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Where Have All The Manly Men In Movies Gone?

Where Have All The Manly Men In Movies Gone?

Considering all the comments that Dan Simolke’s recent
piece about Anthony Mackie (HERE) has
gotten so far, and that S & A is all grown up now being four years old, I
thought maybe I’d
 go back and ask the question again from one of my earliest pieces.

That question being – where have the all the manly men gone?

It started with a
conversation I had once with one of my friends, and she brought to my attention
an article by the African American film critic Wesley Morris, while he was writing for The Boston Globe (and who is now writing
reviews for the website Grantland) about the lack of real, genuine, masculine men in movies nowadays, that are both American and under 40.

Think about it.

Practically all male movie stars that are both American
and under 40 are really just over-sized boys who maybe haven’t really grown any
pubic hair
yet. They seem to lack a solid presence and, what I like to call, that “masculine weight”.

So my friend and I started to think about what well-known
established Black American actors could fill that bill, and I’m afraid, we

O.K. sure Idris
 would be the first to come to mind, and he’s 40, the cut off
date. Then again, of course,  he’s a Brit
not an American.

? Another Brit and he’s 50 years old. Chiwetel
? O.K. He’s 35 but, of
course, another Brit. 

C’mon there have to
be some Black American actors.

? Nah. First he’s over 40, and let’s be honest he’s never
struck me, or anyone for that matter, as
being a particularly “manly” man. 

Denzel? Well over 40. 

Jamie Foxx He’s 45. 

Anthony Mackie? He’s young enough. He’s 33, but he’s doesn’t have that “weight” I’ve
referred to. 

Don Cheadle? Over 40, and not exactly a “manly” man either. But perhaps
you feel differently. 

Morgan? Too

Samuel? Him too. 

Terrance Howard? Kevin Hart???? Are you kidding?

Maybe Chadwick
? Possibly, but he’s in
his late 30’s already, so time is running out.

(And notice I didn’t
bring up Tyler Perry, but do you really have to ask why?)

It’s a shame that if we need some masculine brothers in
the movies, the first inclination is to go to the U.K. because the pickings here are
real slim. Must be something in the water.

People who know me know that I’ve talk about this a lot.
Where are all the real masculine black men in the movies today? Where’s the
21st century Jim Brown? Whatever you
might say about him (and usually it’s women who have nothing kind to say about
Brown) you cannot deny that he was the definition of true, hard, black
masculinity back when he made movies.

So what happened?

Who in your opinion fits the bill? And NO rappers! I said ACTORS

Someone who actually acts
for a living, and not someone who does films because someone offered them a role, and still, even then, can’t show up on the set on time, knowing their lines.

Let’s face it, you couldn’t remake this film today… Are there enough black actors to convincingly play these roles?

This Article is related to: Features


Julius Hollingsworth

I'm glad those guys were in films long ago .But they are no more or less actors than rappers today most were athletes, none of those actors went to a theater school or conservatory.Yes ,a well trained actor can do any part.But a well trained actor dose not want to.(lol)


For your consideration: Michael Jai White and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Really like Idris Elba and Eamonn Walker wears 50 very well!


Face it!!! 40 is the new 30…. We live in a different time – I often thought of this too… those days are long gone.


Chadwick is only 31


Chadwick is only 31


Really Sergio? "Jim Brown? Whatever you might say about him (and usually it’s women who have nothing kind to say about Brown)" And that's what sucks!!! Men should equally be disgusted with his violence against women!!!!!!!!


The so-called manly men are where they were designed to be which is in a horrible place known as The Prison Industrial Complex. The lack of the "masculine male" is a direct result of the civil rights upheavals, the swagger, confidence and politics of the Black Panther Party. Those who want to act in Hollywood suppress anything that might get them identified with those angry, wily brothers in prison. Being a "scary black buck" will not get you them white bucks in Hollywood (unless your Suge Knight and he's not even an actor though he plays that role quite well)


Morris Chestnut perhaps? I think he's manly… might be over 40 though. But realistically, manly black man have never gotten much work in Hollywood, and Three the Hard Way was made during the movie industries blaxploitation heyday, so these manly men were caricatures — not that I have a problem with that. It's all entertainment. You mentioned Idris Elba. While he's' definitely manly, he's also an awesome actor, which is way more important. Yet even so, he doesn't get much work in the US. If you’re a fan, check out Luther on Netflix.



