I Know What I Know

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This morning Dr. Laura had a professor from McGill University on (Dr. Katherine Young). She talked about a new book she has that argues that one of teh side-effects of the feminist movement has been that a space has been carved out in modern culture for the “teaching of contempt for Men.”

It’s a compelling argument when you first hear it, since all we need to do is think about the degree to which men in popular culture are consistently represented as idiots (think Homer Simpson).

But once you think about it, the argument ignores the simple fact that the ridicule of men has been a staple of western comedy (I’m talking literature and theater here) for at least 400 years.

Shakespeare does it all over the place. So does Dryden. Good lord, think about Dickens! Even his more serious characters (like Mr. Dombey) are ridiculed for their poor choices.

Is this the result of feminism? No. Of course not. It is, however, the way that comdey works. Comedy ridicules those who fail to meet the expectations placed upon them. Just as libertine drama in the 17th century placed he sexually predatory libertine on the stage as an example of how men ought not behave, modern culture gives us Homer Simpson as an example of behavior we ought not imitate. Just as Shakespeare gave us Falstaff as a kind of larger-than-life Jester who, however entertaining he might be, is less than a role model, we find countless examples in modern culture of similar figures—men who we ought not be like.

This is why shows like this can be dangerous, I think. It’s all about a captive audience, a monologic message, and feeding them what they want to hear. That’s why Rush Limbaugh never engages in a debate outside of his radio show—the one time I’ve seen him on Letterman, he got his ass handed to him on a platter. It’s was glorious.

You can listen to the Dr. Laura show I’m talking about here. It’s the show from the 10th.


Written by srogers

July 2, 2011 at 2:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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