One of my favorite t-shirt designs has a picture of a TV with a hypnotized-looking person staring at it, and the caption, “Why do you think they call it programming?”
So it probably goes without saying that I don’t watch (or even own a) TV.
I just can’t bring myself to expose my family to all the marketing messages, no matter how cool some of the shows may be, but because every commercial seems to end up on YouTube, I still get to vomit laugh at how stupid the advertising people think we are.
And one of the easiest targets is men.
The mainstream media loves to portray men (and fathers) as buffoons and clueless bumblers, and thanks to characters such as Homer Simpson and Ed Bundy, our culture has come to see these lovable goofballs as typical modern males.
This leaves those of us who aren’t total nincompoops with a hard row to hoe: trying to be a good man in the midst of all of this stereotyping and peer media pressure.
“Verily, if all the vaguely sexist, slightly angry, carefully dimwitted advertising that surrounded the Super Bowl was any indication — and rest assured, at $2.5 million for 30 seconds, with every moment focus-grouped and milked for maximum effect, that five-hour swath of homoerotic gladiator spectacle is about as dialed in to the modern male id as you can possibly get — pasty white American guys are under serious duress indeed.
This was the message, reinforced a hundred ways from Sunday: Modern males are dead inside. They are whipped and weakened and have little left to call their own, so they run around in hideous underwear and never go out in the sun because personal hygiene and mindful grooming are essentially an afterthought, given how once you’re glumly married and stuck in the dead-end job in a miserable economy, well, who the hell cares about looking or feeling good anymore?”
Pasty white American guy under duress? Probably.
Is that me? Nope.
I’m not buying it. And neither should you.
Let’s bury those bullshit stereotypes under the stories of truly strong heroic men: men who live passionately and with principle, men who are more than their wardrobes or bank accounts, men who give a damn.
Enough already with the celebrity worship of men in the media spotlight – actors, pro athletes, silver spoon-fed explorers, trust fund-ers and politicians. Surely we can find better role models for our boys than those characters.
Let’s focus on the real-life heroes around us, like my friend Dennis Stenson, who has run his CSA farm for over 25 years with his family and community, growing enough food for hundreds of families, giving 100% all year in order provide the world around him with sustenance.
Or how about the men who volunteer to be Big Brothers? Anyone helping to mentor young men is a hero in my book, as are those who are willing to give of themselves in order to enrich another person’s life.
The men who live in a good way are the ones who ought to be idolized: men who respect their partner and their children, men who stick by their word no matter what, men who are quick to help someone in need, men who are always trying to do better by learning from their mistakes, and men who are willing to stick their neck out for something they believe in.
Those are the heroes, not some schmuck who cheats on his wife or hires prostitutes.
Because Tiger may hit a mean golf ball, but he’s still a man-child in my book. No matter how much press his handlers manage to get for his apology.
Image: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com at Flickr