If you’re a real action movie fan, you know the biggest super group team-up movie of the summer isn’t The Avengers, but The Expendables 2. Because who wants to see a bunch of heroes come together to wear tights, yellow armor, or purple pants, when they can see the mass team-up of 80s and 90s beefcake action heroes whose combined machismo could instantly mature a twelve-year-old boy into a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, bicep-bulging, five-o-clock-shadowed manly thirty-something?
If the question is “Are we not men?” then the combined manliness of The Expendables 2 cast reminds us that the answer is “Yes, but obviously only because action stars taught us to be.” Each of these men (well, okay, 25% of them) and their action movies could teach a master class on being the epitome of man, but amongst them there is only one Albert Einstein of Macho, one Dalai Lama of Masculinity, one Aristotle of Testosterone: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Since he appeared in Conan the Barbarian in 1982, Ahnuld’s action films over the decades have woven together the definitive guide to being a Y-chromosome carrier. So, if you happen to need a refresher, or are new to this whole “being a manly dude” thing, here are 10 essential rules on how to be a real man – according to Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies.
1. Make A Good First Impression
From the first moment you enter a room you want everyone to know you mean manly business. If you’re in good shape (and why wouldn’t you be?) you can most efficiently achieve this by being naked. Now unfortunately public nudity can have legal consequences, so shirtlessness, shirts that can’t contain your massive biceps, carrying a giant log one-armed, or rocking scruff, cigars and shades are acceptable alternatives to immediately convey just how much of a man you are. It’s also generally advisable to try and trip people so they’re forced to look at you from an appropriately worshipful low-angle.
BONUS: Make sure you have a really cool name that’s no longer than six letters. Like Trench. Or John. Or Conan.
2. Dress for Success, Dress For The Occasion
A man needs to look good. When you’re going about the daily business of representing the pinnacle of your gender, this is best achieved by wearing designer sunglasses and suit or leather jackets constantly. When you’re not enjoying some leisurely downtime and the gloves are coming off – so to speak – so should the clothes. When involved with heavy work like washing the dishes, building your own house, or facing off against aliens hunting you, be sure to let your shirt rip to both allow yourself greater mobility and to better show off your ridiculously buff bod.
BONUS: Face paint and getting wet or sweaty is always a good way show you mean business. It is also okay to beat someone up and steal their clothes if it means looking good.
3. When It Comes to Women, Have A Type
A man knows what he wants and sticks to it. This as true for clothes and guns as it is with women. There is only one type of woman most suitable for a real man. She must be athletic, a little sleazy, tough, and a back-talker. Most importantly that toughness shouldn’t get in the way of her demureness and her need for you constantly save her – whether it be from awkward small talk, or a kidnapping. Because what a real man requires is a woman to make him feel needed, and to perpetually allow him the opportunity to remind himself – and others – just how much of a man he is.
BONUS: A man should do nothing to get a woman. You barely need to say anything at all or show any affection (no sweet talk or romantic gestures). Just by being the manly man you are, women will just instantly fall for you and your leather jacket.
4. Know How To Drive Aggressively and Off-Road
Being a real man isn’t about driving flashy sports cars, it’s about knowing how to drive any car aggressively and efficiently – that way he can assert his natural dominance as King of (and over) the Road. You should know how to do things like speedily drive through oncoming traffic or burst through locked gates. You should also know how to drive off-road, because sometimes that path through those trees could be just the short cut you need to shave an extra few minutes off your travel time or escape.
BONUS: Know how to jump-start a car by just pushing it with your physical might.
5. Choose Your Friends Carefully
Having friends can be a risky proposition for a true man. Their envy of your masculine superiority can often lead to resentment or often betrayal. Ideally, you should really need no friend but yourself (because in the end you’ll always fight alone anyway), but, hey, everyone needs somebody to show-off their 10-foot barbeque to, right? So, if you have to have a friend, you should make sure they are at least your physical and/or manly equal. Or Tom Arnold.
