When thinking through media, culture, technology and theology, it’s helpful to watch music awards shows on TV. There’s an observation I’ve made over the past several years regarding this. It’s interesting to me how quickly we forget what people have done and not changed from. It’s also interesting to me who we forgive and who we don’t. The specific example I have is Chris Brown…I know, I know, easy target. Right?!?! Well, it’s just a highlight and I’m not planning on attacking Chris Brown. I hope he changes. I’m more talking about our culture, how quickly we forget and how easily accountability of actions falls off the radar. This ability is a glowing misunderstanding of masculinity.
Let me define this so you know what I mean. Our views of manhood are a bit myopic. Depending on who you talk to a man is supposed to be either:
- This emotional, soft, kind, tender, and able to relate to each other while sitting around in circles or at coffee shops. (Douglas Wilson would say that the only thing missing here is breast implants.)
- A tough, flannel wearing, beer drinking, fighting, hunting, football playing jock who has a short wick.
I would press that neither of these are accurate for a true example of masculinity. Both are a bit myopic. Both are maimed versions of masculinity, missing something significantly important. So then, what is masculinity? Well, in short, it’s that ability to take responsibility. That’s what makes you a man. That you’re able to take responsibility. Regardless of what side of the out-working you fall on (tough, or tender) if you take responsibility then you’re a man, a grown up. If you’re super tough and don’t take responsibility and love your family well and provide for them, then you’re just “a boy who can shave”. Don’t be that. That’s a disgrace. That’s ridiculous. That’s laughable. Be a man, whose tough, wears flannel, drinks beer, fights for your family and not with them, hunts to feed your family, plays football with your sons, and takes responsibility. Be a man, whose emotional with your daughters, soft with your kids, tender with your wife, can relate to her across a table at a coffee shop on a date, and takes responsibility. Be a man whose TOUGH and TENDER. Tough with those who would hurt those you love, care for, and protect. Tender with those you love, care for, and protect.
This is the failure of our culture, we have distorted manhood grossly into the extremes and the effects are detrimental. This is displayed through Chris Brown.
- You have a guy who wants to be the tough guy, but not where it counts. So he’s tough when he should be tender and ends up beating his girlfriend until she needs a hospital.
- You have a dad who wants to be the sensitive guy, but not where it counts. So he allows his daughter to continue an unhealthy relationship with this guy who put his little girl in the hospital, even after there have been no visible signs of change.
- Chris Brown still publicly shows the same signs of pride, self-hate, “I am my hood” mentality, and sings about women in the same degrading terms. That alongside being overly sensitive and easily offended (He deleted his twitter account simply because a comedian made some jabs at him) makes him like a dynamite stick lit at both ends.
- You have a woman who wasn’t raised by a man who seems to have not gotten his daughter emotionally stable enough to realize she’s in a dangerous situation and then to say NO. (shortly after this event Rihanna did a collaboration with Eminem entitled “Love the Way you Lie” singing about loving an abusive relationship so much that you stay regardless of consequences. Warning: there’s some language and the video is a bit risk ay on dress code. You can read the lyrics here and see the video here.)
- Finally, you have us…a culture that forgets and put’s him as one of the main entertainers of the AMA’s the next year. I’m not here to attack Chris Brown. He, just like the rest of us, needs something greater to capture his heart. With Chris, Rihanna, Eminem, any of them; there’s obviously something deeper going on inside, especially when you hear lyrics like the ones posted above. Some great healing needs to come for them. The same is true for us. We’re part of this three-ring circus. We’re part of the problem. Our culture is us. It’s you, it’s me, it’s them. Rihanna, her dad, Eminem, all of us, need something greater to capture our hearts. You have us, myself included, not holding him accountable.Yet it seems there are others who we hold a grudge against so easily…Tiger Woods…Lindsay Lohan. It seems there’s no standard…just pick and choose. In the end, without some standard, we’re stuck in this nebulous middle where no one understands masculinity. Producing passive aggressive men who have no hope of leading well. Relationships suffer, and we experience the debris of broken homes, relationships, and families.
In the end, what we’re privy to, is watching others burn.