It’s Not About What I Do
by Alex Carnevale
Little boys are getting entirely the wrong kind of instruction these days. They should be quarantined and prevented from seeing the lack of manliness on display in Mad Men. Come to think of it, they should probably see 300 and Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay instead.
This week’s episode of Mad Men was a crash course in the past and future of masculinity.
The last thing an American boy is nowadays apt either to hear or to read is that girls, being the weaker and more delicate sex, need to be protected. Anyone who tried to tell them such a thing would, of course, instantly be set upon by a gender posse.
Thus many of them grow up feeling not brave with girls but, on the contrary, some unexpressed combination of clumsy and resentful. Even when they score sexually, they are these days often required to play the passive party.
Harry Crane has to get psyched up by his wife before he asks for a promotion. Even Roger Sterling can’t keep his relationship with a prostitute purely business. Peggy‘s never overcome with sensitivity – it’s only the men of Mad Men who get a chance to weep.
With these kinds of weepy, soft men at their disposal, no wonder women took over so easily. Focused, driven, and with no hobbies to distract them, women silently rule the universe.
Betty can’t understand men. “He lied again,” she carps, as if Bobby was the first man to lie to her. So did an impudent young jockey who tried to stable-bang her last week. It’s almost impossible to be a beautiful woman these days. You have no idea what to believe.
I have an idea for a tv show and a suggestion for a place to put your boner
“The skies are the frontier,” Don muses, in between making sure his sweater looks fetching on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. The rhetoric doesn’t match the situation, or the outfit, for that matter. And is it just me, or are Don’s pitches starting to resemble one another? I keep waiting for him to crow, “Men want to a bang a new woman…not an older one” and leave his minions to craft the accompanying menus. The frontier is such a dark and dangerous place.
The airlines were a constant sign that American men could no longer be trusted. We keep building the wrong kind of contraption to carry us across to the frontier.
As historical observer of the patriarchy Susan Faludi put it:
Men, she writes, “find themselves in an unfamiliar world where male worth is measured by participation in a celebrity-driven consumer culture and awarded by lady luck,” where “useful” work matters less than glamor, where they can only “enact a crude semblance of masculinity” before the media’s looking glass. The modern man, Faludi argues, doesn’t really get to be a man. The best he can hope for is to play one on TV.
Now that the emasculated male is rising to the cream of the Mad Men circle jerk, everyone has excuses.
We’re supposed to forgive Don his out-of-wedlock indiscretions because he doesn’t want to beat his little boy. That’s a bit self-congratulatory, don’t you think?
Whatever kids need, Don thinks, it’s not a swift kick in the ass. That’s saved for his wife.
Faludi at least believes that men and women cannot respect themselves or feel truly human unless they have “something worthwhile to do” (emphasis hers). Farrell laments that traditional male roles encouraged a man to become “a human doing” defined by work, rather than “a human being” defined by feelings. In his rendition, everything men have achieved throughout history is reduced to the onerous role of “performing.”
The best way to raise a boy is to introduce Ayn Rand to him at an early age. Otherwise he’s guaranteed to end up as someone’s assistant. You should probably home school your offspring, too. If you don’t, you’re that much more likely to wake up one day, check your e-mail, and discover your first born is talking shit about you on his blog.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.
RICHARD ASHCROFT AND BRADFORD COX WILL BE NEW MALES WE CAN LOOK UP TO AND RESPECT
“Columbo” – The Verve (mp3)
“She’s a Superstar” – The Verve (mp3)
“I See Houses” – The Verve (mp3)
“Valium Skies” – The Verve (mp3)
“Logos” – Atlas Sound (mp3)
“Thanatos” – Atlas Sound (mp3)
“St. Echo” – Atlas Sound (mp3)
“My Halo” – Atlas Sound (mp3)
backstory behind these Atlas Sound tracks
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING
The sad story of Updike.
Spores rule the world.
The music there was hauntingly familiar.