Melissa McCarthy as Donna Stankowski, Jerry Seinfeld as Bob Cabana, and Jim Gaffigan as Edsel Kellogg III in Unfrosted
(Netflix)

Jerry Seinfeld Misses ‘Real Men’ and Dominant Masculinity … Sigh

This is just the press tour that will never end. Jerry Seinfeld, known for a show that is no longer really that funny, has been promoting his movie Unfrosted for the last 80 years. Now, he decided to talk about “real men” and masculinity to promote the Pop Tarts film.

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While on The Free Press’ Honestly with Bari Weiss podcast (a cursed statement), Seinfeld talked about nostalgia for the 1960s and why it exists. “There’s another element there that I think is the key element, and that is an agreed-upon hierarchy, which I think is absolutely vaporized in today’s moment,” he said. “I think that is why people lean on the horn and drive in the crazy way that they drive, because we have no sense of hierarchy. And as humans, we don’t really feel comfortable like that.”

He then began to describe “real men” of that time period, citing John F. Kennedy, Muhammad Ali, Sean Connery, and Howard Cosell as examples. None of these men are particularly “saint-like” through a modern lens which already sets the tone for what Seinfeld is saying.

He went on to talk about these “real men” by saying: “You can go all the way down the line — that’s a real man—I want to be like that someday. Well, no. I never really grew up. I mean, you don’t want to, as a comedian, because it’s a childish pursuit, but I miss a dominant masculinity. Yeah, I get the [toxic masculinity] but still, I like a real man.” 

What exactly does he consider to be a “real man” though? All of his examples have different things about them that would be deemed “masculine” but anyone could easily find a man from today’s world that works in that same kind of archetypal mold. So what is he really saying?

Real men don’t ignore toxic masculinity

The part about Seinfeld’s statement that really irks me (outside of his examples of “real men”) is the fact that he acknowledged that toxic masculinity is a thing and then said, “but still.” That should have been the end of that sentence. Recognizing that masculinity is changing is a good thing. Complaining because you are not seeing more public displays of toxicity from men is really telling.

The conversation is just dated. There is nothing wrong with men growing and adapting and being the kind of men who don’t let the oppressive behavior of past generations lead them. To me, those are the “real men” because they are standing up for something and not just wanting to go back to the past. What these comments show is that Jerry Seinfeld wouldn’t have any idea what a real man was if he did an entire stand-up routine about it.


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.