Wednesday, June 07, 2006

boys to men, part II

If you haven't read part I yet, start with the post below this one).

I think an unintended consequence of feminism in the last 40 years or so might be the pussification of American men.

Call me crazy, but I think women wanted equal opportunities and commesurate salaries. Not cucumber-and-mudbath facials with their metrosexual husbands or boyfriends. If you know a guy who does things like this, please go kick him in his nutless sack.

I cannot say this with certainty a) because I didn't live in the 1940s and b) I have no statistical information to back it up, but it seems like there are a whole lot more whipped guys around nowadays. Nice, passive guys who let their wives or women in general walk all over them in the misguided hope that maybe next month they can get a blowjob. Maybe.

There are probably a whole lot of factors that caused this societal shift. Feel free to chime in on what they might be later, but for the remainder of this post, I'm going to focus on only one.

While not entirely to blame for this phenomenon, I believe the media deserves a large share of the blame. Television has depicted American men in unflattering, erroneous lights.

Watch any commercial or sitcom on television and the man will invariably fall into one of three categories: 1) The vagina. 2) A fatherly doofus. 3) An adult behaving like a child, the backlashers against pussification.

Let's start with the first category.

Dawson Leary, the central figure of Dawson's Creek, is as putrid as any character on TV. This poor cat spends every single minute of every single episode trying to figure out how to get into the pants of Katie Holmes, whom the entire town of Capeside wants to bang.

Leary spends years pathetically pining after her. He saddles up as her best friend -- every guy over the age of 10 knows that the friend route is a ticket to nowhere -- but it unrealistically works for him on this show. Even once he starts dating her, he tortures himself with endless analyzation of their entire relationship.

This is a poor, poor role model for any youngster watching this show.

A far better choice would be Pasey, Dawson's best friend. Once Dawson inevitably screws up his relationship with Ms. Holmes thanks to his constant fretting about the state of the relationship, Pasey steps in and starts dating "Joey Potter." Who got to deflower her? Pasey, of course.

Another pathetic example on television is Ross from Friends. He makes Elton John look like Paul effing Bunyon. Ross is a whiny bitch on a shitty, overrated television show. Ross should be taken to pasture and euthanized. I just want to jump through the TV and smack the bastard. It's that simple.

Onto the second category -- the fatherly doofus. As far back as Michael Keaton on Family Ties, father's have been painted as out-of-touch, un-hip clowns. See Simpson, Homer. Or Romano, Ray. Their wives run their shows because of their husband's ineptitude.

I'm not saying one is right or wrong, or that I don't wholly enjoy The Simpsons, but you would never see a character like Ward Cleaver on television today. The responsible family patriarch is dead on today's television sitcoms.

And then there's the third group. There has been a predictable backlash toward the sorts of men portrayed in my first two categories, but they really don't paint men in any better fashion. Apparently the only way to resist the brainwashing of feminization, according to television, is to remain stunted in bratty adolescence.

I don't watch many of these shows because I'm usually busy toiling on a desk shift, but you know where I'm going with this. The shows that follow the same, unoriginal pattern. According to Jim. King of Comedy. Two And A Half Men. There's even a show called Men Behaving Badly.

All feature grown men who behave like yammering children. On the one unfortunate episode of According to Jim that I saw, Mr. Belushi spent the whole 30 minutes pouting like a preschooler because he didn't want to talk to his wife's lame friends at a barbeque. That was an episode.

(Strangely enough, all the dudes on these shows have attractive girlfriends/spouses. This is also completely unrealistic, because if I ever acted like that, I'm sure my lovely fiancee would kick my sorry ass to the curb).

There's a Burger King commercial out there with three pouting guys who refuse to eat "chick food" like quiche. Likewise, TGI Friday's has a commerical that features a bunch of dudes banging their utensils on the table and shouting at the meat they are about to consume -- like infants.

Does all that reflect a mere shift of television programming or mirror a larger shift in men's role in society? I don't know.

Somewhere in between the far corners of this television-man spectrum -- the drooling adult-infants and the castrated sallies -- lies the vast, under-represented American male population.

Men who are reasonably intelligent and responsible. Men who provide for their families. Men who appreciate the occasional sighting of an attractive woman, but would never cheat on their ladies. Maybe that's not interesting enough for TV, I don't know.

The problem with television is it can only portray a simple character. A guy either behaves like a crude infant harrassing dames, a befuddled doofus or a metrosexual. In reality, we're a lot more complex than that.

So here's what I want:

The Ward Cleaver character might be as unrealistic as some of the other stereotypes listed above -- how can someone who named his son after a part of a female's anatomy take himself so seriously? -- but he's probably closer to most guys than the others.

So how about a Ward-like character who enjoys watching girls on the trampolines at the end of The Man Show? That would be some realistic reality television. Or how about sending Clint Eastwood into some of these scripts to fucking regulate and get Dawson and Ross to sack up.

The bottom line is this: Television writers of America, you owe it to your audience to do better.


At 3:02 PM, Blogger SJPSandman said...

You forgot category four: Men who watch Dawson's Creek.

The most disturbing part of this entire two-part post, I find, is that you, apparently, watch Dawson's fucking Creek regularly enough to be able to recite entire plot lines!

WTF, cat!?!

Check your pants, dude! :-)

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Joependleton said...

SANDMAN: That is the funniest comment I've ever read on any blog.

As for you, Pete:

You obviously aren't married yet. When I read part one, I saw the word blowjob and I had to look it up because I forgot what that was.
Also, I choose to overmedicate myself, rather than my children.

As for part II: You rip Homer Simpson, yet Marge never carts her arse to work. To me, Homer is a typical american dad. He works at some menial job, taking shit from his boss, and the minute he's out of work he drowns his sorrows at the local watering hole.

You also cite Ray Romano on Raymond. Honestly, and I know the show is a bit far-fetched, that is the most accurate show as far as married life and kids is concerned. The only unrealistic thing about that show is the dude is a sportswriter and he always home at night.

Anyway, the problem is Pete, us married dudes will fight the Mrs. for control of the hut the first few years of marriage, but it really boils down to these two choices.
At time of conflict you:

A. Put up a fight, still don't get your way and end up watching Skinemax with a box of tissues at 3 a.m.

B: Don't put up a fight, still don't get your way, get plenty of trim and the occasional blow job.

Sadly, that is my life.
However, I can say proudly the only Dawson's Creek I've seen is the goofy face on a certain hyphen-happy former CN Copy Editor.

See you in November - AND THEN NEVER AGAIN.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Pete said...


You're kind of proving my point. Why should Homer do all of the work, get all of the grief, and none of the say in control of the hut?

That makes no sense to me. I'd rather put up a fight and go down swinging than be automatically taken out of the equation.

As for Dawson's Creek, perhaps you two don't value the opportunity to ogle Katie Holmes before a fanuke knocked her up, but I do.

Also, we went through a two-month period where the cable wasn't working. All we got was PBS and TBS.

I needed to watch something in the morning, and if you give me a choice between K. Holmes and Jim Lehrer, well, I stand by my choice.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Many seem to argue that the puss-onfication of American men is a recent development. But I wonder.

About six months ago, I read Portnoy's Compaint, written by Philip Roth in 1969. The protagonist's mother is just about the most overbearing, controlling bitch you could ever hope to meet. His father's lack of a backbone is astonishing. To quote Bill Murray's character in Ghostbusters: This man has no penis.

Roth's inspiration came from the countless stories he heard from his Jewish students about their crazy mothers and ineffectual fathers.

This was almost 40 years ago. Has anything really changed?


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