" From the little I've read of Sergio's writings he's most likely cracking up at all the criticism." ~BLUTOPAZ

WHAT!? I thought everybody knew… Sergio is the master of tongue & cheek, sarcasm and black bait. I am reminded of American Folklore: Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby

"Scratch out my eyeballs! Tear out my ears by the roots! Cut off my legs! Do whatnsoever you want to do with me, Brer Fox, but please, please, please! Don't throw me in that briar patch!". Brer Fox was convinced now that the worst thing he could do to Brer Rabbit was the very thing Brer Rabbit didn't want him to do. He snatched him off the Tar Baby and wound up his arm like he was trying to throw a fastball past Hank Aaron and chunked that rabbit across the road and smack dab in the middle of the briar patch. Just about the time he decided he was rid of Brer Rabbit, just about the time a big grin started to spread across his face, he heard a little giggle.

"Tee-hee! Tee-hee!" And the giggle broke into the loudest laughing you've ever heard.

Brer Fox looked up to see Brer Rabbit sitting on top of the hill on the other side of the briar patch.

Brer Rabbit waved. "I was born and raised in the briar patch, Brer Fox! Born and raised in the briar patch!" And he hopped on over the hill and out of sight.

So folks, if you're of the over sensitive persuasion, enter at your own risk 'cause this is what Sergio do. He is the Brer Rabbit of S&A. He loves getting the Brer Foxes of the world in a ball of confusion. It cracks him up *lol*

And btw, I'd suggest reading the post reeeeaaaalllll good 'cause as I said, he has been here before–> "I thought maybe I'd go back and ask the question again from one of my earliest pieces. That question being – where have the all the manly men gone? People who know me know that I've talk about this a lot (i's was born and raised in this here briar patch). Where are all the real masculine black men in the movies today? Where's the 21st century Jim Brown? " ~ Sergio


When it comes to imagery in film it all boils down to who has the power to control the images. We have given power to white folk who put the American black masculine man and replaced him with the over the top gay coon. We stopped controlling our own images just to get a piece of that shine that Hollywood offers. Look at black reality tv shows. When you show a group of women there will be at least one over the top gay coon acting all overly flamboyant. The masculine black man is seen as a threat that is why they try their hardest to put every black actor in a dress at some point in his career. Tyler Perry was emasculating himself before Hollywood came calling and if he never did the Madea role then they wouldn't have bothered. If his plays contained more of a masculine aspect then he would still be doing plays or straight to DVD releases only. Then with the ever complaining black feminists screaming their anti-patriarchy rants and rape culture talk we will never see another masculine black man in American film we will just have a bunch of feminized black men snapping their fingers, carrying "manbags", and doing twerk videos.

The Question

Longing for the days of the monosyllabic mandingo? Coons scrambling to defend the yearning?


This is the person Sergio wants African American Men to emulate as "masculine?"

But for all of Brown's good deeds and athletic prowess, there has been a dark side to him, too. He was frequently accused of violent crimes, primarily toward women, and though he was not found guilty, they have hurt his image.

An 18-year-old accused Brown of forcing her to have sex after giving her whisky, but a jury found him innocent of assault and battery in the 10-day trial in 1965. He was accused of throwing a model from a balcony in 1968, but when the 22-year-old woman refused to name Brown as her assailant, the charge of assault with intent to murder was dropped.

He was acquitted of assaulting a man after a traffic accident in 1969. He was fined $500 and spent a day in jail after beating up a golfing partner. He was charged with rape, sexual battery and assault in 1985, but the charges were dropped when the 33-year-old woman gave inconsistent testimony. The next year he was arrested for allegedly beating his fiancée after accusing her of flirting. He spent three hours in jail, but three days later the 21-year-old woman said she didn't want to prosecute.

In 1999, Brown was convicted in Los Angeles of smashing the window of his 25-year-old wife Monique's car, but was acquitted of making terrorist threats against her. The judge sentenced him to three years' probation, stripped him of his driver's license for a year, and ordered him to attend special counseling for domestic batterers.


