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Child-Men?
January 30, 2008 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Female educator & writer comments on male culture - describing video gaming males in their 20s as 'child-men', delaying traditional responsibility by decades compared to previous generations (NPR interview). Inevitable response by gaming community and others in their 20s. Further example on the change in societal isolation that leads to bowling alone, or a new social community structure being born?

I hesitated to post this for fear of a boyzone flame war. Please keep the discussion civil and respectful.
posted by Argyle (171 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Traditional responsiblity...as in getting married? I'm not getting married. Instead, I'm going to take my life savings to Vegas and put it on black. Better odds.
posted by mullingitover at 4:33 PM on January 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


From a quick read, the author in the first link is pointing out that men with jobs and independence seem to enjoy it, and want to preserve that state as long as possible. And, that some women are frustrated by the fact that they just can't convince all of them to live some other way.

If this were Fark, I would be calling for the Romerocopter right now.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:36 PM on January 30, 2008


Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones—high school degree, financial independence, marriage, and children.

I think maybe it's her "milestones" that need evaluating, and it would be a bit much to blame the shift in those "milestones" on video games.

Also:

and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes

<gasp!> girls of varied hues! And sizes! The scandal!
posted by gurple at 4:37 PM on January 30, 2008 [20 favorites]


With women, you could argue that adulthood is in fact emergent. Single women in their twenties and early thirties are joining an international New Girl Order, hyperachieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends [see “The New Girl Order,” Autumn 2007]. Single Young Males, or SYMs, by contrast, often seem to hang out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3, and, in many cases, underachieving. With them, adulthood looks as though it’s receding.

I'm sorry, what the everliving electroplated black Jesus on a pogostick is this? Women do what they like in their free time and it's "emergent adulthood" whereas men doing what they like is underachieving?

I'll keep reading but boy howdy is this not off to a good start.
posted by Skorgu at 4:39 PM on January 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


Yeah:

while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends

Oh, thank goodness we have those responsible females around to do responsible things like shopping.

I think perhaps this writer has never actually met a human being of either sex.
posted by gurple at 4:40 PM on January 30, 2008 [16 favorites]


Wow. That was... a horrible article. My eyes are burning.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:42 PM on January 30, 2008


> Single women in their twenties and early thirties are joining an international New Girl Order, hyperachieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace...

Give it a few decades...women will eventually figure out, as men have, that the rat race is a one-way ticket to unhappiness, high blood pressure and heart attacks. Then no-one will want a career and the economy will tank.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:42 PM on January 30, 2008 [11 favorites]


There are no words. This is an astonishingly stupid contention. Marriage and children are not for everyone, and they do not an adult make. If more people understood that, we'd probably be a happier, healthier culture.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:43 PM on January 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes.

Nothing like a little racism (and general shallowness) to get readers on your side!
posted by mullingitover at 4:45 PM on January 30, 2008


It's a fascinating piece of doublethink. I like how the writer brings up Freud, man some Freudian analysis would be pretty damn devastating here if actually applied. It's a strange contrast between the "child-man" she articulates and the "man's man," the latter characterized by early and complete submission to the traditional family unit. "Child-men" are men, as the author herself states, intelligent enough to realize that family isn't a holy grail, and quality of life can exist in new and historically unusual social states.

Toss in some references to the "good old days" of the 50s and we've got ourselves a hell of a troll. If anything scarred the American idea of masculinity, and if anything ever in the history of Earth was worthy of Freudian analysis, it is the idea that we ought to throw our 18 year old boys out of the house to find themselves a wife.
posted by mek at 4:47 PM on January 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I listened to a portion of the NPR interview when it aired. In the part I heard, she talked about the low rate of marriage among 30 year-old males as evidence that men are staying in this 'child-man' state. I found that odd because lots of factors (some of them positive) contribute to delayed marriage, including attending college and moving from city to city.

I also found the whole term condescending, of course. She refers to "child-men" instead of using the more accurate and less pejorative term "extended adolescence."

But sticking to the substance of her claims, I'm not sure I see the issue. Suppose she is correct and a larger and larger proportion of young men are not "growing up," getting married, and raising families. Now, the men are clearly happy in this state or they wouldn't do it. So she has to claim that this upsets women because it, I suppose, shrinks the available pool of 'decent' guys. But this in turn seems to require a claim that women are in some sense dependent upon men in order to lead happy and fulfilling lives, which is a position I don't think I'm willing to take.

There is no particular reason why people should be required to get married and raise a family before the age of 30, or any other age, for that matter. Of course, she is free to scold young men for not doing so, but it smacks more of "when I was your age..." and less of "this represents an objective harm to society."
posted by jedicus at 4:47 PM on January 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Nope. It does get better but not enough to pull it out of the muck of a professional writer signed her name to this?! territory.

For crying out load I agree with her and I think this is one of the worst articles I've ever read. I hate Halo as much as the next over-educated pompous liberal weenie and I think fratboy humor was old in college but this kind of superficial, entirely disconnected bullshit does far more to poison the relationship between the sexes than any hundred South Parks or idiot-dad commercials.
posted by Skorgu at 4:48 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


We don't want to rush into marriage, kids and a mortgage so there must be something wrong with us? Where is this even coming from? I don't think most women in their twenties want to rush into those things either.
posted by 517 at 4:48 PM on January 30, 2008


So, are these then alien women that all these men are sleeping with? Or women whose existence is in some other way not in conflict with the writer's premise that the 'problem' is solely with men's behavior?
posted by gurple at 4:49 PM on January 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Please keep the discussion civil and respectful.

That's going to be pretty tough, considering that the article in the first link is staggeringly misandrist, and itself pretty much uncivil and disrespectful.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:49 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Please keep the discussion civil and respectful."

I will certainly, out of fear of doing too much publicity to very broad pointless generalizations. But that's ok after all there is no expectation of rigor in a provocation. Or is it ?
For whatever reason, adolescence appears to be the young man’s default state, proving what anthropologists have discovered in cultures everywhere: it is marriage and children that turn boys into men.
Very funny ! I mean, how many people do you know with kids that have the spine of a snail ? Cmon, don't cover up egotic desire to have a child with an attempt to paint manhood=having children and spose , that's a trick as hold as mankind : convincing insecure guys that you are a man IF , otherwise you are not..who's trying to con a kid into "growing a spine" just to have a kid ? Bah, pot meet kettle indeed, you deserve him.

And further down
It is also a fairy tale for guys. You wouldn’t know how to become an adult even if you wanted to? Maybe a beautiful princess will come along and show you.
Ahhhhh adamant admission ! You're shopping for girls who don't know they want a Maxim readers, girl ! What is, their alleged bank account or their gullibility that's better for your reader insecurities ? But who am I kidding, BOTH ! Don't blame him for being him , cause you knew _exactly_ what you were buying into.
posted by elpapacito at 4:49 PM on January 30, 2008


It reads like the author could be described as a "child-woman" who sees that males aren't consenting to settle down and play house and dress-up, and laments this fact.
posted by stevis23 at 4:50 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


26 year old men in 1965 didn't have beer parties with their train sets or in their garage working on cars? This woman needs to revisit a little cultural history.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:50 PM on January 30, 2008


Reading this essay reminded me of the scene in "Dead Alive/Braindead" where the old guy shouts "What we need is another war!" That'd get all those losers off the couch.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:51 PM on January 30, 2008


With women, you could argue that adulthood is in fact emergent. Single women in their twenties and early thirties are joining an international New Girl Order, hyperachieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends [see “The New Girl Order,” Autumn 2007].


Who are these "women" this person is talking about? This "New Girl Order" sounds really boring and obnoxious.

Pass me one of those Video-Games that the menfolk are so excited about, lest I have to make up my own leisure activities.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:52 PM on January 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Absolutely grody article in that first link, with amazingly backward underlying premise ("the reason that it's So Alarming that these child-men are doing exactly what they want in their 20's is because of ALL THE WOMEN WAITING AROUND FOR ENGAGEMENT RINGS!!!!! How dare they!?"), so therefore I cannot comment on whether it is a case toward "bowling alone" or a case toward "new online communities replacing old real-life ones."

Although, for the record, I'm not a big fan of the Bowling Alone premise, i.e. "Internet Killed the Rotary Star."
posted by pineapple at 4:54 PM on January 30, 2008


To be fair, it's not bad for a first-year college essay. What's that?

Kay S. Hymowitz is a contributing editor of City Journal and the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Her latest book is Marriage and Caste in America.

Oh.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:54 PM on January 30, 2008


I think the whole world would be better off if everyone just lived their own lives and stopped trying to blame their own shortcomings on others.
posted by purephase at 4:55 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


oh hell, I figured it was because women have been focusing more on their own careers instead of getting hitched straight out of high school to escape their own families.

This makes for great conversation anyhow.
posted by idiotfactory at 4:55 PM on January 30, 2008


Single Young Males, or SYMs, by contrast, often seem to hang out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3, and, in many cases, underachieving. With them, adulthood looks as though it’s receding.

I think what we're dealing with here (with the author of the article, anyway) is not so much a gender gap as a generation gap. I'm 37 and many of my co-workers are young singles in their 20's. Both male and female seem to indulge in what many would think of as 'adolescent pursuits,' but as long as you pay your bills, don't hurt anybody and handle your responsibilities, I don't really see how it's anybody's business. Not to mention, what the hell is so wrong with 'underachieving?' Is it some kind of crime not to be ravenously ambitious?

These are thoughts that rarely occur to baby boomers, I think.
posted by jonmc at 4:59 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


That adds up to tens of millions more young men blissfully free of mortgages, wives, and child-care bills.

It helps that real median wages are flat to falling, health care and housing are explosively more expensive, and job insecurity is remarkably high. Women are no longer trapped into having to get married young and having no real career. Also that there is no longer a real societal impetus to get married.

Finally: Insha'Allah
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:00 PM on January 30, 2008


This seems to be the flip side of Caitlin Flanagan and her ilk chastising us slutty wimmin types, with our careers and sex w/out marriage and delayed (or non!) childbearing and whatnot.

Guys and gals who want the mortgage and the kids generally find each other. Them that don't, don't.

