ManChild

One of my hot button issues is the way that men are treated, in general, on TV and the popular media. So yesterday I wrote this lengthy screed for the carthic exercise. It isn’t important or particularly profound, but it’s something I needed to get out of my system.

Kathryn Jean Lopez expends a number of pixels describing the movie Juno. The male lead, Mark (played by actor Jason Bateman) is put under the microscope.

In the scene in which Mark meets the birth mother of the unborn child he and his wife are making moves to adopt, a smirk is permanently on his face. His wife is serious and in love with the idea of being “a mommy.” He, on the other hand, when asked if he looks forward to being a father, replies — now with a more awkward smirk — “Hmm. Betcha. Yeah.” He goes on to ramble about how every man wants to be a father and coach the soccer team and help make one of those volcanoes for the school science fair. “Yeah.”Later, he becomes distracted playing guitar with Juno, the pregnant teenager interested in giving her baby for adoption whom they’re interviewing. The interest of the teenage girl is piqued by Mark’s music room, about which he announces, “Vanessa gave me my own room for my stuff.” It’s as if he moved out of his parents’ place to move in with a wife and a life he’s not that into.

You get the hint early on, in other words, that Vanessa Loring — played by Jennifer Garner — is operating on a different maturity level than her husband.

He’s the Peter Pan – the boy that refuses to grow up.

The movie has been touted, and critiqued by opinionators like Lopez, for the way it handles the topic of abortion. But there’s been another reaction, like this one from (believe it or not) one of Lopez’s supporters. She quotes his email.

Feminism’s second wave has had many, many unintended consequences, one of which is that men, not just women have been liberated from their traditional roles. Many men simply don’t feel the need to grow up because women have quite plainly said they don’t need or value men. “You say you can take care of yourselves? Fantastic! I’m gonna go invent computer games and play them for as long as I want.”So, women indulged in a gigantic fit of self-indulgence and selfishness, which they are still very much involved in, and along comes not just one woman (you), but many of them, calling upon men to engage in the self-sacrifice of yesteryear, while at the same time, retaining all of their newfound privilege, comfort, self-determination, and yes, power, both over themselves (fair) and men (not quite so fair).

I remember the days after the insanities of hormone-charged adolescence at the start of the quieter desperation of young adulthood. I knew too many men at that stage who were on the verge of deciding to give up and withdraw themselves.

When a lot of men did, even the New York Times noticed. And see here too.

Lopez’s emailer is right. There is a serious accusation being made, as it was made by Katha Pollitt before this, that men are simply not as mature as women, and that they are unacceptable. She references the movie Knocked Up.

Actually, though, the real subject of Knocked Up is the immaturity of men: only under the most desperate circumstances will they put aside their bongs, or their porn, or their even more idiotic friends. If a woman had made this movie she’d be labelled a total man-hater: there isn’t one man in it who isn’t basically a teenager. But a woman never would have made this movie, because women don’t have the fantasy in which willowy creamy world-class beauties like Alison, with brains, great clothes, and tons of self-confidence in bed and out of it, go for men like Ben (Seth Rogen), who is not only an unemployed and underbathed stoner with no ambitions and no visible means of support, but physically unattractive to an alarming degree. A real-life Alison wouldn’t have spent one night in his filthy teenage-boy lair of a bedroom, or hung out for one evening with his uber-slacker friends . I’ll give you that she might have called him when she discovered she was pregnant– but offer to entwine herself in coparenting for life with a one-night stand she couldn’t even get through breakfast with the next morning?

IOW, the 85% of women who are “world class” can’t abide the 85% of men who are immature slobs. Okay, then.

There are two things being said here in these movies and in the popular media. The first messages uses abortion (and explicitly, the decisions made regarding it) as in indication of the maturity of girls and women. The second is that men are the source of the problem, and not facing responsibilites.

With or without feminism as a cause, It’s not clear to me that not having an abortion is a sign of great maturity (especially when the girl “just happens to get pregnant”). And while the popular media have graduated from man-as-baffoon (who must be set to right by the woman) to man-as-immature (who must be transformed by the woman), I’m not impressed by the improvement. If we think that men (especially young men) are missing in action, perhaps we should not have told them to – um – get lost?

It’s been argued that this is strictly a male problem, and mine (in particular) to solve. But I have to say, many older men, myself included, find it hard to get worked up over a movie like Juno when there is a related but far bigger boy problem that perenially escapes notice.

The overdosing of boys is a problem that has a solution. Even better, the alternative to Ritalin has the benefit of allowing boys to be better socialized. But apparently in the rush to implement a liberal social agenda, that solution has been rejected. Pity. It would have saved alot of grief.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Catholism, Personal, post-modernism

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