The Commercial Emasculation of Men
Father’s Day is drawing nigh and so with it comes a barrage of commercials selling phones, cars, cologne, steaks and everything Lowes has to offer. These commercials are certainly not all bad, but some of them are deeply bothersome – at least to me.
Now I don’t want to be the guy who makes a mountain out of a molehill, but I do believe it is important to think and be wise about what our culture believes and is communicating. I think it is important to ask if we are somehow being inoculated in a detrimental way.
I recently was watching the primary cultural inoculating medium – the television – when I saw this commercial:
This commercial bothers me a lot and it does so because I think it is unintentionally selling a bill of goods (an idea) as normative. And it isn’t cell phones. Here’s what I see in this commercial.
- There’s an embedded cultural perception. Our culture makes light of things that are subtly and generally true. Sitcoms and stand-up comedians make a living off correctly diagnosing and then exaggerating tendencies. Seinfeld for instance was a show that you could watch and by the end you would be laughing and saying: “That’s just the way it really is.” The intent of this commercial is to sell you a phone, but it is saying something about men and how they communicate. If this is the way men generally communicate with their sons, I don’t think it is something to laugh about. This commercial makes males look like cavemen who are barely capable uttering a string of intelligible words. And even if it is generally true for many, it’s not alright.
- Perception: Men are cluelessly not engaged. It also appears to further our pop-culture view of men, and especially fathers, as very unengaged. Adam was unengaged in the battle for the mind and heart of his covenant mate (Genesis 3:1-6), and look where that got him and us. It’s not alright for men to come home, say as few words as possible and sit in front of the TV and let the wife do all the communicating to the family. Men have got to engage.
- Diagnosis: If largely true, it’s a massive tragedy. I know this is just a commercial that overstates perception, but here’s the tragedy, a father like that will raise a son who does the same thing. And that’s not funny. Men were meant to be communicators of truth by using words. Adam failed in an epic way because he did not speak up in Genesis 3:1-6. He did not concisely and urgently inform Eve that she was not speaking the truth, the very truth that God himself gave to the man. Men must be more than grunters, head-nodders and rib jabbers. They must carefully and urgently communicate with meaningful intent and content.
- In Sum: It’s Emasculating. I’m not saying this commercial is meaning to emasculate men, but what I am saying is that if we agree with what this commercial is communicating, then men will think and act in a way that is contrary to God’s purpose for their masculinity. If men think and act like this then we have lost the biblical paradigm concerning masculinity.
Have I over-thought this? You decide. But I fear for us that too often we are told and sold what we are to think and we don’t even know that it isn’t funny. And even worse, we don’t even know it is wrong.