The men of television – stupid or really, really stupid?

Look at Trixie and Alice. How they suffer, married to those two imbeciles.

There was a big flap recently when a diaper maker chose to hype the incredible ease with which their diapers could be placed on little poopers.  As you may have heard, they chose to describe the diaper as being so easy to use that even a Dad could do it.  As you probably also know, it didn’t go over too well.  Unlike cavemen, who only have a few delegates, plain old regular Dads represent a pretty sizable demographic.  There was outrage and multiple pouty guys interviewed on the  news whining about being unfairly ridiculed.  As is the case with just about any issue these days, there was a Facebook page where sensitive, caring fathers could weigh in about their quiet, painful outrage.

In this age of hypersensitivity and rampant political correctness, you have to wonder how an ad agency could have thought this angle would have skimmed by without ruffling feathers.  My guess is that they just took a look at the typical representation of guys on TV and went from there.  If that’s true, it’s actually kind of surprising that they felt that there could possibly be a diaper design simple enough to work.

Men of television commercials and comedies, for the most part, are complete, bumbling idiots.  They can’t find their sunglasses when they’re right inside the hoods of their sweatshirts.  They can’t remember anniversaries or birthdays.  It’s a wonder that Tim “Tool Time” Taylor could find his way home from work every day without a trail of breadcrumbs and a GPS.

Since its infancy, TV has portrayed men as the blithering stooges who their women simply had to tolerate.  In “The Honeymooners”, Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton were constantly hatching idiotic schemes.  In case anyone watching forgot what dolts they were, they’d occasionally don silly raccoon hats as a visual reminder.  When their secret plot would inevitably fall apart, Trixie and Alice would look at each other with knowing glances – sisters in the sorority of intelligent women who stood beside their knuckle-dragging, idiot men with the noble air of martyrs.  To further accentuate the differences, the women always look so much better than their men.  Ralph was a fat slob and Ed constantly wore a pork-pie hat, T-shirt and vest – a fashion statement which has yet to catch on, 150 years later.  Meanwhile, Trixie and Alice were as svelte and sophisticated as two women with under-achieving husbands could possibly be.

"Which truck is mine? I mean, they're all brown and full of boxes, how am I supposed to figure this out?"

As the years have flown by, it seems the men of television have managed to get even dumber.  They continue to just barely bring home the bacon to their lovely, long suffering wives.  “The King of Queens” followed the trials and tribulations of another fat slob married to a looker.  It was a weekly contest to see whether Kevin James could appear more idiotic than Jerry Stiller, whose character was so pathetic that he spent many of his golden years living in his daughter’s basement.

How many times did we have to watch as that dopey Ray Romano made his wife look like a Nobel Prize laureate in “Everybody Loves Raymond”?  I realize he was playing a sports writer and not a nuclear physicist, but you get the picture.  Now that Ray’s TV wife is married to the janitor from “Scrubs” and living in Indiana in “The Middle”, we can see more clearly just how bright she actually wasn’t.

You really have to wonder why this is.  There have got to be a ton of guys writing these shows and commercials.  Is the portrayal of men as idiots an accident?  Is it a formula which worked so well for so long that people just accept it without question?  Or…is it something more sinister and calculated?

I’m going to go ahead and float an idea for you.  I think that the portrayal of men in popular media is an elaborate plan to both fool and appease women.  Studies have shown how effective subliminal messages can be (I have no idea who did the studies or what they even say, but I also know that starting a sentence with the words “studies have shown” tends to give a whole lot more weight to whatever words follow).  By making women think we’re dumber than we actually are, these writers have given men the ability to get away with all kinds of things, just by feigning a lack of intelligence.  The idea of idiotic men has become so pervasive in our society, we don’t even have to know what “feigning” means or how to spell it.

A feeling of intellectual superiority is strong medicine for the women of America.  Studies have shown that even in present day America, women still do much of the shopping for the household.  If women were insulted by programming which showed them in a less than flattering light, they might turn the channel and miss critical soap and canned chili advertisements.

Women regularly get together for bunko nights and girls’ nights out, spending countless hours comparing notes on whose husband has the thickest skull.  They laugh and giggle, secure in the false belief that they have the upper hand and superior intelligence.  They revel in the notion that their lame-brained partners are sitting at home scratching themselves then sniffing their fingers like the Al Bundy of old, while they enjoy sophisticated fun.  In reality, these women are the victims of a complex ruse.  It turns out their husbands are intelligent, urbane examples of civility, almost all of whom are more than capable of changing a diaper without getting ka-ka on themselves or surrounding furnishings.

If women choose not to believe me that’s fine, but it doesn’t make them look very smart.

Marriage 101 Required reading: Man to woman dictionary

  • She Says: "This will hurt me more than it hurts you"
  • She Means: "If this hurts me more than it hurts you, I'm doing it wrong"

Do we have to wonder why this artist only lived to be 38?
Bartholomeus Molenaer (1612-1650)

 

I recently read a blog which troubled me.  The fact that I read a blog which troubled me also troubled me, as I tend to stay away from troubling blogs, preferring to occupy my time with light-hearted, funny blogs and those with pictures of cleavage in them.  The blog in question detailed a woman’s frustration with her husband.  It took no time at all to realize the problem.  These two lovebirds had a serious communication breakdown.  I felt badly for them, as there seemed to be no way this husband and wife would possibly find a way to understand each other without some outside assistance.

