News Column

The decline of male TV

June 25, 2013


June 25--What constitutes male-oriented TV today says a lot about male culture or how we perceive it. In the 1950s and 1960s, we had John Wayne and Robert Young. They were strong male figures -- brave, wise and the masters of their universe.

Those older male role models stood tall, and they always made the right decisions. People respected them. They played in entertaining westerns and family dramas that had plots.

And male TV always has been about sports. The Super Bowl, World Series, boxing and the NBA playoffs have been long-tested ways to draw men to TV. It's the pure competition.

By comparison, today we have the Phil Robertson clan of "Duck Dynasty," Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), "Ice Road Truckers" and Spike TV.

Weird, violent and raunchy. That's what defines male-oriented TV today.

There even are TV shows created for men about work. Somebody somewhere thought that guys like to see other men work, so they created reality shows like "Ice Road Truckers" and "Ax Men." Apparently, we like watching other men haul stuff over treacherous ice and chop down trees.

My take on that is if you have to watch a TV show to see work done, you probably haven't worked much. If you did, you'd know that work isn't fun. It's work.

There's nothing fun about driving a forklift and having some straw boss lurking around a corner hoping you'll screw up so he can write you up. There's certainly no humor in getting your hand chopped off by an un-OSHA approved machine.

I see truckers drive on ice down the Belt Highway. I've seen guys cut down trees after a storm. It's not called entertainment but an inconvenience.

I've watched a bit of "Duck Dynasty" -- only enough to be glad I own a remote. The show basically is about the Robertsons, a family who got rich and famous by making duck calls and decoys. The Robertson family lifestyle can best be described as "Winter's Bone" with religion. Backwoods, backward people who live equally by both gun and Bible are not entertainment -- they're in line at Walmart.

The UCF is ostensibly a mixed martial arts competition. But outside of a few matches, I've seen more skill in bar fights. The rules are just as lax, too. Anything goes. Pretty soon I bet they'll let the fighters use beer bottles and bar stools in the octagon ring.

If an alien came down and watched Spike TV to find out about American men, he'd leave feeling smug, knowing he'd have no problem conquering this earth. He certainly wouldn't have to waste time zapping our brains out. Spike TV already did it.

There's a show on Spike called "Bar Rescue," which is just as it sounds. A guy goes around the country trying to keep bars from closing.

I tried to keep bars from closing many times after the last call lights flickered, and they just threw me out the door. No show or nothing.

There's another show called "Repo Games" where actual car repossession men play a sort of Trivial Pursuit with the owners of vehicles that are about to be repossessed. If they lose, their vehicle gets repossessed.

A show certainly for these financially strapped times. But there's nothing fun about someone's car being repossessed -- especially if it's yours.

"Tattoo Nightmares" is about people with bad tattoos who try to get them removed or fixed. "Ink Master" is a show about people getting bad tattoos.

Really, have we men been dumbed down so much as to see all this as male entertainment? I'd rather watch paint dry. Come to think of it, that might be a show.

Alonzo Weston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.


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