Now, there could be a case made for the way men are encouraged to remain infants/animals by advertisers (see: all beer ads) but most thinking men, the only kind I like :), are not so easily swayed. There is a strain in patriarchal thought that men are just animals/children, and therefore we can't expect them to treat women with respect or do their part in making real relationships work--but again, a man who expects you to accept that isn't good relationship material.
posted by emjaybee at 5:00 PM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


girls of varied hues! And sizes! The scandal!

Beware the extra-small size clutching the teddy bear, that is scandal.

I've never looked at any woman, of any age, and thought "why doesn't she have children? Is she ever going to grow up?" Is that a constant in a woman's life? If so, you have my sympathies. Likewise, if a guy isn't living in his parent's basement or sponging off society, why would I care what he does in his free time?

(Is there a complimentary article, "Girls, You'll Never be a Real Woman Until You're Married and Have Kids or Die Trying?")
posted by maxwelton at 5:00 PM on January 30, 2008


As a single male, that essay made me want to walk away and play videogames for the rest of the night, just to spite the author. And I can't stand videogames.
posted by spoobnooble at 5:00 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well when I got out of high school armed with my super-enabling HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA, I ran off to get financial independence at the nearest fast food joint that would hire me so I could get married and raise kids!

After all the pay couldn't be passed up! Whats the minimum wage now? 6.50? 7 bucks an hour?

This woman is lost.
posted by Max Power at 5:02 PM on January 30, 2008


Also are there factory jobs LEFT in the states?
posted by Max Power at 5:03 PM on January 30, 2008


I can appreciate "complaint writing," which is how I'd categorize this, when it serves a useful purpose. In other words, when it enlightens, informs, or at least stirs valid discussion. Unfortunately, this is just poor analysis and poor writing. It comes off as someone with an axe to grind.

In the first few paragraphs we have a description of, what some would call, a relatively successful young group of men who end the day by going out well groomed to meet ladies at a bar. The next bit is about how girls rock, and finally we get into the outright insults about boy-men. How the hell is it in one breath you can talk about men going out to meet women and in the next breath say somehow women are completely different? Who are these women the guys are sleeping with? Some alternate universe of bimbo shemales? NO - young, often professional, females that have days that look remarkably similar to the days of the guys criticized. I call total bullshit. It takes two to tango.

It is academically, and professionally, irresponsible to write these articles without at least closing your own logic gaps. Without solid analysis they serve no purpose other than to self promote (note the author not only self cites to her own article within this article, she's been hitting the media circuit to promote herself quite a lot lately).

Here's a clue - if you call women doing essentially what the guys do a "New Girl Order" while at the same time calling the guys "child-men" maybe you're not only biased, but you additionally have your head up your ass.
posted by Muddler at 5:03 PM on January 30, 2008 [11 favorites]


26 year old men in 1965 didn't have beer parties with their train sets or in their garage working on cars? This woman needs to revisit a little cultural history.

Really. A few years ago, a cousin of mine sent me a set of letters that my father (then in his late 20s and married to his first wife, not my mother) had written to her mother when he was in the Navy during World War II. Since he died when I was 3, I never got to know him or read anything he'd written, so of course the letters were poignant in that respect, but what struck me most viscerally was how young he sounded. Though he was "responsible" and married and, by his own frequent admission, dying to have kids, he was also interested in booze parties and bands and working on cars. So were all the married parents I babysat for during the 1970s.

I think what this bonehead author (and let's face it: she's one of those pop-psych ersatz academics the rest of us are ashamed of, just tossing out some controversial nonsense to kick up a stir) misses is that "adolescence" or callowness or whatever you want to call it is the default psychological state of many ostensible adults, especially those in their 20s and early 30s -- even the ones who are married insurance agents with respectable pension plans and leaf blowers.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:05 PM on January 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


it is marriage and children that turn boys into men

Woe is me, for I shall never be a Real Man.

Part of me hopes that this woman's take on things catches on. If all the straight 20-somethings abandon their consoles and future console purchasing plans, prices might droop. Then I could pick up a PS3 on the cheap.
posted by CKmtl at 5:06 PM on January 30, 2008


I've never looked at any woman, of any age, and thought "why doesn't she have children? Is she ever going to grow up?"

Clearly, you aren't my mother-in-law.
posted by pineapple at 5:09 PM on January 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


> Though he was "responsible" and married and, by his own frequent admission, dying to have kids, he was also interested in booze parties and bands and working on cars.

Plus ca change. My parents, who will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in June, got hitched in the mid-'60's at the ages of 23 and 21 (which, if anything, was a little old back then). They were happily married from the get-go, but do you know what my dad was doing when he wasn't at his full-time job at a petrochemical plant or hanging out with my mom (they didn't have kids until they'd been married for six years)? That's right: going out and getting blitzed with his guy friends.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:10 PM on January 30, 2008


it is marriage and children that turn boys into men

Woe is me, for I shall never be a Real Man.


Well, there's always combat.
posted by jonmc at 5:11 PM on January 30, 2008


Well, there's always combat.

Dude, that game is so old.
posted by IronLizard at 5:12 PM on January 30, 2008 [16 favorites]


Max Power writes "Also are there factory jobs LEFT in the states?"

Sure, there's a Michael Moore movie called Roger and Me. It's all about how the town of Flint Michigan was a filthy pit of crime and poverty, but GM moved their factories there from Mexico. The city turned around, became a great place to live, and everyone was happy. There are now tons of great-paying industrial jobs for all.

Oh, wait, I forgot that's when I watched it backwards.
posted by mullingitover at 5:16 PM on January 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


If you read up on this Manhattan Institute that she's associated with, it goes a long way towards explaining her, shall we say, retrograde gender politics:

"For twenty-five years, the Manhattan Institute has confronted old problems with fresh thinking. Many of the Institute’s emblematic ideas—from the notion that low taxes encourage businesses to the concept that police should be treated with respect—were originally greeted with skepticism but have since been embraced by well-run cities everywhere. Congratulations on a quarter century of making a difference. —Rudolph W. Giuliani”

It's not every day that you read something that manages to be both misandrist and misogynist.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:18 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


As the kids these days say (the real kids, as far as I know, not the 25 year old ones):
FAIL TROLL IS FAIL

Besides the shopping, there's a Sex and the City reference, which is more fail.

Fratboy humor complaints aside, I do see a trend where people are "settling down" later in life and an unfortunate trend towards immaturity, not necessarily concomitant in the same person. (I view immaturity as lack of responsibility, lack of forethought, inability to deal with things - the negative aspects of childhood, not ZOMG VIDEO GAMES AND MARIJUANAS AND INDIE MUSIC AND NOT GETTING MARRIED) I see it in both sexes, though. I can see some reasons for these: you have to go to college until you're at least 21 to have a "normal career" these days, many colleges encourage irresponsibility because they're like a goddamn summer camp, you can't settle down with the job you get out of college and expect that to continue for long, the consumerist culture in general encourages immaturity, social roles are less strict so settling down is less expected...

I have a few friends from the South where, from what they tell me, this apparently hasn't set in as much yet. They seem thankful they're not like their friends at home married and pregnant at age 21. The most immature guy I know is also the one who's settled down with a wife and a kid. He got the poor girl pregnant at 18/19 and while she worked, took care of the baby with family assistance, and went to school part time, he mostly lazed around (yes, playing video games) and put in the bare minimum of effort to get through his own college education with marginal grades.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:20 PM on January 30, 2008


Executive summary: "Men drive like this. But women drive like this. And why can't I find myself a mensch?"
posted by oncogenesis at 5:21 PM on January 30, 2008


Why do I have to be civil and respectful? She's an idiot.
posted by doctor_negative at 5:22 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks for this post. IT allowed me to discover an entirely new dimension of loathing.

You see, if you aren't married, you aren't a man. If you aren't generating income every available second of the day, you are wasting your life. Never mind that half of marriages end in divorce, and that divorce laws overwhelmingly favor a massive asset and income transfer from ex-husband to ex-wife. Never mind that any career advancement a guy can hope for has to be front-loaded, because after he's married, he's under tremendous pressure to "balance" his life in favor of family.

Freud famously asked: “What do women want?” Notice that he didn’t ask what men wanted—perhaps he thought that he’d figured that one out. But that’s a question that ad people, media execs, and cultural entrepreneurs have pondered a lot in recent years.

Wow. The paragraph beings with a psychiatrist probing the depths of the human psyche, but ends with hucksters trying to figure out how to trick men into handing over their money. This article isn't asking tough questions, it's trying to figure out what men are like so they can be sold to.

Here's what men want: sex, money, power, glory, and fame. Each man differs only in how he ranks them, and each man's ranking will change over time. But this has been true forever.

Men feel threatened by female empowerment, these thinkers argue, and in their anxiety, they cling to outdated roles.

There's an element of truth to this, I suppose, but their anxiety does no manifest as clinging to outdated roles. And this is where the article gets it massively horrendously wrong.

What the author does not understand is that juvenile 20-something men are assiduously avoiding becoming their fathers. The grew up watching their fathers be grown-ups, and take responsibility and follow a career path.

And they saw their fathers regret it. They saw the dead end that terminates most career tracks. They saw their fathers, despite raises and promotions, earn just enough money to stay afloat. They saw the frustration in their fathers who knew they were stuck on track because they followed their fathers, and regretted not doing something else.

This is why, while most professions are becoming increasingly staffed by women and more women than men are enrolling in law and medical schools, most high risk ventures are undertaken by men. More start-ups and small businesses are started by men. More men drop out of college to undertake these ventures.

Men by and large understand that the traditional career track is a slow death. That's why men are more than happy to let women fight for and take these jobs. women have succeeded in joining the working world of the 1980s. Now, they "get to have it all."

Call us when your 65 and you realize that you devoted your life to memories behind a desk in exchange for earning a few bucks. By all means, you can have it all. We want nothing to do with it. Been there, done that, cried over our fathers' graves because of it.

