17 July 2012

Betas Are Only Good For a Laugh

In most popular stories Betas may be protagonists, but they’re never really heros. Every movie, that I can remember, that has a beta as a protagonist has been a comedy; beta males are good for laughing at – no one actually admires them.
One thing I remember my parents complaining about when I was growing up was how men were treated as targets of ridicule on TV.  Most shows, especially sitcoms, tended to portray the average guy as someone to be mocked; as someone to be derided.  My parents thought that this was a Hollywood conspiracy to undermine men and male leadership.  I pretty much agreed with them (because what twelve-year-old disagrees with his parents), but now I’m not so sure.

Nowadays I’m inclined to believe that my parents had causality backwards.  It’s not that Hollywood thought that they should make men into objects of derision but rather that men had already become objects worthy of derision.

Louie, I think, is the perfect example of this.  The title character is a sackless loser of a man.  From what I’ve seen of Louis C.K.’s standup, this isn’t too far from the man himself.*  Basically, the man has no clue about women, having apparently bought into all the lies of feminism and believing them whole-heartedly.  It’s kind of sad, really, but he turns it into an interesting form of shock comedy. Nonetheless, Louis C.K. perfectly represents the fundamental problem with beta males:  they have no clue about women.  They also have no clue about men.  They don’t know how to lead, they don’t know how to charm, and they don’t know how to be men.  And really, the only emotions these types of men can inspire are pity, revulsion, or derision.  It is the latter that is most profitable, which is why there are so many comedies with beta protagonists.

To state my thesis plainly, comedies reflect the state of men.  It’s interesting to see the history of how men were portrayed in sitcoms.  In the earlier days, fathers were generally more serious, respectable characters (cf. Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, even Happy Days).  Comedy was derived more generally from children (like Beaver or Opie) or women (Lucy and Ethel, among others), or fatherless or unmarried men (Gomer Pyle and Barney Fife, The Fonz, etc.).  I suspect that the reason for this was that, a long time ago, fathers (more generally, the men who became fathers) had a certain gravitas about them.  They carried themselves as men, entrusted to carry on a legacy.  You don’t really seem to see that attitude as much today.  Today’s father-males don’t carry themselves as men but rather as ATMs; some don’t even care about their legacies.

It should not be surprising, then, that men today are viewed with such derision.  In a sense, they aren’t even men; they are merely males.  They don’t know or understand their role, and cannot embody it.  They don’t lead their wives or guide their children.  They simply work to provide them with nice things, as if a father’s main duty is to get stuff for his family.  Fathers thus become slaves to the capricious—and often thankless—demands of their wives and children.  I pity these men, but  I can understand why they are mocked.

*  See this bit on “The World’s Saddest Hand Job” and this bit on “Rape.”


  1. I definitely agree with your parents. And it went beyond a conspiracy to "undermine men and male leadership." That was only a part of it. The overall scope was much broader and encompassed drama as well as comedy. The basic timeline is this:

    1950's to mid 60's: The plot revolves around the traditional male lead supporting a leftist theme, such as diversity, the career woman and the like - can be clearly found in comedies such as Andy Griffith and dramas such as The Rifleman.

    Mid 60's to early 70's: Sexual revolution. Mention of topics, even if veiled, which would have been unthinkable only 5 years before. Prime example: Laugh-In. Introduction of "women's lib" plots where the traditional male lead is trumped or fooled by a liberated woman. In this case, the traditional male lead was still "good", but some doubt is injected into the viewer's mind.

    Late 60's to 70's and beyond: The doubt about the traditional male role is converted into outright ridicule. Prime example was All in the Family. Shows at this time, might still have a "good" male role, but he is secondary and usually only "good" because he supports a leftist theme. As the decades pass, the shows become even more extreme, with hardly any male role presented as something to imitate; all the 'smart' roles are women and children.

    No, it was something that was definitely planned in order to bring about social change. it was done gradually, as boiling a frog, and it worked like a charm.

    And that's not even touching the gradual debasement of music on TV which started in the 1950's.

  2. S.G. you are in full brainwash mode.

    The program works like this: publicly laugh and ridicule something enough, and people will look at it with scorn.

    That is exactly the script you are following, led by the nose precisely.

    I don't think I have ever read a more misandristic post in the Mensphere than you just published.

    "It should not be surprising, then, that men today are viewed with such derision. In a sense, they aren’t even men; they are merely males. They don’t know or understand their role, and cannot embody it."

    No feminist man-hater has ever said it better. Good job. Congratulations.

  3. His argment is similar to Roissy's evisceration of betas and herbs.

    Men shaming other men for acting unmanly is a good thing.

  4. @Carnivore- I tend to doubt that it was planned, in a broad sense. I think that there were plenty of useful idiots who all believed the same thing, and did the same sort of work independently of each other. Think of television as being the purveyor of broad social memes. I will say that, at the very least, there is a definite self-reinforcing feedback loop between the media and the society that consumes it. But to blame the problem on just one side is short-sighted. Like a tango, it takes to lie: one to tell it and one willing to believe it.

    @Justin- "I pity these men, but I can understand why they are mocked." Read the entire paragraph before commenting on it next time.

    To clarify my point, there is something that is profoundly sad about males who are afraid to be men. There is something sad about males who are subservient to their wives, who defer to their wives, who won't even stand up to their children or lead their family properly. I personally pity these men but, as I stated, can understand why they are mocked. They simply do not deserve respect as men because they do not act like men. Beta males may have penises, but that doesn't mean they are men, nor does it mean that they should be respected as such (for they cannot be respected on the account of that which they have not yet attained). Likewise with women, the mere possession of a vagina does not entitle you to respect. There is a difference between being a female and being a woman; likewise, there is a difference between being a male and being a man. In both cases, being one but not the other (i.e. being a male but not being a man or being a female but not being a woman) is simply sad, and is to be pitied, mocked, corrected, or any combination of the above that rectifies the paradox.

    @PA- Shaming men for acting unmanly is a good thing, only insofar as it actually encourages men to be more manly. I think sympathy can be helpful, depending on the circumstance, as well mentoring or general encouragement.