Friday, November 3, 2017

Parks and Recreation Supplemental Post: Ron Swanson

Via Gifrific
In Ben's post, I mentioned toxic masculinity because of course I did, and now I get to go into it a little bit deeper because it's Ron Fucking Swanson Day. It's quite appropriate that a certain excerpt from a Men's Health interview kept popping up on my Facebook feed, too, because it's so perfectly Nick Offerman but also a great opener to what I love about Ron Swanson:
I went to theatre school. I took two semesters of ballet. I'm the 'sissy' in my family. I cry with pretty great regularity. It's not entirely accurate to equate me with manliness. I stand for my principals and I work hard and I have good manners, but machismo is a double-sided coin. A lot of people think it requires behavior that can quickly veer into misogyny and things I consider indecent. We've been sold this weird John Wayne mentality that fistfights and violence are vital to being a man. I'd rather hug than punch. Crying at something that moves you to joy or sadness is just as 'manly' as chopping down a tree or punching out a bad guy ... If you live your life openly with your emotions, that's a more manly stance than burying them.
I highly recommend reading the entire interview, as it has classic Offerman wit and charm, but this quote in particular is so fucking important.

Via Parks and Recreation Wiki
Nick Offerman is fairly clear that a lot of Ron's belief systems are parody. His libertarian views color every aspect of his personality, from his dislike of the government, patriotism, and obscene need for extreme levels of privacy, and he's incredibly antisocial, unwilling to engage in any hugs and referring to friends as "workplace-proximity associates." I do find it interesting that, while he doesn't believe that women are inferior, he has a very narrow view of what makes a man A Man. See above: Swanson Pyramid of Greatness*. I'm going to focus on one specifically: crying. And you wondered how I would work in the quote, didn't you?

Of course, it's ridiculous that Ron would only cry in two situations - viewing the Grand Canyon and attending a funeral - especially considering the above quote. Emotions are not things to be feared or ridiculed; they are an integral part to what makes us human, alive. Ron struggles with emotions, much like my father does: too often, emotions that are other than happy are translated into anger because he's not too sure how to express them. Ron is offput by Chris Traeger's emotionally open personality, and Tom's inability to behave in a "manly" way (i.e. tough and cool) will occasionally set Ron into a tirade. Even though there are multiple reasons as to why Ron Swanson hates Ron Dunn (his Eagleton counterpart), a big one is that Dunn is so even-keel and calm, handling his emotions in a healthy way. When Dunn tries to impart wisdom onto a clearly distraught Ben Wyatt** in Season Six, Ron Swanson is annoyed that Ben just doesn't deal with his grief stoically.

This is not to say that people who handle their emotions internally are simply avoiding them, a la Cristina Yang from Grey's Anatomy***; I will frequently sequester myself when I'm trying to deal with life, after all. Whenever Ron runs into something he can't simply win a staring contest with, he almost always escapes to one of his many cabins out in the middle of the woods, and even Diane notes that his solution to almost everything is to go live in a mountain. Because of Leslie, Andy (weirdly enough, the same two people who got April to open up ... coincidence???), and Diane, he is reintroduced into the world, forced to carry around a simple cell phone because he has responsibilities and friends out there.

Going back to Ron's political views, I'm not sure if Offerman had anything to do with his character's story arc, but what I do know about him is that he's a very outspoken liberal and feminist. Just check out his Twitter feed and bask in its glory. I mean, there are also tweets about woodworking, his various projects, and Wendell Berry****, but his political leanings are no secret. I think he took Ron Swanson and wanted to make him into a likable guy but also make a point about how incredibly ridiculous his opinions are. He touts personal responsibility but doesn't take into account the privilege he has as a white male; he wants taxes returned to the people who pay them but doesn't seem to understand that taxes are used to pave the roads and pick up trash, things we all take for granted. He wants to sell zoo animals and eliminate the U.S. Post Office, to privatize everything, to end child labor laws. I know people who believe similarly to Ron; hell, I am related to some and love all of them dearly, and I've heard them unironically spout things that could have come out of Swanson's mouth at any time during Parks and Rec. So I know that Swanson's exist out there, but they don't necessarily surround themselves with people like Leslie because more often than not, people want an echo chamber+.

Now, Ron continues to believe in self-reliance, which is not something that is intrinsically connected with conservatism, but he does still choose to work with the National Park Service and maintains a connection with his friends, something he would not have done had he not accepted (and eventually embraced) Leslie's friendship. He probably maintained a healthy distrust in government organizations and departments, especially the public library, but assisted Leslie with her probable campaign for POTUS, maybe even serving as an advisor of some type.

But he definitely would have never supported Trump.
Via Buzzfeed

* The print is tiny, so click on the link under the image, and it will take you to the page with a list of the various categories.
** Ben's parents had sold their lake house and sent him a portion of the profits via check, and Ben ultimately realized it was because he had a lot of happy childhood memories there that he wanted to share with his own future children.
*** When she has her miscarriage in Season Two, she spends an extended period of time just bawling and begging people to help her stop.
**** I had no idea Wendell Berry had a fucking Twitter account, but he does ... well, it's curated, which ... yeah, I figured, but still! It makes me so happy. I really need to read his new book.
+ I'm not perfect about this, either. I don't like following conservatives on any of my social media accounts because more often than not, their words anger me so much that I start fuming. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...