I'm simply going to ignore all the over generalizations of men as bumbling man-children in pursuit of tits, ass, and laughs. I fell like I've written the same comment over and over about how American culture views men as oafs. This article is perpetuating the stereotype of the sitcom dad. I have never spent a dime on pornography, Maxim, SpikeTV, Victoria's Secret, Playboy, or any of the other "male" brands she name drops like an air raid over Dresden. I'm not Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, and I'm not Ralph Cramden. So, to the author of the article, grow the fuck up.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:25 PM on January 30, 2008 [62 favorites]


Tucker Max (and all his millions of wanabees) is an unmitigated ass. Maxim was a good magazine for its first year or so, and then rapidly went down the lowest common denomiator tubes. But both of them have more insight and self awareness than the writer of this article. (Ok, maybe not Tucker Max...)
posted by aspo at 5:26 PM on January 30, 2008


Ah, the good old days.

You know, in the good old days -- now at 35 -- I'd be old aged!

Man, those were great times! Nowadays I'm only maybe halfway to dead!

Pass the powdered wigs! More black lung, anyone? Lets all head off to our factory jobs and horrific industrial accidents! Hooray for the past, in which some are punished to live out their days.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 5:28 PM on January 30, 2008


Here's what men want: sex, money, power, glory, and fame.

Yet again my boys tell it correct...
posted by jonmc at 5:28 PM on January 30, 2008


Here's what men want: sex, money, power, glory, and fame.

No, if that's anything, that's what young men want.
posted by aspo at 5:30 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have never spent a dime on pornography, Maxim, SpikeTV, Victoria's Secret, Playboy

Of course not. You're online where you can get all that stuff free.
posted by jonmc at 5:34 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


out of fear of doing too much publicity to very broad pointless generalizations

Or pointless generalizations about broads.
posted by Rangeboy at 5:34 PM on January 30, 2008


Kevin Smith wants that joke back, Rangeboy. :>
posted by jonmc at 5:36 PM on January 30, 2008


I've often thought that women today in their 20's and 30's are living in extended adolsecence in their own way. I know way too many women in that age bracket who still watch My Super Sweet Sixteen, The Hills, Laguna Beach, (insert show about teenagers here). But if they're married, I guess that's okay.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 5:40 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, there's always combat.

Since the author has condemned me to the fate of never-ending boyhood, the only form of combat I could aspire to would be Peter Pan style fencing and knife-fights. Not exactly the manliest form of martial art. And I'd look horrible in tights.
posted by CKmtl at 5:40 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's funny because that is a conservative publication-- so you'd think there would be something about how people waiting to marry and thereby lowering the divorce rate and giving more kids 2-parent families would be a *good* thing...
posted by Maias at 5:40 PM on January 30, 2008


old men went a nap


at least I do
posted by Mick at 5:44 PM on January 30, 2008


Yeah... this is terrible. Simply terrible. I mean, there are some potentially interesting observations and maybe even the inkling of a good point or two, but its just so filled with complete bullshit, I could barely force myself to finish it.
posted by papakwanz at 5:45 PM on January 30, 2008


And I'd look horrible in tights.

I guess we can rule out pro wrestling, too.

I'm simply going to ignore all the over generalizations of men as bumbling man-children in pursuit of tits, ass, and laughs.

I fully admit to being a bumbling man-child in pursuit of tits, ass an laughs and I think this article is shit, too, but for completely different reasons. One of which is despite my 'childish' pastimes, I hold down a job, pay my bills, treat my wife and friends well etc. Beyond that I fail to see how what anybody does or how anybody acts is any of her damned business. She sounds like some bitter teacher screeching 'get a haircut and get a real job!'
posted by jonmc at 5:47 PM on January 30, 2008


Female educator & writer media troll comments on male culture
posted by MillMan at 5:50 PM on January 30, 2008


I love how so many of the author's descriptions backfire in their intent. Take, for instance, the opening paragraphs: The "respectable adult" that modern men should aspire to be more like is the factory worker, living with a wife and kid in a room in his parents' home, scrimping to afford a xerox house in the next suburb but probably having a hard time of it with another kid on the way. The "child-man" is the one who is financially independent with a white collar job in the city, getting social exercise and taking care of his body, pursuing sub-mainstream artistic interests and having leisure time left over.

What a troglodyte.

She mentions "the Odyssey years" but doesn't mention that they were coed, rather than for child-men only. Of course I second everyone who pointed out that "shopping, traveling, and dining" don't seem so much more responsible in contrast. And who, pray tell, does she imagine that these men-children are hooking up with? Did she ever watch the version of Sex and the City that wasn't edited for time and network reruns?

She also gives a lot of air time to video games and fart jokes but the underlying problem in her mind seems apparent: Men are not getting married and having kids as soon as they used to. Okay. But think of how much richer of an article this would have been if instead of screaming from the rooftops that men must be receding towards zygotic states, she had thought about some logical, rational causes, such as: This generation has grown up in a world full of divorces and marriages that are intact but dysfunctional. Now that there's less societal pressure to rush to marriage, isn't it prudent to spend a longer time getting to know one's partner before deciding she's the woman one wants to spend the rest of one's life with? With the skyrocketing costs of food and education, plummeting educational standards, and general overpopulation and environmental malaise, isn't it prudent to think twice about bringing another kid into the world?

God, there's just too much to find ridiculous. I don't know whether to start with the appalling revelation that now men "can find entire networks devoted to [their] interests" or the shocking observation that men eschew "real drama"
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 5:51 PM on January 30, 2008


To clarify: this author is dealing with a false vision of 'maturity,' which is not defined by what you do in your spare time, how you dress or what your tastes are. It defined by how you handle your business and how you treat your fellow humans.
posted by jonmc at 5:53 PM on January 30, 2008


pineapple, when you say Although, for the record, I'm not a big fan of the Bowling Alone premise, i.e. "Internet Killed the Rotary Star", you indicate that you've never read the essay or book. Putnam certainly makes no suggestion that the internet has had anything but the most marginal causative effect on what he has documented. Actually, he mostly blames advertising, on TV.

Anyway, this Hymowitz 'academic' does have a small point, but not an original one, we definitely are entering 'adulthood' at a much later age. But
a) big social and economic forces are causing this, rather than her totally laughable suggestion of video games
b) young women are just as affected as men
c) this is not necessarily a bad thing.
posted by wilful at 5:54 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's what men want: sex, money, power, glory, and fame. Each man differs only in how he ranks them, and each man's ranking will change over time. But this has been true forever.

this is totally wrong. glory and fame? i'm not on your football team, dude. money is a means to an end and there are just as many men that seek only as much money as they need that seek as much money as they can possibly get their hands on. sex? well, sure, i'll give you that. but it's more a biological imperative (read: need) than it is a "want." power? who seeks power? the douchebags on 'the apprentice'? people trying to 'make partner'? cops? lots of us who are not powerless are also not seekers of power for power's sake.

and what about food? you completely forgot food. and like sex, it is a need at the same time as it can be a powerful want. right now, i want pasta.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:55 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have the same reaction to this article that I tend to have to the occasional article I see about "OMG, new employees these days want so many unreasonable perks! Like walls that go all the way to the ceiling on their 6'x6' of floor space! And paid vacation! And the right to go home after eight hours, just like the people with wives and children!"

That reaction is: "My generation wants something different from what our parents wanted at our age, and (unlike some past generations) we have the economic and social wherewithal to force it into happening. So fucking what?"

I also reject the idea that this is a new thing, as my parents were 25 and 33, still in college, and getting drunk every weekend when they met in 1980.

(For the record, those workplace articles say that the 20-somethings, when we're happy with the environment, do very good work. I anticipate the same for society.)
posted by djlynch at 5:57 PM on January 30, 2008


Like most important questions in life, this situation can be clarified by a Bob Marley song:

Which man can save his brother's soul? (save your brother's soul)
Oh man, it's just self control. (oo-hoo-oo!)
Don't gain the world and lose your soul (just don't lose your soul)
Wisdom is better than silver and gold -

posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:58 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yet again my boys tell it correct...

flagged as noise. hideous, awful noise.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:58 PM on January 30, 2008


I hate a huge post typed up but on preview pastabagel nailed it better than I ever could have.

I'm 28, I don't have a mortgage, I don't have a wife, I don't have children. I can switch careers freely. Last year I got sick of the city I was in, picked up over the course of a weekend and moved to a new city. I couldn't have done that if I had a wife and kids.

I have a decent amount of disposable income, I can choose to spend it at a bar, on computer equipment, on dinner, on vacations or anything else I want without anyone being able to tell me otherwise. I will never again have to eat a fishstick.

I saw the sacrifices my parents made to raise use and I don't want to make those sacrifices. I know they loved us dearly but I also saw the regrets they have at not being able to do what they wanted and to a certain extent not be able to reach their full potential.

We're better educated than any generation before us. Why should we squander our opportunities in the traditional family roles? I have an amount of freedom my parents couldn't dream of. I can see marriage in my future, but not until it's a sure thing. And even then having kids is doubtful.

I know more of the world than is what's in my 20 square mile area. I travel freely. I've visited 4 countries and 5 states to see friends. On occasion I buy tickets and fly somewhere with 2 hours of notice.

I have a good job and my employer loves me. Our relationship is based on mutual respect. In the event that I ever get tired of my job or they screw me over I can walk away. I'm also a very productive, reliable employee because I love my environment.

Seeing the person that I was in high school and the person I am now had I gotten married I'd have just been better off finding a woman I hated and buying her a house. It would have been quicker and less painful.

I'm a different person than I was two years ago or even a year ago. Yes, it is extended adolescence, it's everything I wanted to do as a kid but couldn't afford. And it's awesome.

After I finish writing this post I'm going to the bar downstairs, where I will have a few drinks with friends, eat dinner, and not have to wake up early to pack the kids off to school. I won't have anyone asking where I've been and what I've been doing.

And I should give all that up so I can HAVE to make mortgage payments every month and have to have everything be a negotiation.

