Yes, exactly. You get the same with Karl Wagner's Kane. And I even see it in Moorcock's Elric. These stories don't approve of everything the protagonists do, but they are absolutely sincere that these are supposed to be serious stories with meaningful messages. Which is notable when you see vast numbers of mainstream creators constantly trying to cover their backs and making sure nobody can accuse them of actually meaning what their stories might imply. That's the "irony is killing our culture" thing.I recently reread the collected Conan stories over the course of a few months, and what stuck out to me was the complete lack of any irony. Howard really digs his macho, wily protagonist, he really likes forgotten cities and decadent civilizations and evil snakes and wizards, and he doesn't feel the need to be arch or distanced the way, say, writers as early as Leiber occasionally do and modern writers, particularly of literary fiction, do quite often. Memes often include a series of spoofs of jokes about obscure references, but Conan--nah, he's just a dude in great shape with a sword. (Even Elric was supposed to be the anti-Conan.) He lives, he burns with life, he loves, he slays, and that is enough. I wonder if that's some of the appeal?
I think possible the biggest cause for Sword & Sorcery's reputation as being trashy is all the genuinely trashy S&S shlock that tried to cash in on the Conan movie in the 80s. If I recall correctly, Conan never actually wears the bearskin diaper from the posters in the movie outside of a one minute montage of his years as a gladiator slave. But it still became the iconic look for Sword & Sorcery protagonists ever since.