I, too, am not really excited about this article….for one because I see it as a subtle put down….age and looks but two, because as a female, it seems like 'masculine weight' is defined as an OG….the quintessential 70's-80's bad boy that does not do 'comedy'. However, I decided to list some actors that I think has 'masculine weight' now or enough to see that in 10 years as they grow and mature as they experience life – that weight will deepen and exude, whether they are on screen or not. I think these guys are 35 and under and I did not discriminate based on looks, size, class or genre of acting work.

Mechad Brooks
Pooch Hall
Isaiah Mustafa
Christian Keyes
Lance Gross
Columbus Short
Jesse Williams
Brandon T. Jackson
Nate Parker
Tyler James Williams
Michael B. Jordan
Denzel Whitaker
Leslie Odom, Jr.
Aml Ameen
Omar Gooding
Quinton Aaron
Mehcad Brooks….yep I added him twice. I likey.


Silly piece for a number of reasons, but if you're not gonna count any rappers in your stringently defined group, you shouldn't count Jim Brown either. He was, after all, a football player first. He only started doing films because "somebody offered him a role."


I hope this article was meant to be comical, because this is quite possibly THEE silliest thing I've read in a while. This is damn ner despicable…I mean, have this convo with your girlfriends at home, but not in public. (I HOPE it was a girl who wrote this)


Hellooooo!!! Dwayne Johnson is the manliest of manly black men that I know!!!! And he's under 30 and Fine as wine!!! Also, Daniel Sunjata, whose played manly on TV mostly. And why do they have to be under 40? Most men don't reach true maturity until about 36, 38.



Skeleton Man

Why was Michael Jai White forgotten?


"Are there enough black actors to convincingly play these roles?"

What is convincing about the performances in Three the Hard Way? Grown men in leisure suits and turtlenecks running around karate chopping groups of villains, all by themselves.

Brother G

Sergio is right spot on. It is shame so many of us are so far from our Africa roots that we can no longer make what used to be common sense evaluations. The folks who created the blueprint for gender roles and male female relations were our ancient ancestors, people who modern science has proven to have been able to somehow perceive the natural order and then form extremely long lasting and mentally healthy societies around this natural order. Somehow as we have been integrated into the western world we too fall prey to the doctrine of "reality is what ever the latest social trend says it is". To all the people towing the line of Sergio's "outdated" concept of masculinity, perk up your metrosexual ears: gender roles and male female relationship traditions, when sane, are based on real, testable biological and spiritual realities, not philosophy and social constructs. Gender is not a social construct! Masculinity and manhood is the biological congealing of the expansive, active, aggressive and protective aspects of creation. There are pheromones in the semen, sweat and saliva of men that make women calm, feel protected and loved. And the more testosterone you have swirling in your bloodstream, the more "manly" you are, the your woman feels these things. This is a natural high that was put in place by the creator, making a man both protector and peace maker in his home. A series of recent studies prove that is is male dna, that comes from a woman's male child, seeping into her brain and bloodstream that boosts her immune system, giving tremendous protections against cancer, Alzheimers and a host of other female organ diseases that are crushing modern day society.
I could go on an even longer diatribe about the spiritual aspects of manhood but it would take too long, so I will simply give a taste: the reality called "mother's intuition" is a real thing. Our ancestors were able to perceive it on a higher level and cultivated a whole protective system of matrilineality. Imagine this system as a force field expanding from mother to child to a force field covering an entire society. And get this: it masculine energy and biology that activates the force field. The manlier the men, the more help mothers get to protect the babies and society. Interested parties will find much more about this in my book series "Shades of Memnon." A very masculine book optioned by a very masculine Wesley Snipes.
So, "As above, so below." Whatever is going on in the universe in the spiritual realm, which quantum science now proves to exist, better be going on in the material world if a society plans on staying healthy and alive. Other wise we have what we deal with today, with women doing harsh, hot, make or break jobs during child bearing years in an insane competition with men, thus searing their wombs and giving birth to children with autism and other "mystery" diseases. Aint no mystery! When you do what you feel like doing as opposed to living in harmony with the natural order, you get sick. Of course the powers that be in this western world will not tell you that because they want to sell you products after you get ill.
We need masculine men in the media to remind us what real manhood is supposed to be. And what men are supposed to be is written in stone forever by biological and spiritual realities that will exist long after the current "isms" are dead and forgotten: men are supposed to do in society what that male dna does in a woman's body. Give strength, protection and security to both women and all of us. As black people this is something we sorely need. Bravo Sergio!


