How do boys learn the difference between being “tamed”, being a good man, between doing evil, and getting what they want?
From a young age, boys learn to combat the forces of good or evil. They pretend to be super heroes fighting villains, cops arresting robbers or Indians shooting cowboys. They become soldiers when playing with dispensable, plastic GI-Joes. Some even grow up to become men who fight bad guys in video games such as Call of Duty. Others fight bad guys in real wars.
However, they can’t all be good guys, thus boys learn early on to choose sides.
But who are the bad guys exactly? And what do good guys look like? Good cops and bad cops wear the same uniform. Allies and enemies both carry weapons. When the line between good and evil is blurred, how can boys tell the difference? What happens when a boy desires to combat evil but realizes he may have evil desires? What follows after he realizes he isn’t a hero full of goodness? Well, if not a hero, then he’s a villain. He is only given two choices after all.
The music video for Skrillex’s “Bangarant” emphasizes the societal misconceptions regarding male goodness. The false belief that men are animals in need of taming is not a new concept. The video refers to this with the pack of dogs surrounding the boy and with the alligator tattoo on the ice cream truck driver’s hand. The tattoo, along with the vicious manner in which he devours the cones, is indicative of his predatory nature. Dogs can be man’s best friend or a vicious attacker. Boys learn to join the pack. They learn to choose between being predators or prey. My main concern is boys will become men who struggle with knowing what direction to take.
How do boys know when to be a predator? Are bad deeds justifiable when done to bad people? Are boys taught to get what they desire by any means even if it results in harming others? Can male cravings be controlled? Does stealing from criminals in order to compensate for a past sin make a wrong right? Is evil contagious or did their deeds awaken pre-existing evil? Could the desire to combat evil really be the desire to combat one’s own evil urges?
At the end, we see the driver’s tattooed hand was removed; resulting in taming, domesticating and pacifying him like a wild animal. It is generally believed that men are intrinsically evil and must strive after goodness. This is achieved either by the love and domestication of a woman or by being broken and beat. They are incapable of overcoming their primitive nature on their own.
In my opinion, these false beliefs serve as excuses for societal accepted male behavior. If we buy into this, we ignore the few good men as we call them, who do good without force, be it gentle or violent.
Even when a man’s goodness is acknowledged, it is often credited to something outside of himself. For example, divine intervention, superhuman powers or how his mother raised him. Superman, for example, wasn’t even from this planet. Although Eve supposedly committed the first sin, we inherit the sins of our fathers not of our mothers. A man couldn’t have donated sperm to co-create Jesus Christ. It is more plausible that He, due to His goodness, was the son of God. He couldn’t have been the son of man because man’s true nature is evil. However, it is acceptable that Jesus was born from a woman, because women are mainly seen as intrinsically good.
Men shouldn’t be seen as intrinsically evil and women as intrinsically good. Because if goodness is seen as a woman’s trait, then a man can’t be good. This is highly problematic in a society where anything as minute as sucking from a straw is emasculating. Anything the slightest bit feminine can cause a man’s penis to be replaced by a vagina. Thus goodness, if seen as a woman’s trait, will be avoided at all cost.
At first, the boys seem to be having innocent fun through things like converting ordinary toys such as slingshots into weapons with no intention of real harm. I truly believe boys and men have the best intentions at heart. We should teach and encourage them to act upon those good intentions. Good men are not tamed, weak or passive. Good men are strong.
Instead of showing boys to combat evil with evil, let’s teach them to combat their own shadow. If we don’t mend the split between good and evil, our shadows will overpower us.
Evil isn’t always caused by the Other. Good and evil aren’t external. The line between good and evil seems blurry, because there is no line; both co-exist within. All humans, regardless of gender, have the capacity for good and evil. Our hands can heal just as they can harm. We simply choose how to use them.
Photo credit: Flickr / puuikibeach