Sorry, I'm still too self centered for that at the moment. Talk to me in 5 years when I've settled a bit. And I'm pretty sure that if our parents' generation had what we have, they'd have taken the same route we are.
posted by mikesch at 6:02 PM on January 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


Bilge. But interesting bilge!
posted by WPW at 6:04 PM on January 30, 2008


Sings in her best Sonny & Cher voice...."And the beat goes on, and the beat goes on."
posted by LiveLurker at 6:07 PM on January 30, 2008


Pastabagel I thought it was (goes to find article)..ah yes, more women are starting their own businesses. Of course that was as of 2002.

Maybe it's just more people, period, being tired of the corporate trap. I know for a lot of women, the inability to blend childbearing/raising with traditional business schedules has prompted many to start home businesses, just so they don't have to put 6-week old infants in daycare. But then I also run iinto a lot of men who would like to see their kids now and then. If we ever get universal healthcare, I predict an explosion of startups; lots of people only stay in their jobs now so they can go to the hospital and get their prescriptions filled.
posted by emjaybee at 6:09 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have an professional degree, a respectable job, no criminal record, and I pay all my bills on time. What does this writer want from me?

I'll get married just as soon as I meet someone who I want to be with forever, but no sooner. In the mean time, I'm going to date, drink, and play video games.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:13 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had friends who owned Atari and similar systems around the time of junior high. I knew no one who played video games in high school. In college (I graduated in 92), I can remember one dorm room where the guys played some version of Nintendo. I specifically remember that they were widely mocked as being uber-dorks. I went straight to law school. I knew zero people in law school who played video games.

In my third year (I am now 25 in 1995) I took interest in a girl (22)who had a boyfriend (24?). He played video games around the clock. He reminded me of my father watching television -- completely oblivious to what was going on around him and what people were saying (not a good memory). I was incredulous. I had never seen anything like it, and I instantly decided he was a loser. I couldn't believe she was with him.

A couple of years later I moved and started working. I started noticing characters in movies who were in their 20's and played video games all the time. I noticed professional athletes talk about playing video games. At some point, I got a sense about how widespread it is. I still am not used to it. I still think the whole thing is amazing. The idea of adults playing video games with any sort of frequency or seriousness strikes me about the same as it would if adults started using crayons and coloring books.
posted by flarbuse at 6:14 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do think there is a growing trend towards immaturity in culture, but not the type described in the article. People seem obsessed with pushing the pleasure button, whether buying a car they can't afford, a house they can't afford, or just a destructive lifestyle in general.

The problem with poorly argued pieces like this is they do a great job of making the point so badly, that people can easily overlook the much deeper issue.
posted by drezdn at 6:16 PM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


You know that FPP farther down about how reading some kinds of things makes you dumber? After reading this article, I think a rock might outsmart me.

I love the show Mad Men. One of the things I love about it is watching characters who are 26 and married with babies on the way and mortgages and whatnot - it makes me think, thank fucking god I wasn't 26 in 1965 and trapped, trapped, trapped. Gives me the heebiejeebies just thinking about it.
posted by rtha at 6:17 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


If there were a cause of growing immaturity, I think it's because our culture really focuses on youth. As you age, if you still want that attention, you have to continue to act or look youthful.

There's a slight chance that the focus on youth will wither a bit when the baby boomers finally admit that they're old.
posted by drezdn at 6:19 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel: great spiel, but Victoria's Secret is not, at least on the surface, a "male" brand, unless these guys in extended adolescence somehow find it necessary to have the latest IPEX technology seamless-plunge padded-contour extra-support bra to wear while playing their Halo.
Also unlike Maxim, SpikeTV, and Playboy, their catalog mailing list is free.
posted by casarkos at 6:19 PM on January 30, 2008


The idea of adults playing video games with any sort of frequency or seriousness strikes me about the same as it would if adults started using crayons and coloring books.

When game companies saw how much disposable income 20somethings and 30somethings had they started shifting their target market. I don't know a whole lot of families that can afford 500 bucks for a PS3 and 60 bucks for a game, but quite a few of my friends can. It makes sense to go directly after the people who have money.

Also, video games are fun.
posted by mikesch at 6:21 PM on January 30, 2008



and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes.

Wow, if only. I guess all the video gaming wasn't conducive to meeting girls of any hues or sizes.
posted by mattholomew at 6:22 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


pineapple, when you say Although, for the record, I'm not a big fan of the Bowling Alone premise, i.e. "Internet Killed the Rotary Star", you indicate that you've never read the essay or book.

Maybe to your mind. I've actually read both, but I heartily apologize that my flip one-liner riffing on the Buggles' historic ditty didn't scan for you as the joke it was.
posted by pineapple at 6:26 PM on January 30, 2008


Well, we've tried all the alternative lifestyles now and it suddenly dawns on us how great we had it back when we got married at fourteen and then I (real man) took the mule out and plowed from cain't-see to cain't see and you (real woman) cooked--except in the crop failure years--and popped out the babies, and we both died at 30. Back to Eden at last.
posted by jfuller at 6:30 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel, great comment!

Flarbuse, why so shocked at the enjoyment of an art form by adults? Are you succumbing to the myth that videogames are for children? They may or may not be a result of a generational gap, but saying videogames are for children is like saying comic books are for children, or cartoons, or playing in a playground. All these things have grown along with the children who first participated and enjoyed the art. Each of these things has a rich, mature culture around them. IT wasnt just kids that went to see Spiderman 2 after all.

I'm going to assume you aren't making the same mistakes the author linked in the FPP did, and give you the benefit of the doubt, but videogames are an art form (arguably an established one) and are played by people of all ages, races, backgrounds, etc. Is there something overly juvenile about a videogame that we dont see in football, or poker, or paintball? I'm not sure I get it. I suspect 5 minutes of GTA3: San Andreas would alter your reality-tunnel a bit.

If it's purely a "Hey, I didn't know videogames were so varied and interesting!" response, that's cool. And while some videogames are designed and marketed to children, to suggest some element of immaturity around videogame players would be very ignorant. And besides, what's wrong with crayons and a coloring book? Suddenly I'm not allowed to draw? I have to use prescribed "adult" tools? If the crayon was a big dildo, would that make it okay?

ponders new product idea....
posted by Dantien at 6:30 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


The idea of adults playing video games with any sort of frequency or seriousness strikes me about the same as it would if adults started using crayons and coloring books.

Fair enough. You're certainly entitled to your opinion.

I've grown more and more suspicious of notions of "maturity," though. At work, I try to be responsible, honest, professional, and excellent, and I think I succeed, by and large. Among strangers, I try to be considerate and polite. Among friends, I try to be supportive and trustworthy.

Mature, though? I'm not sure I have any use for that, particularly not any idea of maturity that is so specific as to proscribe certain harmless recreational activities. That's just too invasive.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:31 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


A couple of years later I moved and started working. I started noticing characters in movies who were in their 20's and played video games all the time. I noticed professional athletes talk about playing video games. At some point, I got a sense about how widespread it is. I still am not used to it. I still think the whole thing is amazing. The idea of adults playing video games with any sort of frequency or seriousness strikes me about the same as it would if adults started using crayons and coloring books.
posted by flarbuse at 6:14 PM on January 30 [+] [!]


Probably because you have no clue what video games are about. They can range from simplistic, mindless shooters to extremely complex strategy games. Actually people reading crap James Patterson novels on airplanes strikes me as worse than either playing video games or coloring, the only difference is all you superior folks have a frame of reference so it's OK.
posted by mattholomew at 6:35 PM on January 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm finally to the point where I really, really like being single and independent, and I'm getting close to 40. No kids, no house, no spouse. But it's really best that way right now, for various reasons. A lot of maturity came into play after I quit drinking, but only after. Some of us have issues aside from simple arrested adolescence. I know that maturity doesn't have anything to do with familial status (and turned around, it would rightly be a contentious statement to say that modern women were frittering away their time being single careerists, instead of domesticating and parenting). If I had married as a younger man, it very likely would have ended badly. The suburbs are hell, as is the lifestyle they promote, so I live in the sticks where I can see the starts at night and not hear traffic, but might move to an urban setting soon. Maxim doesn't appeal to me, nor does serial dating or going out cruisin' for women, but, yeah, sometimes gaming does. I'd rather compose and play music, honestly. I don't make a lot of money, but enough to buy organic food and music gear and live by myself on an acre of land with its own well. I will probably start up my business again later this year or next, but right now I get full benefits in a decidedly non-corporate-mentality, family-run small business. I'm also learning how to cook, so I can eat healthy food and enjoy it. That's a pretty good life - simple, but good - and doing the family thing will probably never be my thing. But it might be nice finding a partner down the road, though not sure I'm ready for that again at the moment. I think figuring out what sits right with you and how you can live your life in a fulfilling way is far more important than trying to fulfill someone else's idea of the American Dream.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:37 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


The comments on the article are...um...
The question might better be asked, why would a young man want to get married now? Sex, apparently, is generally available. Companionship is also available, and buddies make far less emotional demands than wives do. Wives can no longer be expected to provide domestic comforts (e.g., good cooking) that men value but are generally not very good at providing for themselves. (Although I would suggest that most wives still do provide these comforts, but that feminism has taught them to do so with a sense of resentment).
And this one's lovely:
Wars have made a lot of men "grow up" too, sadly. I'll bet the guys in the all-volunteer military will end up being the mature ones. Many of the guys that managed to avoid the draft during Viet Nam are now sporting graying ponytails, still smoking "grass," and divorced several times. They have spawned the "cretins" you have described that are ruining our society. I wouldn't want to be a young woman today.
See? Reading the article really can make you dumber.
posted by rtha at 6:38 PM on January 30, 2008


The idea of adults playing video games with any sort of frequency or seriousness strikes me about the same as it would if adults started using crayons and coloring books.