How about a man who is faithful to his wife, treats women with dignity and supports his kids? That would be a refreshing concept of manhood. Why does the ability to punch another person's face in the makings of a "manly man?"


All the "manly men" you are looking for are rappers and athletes. Many of them refer to themselves as thugs, pimps, players…they don't become thespians and prance around on off -broadway stages to prove they are "real" actors. Why would you claim Jim Brown (athlete) as a "real" actor and not modern athletes and entertainers?

julius hollingsworth

How about Jeffrey Wright he can play anything.Mos Deff the same he started off as a actor before he became a rapper.Xzibit is a fine actor lets not toss him because he started off as a rapper. Michael Jai White,Malik Whitfield,Alimi Ballard,Royce Johnson ,Gilbert Glen Brown ,etc. are all actors on the rise who are talented and can be a player if…..if the part calls for it .Seems to me the writers are writing for more three dimensional character's right now.Let's not go backwards………..forward……be the change you seek……get to writing and producing and take the risk for success.Sink or swim.

Ivory Jeff Clinton

This post is spot-on. I hadn't thought about the issue it raises and didn't know about Wesley Morris's article until checking out this page. Michael B. Jordan, who is 26, is an actor I think is well on his way to filling the void. …


This is the most shameful article…"Manly men." Seriously….Is SERGIO from the 70s….What are these conservative gender constructs you are trying to put on men. What? You want someone to grab their balls during the opening credits! Please send this writer's resume to FOX.


I GOT IT! I've found the perfect manly man, Derek Luke! O.K. surely I jest but this is a tuff question. I mean, I could say all the manly men grabbed their hats when the NAACP came to town. I'm serious, I'm with you Sergio, back in the days of Black Belt Jones, Three The Hard Way and Black Samson, black men were kickin' a whole lotta ass. But then, in walked the political snobs who confuse art with reality. Things would have been fine and dandy if they left real-enough alone and gave their stamp of approval. But noooooooo, they huddled in their negro sap camps, only to bring out the stamp of BLAXPLOITATION. OH LORD, lions, tigers and bears, the boogie man gonna get us.

But again, I had to think long and hard to come up with next Buck and The Preacher Man. I rattled my brain and Blair Underwood fell out. Wait a minute now, there's nothing wrong with pretty-boy-tough-types. However, my lady pointed out that his characters only beat on woman. I said "WHAT?!". Well, I didn't know in both films, Asunder and Madea's Family Reunion, he didn't have no problem slapping women, so I dropped his name.

"And NO rappers!"

Okay, I got that, but what about the toughest of tough guys, Mike Tyson? Come on now, he's an actor and he has kicked plenty of ass. Opps, he's 79 ain't he? Well, I know he's one year older than my next pick, Michael Jai White. Certainly we can bend the rules for that guy? Come on now, I saw him destroy folks in Blood and Bone… he was no joke. But Sergio, I believe you've stomped me. It seems all the manly men have gone bye-bye. So I guess I can sing It Looks Like Another Love TKO.



1. I thought Chadwick was 31?! Are you sure about his age?

2. "….the definition of true, hard, black masculinity back when he made movies".

That's the real issue here. What is your definition of masculinity? You didn't truly outline the definition in the article, and everyone on this site may have a different definition of masculinity.

3. Maybe what you are truly reaching for is a level of maturity and swagger that develops over time as opposed to masculinity, which is why almost all of your choices are age 40 or above.

4. My list of American actors under 40 that initially come to mind are: Chadwick (of course), Omar Epps (39), Laz Alonso (39), Michael Ealy (39), and Omari Hardwick (39).

Lamman Rucker, Bookeem Woodbine, Chris Tucker and Jason George are just past 40. I'm sure that there are a few more gentlemen who I will think of later. Once again, this entire post is based upon one's individual definition of masculinity.


I suggest rework your outdated definition of masculinity.


I'd say The Rock but he doesn't have the right film presence (got the right body) and he just hit 40. All I can come up with. I think the average American man felt emasculated by the real men so Hollywood started hiring these average looking, never exercised a day in his life, below average to average intellect nobodies today's male feels more connected with. Or else if they are the opposite of the above you're not really scared of them. Big loveable hunks of meat.


I'm sorry. Why not Tyler Perry?

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