This is the section in which The Atlantic talks about books, like “Raising Raffi,” journalist Keith Gessen’s memoir of his first years parenting his son, in which discipline becomes a “quicksand of confusing implications.” But rather than kick off with a book, Andrew Aoyama introduces the topic of what it will take to separate fatherhood from anger and violence by referring to the “Taken” movies:

A stomach-twisting thrill animates the Taken movies. As bullets fly across each progressively more ridiculous sequel, Liam Neeson kicks down the door to the pantheon of cultural Super Dads and asserts himself as its king. Here is a paragon of fatherhood, the films suggest; here is a dad endowed with “a very particular set” of parenting skills, a man who may struggle to connect with his daughter emotionally but can unleash a hail of violence each time she encounters a band of licentious kidnappers.

If today it’s hard to watch Taken without at least some disgust at the glorification of Neeson’s bloodshed, perhaps it’s because the traditional conception of fatherhood his character embodies has begun to fall out of step with shifting understandings of masculinity.

Unless we’re mistaken, the last “Taken” move came out in 2014, so we’re not so sure why they’re hard to watch today, in 2022. We must have really been wussified over the past eight years.

What an embarrassing introduction to an unnecessary conversation.

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