Colouring books for adults seeking stress relief. Granted, they're for watercolour pencils, not crayons.
posted by CKmtl at 6:39 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


man, that lead article is an ubertroll. this author is about as enlightened as ann coulter, producing policy papers for an institution that has bill "the NYT regrets the error" kristol and peggy "even reagan's corpse is handsome!" noonan on its board, endorsed by giuliani for pimping discredited ideas about crime policy, and here we are (myself included) nearly 100 comments deep in a thread that started 2 hours ago.

hook, line and stinker.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:42 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ok. I can take her make-believe and make it real. In 1966, I was married, had a job, and a kid with the 2nd on the way. Some 20 years later, no more married.kids pissed at both of us etc etc..So what we once were is also what we are now but we wait a bit longer to get married so we can be divorced at a later age. Happy ending, though: remarried a lovely lady and next year I will have been (re) married 25 years,with two more kids.
posted by Postroad at 6:53 PM on January 30, 2008


also, am i the only one that finds that the premise of the much-lauded "knocked up" is completely ludicrous? in what universe does on-air talent on the E network hook up with a mook like seth rogen? especially seth rogen playing a dude who has no money, no job, no prospects, is a slob, and hangs around with other knuckleheads all day? why are we always expected to believe the premise that the schlub can score a hot, accomplished, going-places chick?

aside from the obvious reason that it appeals to the sucker dudience who like having the myths they themselves believe reinforced.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:53 PM on January 30, 2008


Playing Video Games rather than child support, couples counseling and family court? Oh Thank U Ren.
posted by Rancid Badger at 6:53 PM on January 30, 2008


The idea of adults playing video games with any sort of frequency or seriousness strikes me about the same as it would if adults started using crayons and coloring books.
posted by flarbuse at 9:14 PM on January 30


You do realize that adults paint, right?
posted by Pastabagel at 6:56 PM on January 30, 2008


Dantien writes "hey may or may not be a result of a generational gap, but saying videogames are for children is like saying comic books are for children, or cartoons, or playing in a playground. All these things have grown along with the children who first participated and enjoyed the art."

Actually, a lot of the old cartoons were meant for adults, most notably the old Warner Brothers cartoons, which were originally shown before feature movies in theaters. I remember some cartoonists tried to revive that in the '80s and '90s, but it didn't totally stick. But now there are sometimes animated shorts shown before animated features, always by the same studio, naturally, so at least there's that. Pogo was very much an adult comic strip. One of the very first regularly published comic strips (ca. 1895), "The Yellow Kid," was for adults. If anything, adults have reclaimed what were originally their own mediums, but later infantilized to exploit the burgeoning children's market.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:57 PM on January 30, 2008


I always get a laugh out of conservative intellectuals. They really don't like other people. It's charming and quaint, in its own way. They've been slowly gearing up for a while now in the "Battle to Save Manhood" but then Bush The Manly Man Decider Extraordinaire! came along and, well, the rest is history. Anyways, the only real problem with many men now a days is that they don't know how to dress and they're all fat. This used to be just an American thing but now it's spreading. Do all the childish things you want, but please, wipe the ketchup off your chin.
posted by nixerman at 7:00 PM on January 30, 2008


Those boys have grown up to become child-man gamers, turning a niche industry into a $12 billion powerhouse. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 are now the biggest gamers; according to Nielsen Media, almost half—48.2 percent—of American males in that age bracket had used a console during the last quarter of 2006...

Let's not forget that a sizeable chunk women also play videogames:
"Study: Women Gamers Outnumber Men in 25-34 Age Group
"A new study from the Consumer Electronics Association indicates that there are many more women gamers in the 25-34 demographic than males....The CEA study found that 65 percent of women in the 25-34 age bracket play video games, while only 35 percent of men in that group said that they play video games."*
"Women make up 43 percent of all video game players, according to the 2005 survey by the Entertainment Software Association. That's up from 38 percent in a similar survey in 2003. Though women aren't quite yet the majority among game players, they're involved in 55 percent of all game-buying decisions, according to the association of the video game makers."*

"Women now slightly outnumber men playing Web-based games."*/sup>
posted by ericb at 7:05 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


hook, line and stinker.

Maybe if you spent less time fishing and more time marrying and vying for the employee-of-the-month parking spot, you would see the article as font of valuable wisdom.
posted by maxwelton at 7:06 PM on January 30, 2008


> I always get a laugh out of conservative intellectuals. They really don't like other people.

l'enfer, c'est les autres.

fuller makes note in little notebook. Sartre...was...a...conservative....intellectual
posted by jfuller at 7:07 PM on January 30, 2008


"Women in the UK make up just over a quarter of the total number of gamers. This compares to 39% in the US and 69% in South Korea.

The typical female gamer in the UK is 30 to 35-years-old, plays around seven hours a week and spends £170 (250 euros) a year on games."*
posted by ericb at 7:07 PM on January 30, 2008


Speaking as 36 year old guy who likes to play Halo and has a wife and kid, it's odd to hear the theme that marriage and kids are a drag. While I'm not as "free" as I was when I was single, having a family has brought a sense of peace and contentment that I never dreamed possible in my 20s.

The article is still a pile of crap though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:09 PM on January 30, 2008


Older women rule the online games market
"Middle-aged women rule the $458 million US online casual game market, according to recent research. Reuters reports that separate studies from casual game publishers RealNetworks and PopCap Games reveal that more than 70 percent of casual gamers are females over the age of 40."
posted by ericb at 7:11 PM on January 30, 2008


Remember the Ents in LOTR? How the sexes went their separate ways? Nah. It could never happen.

I hang out with a lot of girls late 20s to mid 30s. The single ones are a bunch of fun, but have a very slight - but noticeable - tinge of desperate sadness about them. Biological clock. Being left on the shelf. Etc. Guys their age still seem to be able to avail themselves of younger women.

Products of 80s feminism... they've been sold a big ol' lie.

Anyone who disagrees with me is a moran. ;)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:13 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


also, am i the only one that finds that the premise of the much-lauded "knocked up" is completely ludicrous?

No. That was by far the most unfunny movie I have ever seen in my life. Superbad may have been worse, but I bailed out after the scene in the beginning where Fat Sidekick says "I can't believe you got to suck on those tits" and Skinny Main Character replies "At least you got to suck on your dad's dick", at which point I ejected the DVD. I can't sit through a whole movie of dick jokes more hack and less creative than what I might hear on morning FM radio.

Actually people reading crap James Patterson novels on airplanes strikes me as worse than either playing video games or coloring, the only difference is all you superior folks have a frame of reference so it's OK.
posted by mattholomew at 9:35 PM on January 30


A thousand times yes. The worst video game is infinitely a better use of time than watching the worst thing on TV or reading the worst book in the bookstore. At least the game medium requires you to apply your mind to the task in some way. And yes, that is the correct comparison. The alternative over videogames that people choose is not The Sun Also Rises. It's Patterson or Sue Grafton, or some crap on TV, like Desperate Houswives, Sex in the City, the Cashmere Mafia, the Lipstick Underground, or whatever the hell else they are producing now that they lost all their male viewers to Halo.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:14 PM on January 30, 2008


The idea of adults playing video games with any sort of frequency or seriousness strikes me about the same as it would if adults started using crayons and coloring books.

Tell that to Granny and Grandpa!

Video Games Conquer Retirees
"PopCap Games in Seattle....says its games have been downloaded more than 200 million times since the company was founded in 2000. A spokesman said that the company was stunned by results of a customer survey last year: 71 percent of its players were older than 40, 47 percent were older than 50, and 76 percent of PopCap players were women.

It turns out that older users not only play video games more often than their younger counterparts but also spend more time playing per session....According to Electronic Arts, the game publisher that runs the site [Pogo.com], people 50 and older were 28 percent of the visitors in February but accounted for more than 40 percent of total time spent on the site. On average women spent 35 percent longer on the site each day than men."
posted by ericb at 7:20 PM on January 30, 2008


It turns out that older users not only play video games more often than their younger counterparts but also spend more time playing per session

That's because they have more time.

/displaying my firm grasp of the obvious
posted by jonmc at 7:21 PM on January 30, 2008


Well, as has been duly and extensively noted, this article is the sociocultural-analysis equivalent of a clumsy toddler bumping aimlessly into shiny objects and calling them by whichever of the eight words in the kid's primitive vocabulary leap immediately to mind. Him child-man, Mama. Bad man!

But the kid, for all these faults, has picked up some ideas of real consequence in its maladroit fingers, so if anyone reading this has any serious interest in the social and philosophical import of lives lived without real investment and genuine responsibility, I'd highly recommend the novels of Milan Kundera - particularly The Unbearable Lightness of Being (his masterpiece) and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (a close second).

Now, had our dim toddler at the Manhattan Institute thought to perhaps contrast the ways in which an overwrought consumer culture might in some ways be as corrosive to the health of a society as a totalitarian police state - that both configurations might, that is, encourage catastrophic levels of disinvestment in the essential institutions and systems of a society, with resulting decay - then she might've been onto something.
posted by gompa at 7:24 PM on January 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


"Society highly values its normal man... Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years." - R.D. Laing
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:24 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a strange contrast between the "child-man" she articulates and the "man's man..."

I wonder what Kay S. Hymowitz has to say about gay men.
posted by ericb at 7:26 PM on January 30, 2008


MONSTER KILL!!

Wait, what?
posted by TheManChild2000 at 7:26 PM on January 30, 2008


Penny Arcade had it absolutely right. Different argument, same target demographic. Conservative pundits realize that demonizing the 20-30 male results in a backlash of millions of page views. Our collective indignance only fuels their drive to make more outlandish claims.
posted by JimmyJames at 7:35 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's funny, because I was just watching The King of Kong, which has married men (with kids and jobs) playing OMG video games. Not just playing them, playing them obsessively. I guess they don't count.
posted by melissam at 7:36 PM on January 30, 2008


I knew a bunch of guys like this once. They were housemates of a friend. Four guys hovering around 30, who'd get home from work, open a few beers, smoke a few cones, and play video games until they passed out. They'd been doing it for years.

Eventually, one of them decided "Right. It's time to settle down. I'm gonna go find myself a wife."

He was serious, but we didn't stop laughing for hours.

"Mate, you haven't even spoken to a woman in at least five years! Do you think you can just go out and find a wife like you'd find a secret room with a rocket launcher & a new suit of armour?"

