The first couple of times I saw this, I wanted to grow a beard, rent a tux, and drink a couple of Dos Equis! I just couldn’t find any girls willing to make goo-goo eyes at me. And I’ll admit, I can’t grow a decent beard, nor do I like beer. But I can wear a tux--I just can’t afford his cuff links.
Jonathon Goldsmith, the actor who plays this iconic figure is a self-described Russian Jew from New York who's a bit of a hypochondriac. While looking for acting work in his earlier years, he drove a garbage truck filled with industrial waste to pay his bills. Interesting? Maybe, but certainly not magically delicious interesting. He did, however, claim to have once saved a girl from drowning and rescued a man caught in a snowstorm on Mount Whitney. Goldsmith also represents Clear Path International‘s landmine and bomb accident survivor assistance program in Southeast Asia. Even the 'TMIMITW' actor is more interesting than me!
Goldsmith said in an interview that he realized how successful the campaign had been when a man came up to him in a restaurant, telling him that he had asked his young son what he wanted to be when he grew up, and the son replied: "I want to be The Most Interesting Man In The World." Even Michael Jordan asked to have his picture taken with him.
So where am I going with this? We know (most of us) that this character is not real. Not even Donald Trump could claim such charisma and dripping confidence. But 'TMIMITW' does give us something to shoot for. If you reach for the stars, you just may grasp the moon. He sets an example, although impossible to match, that makes you want to try harder. When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Bond—James Bond. I certainly knew he wasn’t real, but that didn’t matter. I wasn’t fooled by his ability to have sex, drive an Aston Martin, and save the world all in an evening. What I admired is what his character had that I didn’t have—confidence.
I didn’t need to walk into a room where women melted and men cowered. I just wanted to be able to talk to a girl or raise my hand in class. I felt like an outsider most of the time and didn’t enjoy the feeling, nor did I respect myself for feeling that way. James Bond and the Goldsmith character are unreachable, unrealistic, and not real! Kids need something more, someone real, not just interesting. Kids need someone who is real and a positive influence! I discuss this in my book, The Power of Dadhood.
Boys Want Their Fathers to be Their Heroes, not Superheroes
Ask one hundred young men whether they identify with Bruce Willis in the movie Die Hard or Steve Martin in the movie Parenthood, and my guess is ninety-nine would pick Bruce Willis—not too surprising or unnatural. Fatherhood is not as glamorous as being an action hero. When a boy has an involved and capable father, a Dad, he may have heroes outside his family, but he is not as driven by them. Boys without fathers, however, are left unchecked, not having real men like the Steve Martin character to show them what being a real man is about.
Image is important to us males. We want to be respected as masculine beings, and for the most part, the masculine image is misrepresented by the entertainment industry. Boys without real-life mentors buy into this false image because young men raised without a father have difficulty identifying their masculine self. They feel they have to prove themselves but to whom?
Often a young man will measure himself against other young men raised without involved fathers, or he dreams of being like one of his hypermasculine movie heroes. Comparisons like these place a value on toughness, aggression, and violence, with little or no regard for compassion, compromise, and kindness, which are considered signs of weakness in that make-believe, hypermasculine world.
Males often compete for the macho image of being with and having their way with women. The young women who bear these boys’ children are often fatherless also, seeking male approval because they had none at home. The basis for this kind of relationship is tissue thin, and there will be no happy family. So the cycle continues. We have a fatherless boy wanting to prove his manhood and a fatherless girl seeking male approval, resulting in a child born with little chance of having a life with both a mother and a father, resulting in more fatherless children, often leading to more violence, more poverty, and more social upheaval.
I wanted to love my father, and I did, but he did such despicable things to my mother, to his children, and to himself. He turned his back on us, cussed at us, sometimes apologized to us, and did it all over again. How could I want this man to be my hero? But I did. I can’t think of anything particular I needed him to do. He didn’t have to be a star baseball player or a doctor. He didn’t need to cure cancer or build skyscrapers. I just wanted my dad around as a sober, caring man. That alone would have made him my hero.
As a dad, ask yourself if you are being the person you wish to be for your son. You can’t tell him to do one thing and then do the opposite yourself. Boys need their dads to be examples of not only how to be men, but how to properly treat women. They need to know when to stand their ground and when to let things go. Dads need to teach boys how to throw a baseball. I can almost always tell when a boy has never played catch with his father. I can’t recall ever playing catch with mine. I’m now a grandfather and still wish I had that experience. Dads need to be there to answer the questions boys don’t want to ask their mothers. And when they themselves become dads, they will look back on how they were raised for answers. Don’t let their conclusions regarding fatherhood be the wrong ones. Real heroes do not wear capes, nor do they necessarily run fast or shoot straight. Real superheroes are nurturing people who take personal and family responsibility head on.
You may not be the most interesting man in the world to your son or daughter, but you should be the most influential man in their world! But don’t discount being interesting! Being influential is helped enormously by being interesting. Showing interest in your children is the best way to attract their interest in you. Of course, you are not James Bond or Bruce Willis in Die Hard. You’re not even in a beer commercial. You have to be yourself but do so while being unselfish. Realize that being yourself includes being a dad if you are a father, being a husband if you are married, and doing your own thing when you need to recharge. Is that too much to ask? If so, you should have asked yourself those questions a long time ago.
“Stay thirsty (for your children) my friends!”