Sunday, April 19, 2009

The foolish man

Several times, online, I have seen men bemoaning the new stereotype on television, the foolish man. He is bumbling, and doltish and laughable. TV is saying all men are Homer Simpson, or are, at least, a little idiotic in comparison to their more couth and eloquent wives.

It took a while for me to realise what bothered me about this complaint.

And this is it. The stupid person is a stock character, especially in comedy. The drunk, the klutz, the fool. There are gendered and variously aged versions of different types: the bimbo, the naive innocent, the curmudgeon.

There have always been plenty of idiot male characters, the difference is that they were always the butt of jokes and condescension from other men. All that has happened now is that is is acceptable to show a man who is less intelligent in some or all way in comparison with a female like his wife.

This is noticeable only because it was previously simply not allowed.


Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you on this one, Em, and I'll tell you why. The bumbling and foolish man has always been an integral part of TV culture, e.g. characters Ed Norton, Vinnie Barbarino, Gilligan, Boss Hog, Al Bundy, Bookman (Good Times), Woody (Cheers), Homer Simpson, ect. I think what's upsetting a lot of male viewers these days isn't that males on TV are presented as suddenly "foolish" but all too often women are presented as not just more inherently intelligent but cut-throat sharkishly intelligent beside their bumbling male counterparts. Its like the brains behind these TV trends are trying to say that we're not just morons, but by being so we deserve to have the superiority of women rubbed in our faces. That's how it often feels anyway.

Emily Veinglory: said...

I agree that what people dislike is that the woman is the superior/smarter one. But I think the reverse has long been available with bimbo characters and exasperated husbands. So this is just a case of a variation coming into play that was once thought impossible. A scenario where a woman is smarter than her sidekick man. I think people will get used to it and the novelty will wear off. So all kinds of smart/dumb and equal pairing will be represented.

Karen said...

It sure doesn't give our kids much to aspire to does it?

David Tulloch said...

A contrary example ... Bewitched. The Darrens were always the bumbling buffoons, while the witchy wife was the brains of the family. For some of us that made her all the sexier. Or was it just her nose wiggle?

But I agree with you. Overall there is a new trend to more intelligent women ... and they get to be the ones pointing out the foibles of the men.

Is it all political correctness gone amok? Is it a mirror to post-modern society? Or is it just the common denominator that currently works for networks, censors, sponsors and the unwashed masses?

Oh, and hello there Emily. **waves**

corrin said...

I think the bumbling husband and the ditzy wife get equal screen time and I don't read too much into either.