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10 Ways ’90s Pop Culture Destroyed the American Male

The generation where men retreated into boyhood.

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

Bio

July 14, 2014 - 7:00 am
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10. If guys didn’t look like heroin-addicted street dwellers…

Before committing suicide, musician Kurt Cobain copyrighted the grunge look that came to define Gen-X/millennial crossovers in the ’90s. A reaction to the preppie style made famous by ’80s yuppies, grunge involved a level of disheveled that transcended even the dirtiest of ’60s hippie looks. Grunge trademarks included wrinkled, untucked clothing complemented by greasy, knotted hair and an expression best defined as heroin chic. The style depicted an “I don’t care” attitude that took punk’s anti-authoritarian attitude to a darker, more disengaged level. Grunge became the look of resigned defeat among American males.

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Top Rated Comments   
Pop culture? Liberal ideology and feminist legal culture might have had something to do with it too.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think American Manhood was ruined by one character in one movie: Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Actually, I think California ruined both American manhood and American womanhood. Everyone under the age of 50 now sounds like Spicoli from FTARH or Cher from Clueless. Doesn't matter if they actually spout the lingo - their pronunciation, their facial expressions, their attitudes are all California surfer/slacker or Valley girl. It's hard to take them seriously as adults.

Don't get me started about cargo shorts with little tassels at the bottom...
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I never watched them either. AFAIAC, All in the Family ruined comedy. Now, the theme of dysfunction permeates most TV shows completely.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (40)
All Comments   (40)
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By contract, there is a list of positive Dads like Ward Cleaver. But these were always the exception - going way back to the dawn of the sitcom with William Bendix's the Life of Riley, sitcom Dads were typically Poppa Bear of Berenstain fame - basically one of the children, compared to wise, mature Mom. (I'm convinced that with Stan Berenstain it was not intentional.) Perhaps pre-feminism the writers felt men could take it.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
This whole article stinks of big city elitism. The bio for the writer says she has been a blogger since 2010. Is this because she is too young to remember the 90's?
I remember them and you have a very narrow view of what was going on.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Double post.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
You misinterpret 'Fight Club'. It is far subtler and richer than just 'White men want to blow sh*t up and hurt people.'
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have we arrived here already? Waxing cautiously nostalgic about the 1990s? One of the last movies I actually paid to see in a theater was "Dumb and Dumber." The sights and sounds of Jeff Daniels sitting on the toilet and emptying his bowels endlessly as Jim Carrey mugged, kept me out of the theaters for four years. After that, it was Ben Stiller emptying his privates, which subsequently ended up in Cameron Diaz' hair, again, to wild applause. That was it. I'll pick and choose things on DVD now.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think this is a bit much. You single out Al Bundy to try to make your point and conviently ignore Peg Bundy being the selfish, lazy, housewife, Kelly Bundy being the dumb blonde bimbo daughter, and Bud Bundy being the sex obsessed loser son and then try to pass this list off as serious? Please, this same show could just as easily be used in a list of shows that were damaging to women.

As for the Simpsons, please, claiming some detrimental impact to men from Homer's character is like claiming that violent behavior can be traced to kids watching Looney Tunes cartoons and The Three Stooges. Give it a rest. There is no animated series that anyone takes seriously, let alone use as a model for their behavior. That's just weak.

Seinfeld? Please, that show was his comedy routine in the form of TV skits. Also, you completely ignore Elaine and her neurotic behavior. You're Seinfeld comparison is about as relevant as your Married with Children comparison and fails for the same reason.

I can say the same things about Friends. There was enough neuroses to go around on that show too. Again, weak.

I might agree with the Clinton comparison if the rest of the list had any merit and you needed a 10th item. The Office Space comparison also fails because that movie is mostly about a dysfunctional company and the irony of a guy doing everything in his power to be insubordinate to management while chasing his dream of doing nothing, but gets promoted instead while the only competent people get laid off and agree to participate in the credit union fractional cent shaving scheme that goes wrong. You might be able to make a case that Peter Gibbons represents a poor male role model in the middle of the movie, but how do you reconcile the fact that he ultimately decides to turn himself in and do the right thing? Sorry, but that doesn't fly.

I haven't seen the other shows and I don't know anything about rap, but most of this list is weak, so I suspect that there's weak sauce there as well.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
It may be worthwhile to consider that the decline of masculinity can be an issue of its own, and does not have to be compared to the decline of feminity or increase in dysfunction of childhood.

In other words, I suggest the following is true:
- Pop culture is damaging men/fatherhood
AND
- Pop culture is damaging women/motherhood
AND
- Pop culture is damaging children

It does not matter all that much which one has the steepest trajectory. In every case, Hollywood is assaulting all three.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think it's simpler. The prevalence of divorce and single mothers combined with the feminist notion that a father isn't necessary and a woman can raise a boy into a man is the main driver of the decline. Hollywood is reacting to the masses, not setting the agenda. Progressives and leftists are setting the agenda.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
And where does this way of life emanate from? From the pages of scriptwriters living in the hills of Hollow-wood, the land of make-believe. And the masses are more than happy and gullible to consume what is spewed onto the TV, motion pictures or popular music. The years of dumbbing down the American citizen is is truly bearing good fruit, and our rulers are more than happy to go along, so they can keep their power. Remember where our Great Leader first went to when he began his 2012 re-election? Hollywood! Now more than ever, our fellow citizens are more preoccupied with what I called the three "P"s, than with our counry going down the sewer pipe. And those three "P"s are: Pot, Porn and Primetime TV.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I got a major fourth P for you, Phones.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another source of changing the depiction of the American male, especially the white male, is in commercials. Most of the time, the male is shown as being incompetent, ignorant, and about any other negative the advertising agency responsible for the ads can conjure up. Kids of all ages are smarter and much more intelligent in most commercials than the stupid dad who just happens to be the one who is responsible for furnishing all of the creature comforts the "smarter" kids enjoy.

The wife is always so much more intelligent than the clumsy, dim-witted husband in almost every commercial. There are few exceptions. And, considering that commercials are short and do not demand a long attention span, the target audience is usually reached effectively.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have absolutely noticed this too. The (usually white) guy is the weaker, less with it, immature moron and the chick is successful, assertive, strong willed intelligent one.
And in every home security, identity theft and computer security commercial I've ever seen, it's ALWAYS a white guy who's the thief.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
You know, I think it was either two days ago or yesterday, one of the radio pundits discussed the emasculation of men on Disney Channel shows (or rather, making men more like women while keeping women the same).

Regarding the bit about the Simpsons relating to showing Homer as abusive, considering they designed Frank Grimes to be a normal person in the Simpsons universe to show how real life won't survive it, despite his ironically being even more unrealistic than even Springfield in its worst light (and that's saying something) due to being one tragedy after another, one mess after another, I'm not surprised at all that Matt Groening considers Homer's strangling Bart to be real life behavior in a way that implies that this was very typical of American families. Honestly, when someone claims something is extremely prevalent ("realistic"), I would demand that they actually go out and get numbers and raw numerical data and percentage points, and were I to say everyone, I'd make sure I have the raw numerical data to back it up. I'd rather be extremely accurate.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
10 pages of a woman at PJMedia telling us what is wrong with men.

Help me out here. WTH?
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
My take away is she is pointing out what has happened to males, not bashing them. We all know it has been a well calculated marketing scheme for decades to emaciate men, white men.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
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