Recently, everyone seems to be asking, “What is masculinity? What does it mean?” It’s not too surprising, as our national psyche has been recently injected with large amounts of guided and misguided testosterone. I mean, come on, we have seen the start of the football season, the continuing “struggles” of Walter White, the release of Grand Theft Auto 5, the hullabaloo regarding Syria, the random shootings…the list goes on and on. Nevertheless, the national psyche is being torn from the inside out with confused testosterone.
For those unaware of the medical definition, testosterone “plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostrate as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass, and the growth of body hair.” What we know of as “manly” is guided by testosterone’s unseen biological hand. It physically shapes us men the same way Rodin shaped his famous sculptures. Yes, our Cultural “manliness” is being molded on a day-to-day basis by how we live our lives and what media we watch. What we’re like on a Tuesday may not necessarily be what we’re like on a Friday. It is fluctuating physically and culturally, at best.
Due to this fluctuations, I would like to posit that cultural forces, the zeitgeist, the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences our culture shape this nation’s testosterone. It then guides how we men act. There are two forces at work here – cultural testosterone and biological testosterone. The hit AMC show Breaking Bad, for instance, is an example of cultural testosterone. In the article, “Breaking Bad: The Foolishness of Masculinity,” Pete Strauss of Huffingtonpost.com writes, “As the series hurtles to a close, it is becoming very apparent that its creators seek to portray male pride as a destructive influence. The large yet fragile egos of all of the male characters at some point or another leads to miscalculations or seemingly needlessly vindictive acts.”
Between Walter, Hank and Jesse, Strauss believes that one of the main themes of Breaking Bad is the impotency of male pride. In today’s world, it only goes so far, often resulting in violence. It can be argued that America is full of impotent male pride. Since there is no suitable outlet for male pride, it can never be potent; it can only destroy.
What do you think? Is Breaking Bad’s cultural testosterone a resonant force in this country? Is cultural testosterone a real thing?
Post by Geoff LaPlace