Father Knows Bupkis

14 Aug

I am not a man-child. Well, okay, maybe I am a man-child– I mean, I do occasionally dress up like a pirate and run around my back-yard with my best friend— but I’m not really a hopeless child in a man’s body, more of a youthful man with a “childlike” attitude toward life, not a “childish” one. There is a difference between the two.

If you watch very much television these days, you are familiar with the man-child stereotype. He’s usually overweight, hopelessy helpless, and really a bit of a doofus. He’s the guy who plays the part of husband/father on nearly every sitcom to be made since the early 90’s. He’s part of the reason that men are having a harder time finding their role in today’s society.

When I look at the television shows of my youth, particularly the popular shows, I notice some striking differences to the current television trends. Let’s look at a few examples, shall we?

The Andy Griffith Show– Andy Taylor was a real man’s man. He knew how to shoot a gun, but as a level-headed law man, he didn’t carry one unless it was absolutely necessary. It wasn’t because he was against the use of guns, in fact, I’m reasonably sure that a guy like Andy probably owned more than one gun for personal protection and for sport–it’s just the he commanded so much respect from those around him, that there were few situations he couldn’t resolve peacefully. He was the type of man who had most of the answers and knew were to find the ones he didn’t. He was a man to look up to, a single father who took care of his family and his friends. He knew his role.

The Beverly Hillbillies– Jed Clampett was not a learned man. He didn’t have much education, nor did he have a great deal of sophistication, but he did have a heart and he tried to provide for his family using the means he had available. He used what he knew about the world, and what he knew about basic living to make a better life for his daughter, his nephew, and his mother-in-law. He also didn’t let money change him. I always got the impression that Jed didn’t have a lot of use for money, and would have been just as content living in the hills and huntin’ for some food for the rest of his days, but when he had the opportunity to offer his charges a bigger oyster, he put aside his own needs and wants and loaded up the truck–“Californy” bound. He always approached every dilemma with a moral scale and weighed it out, and opted to do the right thing, despite the cost, never truly falling victim to those who tried to sponge off him, and always staying true to who he was a man. In the Clampett home, Jed’s word was law, and everyone respected him. The kids knew that if they did wrong, there would be consequences, and when they did wrong, there were. Granny, very much like a kid, often voiced her differences with Jed, but he never got bitter about it. Respecting his elders, as all good men and women should do, he would quietly shake his head and smile, knowing that ultimately, things would turn out okay. He was a man who knew his role.

The Cosby Show– Heathcliff Huxtable was the dad everyone wanted. He was a successful doctor who loved his family. He often acted a fool, but he was never really portrayed as a genuine fool. His family loved and respected him and his wife, Claire. A fan of jazz, he had culture. The man had art hanging on his walls and he appreciated a stylish sweater. He always had time for his family, taking every opportunity to instruct his children in moral behavior, without talking down to them. He loved and respected his wife, and she knew it, because he said it, he showed it, and he lived it. He wasn’t just a good father and husband, he was a respected member of the community, too. Even the friends of his children called him Dr. Huxtable and looked up to him, seeking his advice. He knew how to take charge when needed, and also knew when to step back and let others live up to their potential. He was a man who knew his role.

The Dukes of Hazzard– Uncle Jesse Duke, the patriarch of the Duke family, was another man who set a good example. Even though he wasn’t a man of great means, he graciously took in his troubled nephews and his niece, giving them a home and a moral compass. Granted, he was a former moonshiner, but, when he made a deal with the Government of the U.S. of A. he stuck to it. He didn’t run ‘shine any more, and that was that–he was true to his word. He taught his nephews and his niece the importance of being trustworthy and honest, and he did it gently. You seldom saw Jesse lose his temper, and when you did, he still wasn’t moved to violence–choosing instead to use his brain to find a solution to his problems. A common theme on the show was Uncle Jesse’s standing as an upright and respected citizen of the corrupt Hazzard County. Not only did he take every opportunity to give moral and proper advice to those around him, but if you watch carefully, you’ll notice that there was never a meal eaten in the Duke household that didn’t begin without a prayer of thanks– it was even right there in the opening credits! Go ahead and watch them–I won’t tell. Jesse Duke was a man who knew his role.

