Rick Dejesus is the lead vocalist for Adelitas Way.
The Adam Levine cheating controversy that dominated headlines is as sure a sign as any that our culture is starved for authentic masculine role models.
Men like Levine exemplify the kind of behavior that tears families apart and promotes degeneracy. But even when we do have examples of good men in popular media–like Jason Aldean, who recently stood by his wife when she spoke out against transgenderism, and Jordan Peterson–there remain many who insist on smearing these men as “toxic” and “dangerous.” Olivia Wilde even went so far as to model an “incel king” villain after Peterson, whose cardinal sin apparently is helping disaffected young men find meaning in their lives.
None of this is easy to stomach. Having been in the music industry for almost two decades, I’ve seen what it looks like from the inside and understand why so many choose to stay silent. In my own career, there were many times when it would have been easier to partake in whatever the popular political trend was at the time. Fly the right flag, post the black square, kneel at the national anthem–you name it.
But I’ve always pushed back. Putting my values first hasn’t been easy–it’s locked my band out of opportunities to advance our careers. But at the end of the day, I will always be glad that I stood my ground and will continue to do so. I want my music to appeal to ordinary people and our shared human experience, to express my feelings about faith, family, and freedom; I refuse to use it as a vehicle to advance the ever-changing popular political agenda.
Despite hardships that have resulted from my resistance to that political agenda, I wouldn’t change a thing. The band and I have been blessed with loyal fans who will support us through thick and thin; likewise, my wonderful wife and two daughters have helped me through all career crises.
I am proud to stand among men like Aldean and Peterson, who recognize that our popular culture isn’t doing enough to stand up for truth and uphold good role models for the younger generation–but especially for young men. To be masculine in the traditional sense of the word means to be strong in the face of adversity, support and protect our families, reach out to and give a voice to those in need, and recognize that our ability to succeed in this lifetime comes from submission to a higher power. It is not all about us, as much as our narcissistic, individualistic culture would like us to believe.
Unfortunately, the voices of virtuous men in popular media are few and far between. This scarcity does not bode well for young men, who are suffering deeply; they are porn addicted and lonely, and confused about their place in society. They are experiencing a crippling crisis of confidence. Our culture–the same one that encourages immoral behavior like the kind exhibited by Adam Levine but punishes those, like Aldean and Peterson, for doing good–has played an outsized role in this crisis.
Of course, having strong families and, in particular, noble fathers, is the first and most important bulwark against a culture of decay, promiscuity, and transactional relationships. But culture plays a crucial role in solving this crisis, too. Think about all the time our kids spend in school and online, consuming media without our supervision. The quality and messages of the media our kids engage with matter. How culturemakers carry themselves matters.
I am lucky. I’ve developed into a well-adjusted man who gets to do what I love for work. But I worry that young men today don’t have the inspiration or sense of self-worth to fulfill their dreams and live happy lives.
There is a role model void that needs to be filled with virtuous men. I am tasking all adult men with this call to action, but especially those who occupy a visible space in the media or arts and entertainment industry. Though it might seem naive to say, I do believe that one musician or one actor speaking out goes a long way to turn the tide of our sick culture–to give our next generation of men a blueprint that is clear and affirms and celebrates properly ordered masculine traits.
Hopefully, there are many fathers out there already doing the important work of instilling their sons with healthy, masculine values. But now more than ever, it is important that our culturemakers deeply consider their roles in society and their incredible capacity for influence. I urge them to use that power for good–our next generation of men depends on it.