After moving back up to my dad’s house near Brown’s Lake, I was once again in command of a DISH console and the ability to watch TV, something I hadn’t been able to do in previous years due to cutting the cord (and watching lots of YouTube).
What did I end up doing? Watching Home Improvement and Last Man Standing reruns. A lot of them. And I loved them.
As my friend said “You seem oddly obsessed with Tim Allen lately.”
But this was a comedian I grew up with, and his humor is somehow way more relatable to men now than back in the 1990s when everybody could just say “I don’t think so, Tim.”
In today’s political climate, it is weirdly refreshing to see something like Home Improvement, which celebrates manhood, but doesn’t make it seem like you have to be a jerk to be a man. We just sometimes are, because I will agree with Allen in the idea that we’re a small step up from apes and thank god women put up with us.
(This comes after I forgot to put down the toliet seat for the 19th time much to the chagrin of my fiancée)
Lately, people have been freaking out over a Gillette commercial that according to articles takes a crack at criticizing masculinity. After watching it, I didn’t quite get what everybody was complaining about as the only thing it appears to criticize is people leering at women and two kids beating each other up.
What Tim Allen’s specific humor tended to angle at during his 1990s sitcom was a celebration of masculine stereotypes like being a car guy, enjoying tools, projects, beer, the Detroit Lions, corn nuts and more. I would imagine if this show existed today it might catch a little flack for these so-called stereotypes, but this would probably be from people who didn’t watch the show, much like people criticizing the Gillette commercial who probably didn’t watch it.
However, what the show usually did was present Tim being a buffoon and then having a moment of enlightenment, getting in touch with his sensitive side, or driving his rocket-powered lawn mower on the interstate. It presented flawed characters who usually grew in understanding every episode, or at least talked with neighbor Wilson about some Greek philsopher or something.
Compared to how all these characters act on today’s reality shows, the somewhat cartoonish people on Home Improvement were a breath of fresh air. What Tim Allen was never afraid of was presenting a stereotype like the man-grunting Tim Taylor, making a fool of himself and learning something in the end.
Fast forward to nowadays, and Tim Allen is doing his show “Last Man Standing” which has earned headlines for being a conservative (GASP!) show that somehow got cancelled and then picked back up by Fox.
Watching several episodes, Tim is basically an every man conservative who runs a business. Why it’s controversial, I don’t understand. He makes cracks about communists, loves the free market and constantly takes jabs at the liberal significant other of his daughter.
But mostly the episodes push for what Home Improvement episodes asked for: more compassion, more understanding and more people acting like adults. It also is really, really funny.
I can’t believe I’m seriously breaking down a former family sitcom on ABC and a current one on FOX, but can you imagine today if a show came out with episodes that featured “The Man’s Kitchen,” “The Man’s Bathroom,” and “The Man’s Gym?”
When people mention toxic masculinity or an assault on masculinity, I often wonder what the heck they’re talking about.
Being brought up, I was always told a man should be respectful of women and others. Doing some martial arts as a kid, the biggest thing some of the highest ranking black belts taught was your first reaction should be to not get into a fight (but naturally stand up for yourself). Every logger I meet always teaches me I need to stop complaining. Ever person in this town I meet shows me you can never judge a book by its cover and things are never as bad as cable news tries to portray. There are genuinely great people who are both conservative and liberal.
Masculinity to me is more of the Tim Taylor brand. Chevy cars. A shop with sawdust. Loggers out in the brush driving large machines. These people cat-calling women as they walk down the street or somehow thrilled their kid is getting into fights doesn’t even register to me on the masculinity scale.
I wish there was a little more Tool Time and a little less of whatever the heck is going on in social media.
It makes me laugh when somebody so upset by a razor advertisement can claim it’s an assault on masculinity when all the masculine men are out working and couldn’t be bothered with the inane, pointless drama over the smallest of things to make a post on something.
If the guys out here want to be considered men, perhaps don’t rush quickly into judgement, work hard, complain less, be self-sufficient, receptive to ideas and the issues concerning your environment, be humble, be strong, understand you’re flawed, understand you can always improve.
It’s a sad day in this country, when a guy making grunting noises makes more sense than many functioning adults.
(BRANDON HANSEN/Managing Editor of the Chewelah Independent)