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The modern media male is a moron. In an effort to elicit easy laughs, today’s sitcoms have a nearly unfailing tendency to portray males and fathers as blubbering buffoons with no depth or substance. While the tendency to feature men this way in film is not new, the frequency of the inclusion of complete idiots in pop culture seems to have escalated in recent decades. Sadly, nearly every sitcom includes the token idiot and that idiot is nearly always male.
Sadder still is society’s unfortunate mirroring of the media’s portrayal. But, that which emanates laughter on the silver screen remains no joking matter for those impacted by the reality of things like #MeToo. No, not all men would behave so poorly.
Let’s compare and contrast today’s modern media male to those of the past.
Chief Characteristics of Media’s Moronic Male
Modern sitcom males are typically a very inverted version of what this blog projects. The portrait painted by the typical modern male often includes crass characteristics of both omission and commission, twisted to appear both humorous and appealing. To call attention to two of the most common:
Lack of Responsibility—The males portrayed in modern pop culture are irresponsible. Truly weighty responsibility is not expected, desired or esteemed. Delay and avoidance of things like school, work and family are common. In contrast, the truly responsible males are often portrayed as dull or boorish while their irresponsible counterparts are always “the life of the party,” but still seem to keep some semblance of a life.
The portrait of modern manliness is lazier than that of his predecessors. In fact, the modern counterpart receives less education, is un or under-employed, is seemingly incapable, aloof of his surroundings, In short, he is not an asset, but portrayed as a bumbling net liability on society—albeit a humorous one.
It is common for these fictional men to have responsibilities, however, they are commonly doing all they can to either avoid more responsibility
Lack of Self-Respect—In the media, we see an unkept man lacking in self-respect. He is frequently portrayed as un-showered loaf without his own domicile who sleeps on the couches and eats out of the refrigerators of friends and family. The modern media male does not respect himself and as a result, does not respect others. This lack of self respect also leads this self-deprecating loafer into various unmanly and unrespecting vices including—but not limited to—gambling, pornography, over-eating, alcoholism and drugs.
There are a select few characters in both fictional and reality television who possess a large majority of these unfortunate and negative habits and traits. They remain in a class of their own. Contrastingly, this manly idiot usually possesses at minimum a select few of some of the traits listed above.
Homer Simpson (The Simpsons), Joey Tribbiani (Friends), Frank Gallagher (Shameless), Adam Braverman (Parenthood) and Father Bluth (Arrested Development) all include more than a majority of the characteristics we have outlined here. Numerous additional examples exist from nearly every current television comedy.
A Throwback to the Respectable Man
Contrast the industrious, focused and responsible fictional men portrayed a couple of generations ago and you will find the likes of Hugh Beaumont of Lassie (as Mr. Jim Saunders) and Leave it to Beaver (as Ward Cleaver) fame. In both cases—as Mr. Saunders and Father Cleaver, Hugh worked to imbue wisdom, wit, self-respect and class in his characters.
Furthermore, the shows (and even titles) themselves included themes that were more becoming of what one might call manly, including Father Knows Best (1954 to 1960), Superman (1952 to 1958) and Maverick (1957 to 1962).
Unfortunately, being who we are, we would be less likely to sit down and watch an episode of Father Knows Best than we would of Shameless.
Contributing to the Solution and Reversing the Trend
The Art of Manliness is certainly doing more than its fair share in contributing to the solution to these modern ills and what some have called, the downfall of western civilization.
Get Educated. The more education you have, the more opportunities will present themselves. Education should be both formal and informal. Additionally, choose to have either a career or a hobby that truly stretches your intellectual capacity. This alone will make you more interesting than the constant prank who is a true hack when it comes to meaningful conversation and interaction.fa
Read More. As a footnote to more education, men should be reading more and not just snippets on social media. Read books. Read the newspaper and titles from the New York Times bestseller list. Read quality, long-form online content that stretches you.
Get to Work. I like Abraham Lincoln’s mantra, “whatever you are, be a good one.” Men can be both computer scientists and sanitation specialists. In fact, some of the happiest and most financially successful men I have known in my work as an investment banker, include men who have chosen so-called blue collar, “dirty” jobs. While often frowned-upon, many of these businesses are profitably successful and many of their owners (e.g. man who owned a portable toilets business) have made large figures when selling the companies they founded doing these “dirty”—albeit very manly—jobs. They also worked very hard for long hours.
So, work. And whatever it is, be great.
We Are All Idiots
Lest you think me a complete pessimist, a well-rounded man is not one devoid of mistakes and moments of idiocy. Instead, he is able to properly correct his foibles, find humor in his own blunders and patience and discretion in the idiocy of others.
“A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.”
― James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
The world is still full of these type of men.
Be the antithesis of what is portrayed on television and in popular culture. If you do that, you may just find yourself at the end of the bell-curve in both enjoyment and success.