloved Wife and I have finally put Cherished Offspring to bed and we’re sitting at our his ‘n’ her Macs winding down with a glass of wine and what-we-do-instead-of-watching-sitcoms, my guiltiest pleasure is checking out Grown Man Dress-Up sites. I thought I’d died and gone to guffaw heaven when I found The Fedora Lounge, a place where men dress up as 1940’s flyboys and dish about spats — TFL’s Matt Deckard has become a web-celeb of sorts, not quite an A-lister like Peter Pan Guy but certainly more of a household name than Mini Gene Simmons. Always in costume, never dropping character, generous with expert tips on how to cop the Elliot Ness look at Nordstrom, Deckard rarely disappoints the true connoisseur of self-immolative web loons. What, you thought real men don’t tuck their undershirts into their Underoos? You stand corrected.
And now, after having run the snooker table and sunk every web-yuk cliche in the book and then some, Planet Shavegeek has joined the ranks of online man-tasy. Specifically, the classic “98-lb. weakling beats up big bully” man-tasy.
First popularized by Charles Atlas on the back of every comic book I ever read growing up, the franchise grew to encompass escapist man-tasy films where scores of solitary milquetoasts rocked suppressed-rage boners as Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood kicked over rows of Harleys outside biker bars, threw much larger stuntmen than themselves around like Raggedy Andy, flipped the bird to anyone in a position of authority and basically made porn for pencil-necks.
The genre finally spent its nuclear fuel and collapsed like a white dwarf star after the Mitty Goin’ Medieval classic “Falling Down” set the bar so high dorks everywhere just sort of retaped the bridges on their nerdlinger glasses and went back to their cubicles, certain they’d witnessed the End of an Era.
That is, until now. What is the state of modern man, you ask (you being the Dutch researcher who owes me 343.873 guilders)? Why, look no further than the Shavegeek Community Players and their Fall production of “Death Wish VI: Like Any Of This Shit Really Happened”.