The Donovan Test: Murphy Pendleton

With the resounding success of the first Donovan Test, I’ve decided that I’m going to give it another go. Last week, we looked at what turned out to be a real manly icon, the Doomguy. This week we’re going to take a look at another character who fights demons, this time one more a little more grounded in reality. Thus, this week we’re going to be looking at Murphy Pendleton, from Silent Hill Downpour!

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The Donovan Test: DoomGuy

Last Wednesday I introduced the Donovan Test, and it’s already making quite a splash. That Donovan himself praised it has me totally awestruck. I knew I was on to something big, but I wasn’t expecting it to get this big this quick. To all of you who shared this, especially Donovan, thank you so very, very much. I want this to seriously go places. Of course as they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. Today is the first step, as I intend to do a sort of “alpha run” with the Donovan Test. The question is, where do we start? There’s certainly a vast number of male protagonists in the media, especially if I narrow it down to just video games. However, I think I’ll start with the first example, the face that launched a million “manly” games: The Doom Guy. Continue reading

Introducing the Donovan Test!

So for a while, I’ve been toying with the idea of how video games handle manhood and masculinity. It was a theme I was interested in tackling back when I started TRV. When I began reading Jack Donovan’s The Way of Men, the pieces began to fall into place. As I read Donovan’s work, I began to start thinking about the various protagonists of video games and how they compare to the masculine ideals that Donovan writes about. I began to design what I now call the “Donovan Test”. When Anita Sarkeesian announced that she wanted to do a series exploring masculinity in video games, I decided, after a thorough round of gagging, that I should go ahead with the Donovan Test and beat her to the punch. In tradition with Moldbug’s “antiversity” which Bryce Laliberte seems to be gleefully pursuing, I thought I’d try and help get some existing material out there for analyzing masculinity in video games. I certainly don’t have any academic credit to my name, but I think that’s actually good: it lets me look at things critically without the lenses of critical theory obscuring my view. The Donovan Test is certainly effective for more than just video games. I want it to be a sort of benchmark for looking at masculinity in all sorts of mediums. I think over the next few months I’m going to be applying my test to various characters in fiction to see how they stack up.

The goal of the Donovan test is not “is this character a good man?” but rather “is this character good at being a man?”. While morality certainly plays a role in manhood, morality itself is a fairly abstract concept. Contrary to the more religious neoreactionaries, I do not believe that there is an objective good and an objective evil. Instead, I view things from what I call a “radical functionalist” perspective, (or “RadFunk” for short) looking at what is good for society and what is detrimental to it. The Way of Men seems to share this perspective, as it examines masculine virtues outside of subjective morality and in a more natural, animalistic sense. Thus, the Donovan test looks at manhood not through the lens of “good vs. evil” but rather “strong vs. weak”.

The Donovan Test is also not a simple scorecard, either. It’s not some arbitrary checklist where you can lazily decide if a male character is a good one or not. It’s a model to analyze a character in depth. While the questions that make up the test seem like simple yes-or-no ones, the idea is that you should be able to elaborate on that answer with specific examples and explanations. If your answer is just one word, then maybe your character isn’t that deep.

So onto the test itself. The Donovan Test is based on Jack Donovan’s four cardinal virtues of masculinity: Strength, Courage, Mastery and Honor. Each of those key virtues can be divided into multiple separate questions based on the aspects of those virtues and how they’re shown in the medium. The test itself is a series of questions pertaining to each of those virtues. Let’s go through the questions, categorized by virtue.


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