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.