"Why not?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:44 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Call us when your 65 and you realize that you devoted your life to memories behind a desk in exchange for earning a few bucks. By all means, you can have it all. We want nothing to do with it. Been there, done that, cried over our fathers' graves because of it.
"No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office"

-- friend of Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts.
The quote was referenced by Anna Quindlen in a Villanova Commencement Address. In that speech she also said:
"Don't ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: 'If you win the rat race, you're still a rat'....Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?"
posted by ericb at 7:44 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Kay S. Hymowitz has heard the news. Peter Pan is engaged to be married in PixyLand!!
posted by ericb at 7:53 PM on January 30, 2008


On further reflection, I want to submit additional arguments that this article is crap.

How many over-20 men reading this thread now, who play video games now or would be classified as immature by this idiot author, are the same people who when they were young children were doing things considered "mature" for their age like programming computers (not playing computer games, but programming) or exploring science with telescopes, microscopes or chemistry sets. How many had crystal radios as kids, or watched science and nature documentaries on PBS instead of network sitcoms? How many read books above their grade level over the summer, so flipped ahead in their math books to see what they'd learn next.

I'm guessing the number is statistically significant. If bright precocious boys who were creators or builders when they were young are turning into "immature" men, and you think that's a problem, then problem does not lie with the men. The problem lies with society.

From the article: "Young men especially need a culture that can help them define worthy aspirations. Adults don’t emerge. They’re made." I suppose that those worthy aspirations include making money to support children we can never see so we can pay taxes and consume the culture that the author of this article and others create.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:06 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Funny, I'm something of an example of the kind of child-man she describes. I live in Whistler, have a low pressure job, do what I want, don't have a car, ski 100 days a year, enjoy videogames and generally want none of the punishing mortgage, insurance salesman, 2.5 kids slow death that would apparently make me a grown up. Neither does my girlfriend. We recently celebrated our 4th anniversary, have no intention of getting married, having kids, etc. We both strongly feel that there are too many people on this planet, especially those consuming like a North American.

Just before Christmas, my dad came up for a few days to visit. We skied together for the first time in years, and he told me recently it made him think of the Harry Chapin song, "Cat's in the Cradle." In the 70s, my father was a liftie, running the T-bars on Whistler, skiing all the time, and generally enjoying being a ski bum. It's funny, that song is a lament for the time you lose and the family you alienate living for a future that you defer indefinitely by doing the adult thing and focusing on your career. In our case, the line "My boy was just like me" doesn't have that pang of sadness in it because we both decided to pursue our passions when there was still time.

As for all the people asking who these men are fucking, if all women want is to settle down and have a family, I think I know what she would say: those women are sluts. Oh wait, that sounds a little to contemporary for her atavistic worldview. What I mean to say is that those women are tramps and hussies.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:12 PM on January 30, 2008


Child-men, child-women... a culture of ephebophilia.
posted by meehawl at 8:13 PM on January 30, 2008


What else to make of an article entitled “How to Make Your Girlfriend Think Her Cat’s Death Was an Accident”?

idunno...an AskMe question?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:23 PM on January 30, 2008


(damn jessamyn and her "please don't use askme for posting weird jokes from other parts of the site" demands!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:24 PM on January 30, 2008


It’s 1965 and you’re a 26-year-old white guy. You have a factory job

it's 1985 and your factory closed, you can't find a decent job, your wife's divorcing you and your 18 year old son tells you that he sure as FUCK isn't going mess up his life for other people like you did

20 years later, many young men are still saying the same thing

some more news for miss ivory tower

1) there are still factory jobs in america - i know, i have one

2) anyone who's ever worked at a factory will quickly disabuse you of the simplistic notion that factory workers are mature adults - frankly, it's just like fucking high school except their parents don't bite their asses out for getting drunk on the weekends or sleeping with their colleagues, as long as they don't actually do it at work (and get caught)

3) in today's world of artificial insemination (or bars), health care (or medicare), day care (or neighbors) and societal tolerance, you don't need to marry a video game playing "man-boy" to have a kid, so anyone who complains about that is just whining

4) women who don't mind older men don't have this problem

5) tick tick tick tick tick tick tick
posted by pyramid termite at 9:03 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


For whatever reason, adolescence appears to be the young man’s default state, proving what anthropologists have discovered in cultures everywhere: it is marriage and children that turn boys into men.

Back in the real world, anthropologists document initiation rituals in cultures almost everywhere, which turn boys into men.

Once initiated, the new men can take part in adult activities, like marrying & having children.

The author's claim proves nothing other than the fact that she clearly hasn't the faintest idea what she's talking about, and will resort to completely imagined 'proofs' to support her normative agenda.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:09 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Surely, "argument from recent pop-culture" must rank as one of the most annoying rhetorical fallacies.

Anyways, we'll be living in Solaria soon enough. Bring on the holo-sex with nary a deep or meaningful interpersonal commitment in sight!
posted by sandking at 9:44 PM on January 30, 2008


I forwarded this to a gender discussion listserv in my department. At the risk of being obnoxious, I'll paste what I said in the discussion initially, which is a bit long and very much indebted to many comments from this thread:

I will say that I was really, really frustrated by this article. It posits "adult males" as married, middle-class, mortgaged, and reproducing, as though that is somehow inherently more "mature" than being single, living in an apartment and dating.

Yes, Maxim is lame and misogynist, Knocked Up is lame and misogynist, Tucker Max is a complete scumbag. Her individual readings of these different texts are generally right, I think. But I one don't think that their popularity points to some new development in society, nor do I think it shows that men are becoming"less mature." I wish they weren't around, for a variety of reasons, but they aren't a sign of anything "new" -- if anything they are just an expression of the same old BS in a new disguise. There were no men in the 50s who were interested in playing sports, skimpily clad women, and drinking beer? Plus, I don't think you can take bottom of the barrel of pop culture representations of
men and women and then assume they are documentary evidence of reality (or take
romanticized depictions of the "good old days" and present them as reality either). It's just too simplistic.

Her argument is based on so many suppositions that I think are just completely false -- that monogamous, reproductive, heterosexual relationships are the natural goal of all people, that "settling down" is the natural goal of all people. Her complaint also seems premised on the belief that women really just want to settle down with a stable guy, again as though that's some sort of natural, "right" thing. Yes, I think it is true that people are remaining "younger" longer (both men and women), but that is not a bad thing in my
opinion. Her opinion that it is bad is based on some sort of 1950's model of the American nuclear family, which is just bogus.

Plus, there were many lines that I thought were just bizarre: "it's off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes." Huh? What do different "hues" or "sizes" have to do with anything?

Then this:
"Single women in their twenties and early thirties are joining an international New Girl Order, hyperachieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends [see ?The New Girl Order,? Autumn 2007]. Single Young Males, or SYMs, by contrast, often seem to hang out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3, and, in many cases, underachieving."

OK, so I guess the single women she talks about are never "hooking up" or drinking when they spend time with their friends or go out, whereas that's apparently ALL the guys do. And obviously, "shopping, traveling, and dining with friends" are the height of mature behavior, I guess?

And just what does "underachieving" mean? At times she uses it to mean living in your parents' basement, at other times it means being like the average Maxim reader: "male, unmarried, median age 26, median household income $60,000." So, it seems its really the "unmarried" part that bothers her. Achievement = marriage, for both men AND women. As she says near the end: "For the problem with child-men is that they're not very promising husbands and fathers."

And then she just starts lumping together various pop culture phenomena as being somehow related to this "SYM sensibility": Futurama and the Man Show? Maxim and the Colbert Report? These things do not go together just because there may be some crossover in the demographics to which they appeal.

I will readily admit that one of the things that really bugged be about this article is that I have a few things, at least superficially, in common with the "child-man" that she is describing. And, so what? She's presenting these various character traits as irredeemably negative and socially irresponsible. Video games = for kids. Mortgage = productive adult. And the flip side is that she claims to speak for young women, and what I hear her saying is "We want a big strong man to take care of us and give us babies." No, I don't think so. I
don't think that's at ALL what most women want (although it is what women are *told* to want).

And I guess that's what it comes down to. She writes at the end: "Men are 'more unfinished as people,' Kunkel has neatly observed. Young men especially need a culture that can help them define worthy aspirations. Adults don't emerge. They're made."
So what this really is about is constructing a subject that fits into a prefigured space within our social/economic system. We need guys to buy a house. Why? Because property ownership and the labor required to pay for that property are cornerstones of our economy. We need them to get married and reproduce. Why? Because then we can recreate that system. And we need women to function as domestic baby factories.

What the piece's dual misogyny and misandry obscure is the economic motivation at the foundation of the argument. If you notice, the author is a fellow at the "Manhattan Institute." http://www.manhattan-institute.org

Their website lists their mission as "to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility." Their board of trustees is largely made up of people from the financial sector. They have a blurb praising them from none other than Rudy Guiliani. Some recent publications: "One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups" ; "Elites to Anti-Affirmative-Action Voters: Drop Dead" ; "Free Inquiry? Not on Campus" ; "Bush Education Reform Really Works" ; "Conservative Compassion Vs. Liberal Pity." This one I
particularly liked: http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_2_queering_the_schools.html

Anyway, I am quite possibly letting my personal irritation with this article cloud my judgment. And certainly isn't that I want to defend "Old School" or Maxim or Will Ferrell or whatever, because I find that stuff terrible on multiple levels. But what bothers me is that I think this article attempts to appeal to the (very real and very valid) frustrations that many women *and* men have about their lives, relationships, etc., to promote an insidious
conservative agenda.
posted by papakwanz at 10:08 PM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Terrible, obvious troll of an article, but this thread is interesting. Some excellent comments to be read. Though I am terribly conflicted about much of the core topic at hand: the extended adolescence of "these kids today!"

I'm 32. I'm married. I've been married for 7 years and with the same woman for 9. I have a mortgage, a decent job (in a career I seem to be enjoying), and I've achieved some of the goals I've set out to achieve. My wife has a decent job and her career is really starting to take off and she's achieved some of her goals too.

On the surface, we're almost a model of responsibility according to Kay S. Hymowitz. But if you dig deeper...

Most glaringly obvious: no kids. We're just not ready and we're not sure we ever will be. Ready for what? The self sacrifice. We're too busy indulging ourselves.

