Boy-Men in Virtual Paradise

Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity Gary CrossColumbia University Press, 2008; 316 pages, $29.50 About a year ago when all the world was learning the lurid details of Tiger Woods’s sexual history, a history marked by depravity that was surpassed only by its immaturity, a lesser-known sports figure was also having romantic troubles perhaps more indicative of the culture of today’s young men. The girlfriend of fourth-ranked tennis star Andy Murray of Scotland, Kim Sears, decided to call it quits. The reason? Apparently Murray spent upwards of seven hours a day on his Play Station, one of his favorite video games being the popular Modern Warfare 2. Murray’s coach defended the star by pointing out that the young man spends no more time on his console than most 22-year-olds. Other apologists held that seven-hour engagements with this particular game are hardly unusual. Later reports indicated that Mr. Murray was not terribly heartbroken over losing the beautiful Miss Sears. He was seen out with other women not long afterwards. The phenomenon of chronically immature males refusing to grow up is the subject of Professor Gary Cross’s extremely readable, informative, and unsettling Boys to Men: The Making of Modern Immaturity. Cross is not the first to explore this theme. In a growing body of research and commentary, cultural critics have alarmed the nation with accounts of and diatribes against the disturbing trend of young men’s “failure to launch.” Indeed, Cross has consolidated and provided keen insight into this literature in his own analysis of what he calls the “boy-man.” He places the boy-men in their historical context: to show on the one hand how different they are from the two preceding generations of men—the Greatest Generation of the forties and the Baby-Boomers of the sixties—but on the other hand how the boy-men understandably grew out of the ambiguities surrounding the idea of manhood in the modern world, ambiguities th
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