The Home Front

Boys on Film

You’ve got a blessed son, Greg. But, as you are well aware, not every son is so blessed.

Culture matters. And when men are portrayed as bumbling goofs with unserious jobs, unworthy of their brilliant, beautiful, talented wives, it’s sending a message about what we think of men and women and our relationships with one another.

Do I think sitcoms are everything, a cultural make-or-breaker in the lives of all American boys? Of course not, but it’s part of a cultural picture.

I think back to when WFB died. There was such an outpouring of love for him, he was truly a part of people’s lives, people who never actually met him in person. A man wrote in and said that Bill was a father figure to him. He didn’t have a dad who raised him, but he had a stable, weekly, wise, manly presence in his life in the person of William F. Buckley Jr. on Firing Line.

When you put something out there, it can influence lives in ways good and bad. Even while we’re laughing.

And, in the case of the goofball men on TV, I worry about its influence on girls as much as boys, women as much as men. Maybe even more. If manhood has been defined down, it’s not because men all of a sudden started bothering with video games more than courting young ladies. It’s because a cultural revolution defined it down. We had Girl Projects and empowered the women in ways presenting them as somehow victimized by masculinity. If we still held up men in our culture, schools, politics, as potential heroes, as even necessary, the jokes might be less harmful. But when New York Times columnists wonder Are Men Necessary?, the prime-time dopes are further blows. Little Maureen needs to see heroes as much as young Michael does.


The Latest