BONUS: A real man isn’t a racist, so don’t just choose white friends.
6. Know the Value of Succinctness and Well-Timed Witticisms
Talking a lot is inefficient and unnecessary. It risks leading to things like talking about your feelings. There are other worthier manly duties you can spend your time on than talking – like riding a motorcycle or practicing your ability to carry a gatling gun with one arm. Succinctness is the official dialect of manliness. Say what needs to be said in the most direct way you can. That’s not to say you can’t have a little fun with words. There’s no shame in a well-timed pun, quip or play-on-words. You’ll show people you have a sense of humor about life, while laughing in the face of it. More importantly it’ll show that as a man even language is yours to bend to your will and wield as a weapon against a defeated fellow pick-up basketball player or that guy you just drove a mining drill through.
BONUS: Know Spanish and how to say “Trust me” with enough conviction that others completely believe you without requiring any further explanation.
7. Keep Your Promises
A man is only as good as his word. You tell someone you’ll be back, you better be. You promise your daughter something (say, that she won’t fall off a mid-air jet fighter or that you’ll save her from terrorists), then you need to follow through. You swear to get a job done (killing some bad guys or avenging your fallen comrades), you do it. A promise is a guarantee of action, and what is a man if he does not act?
BONUS: Promises can be broken in special circumstances, such as when you’re dealing with a murderous sleazeball who deserves to be dropped off a cliff.
8. Preparation is Half the Battle
No man should ever find himself in a situation where he isn’t equipped to face whatever he’s taking on. Being better than everyone else is 98% of being a man (the other 2% is having a penis), and being ready ensures you are. You should know what you’re getting into, and prepare accordingly. Whether that’s making 20lbs of ribs, building a car from scratch, confronting your boss, or getting ready for that final face-off against that terrorist and his henchmen. In particular in the latter case, be sure you either have an armory or know where one is so you can load up on so many weapons that most would require a truck to transport, but you can just strap to your body.
BONUS: When preparing or gathering materials together, uses montages (if available) to help speed up the process. You should also be able to construct elaborate traps with what nature gives you, and if forced to improvise, use the environment around you (fridges, hand dryers, etc).
9. Always Overcome, Persevere and Survive
The average guy has his share of obstacles, but a real man – just by being the specimen of testosterone he is – will find himself facing the kind of challenges that would make an everyday dude talk about his feelings a lot. What ultimately defines a man – well, in addition to all the other rules here, plus a bunch more not mentioned – is how he overcomes whatever gets thrown his way. You must put down whatever dares get in your face. You’ll take your fair share of hits, and sometimes get knocked into unconsciousness or captured. What matters is how you get right back up and punch something. Whether that’s figuratively or literally, is up to you. But if you chose figuratively, you failed the test.
BONUS: There’s inevitably going to be somebody who thinks their manliness exceeds yours, who think they can belittle you or eliminate you from the competition. They’re wrong. It isn’t enough for you to know that though, they have to know it too. So prove it to them. Taunt them, then assert your dominance by arm wrestling them mid-air, or just generally dispatching them.
10. Be Better Than Other Men, But Still Be Relatable
If you follow these guidelines you’re obviously going to become the kind of man who instills insecurity and envy in other men. You should still make the effort to create the illusion you’re somewhat relatable. The best way to achieve this is by acting like an everyday dude, working blue-collars jobs (construction worker, helicopter pilot), or temporarily allowing yourself to become a victim. If you have to do a job that does your manliness justice (secret agent, bad-ass black-ops soldier) do it in the best and most efficient way possible. Everybody can relate to a good work ethic. If you follow these steps you’ll help make people think they’re just like you – even though they’re really not – and it’ll make them like you more. Because a true man should be admired, envied and liked.
BONUS: When opponents come for your manhood, sometimes your actual manhood is going to take a few kicks. It’s an easy (and literal) way to punish you for your superior masculinity. Just be sure in the end, you’re always kicking other’s balls more than yours are being kicked.