“That’s Not a Knife” and Male Confidence

Last night I was watching in a black hole of youtube clips and I came across the clip from the first Crocodile Dundee (because we needed more than one of these) movie where Dundee thwarts a mugger. The famous “that’s a knife” scene.

If you’re unfamiliar, Crocodile Dundee is a fish out of water movie where an Australian more comfortable in the Outback comes to New York because of a beautiful New York reporter and has no trouble adapting to the big harsh city because his knife is bigger than yours. The scene starts with our New York heroine being terrified, and our hero being surprised by the mugger, but in an amused way, like how you respond when your drunk friend starts singing in public.

Despite Sue, our heroine being terrified, she keeps her wits, “Give him your wallet, Mick.”

“What for?”

“He’s got a knife.” She says with growing terror.

“That’s not a knife.” Mick says, scoffing at our mugger — TO HIS FACE. He then pulls his own knife out of a sheath strapped to his back and branishes it in front of the mugger’s face. “That’s a knife,” he says.

He slashes up the mugger’s horrifically vinyl? pleather? jacket.  The mugger runs, presumably just embarrassed to be exposed as someone with awful taste in jacket quality.

Mick turns to Sue, and says, “just kids having fun. You all right?”

She swoons, if not physically then verbally when she utters, “I’m always alright when I’m with you, Dundee.”

It’s a gem of an 80s scene: total camp and silliness. If I had left it at just that, it’s all it would remain. Alas. I love reading youtube comments, it’s such a fascinating look at people that share your same viewing habits, and this was no exception. The one comment that really caught my eye was from someone asserting that “women love guys with big knives”.

Naturally, I blushed at his (clearly a man wrote it) assessment of women. It was so obvious that Sue got all hot and bothered because Mick had a big knife, and as all women know, the bigger the knife wielded, the bigger the penis of the knife holder, and really that’s all women are impressed by.

Oh sigh.

Trouble is, I do like the scene though. And I do think of Mick Dundee as being very manly. Am I really sure that it’s not his knife euphemism that’s the draw? But the more I thought about it, because honestly when you’re just watching youtube videos until 1 am your mind really wanders, I reckoned there was a completely different, more compelling element at play.

It’s the “no worries” of it all. Mick’s a master of de-escalation. There’s nothing more comforting than being around someone who’s not bothered. This is an amazing quality that gives Mick a distinctly reassuring vibe. Everywhere he goes he’s interested in having people chill out. Even animals blocking the entire road just fall to the ground sedated. It’s such a refreshing change from the manic American approach to masculinity which seems to be centered around who has the most intense gun collection and who can get into a fistfight first.

But this is always the trick, confidence sits back and waits, it doesn’t feel the need to rush to action. Confidence sits and listens and then reacts.

The truth is that confidence in a man or a woman is incredibly sexy because it’s calm, focused, interested but not combative.

Confidence means you have a knife strapped to your back because you recognize a knife as a useful tool, not because you need a way to protect women on a New York street.

Confidence  also means, apparently wearing a crocodile vest in public. I don’t understand the full rules of confidence myself, and I’m definitely not at that advanced 80s level.

Or hey, maybe it is about the knife. Maybe it’s just really cool to see an Australian in crocodile boots pull a giant knife out of a special knife sheath on his back (that I didn’t even know was a real thing until this movie), and it’s the movies, and knives and Australians are cool. Maybe it’s that. Who knows?

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