Summary: The gender revolution is remaking American society. It’s new terrain explored on the FM website during the past two years. Now we go from reporting superficial changes to digging for the important ones. This post discusses what TV and films tell us about the evolution of romance in America. This is the second chapter in this series, with an outline of the next few chapters.
These are revolutionaries reshaping America.
The roles of men and women in America are changing bewilderingly fast. This is far more significant than the current media obsession, the transgendered (<1% of people). Many forces power it. Such as the generations-long campaign by the Left to tear down and revise Western culture. Technology is changing nature of work and even humanity — from better contraception to sex changes surgery and drugs. On a larger scale, there is the long evolution of our society to the logical extremes of Western philosophy.
We cannot see these changes while in the weeds of daily life. They can be seen in the statistics of America, such as the divorce numbers and the rise of women over men in educational credentials (foreshadowing their future dominance in the work world). They can be seen in the news about disruptive new tech (e.g., sexbots) and stories about the crusades (e.g., the fake campus rape epidemic, the California law regulating consent to sex at colleges). They can be seen by looking at the changing dynamics of marriage.
We can see the gender revolution in our entertainment, whose success comes from mirroring our hopes and fears. See the small things, such as the frequent scenes of women casually hitting men. See the rapidly mutating chick lit books and films: the bold yet sensitive alpha males of the long “bodice ripper” novels, the wild success of Fifty Shades of Grey (both the book and the film), and the increasing weirdness of romance films. They show that women’s yearnings have become a kaleidoscope of conflicting themes. Here is a brief look at one facet of our strange new world.
Romance in films show the rise of new women
“Aren’t you going to kiss me?”
— Girl to low-testosterone guy after she confesses her love to him in the romance Letters to Juliet.
In the bad old days romance films featured strong men adapting to the demands of marriage and family. Such as Tony Curtis forced into marriage by the fabulous Janet Leigh in The Perfect Furlough (1958). The last lines: “I will get this marriage annulled. In about 40 years.”
Today there are two common flavors of romances. Some feature either weak men becoming domesticated — sad but inspirational stories for men. Don’t be like these sheep. The second describe strong men being broken. — terrifying stories for men about choosing the wrong woman.
Sandra Bullock abuses her low-testosterone male secretary in The Proposal — until she learns that he’s from a rich family, then she falls in love. The Prince and Me features a beautiful young woman, vivacious and popular, who must choose between marriage to the Crown Prince of Denmark and entering Stanford Medical School — to become a doctor serving poor nations. She gets both (the Prince is a beta doormat, at the end pledging to give her “whatever she wants”).
These are also common on TV, usually partnerships of a kick-ass heroine with her gentle beta partner who slowly becomes a love interest. The TV series Forever was a well-done classic of this genre. The characters are unisex (impossible to tell the gender from the script with its pronouns redacted), as is the heroine’s name and clothing.
The Hallmark Channel’s romances feature low-T men (handsome, rich, docile) marrying nice girls, usually at the moment of her commercial success. For example, Unleashing Mr. Darcy reimagined a modern Pride & Prejudice in which Elizabeth abuses a rich but very beta Mr. Darcy. Like a dog, he meekly takes her abuse (it’s about dog shows). Eventually she condescends to marry him.
Sometimes the writers get carried away — the hero is too low-key, implying that he’s gay seeking a wife as cover (e.g., in Letters to Juliet). That is one form of an old-fashioned marriage!
Breaking the man: alpha heroes into betas
More interesting are the TV shows about strong action-adventure heroes — bold, womanizer, alphas in every sense — pared with strong smart women, and then broken into pitiful betas. Shakespeare would see these stories as rich fodder, although we can only guess whether for tragedy or comedy. Here are two examples. Both shows are rich with positive role models for girls and bad role models for boys.
Marty Deeks in NCIS Los Angeles.
Marty Deeks is a street-wise LAPD detective working for NCIS. When we first meet him in season one he is very alpha: a surfer, ace at undercover work, cool and skilled in firefights, able to withstand severe torture without breaking, and a favorite with the beach bunnies. After eight seasons he remains a competent cop but becomes a beta in his personal life, dancing to the tune of Kensi Blye — his stronger and more skilled girlfriend.
Kensi proposes to Deeks in NCIS Los Angeles S08E24 (“Unleashed”).
