RARA-AVIS: Re: Sensitive dude stirs up the pot

Kevin Smith (kvnsmith@total.net)
Fri, 16 Jan 1998 10:30:56 -0400 >How hard-boiled can a *sensitive* dude with a girlfriend be?

I dunno.

How hard-boiled could a *sensitive* dude without a girlfriend be? Ask
Philip Marlowe.
How hard-boiled could a *politically-correct* dude be? Ask Dan Fortune or
Matt Scudder.
How hard-boiled could a *gay* dude be? Ask Dave Brandstetter.
How hard-boiled could a *breast-feeding mother* dudette be? Ask Ms. Tree.
How hard-boiled could a *sensitive* dudette be? Ask Kinsey Milhone.
How hard-boiled could a *feminist* dudette be? Ask V.I.
How hard-boiled could a *non-sensitive* dude with a girlfriend be? Ask Mike
How hard-boiled could a guy that reads books and contributes to discussions
like this list be?

I'm talking here about hardboiled characters, not necessarily hardboiled
novels. Yes, I know, none of these characters are truly 100% hardboiled all
the time, but they all seem to have the right stuff when it counts. Maybe
that's what I was rambling on about yesterday. How to me, hardboiled
attitude and character are more important to me than mere hardboiled plot.
Marlowe was a romantic sap, and he seemed to function all right. Granted,
lately I wish Hawk and Susan would just elope, and someone would come along
and really beat the snot out of Spenser (someone he could never overcome in
a rematch), but surely a hard-boiled dude can also be sensitive. In fact,
until about The Catskill Eagle or so I thought Parker handled it pretty
well. It's a thin line, fer shur, but if you want cold, unfeeling violent
brutes, watch NFL football in between beer commercials.

It's easy for a big, brawny cop or private eye to be tough, and the genre's
sure crowded with 'em, but how hard is it for Joe Normal, with a wife,
kids, a beer belly and a minivan, to maintain his edge? To be a tough guy
after years of not having to be? This is part of what makes all those old
pulpy one-off, average joe books so good--the conflict between being hard
enough to protect the garrison, yet gentle enough to be allowed to enter
it. Which is probably why so many of the he-man woman-hater PI's are so
lonely. Who would live with them?

Like Marlowe said in Playback, "If I wasn't hard, I wouldn't be alive. If I
couldn't ever be gentle, I wouldn't deserve to be alive"

And it wasn't that long ago, Eddie, that critics were asking "How
hard-boiled could a *British* dude be?" Ask Nick Sharman, right?

And now that I've said my piece, I think I'll go sulk.

Kevin Smith
Web Guy for The Thrilling Detective Web Site
For info, mailto:kvnsmith@total.net

"Well, I'll have some rotten nights after I've sent you over/But that'll
- Seeing the Real You at Last (Bob Dylan, via Dashiell Hammett)

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