..I wrote this last June 11th when Arness died..I repost it as a counter-point to my regular militancy regarding True Men..
~Hearing about the death of James Arness hit me surprisingly hard. I've been crying a bit on and off every since I made the post. I suppose it's more than just another piece of my youth passing. Arness was both personally and professionally a True Male in the best sense of the phrase; solid, hard working, humble yet strong. He was probably the best male role model this culture ever provided me and I expect many of my generational brothers would say the same.
You see I really don't hate men per se. We have many fine traits. We are simply creatures of a certain nature and our time is up. Keep in mind that Arness was of Norwegian descent and twelve hundred years ago those guys were busy being a somewhat different type of True Male; The Viking.
For me at least, with Arness' death a chapter in our history symbolically closes for good; the mythos of The American Frontier. The actuality of it closed long before I was even born, but it remained alive in our hearts and minds. Some still cling to it, Tea Party members being the worst contemporary example.
The Rugged Individualist is at the center of that mythos, the quiet, but determined hero [almost always male] who 'carved this Great Land out of the savage wilderness'. Of course, he was in fact usually a drunk and/or a compulsive gambler, unable to stay in any one place for long and all too often a violent sociopath, but those are the kind of men required to 'carve up a savage wilderness', as will as its previous occupants.
Matt Dillon represents a 'bridge character', a True Male who can be largely authentic within a more or less stable social order. In that Gunsmoke is also really a 'proto-copshow'. The general setting is rural, but Dillon is based 'in town' and is actually a Federal Law Enforcement Officer.
[Think of how profoundly retro Justified is in that regard. Raylan Givens is a serious throwback. That is probably why Chase failed; the cultural model could not except a female in that role, especially with an actress who really made it work.]