Deeks bought an expensive engagement ring for Kensi, proposed (in “Crazy Train“, S08E07), and was blown off. When she is ready she gives him the ring from a grenade and proposes, putting him in the girl’s role. See the reaction shot of Deeks. He sees his future as a house-husband, caring for the kids until Kensi finds a real man and dumps him.
This is a man who knows he is making a mistake but lacks the balls to call it off.
Richard Castle in “Castle”.
“Castle” gave a vivid picture of modern uber-alpha: a rich, professionally successful, charismatic celebrity. He was great in Season One: popular with the ladies, a law-breaker, and strong willed. Over the next 8 seasons of partnership with NYC Detective Kate Beckett he decayed to a cowardly, often incompetent (but brilliant) weakling relying on guidance and instruction from his mother, daughter, and partner. Beckett constantly mocks his flaws and for being a “metrosexual”. See the posts describing this pitiful story.
Beckett catches her beta in Castle S07E07: “Once Upon A Time in the West”.
See Castle’s face! He wonders how to get out of this hole.
The unseen next chapter in these stories
Do most women like the beta boys that star in so many romances on our screens? Probably not. Sequels to these stories would describe their divorces, as these strong intelligent women grow disgusted with their beta husbands. No fault divorce with child support and community property settlements make this an attractive option while they can easily find an alpha partner. In 2005/06 less 60% of US adolescents (11, 13, and 15 years old) lived with both birth parents, per the OCED Family Database). That was the lowest level among OECD nations. That number is probably lower today.
The next phase of the gender revolution
The first stage of the revolution included three powerful concepts. First, that “workplace harassment cases should be evaluated based on the perspective of the harassment victim” (a subjective standard, requiring the man to gauge the woman’s state of mind). Second, denial that women have agency (selective use of the women as children scenario). My favorite example is the professor who took a graduate student to a restaurant and “forced her to drink liquor she didn’t want” (freeing her from responsibility for events afterwards). Third, sexual assault is conflated with rape (see this article from early in the campaign).
Now comes the next stage. Looking at girls becomes a “perversion” (this is a common line on TV) and “unwanted sexual advances” become “sexual assault” (again requiring men to gauge women’s thinking).
Future posts in this series
Our entertainment provides a mirror to our society. Future chapters will discuss how this happened and how we can escape. They will show how both men and women have brought us to this ugly situation. Fortunately the Good Book says that there is always a remnant. Today that remnant can remind men about their real nature — and inspire men to do better. They are found in many places, such in the military, among vets, American men of color, and immigrants from outside the West. The rest of us have much to learn from them.
For More Information
- “Castle” shows us a dark vision of Romance in America.
- Taylor Swift shows us love in the 21st century.
- Recommendation: nine of the best American romantic films.
- Movies show the hidden truth about romance & marriage: they’re dying.
Have American men become pussycats?
For a scary answer see Martin van Creveld’s Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West. From the publisher…
“In the kingdom(s) of the West, something is rotten. Collectively, the countries of NATO are responsible for almost two thirds of global military spending. In terms of military technology, particularly electronics, communications and logistics, they have left the rest so far behind that it is no contest. Yet ever since the Korean War ended in 1953, almost every time they went abroad and fought non-Westerners they were defeated and had to withdraw. As happened, to cite but two recent cases, in Iraq and Afghanistan; and as may yet happen if and when Islamic terrorism spreads into Europe, as it is quite likely to do.
“What went wrong? How did the ferocious soldiers who, between 1492 and 1914, brought practically the entire world under their sway, become pussycats? The present study, unique of its kind, seeks to answer these questions.
- Chapter I, “Subduing the Young,” focuses on the way Western people raise their scanty offspring. Infantilizing them, depriving them of any kind of independence, and, in the words of a recent best-seller, turning them into “excellent sheep.”
- Chapter II, “Defanging the Troops,” shows how the same is happening in the military.
- Chapter III, “The War on Men,” examines the way in which the forces are being feminized affects, indeed infects, their fighting power.
- Chapter IV, “Constructing PTSD,” looks at the way returning soldiers are almost obliged to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Chapter V outlines the emergence of modern societies which, exalting rights and forgetting about duty, have come very close to delegitimizing war itself.
“The book is written in jargon-less language laymen can understand. It is also thoroughly documented. Readership should include anybody with an interest in national security, and then some.”