We’ve been re-watching Parks & Recreation which, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s quirky, warm and genuinely funny. It’s one of those shows which takes a few episodes to get to know the characters but then you really start to care about them. My favourite character is Ron Swanson.
The true Ron doesn’t really show himself until the second season and then he really gets into the flow. Ron is a no nonsense, conservative, patriot who likes breakfast food, outdoors, whiskey and carpentry. He has very strong opinions on what it is to be a man, an American and a meat eater. He also believes that government should be as unintrusive as possible.
These are some of my favourite Ron quotes…
“Any dog under 50lbs is a cat and cats are useless.”
“There’s only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk. Which is water that’s lying about being milk.”
“Friends: one to three is sufficient.”
“There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.”
“You’ve accidently given me food that my food eats.”
I think Ron is the extreme of what men are expected to be – tough, self-sufficient, repressed, practical and always right, and I’m drawn to that. I grew up with Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, last stands and lips that were upper and stiff. To show emotions or to be creative is soft and not for real men. Real men can drink a lot, know how to fight, and never, never show their emotions (unless they’re at a football match and there they can scream, shout, sing, dance, cry, and hug their friends).
Ron is a fun parody of masculinity but I don’t want to be like him (OK, I do sometimes but I’m a work in progress). I want to be able to explore everything about what it is to be a human being. I want to experience art and music, I want to be compassionate and gentle, I want to be empathetic and kind. I don’t want to be terrified of my own feelings and emotions or pretend I’m tough and uncompromising.
There’s another character that comes into Parks & Rec (as we fans/geeks call it) from season 3 onwards. Ben is a bit of a mess. He doesn’t really know what he wants most of the time, he gets it wrong frequently and, at times, can barely hold it together.
I love Ron but I’m a Ben and that’s OK.