A trend begun in the 1980s in this country is to portray men as either clowns or unimaginable macho freaks. No where do you see images of strong and wise men worthy of respect. We’ve come a long way from Ward Cleaver of the Leave it to Beaver 1950s TV show. The end result is a diminishment of men and their roles in society. More women occupy jobs in our country for the first time in history. More women earn college degrees now, than do men. And it’s time to examine if this is a good thing; and if not what to do about it.
I want to head-off-at-the pass any hyper-sensitive types who will polish their indignation hormones by claiming I’m longing for society to revert to the times of Leave it to Beaver. This silly claim was heard about Republicans throughout the 2012 political season as Democrats repeatedly claimed a false “War on Women” that does not exist. And, by the way, if it does exist its a battle its advocates are losing terribly as evidenced by the facts already sited in this blog.
Popular cultures examples of men who portrayed characters of a “real life” world 40-50 years ago include Ward Cleaver,
Robert Young in Father Knows Best,
Fred MacMurray in My Three Sons,
It wasn’t until decades later we all learned that Robert Reed, the actor portraying Mike Brady was gay. And while not significant toward my point; it is an interesting, quirky twist in the examples I sight.
The clownish, oafish Al Bundy of Married with Children fame became the standard example of an American Dad through the 1990s. Another example of a “man” and a husband and father in popular culture was John McClain, played by Bruce Willis in the Die hard movie series. He was wise cracking, and tough and leaping from sky scrapers and crashing trucks and cars and shooting dealy, evil villains. The problem with this is neither of the examples are worth exemplifying as what a man and/or father ought to be. Bundy was completely dorkish and without many positive qualities, and
McClain was totally unrealistic, not to mention too violent.
I don’t pine for the days of the little woman being bound to the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, and being nearly completely subservient to the man. And I certainly don’t wistfully wish for the days of racism and segregation imposed on the racial minorities of this country back in the “good ‘ol days”.
But I do wish I could see in pop culture more examples of honorable men. Clowns are fine as are heroic macho gun toting crime stoppers. But what’s wrong with having positive male role models being displayed in our tv and movie entertainment? What’s wrong with Leave it to Beaver? Or Mike Brady for that matter?