Today, television and movies are frought with men who don’t know their role. Their families step beyond the bounds of respect and treat the men like bumbling baffoons; and the men fill those roles nicely. When no-one shows them respect, they lose the respect of the one person who matters, the respect of self. The men in these newer shows seemingly do everything they can to prove their detractors right, and they do it well. Now you, dear reader, may be asking “why all the fuss?” Well, I’ll tell you why. Our young men are growing up, bombarded by images of men who don’t know how to care for their families. They are constantly shown images of men who can’t show emotion. Young men are flooded with images of men who simply won’t control their lusts. Our lads are exposed to the idea that there is no dignified way for a man to express anger. They simply don’t see what it is to be a real man.

The real question is, “Why is this happening?” What is it that makes writers write the man as idiot? I think it’s because today’s writers have lost touch with manliness themselves. They write what they know. When you live in a society that rewards sensless behavior, and holds no-one to the consequences of their actions, how can you know anythinig else?

Another factor, and I’m sure I’ll catch some flack over this, is women’s lib. Now, I’m all for women being independant, and working if necessary. I have no problem with working moms, and I’ve known many strong, capable women in my life. However, as women take on more and more roles that have traditionally been held by men, the roles have become more undefined. Now, men don’t know where they stand. Call it political correctness if you like, but men are afraid of being labled as sexist, and are trying ever harder to “get in touch with their feminine side.” The catch is, that if you listen to women long enough, you’ll note that many miss the chivalrous, manly men of yesterday–they want their cake, and they want to eat it, too.

Don’t be afraid to step up, men. Do the right thing. Not sure what a real man is? Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Watch “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Watch some reruns of the “Andy Griffith Show.” These feature “real men.” Do you know what your role is?


Posted by on August 14, 2008 in better living


Tags: , , , ,

8 responses to “Father Knows Bupkis

  1. sol92258

    August 14, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    well put, sir, well put

  2. Sheriff Peter B. Hartwell

    August 19, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Is there any why we can get this put on the Front Page of EVERY blog in the USA?

    “Please don’t call me ‘Pinky’. Because I got a name, see… and it’s Peter B. Hartwell.”

  3. gentlemanbeggar

    August 19, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Well, you can certainly try! For starters, click on that little “Digg” button up there. Then, send a link to everyone you know. Submit it to Reddit/stumbleupon/Fark/etc. Put a link to it on your own blog, if you have one. Spread the word, and let’s work together to fight the stereotype. Men of the world unite!

  4. W. Target

    August 19, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    If there was ever a greater double standard, it is the one that North American society now holds men to.

    Oh, society wants men to be strong, confident and capable when there’s trouble afoot; They want men who will stand up to the ‘bad guys’.

    But a lot of women also want men who are easy to control, non-threatening in their intelligence and overall of a ‘Larry Curly & Moe’ level of bumbling buffoon.

    It’s difficult to gauge what society expects of you when the same fem-libber will give you hell for opening a door for her, yet complain to her friends minutes later that “there aren’t enough good men anymore”

    The real secret to being one of those ‘good guys’ is to live well and to do what you feel is right by what your moral compass says; not what other people tell you is right.

  5. Jeanius

    June 10, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Followed the instructions: equal Rights then Bupkis…
    I think that the first post loses sight of the fact that men are in a crisis because it is so hard for them to within themselves accord equal rights to women. The fact is that we still need laws and regulations to manage the behaviour of men towards woman because socially, politically and economically the gender power relations still favour men. Almost all over the world it is women that lobby for rights and changes in the law and men that wrote these laws and will write the new ones. Why should we as women feel guilty because the laws written by men might disadvantage them or reveal the social attitudes the perpetuate and that burden women with the care of the children and the bills? If the social psyche of men were such that they did not have to be compelled by law to provide for their children then then one might reconsider…In South Africa men are awarded custody of the children and women are ordered to pay child maintenance or to contribute to child maintenance more often than in the past. This too is in keeping with laws and regulations. In general conversation one is reminded that men expect women to be child minders and that women have to continually go to court to sue for arrear maintenance.
    Men may well need to step up to the plate and come to terms with the fact that the care and the cost of the care of children do not constitute a space for power play against the woman that bore the children. It is not a space to ask society to continue to victimise women and to excuse men. It is not a space for attempting to reverse women and children made in being accorded dignity and rights. Until very recently women and children were mere possessions of men and while the laws are being rewritten on these matters those little wage differences for men and women and the lack of child care at places of work for working mothers or single fathers clearly indicate that the needs of women and children still do not get proper recognition and that society believes that there is a woman, normally a grandmother, that will look after the children if the father has custody and that the mother should be at home with her children and not out working: perhaps the work place is a hunting ground for males to compete for nubile young childless lasses whom they can impregnate?
    Men must find their maleness within themselves and not in winning power battles of every kind including physical ones with women often using children as leverage.
    We need men to be to be confident because they are in tune with themselves: their maleness and their equal place in a world that has in it also women and children.