I knew that I had to step in and help.  I had planned on cleaning the garage and policing the yard for dog dookie, but I would have to put these selfish acts aside and work on bridging their gender communication gap first.

Here now, I present some common Man-Woman / Woman-Man translations accompanied by typical interpretations:

  • When he says:  “Honey, have you seen my car keys?”
  • He means: “I can’t seem to find my car keys – I hope you’ve seen them”

The common female interpretation is: “I’m an idiot.  Even a toddler can keep track of a jingling set of shiny keys.  Maybe in the future I should secure my keys to a massive chunk of 2 X 4 so they’re harder for me to lose in my limited mental capacity.  I don’t deserve a woman like you.  Please help me”

  • When she says: ” Does this skirt make my butt look fat?”
  • She means: “Do you ever wish you’d married someone else?  Do you realize I shopped for hours to find this skirt?  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to lose this baby weight?”

The common male interpretation is: “Don’t you dare answer this question.  It’s a trap, run..RUN NOW!!”

  • When he says: “Is that a new blouse?”
  • He means: “I wonder how it will look in a heap on the floor after we get the kids to bed”

The common female interpretation is: “Does that idiot think this is a new blouse?  I bought this back when we were still dating!  Crap, I could’ve bought a new blouse”

  • When she says: “Do you mind helping with the dishes?”
  • She means: “Do the dishes yourself and be glad I don’t break a plate over your head!  Wasn’t it enough that I cooked the dinner in the first place?  Do I have to do everything?”

The common male interpretation is: “The Browns are a 10 point dog against the Steelers.  My neck itches again.  Did she just ask me something?  Crap!  What should I say?  I’ll just nod.  Maybe if I do the dishes she won’t wait for an answer to whatever she asked”

  • When she says: “Hey Shakespeare!  I thought you were going to organize the garage today.  Why are you still sitting there typing”
  • She means: “Unless you’re going to start making money doing that blog nonsense, you better turn off the laptop and start organizing the tools and patio furniture.  And don’t forget, it was your bright idea to get a dog”

The common interpretation is: “Did she just ask me something?  Dammit, there goes my train of thought!  I was just about to come up with a witty, smart-assed way to end this post”

Marriage 101: Constructive criticism

Having been married for quite a few years, I feel it’s my civic duty to give a pointer now and then about relationships to all three of my regular readers.  The marital status of you loyal fans is irrelevant, as I’m offering free advice for free, so stop whining.

I had written the first draft of my homage to St. Patty’s Day, and asked my wife to give it a read and see what she thought of it.  This woman is no stranger to me (obviously) and certainly no stranger to reading.  She plows through books constantly in what most would consider to be a thinly veiled attempt at avoiding having to speak with me any more often than absolutely necessary. She seemed like the perfect person for the job.  Plus, she was sitting right over there.

Hey Honey? As long as you're over there hanging that art on the fridge, why not whip me up a little something to eat? (Image from Good Housekeeping 1948)

My standard way of writing these masterpieces is to just spew every word and thought I have out onto this virtual paper.  Then I go back and filter through it, taking out redundancies and dead sentences and trying to make it flow.  My St. Patty’s Day piece was created in much the same way.  I had put it through the distillation process several times (alcohol-related pun intended – I’m just so clever) and thought that it was ready for a critical eye.

My expectation was that my wife would read it, stopping only to chuckle or dab the tears of laughter out of her beautiful eyes.  She would finish it, shaking her head in amazement at my creativity and savvy with the word-thingies.  She would pronounce it hysterical and ready for print.

She did read it, but there wasn’t a single guffaw the whole way through.  She did shake her head, but it was in more of a dismissive “I can’t believe you made me read that crap!” kind of way.  She proclaimed it “wordy” and suggested I cut out at least half of it.

I’m sure she meant well, but it still hurt.

If your child showed you a picture they drew, would you tell them that they need to work on their shading and composition?  Of course not!  You’d praise their incredible talent and put that hideous mess of crayon and marker right up on the fridge with the rest of their body of work.  If your wife asked whether a particular outfit made her ass look fat, would you say yes?  Of course not!  You’d tell her that the garment which is capable of making her ass look fat has yet to be invented, then you’d politely ask her to move her tiny derriere out from in front of the TV, as it looks like the Ducks might be going for it on 4th down.

So, when your ruggedly handsome, hard-working husband finally stops playing poker on the computer and looking at smut, deciding to write a blog instead, be thankful.  Then, when he asks you your opinion of what he’s written, try one of the following:

1) I LOVE IT!

2)You’re a genius!

3) Don’t quit your job to do this full time, it just wouldn’t be fair to those poor authors who don’t have the other marketable job skills that you possess.

4) Did you steal this from David Sedaris?!  It’s just so witty!

5) I think it’s great, Sweetie.  I’m going to put it right here on the fridge next to your drawings!

That wasn’t so hard now was it?