Tucker Max: In Media, Men Can Only Be ‘Irredeemable And Awful’ Or ‘Bumbling Doofuses’

Representation matters.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Changing gender roles are key to accelerating the culture shift around changing the way we work and live. Redefining Masculinity is an editorial package that investigates what it means to be a man in 2017—and beyond. As part of it, we’re asking a wide range of men across industries, ages and background to answer questions about what masculinity means to them. Read more about the project here.

It’s called the “dad or cad” dichotomy, Tucker Max explained to me.

Max—once a maximal cad, as recorded in his book I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, and other works of “fratire”—has since turned dad and spent time with Thrive Global, as part of our Redefining Masculinity series. During said time, Max shared why we’re stupid to write about masculinity.

Part of the stupidity in the American discourse around manhood, he said, is the way men are represented in the mainstream media—network television, Hollywood films, and the like.

Max broke into popular culture in the 2000s, and since then, he says, the only way “normal men” are portrayed is either as a bumbling father— e.g. Peter Griffin (Family Guy), Tim Allen (Home Improvement)—or as a slick, amoral, manchild player who just needs to find the right woman to finally grow up. See Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love, or Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers.

“Men can be irredeemable and awful or bumbling doofuses,” Max says. “They can’t be strong and intelligent and have their shit together.” In a way, Max himself signifies the polarity: he was a beer-chugging bro chronicler, and is now firmly a dad, even a surprisingly woke one. What other options are there?

You can read the full interview here.

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