Friday, September 30, 2011

Man Stuff: Are TV Men Getting Shafted This Season? (Hint: Yes.)

Exactly none of this is attractive.
It has come to my attention, by which I mean that a friend posted a link to an article on my facebook wall and gently suggested* that I read it, that men might be getting the shaft this season on network television.

I’ll be honest, the thought, though it had occurred to me, didn’t really bother me all that much.  For starters, I’m a woman.  So the shoe’s on the other foot for once, so what?  Second, as far as I can tell, the shoes that are condemning men are all sitcoms and half-hour comedies, which have for years taken the same tack as wacky commercials.  Namely that men are useless lugs being fondly cleaned up after by their much smarter and more attractive wives**.  So I wasn’t that concerned.  A season or two of men being called idiots and women being on top would be good for the soul.  My soul, at least.  I never said I was nice.

And then I actually watched How To Be A Gentleman.

Holy crap.

These are not men. These are cartoons.
Casual misogyny in sitcoms is largely a thing of the past.  You seldom see a show these days outright have a woman tell another woman that she is being a woman wrong, a point made very well in the article here, but that happens very explicitly in Gentleman.  Multiple times.

Furthermore, the show seems to purport that there are two kinds of men: pussies and meatheads, and that, while they both could serve to learn from each other, one is clearly better than the other.  The meathead.

Um, no.  Just, no.

First of all, I know a lot of men.  Not in a Biblical sense, but in the sense that I have always had a lot of male friends.  And none of my friends (NONE) has ever been classifiable into one of those two categories.  Every man I have ever met existed somewhere in between.  I have met men I immediately judged as belonging to one group or the other, but upon closer inspection, they didn’t.  It’s always the presidents of fraternities who turn up in your Nietzsche seminar and debate the loudest, or harbor a strange love of Star Wars extended universe novels.  The guy you dated in high school who was obsessed with the Crow, but did amateur wrestling on the weekends.  No one is one thing or the other.  We’re all just shades of grey.

Even beyond the issues with creating only two categories for men, is the horrific idea that one is better than the other.  That how you are a man is not nearly as good as how he is a man.  You’re doing it wrong.

Again, no.

Just because I don't like it, doesn't mean you're doing it wrong.
You can’t be yourself wrong.  It’s just not a thing that can be done wrong.  And by no means should someone else be telling you that you’re doing it wrong.  By all means, when you find a friend wallowing over a breakup, pick them back up, lend a kind ear, tell them to snap out of it if that’s what they need, but don’t tell them they can’t be who they are if they want to get someone new.  That is the definition of not helpful.***

So, How To Be A Gentleman, and Man Up!, and Free Agents, and Last Man Standing, stop telling men to grow up.  I get it, the big bad feminism came and made you all scared, so the only way you can retort is by making shows about how men aren’t men anymore and they need to get better, be real men again, but grow up.  Learn from Up All Night.  You can be a man, a stay at home dad even, and still be manly, sexy, and awesome. 

Or should I say, women aren’t going anywhere, there’s more than two ways to be a man and none of them are wrong, so man up.

But not like this.

[Note: How To Be A Gentleman is actually just a pretty crappy show in generally regarding its characters.  The women are even worse.  They are all harping bitches who behave in sociopathic ways that make no sense to anyone who has even had the word empathy described to them.  The protagonist goes on a date, and his date takes him to her ex-boyfriend’s restaurant.  What?  That is some psycho-bitch territory there!  And while there he finds his sister having dinner with a co-worker, while her husband stalks them at the bar.  Um, yeah.  Good job show, this is crazyland.]

*Well, politely insisted.

**I believe I mentioned in my Whitney post how much I enjoyed seeing this trope reversed.

***Unless they are a serial killer.  Then go right ahead.

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