My friend Mellie linked this interesting TED Talk that discusses the downfall of guys and how the media might play a role in the whole thing. It’s amazing how convinced this man could make me of his stance in less than five minutes. Sure, I do take quite the stance against our current multimedia culture, but when someone else says something my knee-jerk reaction is to defend it. Not this time. He’s pretty spot on.
The media is rewiring men to only seek arousal states. The most popular games are adrenaline rush promoting FPSes, and the most popular movies require action or a (generally bad) joke for every five minute interval of film – excluding the credits in most cases. I find this comparative to Barney’s New Year’s “Get Psyched Mix” mix tape (CD?) in the first season of How I Met Your Mother. He described most mix tapes as boring because they rise and then fall. His, on the other hand, is all rise. In both versions, you can tell he’s pretty much accurate in his description. And that’s how guys want to live their lives.
As for the part about guys not knowing how to speak to women or even having a lesser interest in knowing how, that’s accurate as well. I think the media is to blame there as well. Very few television programs or movies show healthy, realistic relationships between men and women. You usually have to choose between shows about men who want to hang out with their bros and not want to engage in adults norms or shows about women who want to be independent and strong in a world of men who objectify and subjugate them. If you assume that both shows manage to get into the psyche of their intended audiences, you find yourself in a world of juvenile men and strong women. There is an inherent incompatibility there. How would a man know how to talk to a woman wired to believe that they are powerful creatures and men are pigs? What would a strong woman see in a guy who believes that his Xbox Live achievements have real world merit? That’s only one example. I’m not going to go into examples of male bonding and how women are also taught that they are little princesses who need to be saved. Examples are all over and you can find them. Even if you don’t have a TV, I know for a fact that you have internet access.
While I did very much agree with the Phil Zimbardo’s short speech, there was an issue I found with it almost immediately. It was a speech about hetero-normative behavior. How are gay males performing in school? How about in becoming men? How are they doing with communicating with each other? What difficulties are they facing? You cannot discuss guys and not provide a single mention for…well, guys. We’re a very diverse group. I’d like to know if we’re damaged across the board the board by the media or if some of us are safe.