Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Man Show
I seem to be stuck at the station while the train pulls away. What I mean is, there appears to be a body of interests that pop culture suggests men my age (25-35) are specifically keen on. Consider the explosion in the publishing world of men's magazine offerings. Maxim, Stuff, FHM, etc. All are pretty much the same and all follow the same format. Pages of McNugget style factoids offering tips on how to make farting sounds come from your armpits, what Frisbee games to play with your dog, and what sexual positions to fantasize putting Lara Croft in. Then there are the softcore girlie spreads that usually feature Christina Aguilera all trussed up in a corset and boy shorts as she straddles a Sony Playstation. Speaking of which, the Sony Playstation seems to be another phenomena that I'm not embracing. I'm sorry but my gaming machine experience was with the Atari 2600. Later I got a Commodore 64 which took 10 minutes to load some 200k game which involved dragons or something. My arcade brain is running at that hertz level. So no way in hell am I going to relate to Grand Theft Auto and its gaming experience.

But that's not to say other men my age aren't embracing the Sony Playstation as the talisman of maledom. Indeed, they are in droves - much to the delight of their wives/girlfriends who I often hear complaining about this. And if there wasn't more inducement to sit in front of the TV screen, there is now a parade of shows geared toward the twenty-thirty something male that reflect a flattering universe of subject interests: remote control robots clashing in cataclysmic battle, cartoons of varying artistic merit that often reflect on flatulence and other orificial excretions, truly bizarre puppet shows where the dialogue is off-color and guttural (and the puppets are often humping each other), guys sitting in leather chairs talking about bland NBA games, and oh yeah - Star Trek reruns. Indeed, the old Nashville Network has reinvented itself so many times already that it's morphing again into a Maxim style network called Spike, self-described as the first network for men. Fantastic, now men will have a place they can call home for all their cartoons, puppets, robots, Baywatch and Star Trek reruns.

In truth, it's maybe a little depressing to think this is what men are supposed to want because this is the same stuff I wanted when I was in high school. Sarcastic cartoons, naked women, beer, destructive robots, potty-mouthed puppets, and of course space exploration. It seems like there's no more expectation for personal growth anymore. Not to say I'm no longer interested in beer, naked women, or even space exploration. And sure, sarcastic puppets and homicidal robots are kind of cool, but it's hard to imagine John Wayne sitting on the couch downing a Mountain Dew and flipping on Spike TV. Or the Marlboro Man firing up the Playstation for some sweet Tekken kung-fu action. Those men were expected to wrangle horses and split logs. Today, it seems all society expects men to do is stay in some sort of teenage arrested development - sustained on sugar, alcohol, Monosodium Glutamate, game consoles, half-shirts,, animation, and Data, Warf & the Borg. Surely there's more to us than this? I mean, at one time what fired men up was Manifest Destiny. Today, it's just the Man Show and seeing a nude spread of the women of Destiny's Child.


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