We both collect comics - I just started again about 2 years ago, but my wife has been collecting for years (and no, not manga). I collect and play games (mainly board, but card, RPGs, and video games). She travels, collects odd jewelery, and is an outright new age hippie-in-training. (I, the capitalist pig that I am, keep trying to get her to sell out and write some kind of bullshit self help book... then we'd be home free! But she won't listen to me :( Maybe I'll ghost write it and just get her to do the seminars. Anyhow... )

We've achieved this weird balance between straight-laced "responsible" adulthood and carefree adolescence.

I'm afraid that Ms. Hymowitz's head would explode if we came within a mile of her.
posted by C.Batt at 11:12 PM on January 30, 2008


This is well-covered above, but OMG what rank idiocy this article is. Barf-oe.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:49 PM on January 30, 2008


The problem with the Child-Man essay is it never really attempted to establish its sociological relevance. The idea that adult men play videogames and laugh at crude entertainment, may seem shocking and awful to people who saw a different world when they were the same age, but if they want to convert others to more than this superficial disgust, they have to put these changes in a perspective of diminishing human well-being. This would involve appeals to mental and physical health (depression, lifespan, etc), pro-social behavior (charity work, etc), anti-social behavior (racism, law-abidingness, etc), and self-sufficiency (savings, welfare use, etc).

It wouldn't be hard to appeal to such statistics. If they are indeed changing for the worse, in a way plausibly related to these changes, my critical attention towards them would be well earned. If not, then the author needs to seriously reconsider the relevance of her own criticisms.

One legitimate issue that the article does touch upon, but doesn't treat with much sophistication, is the ways changing family patterns (delayed sexually monogamous commitments) may be related to a male culture of more prideful or overt misogyny. This is seen for instance in the "seduction community" where women are objectified as sexual conquests, and humiliation and emotional manipulation are viewed as a necessary or enjoyable part of that conquest. The (multiple) reasons for and how to mitigate these cultural trends is indeed worthy of discussion.

I think much more interesting (and to the point) than this article is the recent discussion/debate over the rapid changes in family and marriage over at Cato Unbound: Can Marriage Survive.

The lead essay, The Future of Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz, gives an overview of the history of marriage, and puts recent trends in marriage in economic-historical perspective. Coontz argues we aren't going back to the 50s model, and instead of unrealistically tailoring policy to take things back, we have to figure out how to best accomodate a broad range of family arrangements (e.g. gay couples, cohbitating couples)

The same Kay Hymowitz from this post, responds with The Marriage Gap, which argues that sociological data supports the traditional marriage model as the best arrangement for raising law-abiding, productive, and healthy children, and that the recent changes in family are primarily hurting and holding back poor and less educated Americans, which is why we should work towards restoring it.

My favorite, Marriage and the Market by economists Stevenson and Wolfers argues that technological and social changes have changed the point of marriage from a specialization model (woman cleans, man earns) to a hedonic model, where men and women can take care of themselves and primarily marry to keep each other company.

Against Family Fatalism by Norval Glenn disputes Coontz's arguments that we can't return, in a significant way, to older family arrangements.
posted by dgaicun at 2:30 AM on January 31, 2008 [5 favorites]


Like 90% of rants about men, this article is actually about alpha men. Non-alpha men don't even exist in the minds of women who write this kind of stuff.
posted by teleskiving at 3:03 AM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Given how many baby boomers got married and had kids while going through an extended adolescence, isn't it more of an admirable trait to separate those two things?

I mean, yes, I've met my share of child-grownups of both genders and sometimes I wonder whether it's a great development. Although I don't think "no longer plays video games" is a real indicator of the end of an extended adolescence, I think it's more about the process of developing real relationships and not being thrown off by the bumps in the road, knowing yourself as you are rather than seeing yourself purely in terms of your future potential, shedding solipsistic tendencies and being able to see the other humans, and becoming reliable -- traits which can lead to good parenthood, but which also have a role in other types of successful adult lives which might not have anything to do with having kids.

Anyway, concerns aside, when I look at my parents' generation and all of the examples of parenting-while-adolescent I've witnessed (beg pardon of boomers who were great parents, I know there's a lot of you too), I think that there is something to be said for truth in advertising. Smoke weed, play halo 3, eat pizza, fuck around and have fun; self-indulgence is ethical if you're honest with yourself and others about where you are in your life.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:43 AM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


This piece of shit essay wouldn't even get a C from a Sociology 101 course at City College. Trite, unoriginal screed vomited out by a bitter old crone who is projecting her own failures in life onto the rest of the human race.

Epic fail.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:40 AM on January 31, 2008


dgaicun should be the one who is being publish on this subject, rather than Hymowitz.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:44 AM on January 31, 2008


People! People! Of course, the story in the first link is splendiferous hackery masquerading as bilge--it's in City Journal!! Hymowitz is a shill at The Manhattan Institute. She's paid to be a professional kvetcher and concern troll.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:59 AM on January 31, 2008


If we ever get universal healthcare, I predict an explosion of startups; lots of people only stay in their jobs now so they can go to the hospital and get their prescriptions filled.

I think emjaybee is right on this... the state of our economy is such that people often can't afford to do what they really want in their working life, and so they have to make up for that during their off hours, as the author whines.

If you want a country where both men and women can afford to innovate and create new business opportunities that allow them to lead the kinds of lives they really want to have -- whether it's staying at home with their children and working there, too, or creating the next, most kickass-est piece of software ever, or anything else, we've got to get rid of the fear you'll be dying in a gutter or medically bankrupt if you take that risk. The factory jobs are long gone, it's the knowledge economy that can really help the U.S. rebound.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:24 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know plenty of male gamers in their 20's 30's 40's and 50's that are happily married and responsible human beings....which pretty much backs up the my opinion that this article is bunk.

(goes back to play COD4 for uber pwnage)
posted by samsara at 7:04 AM on January 31, 2008


Wow, talk about culture clash! It's like an anti-MetaFilter bomb lobbed into the heart of MetaFilter! At least papakwanz is honest enough to say:

I will readily admit that one of the things that really bugged be about this article is that I have a few things, at least superficially, in common with the "child-man" that she is describing.

That clearly applies to 99% of the people who are rearing, snorting, and breathing fire in this thread. Sounds like she touched a sore spot, guys! It's not the greatest, most incisive piece ever written, but "horrible"? "Muck"? "Troll"? "Idiot"? "This writer has never actually met a human being of either sex"? Methinks the child-man doth protest too much.
posted by languagehat at 7:09 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, talk about culture clash! It's like an anti-MetaFilter bomb lobbed into the heart of MetaFilter!

it's like you've spent years here without ever noticing the diversity and intelligence of the people here
posted by pyramid termite at 7:26 AM on January 31, 2008


Sounds like she touched a sore spot, guys! ... Methinks the child-man doth protest too much.

Well, sure. Just as it would have touched a sore spot with females if it had been a "Hey, ladies. You're not fully a woman until you've nabbed a man, got a ring, and have a bun in the oven. Shed your self-imposed girlish frocks, and do what you were supposed to do! Oh, and uh... nail polish is to blame for all of it!" piece.

Gamers - and not just the hardcore ones - tend to react pretty strongly against non-gamers who know next to nothing about gaming, yet who get up on their soapbox and spew concern-trolly muck about gaming. It's usually the "video games = violence! rape!" crowd that bear the brunt of it, notably Jack Thompson and the recent FOX News / Mass Effect nonsense.
posted by CKmtl at 7:47 AM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


I once put some stock in the notion that there was too much extended-adolescence about in the world. As years have gone by, I've come to realize that great concern over extended adolescence is mostly a concern of extended adolescents. One of those things that fall neatly into the "I'm strong-willed, he's just stubborn; I'm easy-going, she has no backbone" kind of thing people fall into.
posted by Drastic at 7:51 AM on January 31, 2008


I'll readily admit that I share a reproductive organ, a chromosome or 23 and a few billion basepairs of DNA with the child-men that she is describing. Only video game I play is Supreme Commander which is the anti-Halo, I'd never heard of half of her examples of continued fratboyishness, and getting falling down drunk is something to be done when my buddy comes home from Iraq, not any given Tuesday.

The piece really was that bad. It was an offensive, sexist screed that I'm glad to see met with the appropriate level of scorn.
posted by Skorgu at 7:53 AM on January 31, 2008


PUT DOWN THE WIIMOTE AND START MAKING BABBYS.
posted by everichon at 8:02 AM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


I work in the computer game industry. I make a pretty decent buck these days; it could be more but I'm pretty satisfied with my salary. I'm 36. I've always played video games ever since Pong. I tend to buy maybe 4 games a year and play them somewhat heavily. I'm also in a D&D campaign with some coworkers, playing most Sunday afternoons.

My wife is 30 and a part-time library assistant. She plays the Sims, city-building and turn-based strategy games, and is probably more of a hardcore gamer than I am.

We don't have a "next gen" console, just a PS2 I sometimes play racing games on while on the exercise bike, and a Nintendo DS for casual puzzle type stuff.

We play PC games, sitting side by side. This is what we do instead of watching TV. We don't even have an HDTV, just a cheap 19" from 1994. We'll sometimes watch Iron Chef or Futurama or Dirty Jobs or something, but I have never seen Lost and probably couldn't name half the prime-time shows that are currently airing.


When I was a kid, my dad didn't understand why I would spend so much time on the computer. But then, I didn't understand why he spent so much time watching TV...
posted by Foosnark at 8:07 AM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


I...AM...CHILD-MAN, NANA NANA NANA NA NA nuh nuh To tune of "Iron Man". Not actually a child-man. Some restrictions may apply. Consult with your physician before making babies.
posted by everichon at 8:25 AM on January 31, 2008


this author is about as enlightened as ann coulter, producing policy papers for an institution that has bill "the NYT regrets the error" kristol and peggy "even reagan's corpse is handsome!" noonan on its board,

Ah, that may explain why this sort of reminded me of Noonan's "Return of John Wayne" bullshit.

Fuck you Peggy, looks like it's the return of Carry Grant instead. Which means all these guys will end up fucking Randolph Scott during their golden years. Or something.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:25 AM on January 31, 2008


...just a PS2 I sometimes play racing games on while on the exercise bike,

Yikes. That's terrifying and awesome.

