Middle Class White Man vs. Wild

"I’m sitting, alone, at my kitchen table, eating cold leftovers for dinner.  Bear Grylls is floating, accompanied only by a full camera crew and a giant digital blur to cover his blaring white bare butt, on a rickety raft in the midst of the ocean — giving himself a "survival-enhancing" sewage enema to the accompaniment of much grunting."

“This is crazy,” I thought.  “Why aren’t I on a raft?”

On any given night, all across America, this scene is repeated in thousands of homes.  The age of digital television has given Americans the power to watch anything they want and what middle class white guys want is… angry crab fishermen, belligerent lobstermen, unruly swamp loggers, ice road truckers, survivor men, monster garages, demolition crews, rough necks, and assorted other dirty jobs.  Huh.

At some point, even someone as self-centered and clueless as me has to see a larger societal trend at work here.  While a substantial segment of the population may still be watching the same old tired crap …and also shows about midgets — angry midgets (curmidgets), married midgets, pregnant midgets, and now felonious midgets with pit bulls (criminidgets)… another segment seems to have decided what they want to watch are all the crappy jobs and hardships our parents and grandparents worked so hard to “save” us from.

Clearly, a cubicle and a 401k is leaving unsatisfied some basic aspect of the American male soul.  Men are yearning for a chance to express the basic inborn characteristics of maleness i.e. to act like freakin’ a man, damn it.  Working in corporate America (if indeed, the corporate world can be described as “America”) involves a whole lot of not being male.  

As a matter of fact, being male is pretty much a dismissible offence in most workplaces, with a whole corporate police force dedicated to investigating tempers, urges, unauthorized actions, conflicts, insensitivities and attitudes.  The ideal worker is neutered, quiet, subservient and unobjectionable.  That’s the whole point gelding draft animals, isn’t it?

The ideal worker does not get his own show on The Discovery Channel.  If he’s a midget, he might get a show on TLC, but even that is doubtful.  Really, he would need to be a midget with a severe medical defect — “I am my own midget twin” could work, or perhaps “I didn’t know I was pregnant… and a midget”.   Anyway, where was I?

Right, manly men are such an anomaly in today’s neutered society that they have to be put on TV so that we can remember what they look like.  This is especially true in the white middle class, which being the main victims of the evil generation of anti-men that arose in the 1960’s has had all relevant male role models banned by political correctness.  Soldiers are baby killers.  Cowboys are gun nuts.  Rednecks are racists.  Frontiersmen are mean to Indians.  And the Founding Fathers are racist, sexist, homophobic wealthy religious fanatic gun nuts who were mean to Indians.  Manual labor is now considered a sign of failure in life (a punishment for “lack of education,”) and is best left to illegal aliens so that white folks can all go to college and experience limited aspects of testosterone for one last time before being neutered for the workplace.  

So what we are left with are only a few socially acceptable male icons accessible to middle class white people.  These include, ironically, antisocial and formerly outlaw bikers — a group that would likely kick the crap out of the Hollywood rejects that lionized them in “Easy Rider,” “Rebel without a Cause” and other such Biker Chic films.  Despite the foamy-mouthed hatred a real biker would have for his boosters, “biker” has become a rare and hot commodity – an approved white male manly stereotype. The result is that a few million fat balding fifty-year-old dentists and office workers have a shiny, rarely-used $30,000 Harley in their garage and a leatherman dress-up outfit to wear on select weekend days with sunny warm weather.

Another approved white male role model is the professional athlete — and it’s easy to see why!  Professional sports really matter.  Every week, we all face the horrible prospect that the group of felons paid to wear the name of our city (that week) might get beaten in a children’s game by a group of felons paid to wear the name of a different city (that week).  Gasp!  Yankees suck!

A third option is to engage in blatant ethnic transvestism — many a white kid has become so desperate for a model of manhood that he’s bought some overpriced baggy pants and feigned being a gangster rapper.  Saddest of all, though, may be the self-loathing white kid sporting dreadlocks.  Friends don’t let friends go natty.  Love the skin you’re in.

Obviously though, these slim pickings don’t seem to be doing it for a lot of people, because unapproved role models are creeping back into the public eye — thus the recent fascination with the white working class.  Between The Discovery Channel, The Military Channel, The History Channel, and a variety of other outlets, a curious character is slowly regaining respect in the national psyche.  

He’s a fighter, a soldier, an adventure seeker.  He eats little animals, lives off the land, finds his own way.  He fishes, traps, repairs vehicles, builds skyscrapers, shovels manure. He’s juvenile, active, and possessed of all the introspection of a golden retriever.  He cusses.  He strains.  He endures pain and enrages coworkers merely for fun.  He yells when he’s mad and drinks at the end of the day.  He is, apparently, a distant cultural memory that many aspire subconsciously to return to.

He is, basically, a redneck — the one figure most maligned and hated by the elites that have controlled our media, our universities, and our politics for decades now.  

Deep down inside, people see in him a true and a free man — a slave to neither materialism nor human resources, and a rare thing nowadays.

Where is all this going?  One possibility is a general uprising — sort of like the end of “Fight Club”.  The other is a show about midget rednecks — catching crabs.  In a survival situation.  With Mike Rowe.