Alyssa Rosenberg Cites GMP in Her Insightful TV Roundup

The noted cultural critic talks about evolving images of masculinity.

Alyssa Rosenberg has a very interesting article over at The New Republic, talking about the evolving images of masculinity on television, as demonstrated in the original programming at FX. She makes the case that men are undergoing the kind of gender reevaluation and transformation that feminism provided for women, and that FX’s nuanced, intelligent men’s programming, such as Louie and Sons of Anarchy, is a reflection of that.

She also cites the Good Men Project as a similar endeavor, characterizing us thusly:

As a network, FX is the televisual equivalent of publications like the Good Men Project—a self-proclaimed effort to foster “a national discussion centered around modern manhood”—but with a healthy dose of bad and struggling men in the mix.

That’s about right, yeah. We will continue to be a strong voice in the evolving conversation about what it means to be a man, and what it can mean. As Ms. Rosenberg points out, we are not alone in wanting to explore these issues.

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  1. I won’t get into the title of the Rosenberg piece, but I’ll just note the blind spot she apparently have when she describes the scene where Louie receives oral sex from Laurie (Melissa Leo) as Laurie demanding oral sex in return and Louie considering the one-sidedness of his expectations. Laurie’s behaviour is whitewashed by Rosenberg in this article. So that part I would certainly not consider “insightful”.

    The scene clearly depicts a violent rape of Louie by Laurie as can be seen from the 4:40 mark in this clip:

    Laurie tries to convince Louie to return the oral sex, he won’t do it. Laurie increases the verbal harassment of him (accuses him of being gay and so on) when she suddenly sucker-punch him on the head hard enough that his head breaks the car window, she climbs on top of him and grabs his finger and threaten to break it if he doesn’t lick her. Scene zoom out to reveal the car rocking.

    Alyssa Rosenberg write this about this scene in another article:

    I found myself cheering for her ideas, even though Laurie is awful. She’s aggressive and violent, at one point threatening to break Louie’s finger, at another, bouncing his head off her passenger-side window. And Laurie’s emotionally nasty, too, implying that Louie is gay because he won’t reciprocate sexually. But even if she’s hard to identify with, even if her behavior is embarrassing or horrifying, even if I felt physically uncomfortable watching C.K. give in to her demands, there’s something powerful about the way this episode of Louie threw every possible objection at Laurie, made her as unsympathetic a spokeswoman as possible, and acknowledged that she was right anyway.

    I get the distinct impression that Rosenberg thinks the Louie character had it coming. The important bit for Rosenberg is that oral sex should be returned – the “do not force someone into having sex” came second.

    Another article:

    “Where are the gentlemen?? What is wrong with this country? OBAMA,” she growls just moments before bashing Louie’s head into the truck window and forcing herself on him. You might call this sexual assault, or perhaps date rape.

    Might call this sexual assault, or perhaps date rape? I wonder what her standards for something being sexual assault is – although I begin to suspect that the genders of the people involved play a role.

  2. And thank goodness GMP is one of the places where this exploration can happen without it turning into a pastor pulpit for preaching at men!!!

    • Amen (he said ironically). For too long, discussions about gender issues were dominated and directed by the female perspective, with men given the option to “shut up and support us, or get out.”

      Glad to see that alternatives like TGMP exist.

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