Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The "Crisis" of Male Buffoonery

I have recently taken to listening to Christian radio. I feel like I have been too judgmental about evangelical Christians without being properly educated as to their views. I have never let the facts get in the way of a good story or dig, but I have been trying to get a better grip on my own spirituality. I thought about Buddhism and various other alternate religions, but settled on Christiniaty because (i) I am familiar with it and appreciate it and (ii) Christian chicks show more skin.

I digress. The point of this post is that the morning DJs on the D.C. area Christian station were discussing an interesting issue. What appeared to be an older man was lamenting how on T.V. shows and in commercials men are being made to look like silly doofuses. "Even black men and Hispanics," he added at one point. Wow, that's a huge change from the progressive portrayal of blacks and Latinos in the early age of television.

Anyway, the DJ was absolutely right. Many T.V. critics have pointed out there has been an unsettling proliferation of bland, generic sitcoms featuring fat, witless men married to attractive, sassy and understanding wives. I think CBS's entire comedy lineup follows that same basic paradigm.

I think this sends the wrong message to kids, particularly overweight boys. It teaches them that they don't need to lose weight and get healthy to succeed. They need to get shrill and outlandish to score a nice house and attractive wife. Instead of vegetables and exercise, they'll turn to doughnuts and jokes. Ten years from now, you'll have a generation of lonely fat guys who'll feel they've been lied to.

The Christian DJs had a completely different take. They featured that the crisis of male buffoonery is undermining good Christian relationships. Their argument was that if men are shown as doofuses, that image will settle into place. Consequently, women will not respect men properly thus undermining relationships. The woman in the DJ duo further argued that this was the result of ungodly feminists taking hold of the media to exact hurtful revenge on innocent men.

This analysis was an offshoot of a men's rights movement which has caught fire in conservative circles. I did some research on the movement, and was shocked by how big it was. It is not a homogenous by any means. You have the evangelical Christians on the one hand tieing the denigration of men to Christian dogma (make fun of guys and you're pissing God off). This wing is most visibly represented by the Promise Keepers. They want to empower men in their faith through the adherence to seven promises. Some are, quite frankly, odd, like the one where you are supposed to pray for your pastor and give him cash (#5). The most difficult promise might be to practice "sexual purity," in a life filled with temptation. For some evangelicals, even lusting after a women in your heart could send you on a one way ticket to hell. If that is true, I bought myself seven tickets to hell on the subway ride home tonight alone.

Being sexually pure is not an issue to the other wing of the men's rights movement. On the other end of the spectrum are the libertarian, non-religious conservative types who just hate feminists and dig chicks. The biggest difference between the two wings of the movement is that the libertarian types openly celebrate porn and the exploitation of women -- and therefore feature better pictures on their web site (see this blog on the "Men's News Daily" site for example which features occasional shots of women in tight clothes. Classy. The Promise Keepers site had a bunch of shots of men holding hands. Boring.).

I guess my point is that there is a loose, but large confederation of men who feel...well, victimized (this blogger has a good summary of the various camps). And they have banded to strike back at the media and feminist activisits who seek to undermine their place in the world, whether spiritual, damily, work, etc. They get together to celebrate and advance their masculinity, which they believe has come under ferocious societal attack.

Really? I don't see it. Frankly, these men's rights dudes seem pretty insecure. What a bunch of wusses.


Blogger tequilita said...

my problem with the whole paradigm is that it's only for men. the fat, dorky chick should the the hot guy once in a while too. c'mon man, level the field. does that make me a feminist?

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Roseanne? Sure John Goodman was not exactly a catch, but it is the only show I can think of where an overweight woman actually had a mate. Well, I think Nell Carter had a few dates on "Gimme A Break" too. Come to think of it, its really only on shows featuring a predominantly African American cast where I see funny, larger women (e.g., "The Parkers")getting together with attractive men. Pretty progessive on that front. Perhaps that is because women's size is not quite as much a stigma in the African American community?

8:01 AM  
Blogger Tom Wilkinson said...

By and large, the radio only captures evangelical, "politicized" Christianity, with all its blindness and self-driven salvation--not the message Jesus preached. To understand True Christianity read the Gospel of John and check out a church that holds to a Reformed Theology: that above all things God is sovereign (PCA churches tend to do this well).

There are Christians out there who hate everything you hate about "Christianity", but then it's strayed so far from the message the term has trouble fitting for the massive number of apathetic believers out there. It's a shame that we have to give this distinction, but there were also false teachers in Jesus day who wanted to be rock stars and have it their way, rather than be servants and submit to the will of God.

2:14 AM  
Blogger tequilita said...

to understand true christianity, read the bible using your heart and your head, find teachers you love/trust. God will reveal Himself.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

Of all the Gospels, I find John to be the coolest. Maybe its because it was written at a time when gnosticism was briefly popular. So, it features a lot more of the miraculous, existentialist, surrealist stuff.

2:51 PM  

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