Ecce Homo! “Behold the Man!” This is what the Romans would shout upon witnessing an influential male. Men in Rome had a role in society that was not skewed or ridiculed by their culture, as it has come to be today. When soldiers in the United States military were told to “Man” there battle stations, they knew what it meant. It meant to prepare for fortitude, and become responsible. It meant to act smartly and quickly, and to show some bravery. Sadly my bothers, today masculinity is in trouble. I blame part of the trouble on the entertainment business. Modern television shows and movies turn us into brute idiots. The three major portrayals of men have never been confronted because we men have been in hiding from our masculinity. I ask my fellow brothers to slaughter these portrayals which I am about to present, and to replace them with characters of aspiration. I am here before the slaughtering to un-mask these clever portrayals of men and to humiliate them. I aim to give them the beating they deserve. We must know what we are fighting against, and whom we don’t want to be.
The first is the idiot husband. Doug Heffernan, Peter Griffin, Homer Simpson, and many others exemplify the quintessential idiot spouse. He hates his work, and loves his beer, he pretends to want for nothing, and he promotes his need for sex. He is a character that rejoices in his laziness, and rejects his craziness. When he is sick he is helpless, though he himself is never needed for help. This character is always unhealthy and overweight, yet he wonders why he is so underappreciated. The foil to the stupid, ignorant husband is always his wife, the thinker in the family. This part of the writing may be what confuses me the most. Despite the stupidity and unworthiness of her husband, there is, “something about him,” that keeps them together. Clearly a woman would have to be out of her mind to marry such a man. In the real world, a good father works together with his wife as one flesh, one team. A good husband has common sense, self-control, and can give virtuous advice to his children.
The next is the macho man. Antonio Banderas, Vin Disel, and all the James Bond characters fit this category. He is a pretentious action “hero.” This character shoots firsts and takes names later. He has no mercy and fights for the sake of fighting. His dominance is unbeatable, and anything that gets in his way he blows up, breaks down, or blasts away with his persuader. This character tells men that there are no cares in the world, just get your job done, get your pay, and then get a girl. To Mr. Macho, it is a material object that truly makes a man. He sports the best attire, drives the best car, packs the best gear, and courts the girls all men desire. Women too are mere objects to the macho man. If the sexy girl shows any sign of character development towards being more than a jezebel, she immediately becomes an obstacle, a threat to macho man’s machoness. The macho man is an insult to our real heroes. Real heroes, like policemen, firemen and soldiers are witnesses to the true action episodes. They tell action stories of self-sacrifice and protection, stories about trying to stay alive to go home to kids and a wife, but never objects.
The last is the lonely bachelor. Movies like knocked up, wedding crashers, and all the Adam Sandler films manifest this poor excuse of a character. He is young and single and shows that he loves it. He has been promiscuous his entire adult life thus far, and only has friends who are just like himself. The lonely bachelor character tries never to be unoccupied, because if he is he’ll be exposed to his true lonely misery. He is often short tempered and frustrated. Throughout the movie, constant laughs are drawn from how he breaks things due to his extreme anger. One day he decides that there is more to life then sex, drugs, and rock and roll. He falls in love with some girl with little personality. Eventually, after many broken items, multiple sex jokes, and mountains of beer, he’s matched with the girl and they live happily ever after. Words like “kindness,” “goodness,” “self-control,” and, heaven forbid, “Modesty”, never cross this man’s mind. Yet it is to him that our young men look as an example. When will this change?
Good movies and TV shows portraying virtuous men, though rarely so, do exist. They should be watched and appreciated. But the majority of the entertainment advertised to us men worries me greatly. Hollywood releases the same scripts, with the same characters year after year. They change a few names and concepts here and there, but in the end it is the same movies and shows weekly, daily, and annually. They portray stupid, violent, objectifying, unwise, non-virtuous men. And many boys will grow in imitation of what they see; it will become they are. I look to a world where men will rise, stand tall, and not hand in their God-given masculinity. The man we were all created to exemplify, regardless of size, race, or interest is a chivalrous, virtuous, courageous, and protecting man. Rise up oh men, and man your battle stations. Ecce Homo!
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.