‘The media everywhere is deriding men. TV programmes with enormous popularity are portraying men as lazy, ignorant, stupid, inept, etc etc.’
Yes, this rather bores me. I realise that some think we should ‘fight back’ against this populist tirade against men, but frankly I’ve got bigger battles to fight.
I’m aware that Homer Simpson is now long-held as the inflamed archetype of modern man, and that huge US hit TV shows such as Two And A Half Men are influencing millions of teenagers (and 20-somethings) with negative role models that border on worship, but if I make those concerns my issue then I’m warring against an external aggressor when the reality is the true battle lines are probably a lot closer to home.
Look, let’s be real here, the problem of poor male stereotypes isn’t that big of a deal for men. It is not the same as the battle that women fought for the vote, nor a battle against race or colour, or a battle to end slavery. The disenfranchised in this phony war are modern men, men with the freedom, and the clout, and the voice to do instigate change if they want. This ‘problem’ isn’t tyrannical oppression, it’s some yobbo in a pub who’s had a few too many and starts spouting off about anything and everyone.
Now granted, turning on the TV so often does dismay me. In particular, I don’t enjoy the trajectory that our comedy has taken over the last 20 years. But how much this worries me comes down to how I see the role of media in the world today. Does it inform or reflect our culture? I think it’s probably a bit of both.
However, I am not culture; I am a man living in a culture and it is up to me decide the degree of influence I allow these views to have on me. As the Apostle Paul says: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2). I am not a slave to TV, to magazines, to music, to news channels; I am a son of God and I am free.
And of course, let’s remember that modern media is not the sole arbiter of influence in our culture. Role models aren’t only found within scripted scenes squeezed into 20 minutes of screen time. Real relationships still have real value.
There are many battles that a man could fight, working out which are the ones we’re to engage in is crucial. It is of incredible importance how I choose to live my life, decide my priorities, and determine the choices I will make. How I deploy my energy and how I invest in my relationships is key. On what do I spend my money? What am I building with my life?
If TV were my Lord I could have these questions answered cheaply by a Simpson, or a Bauer, or a Draper, or a House. I could reflect these second-rate answers to the biggest questions of life and impoverish myself, my family, and my community.
Or I could turn to the Bible, to the teachings of Jesus, the wisdom of Godly men gone by, the community of the Church, and submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The answers we’re looking and searching for could be grabbed from the lowest, easiest shelf or we could use some of that energy that God has given us to resist the easy and choose the true.
One man, submitted to God and living a holy life, will have more authority in his family, his work, his leisure, his wider community than a TV creation. Real hope, offered by Jesus and made known to others through our lives, is of such greater attractiveness to a world seeking answers, as a well-aged ribeye steak is of so much greater appeal than an undercooked and reheated beef burger.
TV characters so often reflect a broken world. Men spending their lives for Jesus can point the way to the one who came to fix what was broken and give a watching world a signpost to the real hero to be worshipped.