Media Production Editor
On Aug. 13, Kathryn VanArendonk published a bewildering article in VULTURE entitled, “TV’s White Men are in Crisis.” Really? Are they?
The article begins with a question that is seemingly full of fear; where are the White men in TV shows going? She notes, “the White guys who used to be default protagonists on TV and in American life… are no longer the main characters.” She follows this statement by asking the audience, “what happens to that ‘guy’ now?… Where is he supposed to go?” I don’t know, Kathryn, maybe his cubicle? Bama rush week? The Hype House? You tell me.
It seems as though the author of this article believes she comes across as “woke” to the average reader, but when further analyzing the article, it is clear that VanArendonk is genuinely worried about the future of these White men. She continuously refers to his character as ‘The Guy’ or ‘Main Guy,’ and jarringly tells the audience in all capital letters that “you can still have a beloved White male TV protagonist!” Her solution? Another TV show starring a White man, who this time will come across as nice and sweet, as opposed to manipulative and burdensome.
She complains, “The Guy… whose problems we care about… who used to be a show’s dominant point of view – becomes a hurdle to overcome.” Maybe, just maybe, these shows that have been produced by a more diverse group of people, are trying to get a message across: the White man can, in fact, become an obstacle that people of different backgrounds need to surmount.
White guys have received the attention of most everyone for at least the past 370 years; Charles I? You really don’t think that if good ole Charlie was here he would oppose hosting yet another late night talk with all the other middle-aged White men?
She consistently credits actors like Ed Helms, who has to deal with being the butt of every joke rather than the leading man in a very diverse TV series, Rutherford Falls. To amplify this, she refers to people like Tim Allen and Steve Carrell and acts as though they are the entertainment industry’s ‘safety blankets.’
Although she notes that, “most recent shows led by creators of color do not frame White masculinity as [a] fundamental obstacle for their characters,” her writing directly contradicts the message that, apparently, White men need more attention.
After believing that she ‘did something,’ with her writing, VanArendonk ends the article with, “there is honesty in the choice to keep the dethroned ‘Main Guy’ around as a fictional device. He doesn’t disappear in real life, he is still there, tied to the lives of everyone around him.” Obviously he doesn’t disappear in real life, Kathryn. The United States is predominantly White. Literally 76.3% of the population of this country is White. Sit down and take pride in the shows that are more diverse than those helmed by Steve Carrell and Tim Allen.