    • gentlemanbeggar

      June 11, 2009 at 10:17 am

      You make some very valid arguments there, friend. It is a sad state that in this world men must be compelled by law to live up to their responsibilities. Outside of western culture, women are largely thought of as second class citizens, and this is truly unfortunate, and morally reprehensible. I think what the authoress was attempting to point out was that we as a society need to closely examine our roles.

      You are right when you say, “We need men to be confident because they are in tune with themselves” which is precisely the point of “Father Knows Bupkis.” For too long, men have allowed themselves to be painted as hapless buffoons, and while there are a great many men who mistreat women and children, there are many who **want** to extend beyond that and be proper men, but the tide is working against them. Socially, we (males) are being portrayed as a stereotype, and sadly, we are falling right in line with that stereotype.

      The Bible tells us that woman was created for man, by God, so that we (men) would have someone to help us. That doesn’t put men above women by any means. We are to be leaders in our family, just as Christ is the head of His Church. I know I would be lost without the aid of my wife. Maybe now, more than ever, men need to realize that we need women. We need you to help us learn to respect ourselves, and to be the men you need and or want us to be.

  6. sol92258

    June 15, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    you hit the nail on the head, my friend.

    The very design of man and woman was such, man is leader, woman is the helper. This does not make man head of the woman, nor make the woman less important, but rather significantly shows that each needs the other. I think the fact that woman was made from the rib of man is also significant – not from the foot that man should walk over her, not from the head that she would rule over him, but from his side, that she would be next to him, support and encourage and help him, and that he should lead and protect and provide for her. Also significant, as you already stated, that Christ and the church is symbolic of the marriage relationship. Christ is the groom, the church the bride.
    It takes both man and woman in the marriage relationship to reflect God’s person, as He states in Genesis, I’ll paraphrase, in His image man and woman were created…both male and female complete the image of God, one without the other is not complete. This is significant that neither is more important.
    Societally, (is that a word?), males have been dominant – I find nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is when, in order to maintain what has been viewed as a position of power, certain social norms were created to keep males important. This squashed rights in many cases (same can be said of racial issues), and thus cultures get to where they are. I believe men should be the leaders, protectors, and women the helpers, but that does not indicate any kind of lessening, or make a point that women are incapable of leading. Indeed, there is a plethora of evidence that women can be outstanding leaders.
    I must, however, get back to the point originally made, and that is this: Men in TV shows today ARE indeed, for the sake of humor, made out to be buffoons. Gone are the strong, leading, chivalrous examples we used to have, replaced with bumbling Tim Taylors and lazy Jim (According to Jim), among others.
    The question though, is it Art reprenting culture? or is culture bending to represent art?
    Instead of being strong, I feel that in many cases it has been an overall cultural response of “if I make a stand for truth, I’ll be construed as racist/bigotist/whatever, and thus the cries for manliness die with a whimper.

    both of you make fine points, but I’ll end with this: as a computer tech, sometimes I find computers with problems as a result of an application or device trying to do something it wasn’t designed to do, and it eventually fails. For the system to get back to working, I have to correct everything to do it’s designed job. Our culture still needs fixing, but instead of trying to think of our own fix, and thus influenced by our own personal bias, perhaps we should go back to the Designer’s original intent?

    (Disclaimer: Yes, I am a believer, and no, I’m not arguing for you to believe too. My intent is that you’ll see the impetus for my argument. We can disagree on whether the Bible is true or not, that’s fine. But you cannot disagree that that is what the Bible says on the matter, whether you believe it or agree with it, or not.)


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