As noted many times before, this article is the "legitimate" journalism version of trolling. As has also been noted, trolling against gamers always elicits a huge reaction. And finally, a huge reaction equals more publicity than someone who has such little journalistic integrity would ever get through legitimate means.

Conclusion: Even though it was overly verbose and pointless, at least the article brought about this discussion, which has been (mostly) excellent.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:29 AM on January 31, 2008


That article is an annoying mix between misdirected indignation and pretentious writing style. Writing that takes on an air of illegitimate authority is the worst kind.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:52 AM on January 31, 2008


Foosnark,

You should totally watch Lost. It's wicked awesome.
posted by Dantien at 8:53 AM on January 31, 2008


...if adults started using crayons and coloring books

You'll take my crayons away when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

Also: love the way she misses (or pretends to miss) Pollack's obvious self-satire. I mean, even if you didn't know going in that his whole schtick is self-satire, doesn't crowing about being cool for introducing your toddler to alternative bands make it clear enough?

So, is she stupid, or does she just think her readers are?
posted by Zed_Lopez at 8:56 AM on January 31, 2008


Gamers - and not just the hardcore ones - tend to react pretty strongly against non-gamers who know next to nothing about gaming

Well, sure. But 1) her piece wasn't about gaming, it just used it as one of many examples, and 2) this is MetaFilter, not a gamers' site (at least I hadn't thought of it as one). It doesn't surprise me there are defensive gamers in the thread, it surprises me that that's all there are. You'd think there would be at least a few people who think she has a point. Which she does. I submit in evidence this AskMe question I noticed on my latest pass through the green:

Mefites, help me be clever yet immature on the playground of our lives. I need to know how to more effectively tell someone he's a boogerhead.

It already had over 40 answers; it probably has over 50 by now. I rest my case.
posted by languagehat at 9:24 AM on January 31, 2008


languagehat, I'm with you that a point in this neighborhood could be made. ("The Man Show", celebrating being stupid and childishly cruel - eg Tucker Max - as main features of being a man, as aspirations for adults, these are indeed harmful trends that weren't as much around in the 70s.) And certainly something like adolescence is expanding. But it's expanding for college-educated women too. She seems to think because women spend their time shopping, that's somehow a more adult activity - bizarro.

There is a lot of interesting stuff to be discussed on this topic, about expectations, standard of living, etc. This article glances off those interesting things and then veers into the lamest-ass stereotypes of both sexes, as if the writer's entire understanding of human experience comes from recent movies and TV shows, supplemented by one or two demographic stats. It's not an insightful treatment of any of these topics, and it's couched in excessive smartypants self-congratulatory writing. Ugh.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:51 AM on January 31, 2008 [4 favorites]


weren't as much around in the 70s

I realize that's a bit contentious. I do think it's different, but hard to articulate how. Maybe it was more counter-culture rather than mainstream commercial culture, then?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:54 AM on January 31, 2008


You'd think there would be at least a few people who think she has a point. Which she does.

I agree, but for me personally the point was too hard to swallow in the face of the implicit premise that the real damage done by these child-men is that they are disappointing all the frustrated women waiting around to marry them.

I didn't ignore her point in order to defend gaming, in other words. I had my own wholly separate agenda.

And as LobsterMitten noted more articulately, the tone was also quite gag-inducing, which went a long way toward making me want to ignore whatever salient commentary there might have been.
posted by pineapple at 9:57 AM on January 31, 2008


But 1) her piece wasn't about gaming, it just used it as one of many examples,

True, it wasn't strictly about gaming. But this post sort of framed that way, and a lot of the gaming stuff started after flarbuse's comment. Thread drift, I guess.

and 2) this is MetaFilter, not a gamers' site (at least I hadn't thought of it as one).

Lots of users, probably a large chunk of which play video games, no? It's not a de facto art or music site either, but the tags show that lots of users are into art and music.

You'd think there would be at least a few people who think she has a point. Which she does.

I think some people upthread did think she has a tiny glimmer of a point about protracted adolescence, but disagreed with her doom-and-gloom take on it and her rationale behind it. Whatever faint, unpolished point she had, she ruined it (in my opinion) by wrapping it in layer upon layer of crap. Such as:

Guys do this -
In your spare time, you play basketball with your buddies, download the latest indie songs from iTunes, have some fun with the Xbox 360, take a leisurely shower, massage some product into your hair and face - and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes.
- and that's baaaaaaaaaad.

Girls do this-
while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends
- and that's gooooooooooood.

When guys carry stereotypically male adolescent / collegiate hobbies (games, sports, hooking up) past graduation, it's awful! When girls carry stereotypically female adolescent / collegiate hobbies (shopping and dishing with girlfriends) it's super!
posted by CKmtl at 10:16 AM on January 31, 2008


There is a lot of interesting stuff to be discussed on this topic, about expectations, standard of living, etc. This article glances off those interesting things and then veers into the lamest-ass stereotypes of both sexes, as if the writer's entire understanding of human experience comes from recent movies and TV shows, supplemented by one or two demographic stats. It's not an insightful treatment of any of these topics, and it's couched in excessive smartypants self-congratulatory writing. Ugh.

LobsterMitten: If I had a better way with words, that's exactly what I would have said.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:05 AM on January 31, 2008


And certainly something like adolescence is expanding. But it's expanding for college-educated women too. She seems to think because women spend their time shopping, that's somehow a more adult activity - bizarro.

When guys carry stereotypically male adolescent / collegiate hobbies (games, sports, hooking up) past graduation, it's awful! When girls carry stereotypically female adolescent / collegiate hobbies (shopping and dishing with girlfriends) it's super!


I totally agree. I'm an equal-opportunity mocker of the late-adolescent proclivities of today's overgrown children of both/all genders!
posted by languagehat at 12:26 PM on January 31, 2008


do videogames still use joysticks?

i always thought those things explained a lot. at least in middle school.
posted by CitizenD at 12:32 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm an equal-opportunity mocker of the late-adolescent proclivities of today's overgrown children of both/all genders!

You filthy rotten ageist!

Aside from that, we all seem to be in agreement.

Who's going to write to her & ask her to read this thread & grow the fuck up with her 'analysis'?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2008


languagehat: It doesn't surprise me there are defensive gamers in the thread, it surprises me that that's all there are.

Some hyperbole intended I'm hope, but it comes off like you may be doing about as much generalizing as the author herself, since many of the responses had nothing to do with video games in their substance, and came from those of us who have next to no interest in them

I totally agree. I'm an equal-opportunity mocker of the late-adolescent proclivities of today's overgrown children of both/all genders!

And the elderly too, I'm sure! Why don't they go ahead and just die already, like back in the Good Old Days! Why keep clinging to life for so much longer than before?

Confession: I am an unmarried male who has yet to father a child, and am aware that it may bias my response to the article. However, I think it's fair to say that it helps nothing when cultural shifts in the timing of major life events that can be easily explained in terms of lengthening lifespans, increasing durations and costs of education, widespread failures of traditional nuclear family arrangements, skyrocketing housing and child care prices, simultaneous changes in the attitudes and behaviors of young women, and many other good reasons are attributed simply to "child-men" being the buffoons that they are doomed to be.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 1:25 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


do videogames still use joysticks?

Pretty much only for PC flight simulators.

Otherwise they've been shrunken down to analog thumbsticks or, in the PSP's extreme case, an analog nipple.

If you really stretch the definition, the wiimote and nunchuk might be considered phallic. They even have condoms for them.
posted by CKmtl at 1:32 PM on January 31, 2008


Oh my god, this is me. I'm a ChildMan.

But I'm a lady! I'm so confused.

(nthing that said article was terrible.)
posted by lunit at 2:06 PM on January 31, 2008


Many of the men and women who in 1965 were supporting new families at age 26 are now sitting in casinos pulling levers on the slot machines. They have their own form of gaming.

However, there are always younger people coming up behind you, who will be more energetic, more passionate, healthier, better looking, and better trained in emerging technologies than your old self. They'll let you know if you held on to adolescence too firmly, as they're passing you by. All that traditional grownup responsibility might be a buttress against being displaced. Having children provides a stake in the pursuing generation. Sure, when you're hanging out with your buddies from college you can respect each other's freedom to establish your own timetables, but are you as charitable towards the guy in his 40's - a little bit flabby, a little bit pale, a little thin on the top - leaning up against the same bar, scoping out the same dancefloor? He, having never let go of his own adolescent dreams, might believe he still has potential, a future, somewhere to grow, but it's obvious to all you vibrant 20-somethings that he's just dusty and sad, hasbeen or neverwas. Isn't the term cougar, for example, an expression of disdain from the Maxim crowd towards older people (in this case, women) who haven't been able to give up the youthful party lifestyle?

This note has been brought to you by an impotent graying goat, never married, childless, and without responsibility or success, trapped in his own perpetual adolescence. Probably not applicable to all you six-figure Manhattanites bedding girls of widely varied hues and sizes, even if you do enjoy playing Grand Theft Auto.
posted by TimTypeZed at 2:50 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some hyperbole intended I hope

Sure. I confess I find it hard to take either the article or this thread seriously; I just thought there needed to be some counterpoint to the eager circle jerk.
posted by languagehat at 3:00 PM on January 31, 2008


A little synchronicity, or something, from Josh Marshall today:

"For those of you not familiar with the rarefied and delicate phenomenon of Manhattan Republicanism, the Manhattan Institute is a neoconish think tank ('neocon' in, I would say, the pre-Iraq War sense of the word which meant domestic policy as much as gonzo foreign interventionism) that publishes City Journal, sort of the highbrow outlet of the local Rudy cult. So as you can imagine, these are pretty glum days for the folks who run the place."
posted by psyche7 at 3:51 PM on January 31, 2008


YHBT by languagehat.
posted by NortonDC at 4:15 PM on January 31, 2008


Oh, please. I stand behind the points I made; if hyperbole is now considered trolling, we might as well shut down MetaFilter.
posted by languagehat at 4:40 PM on January 31, 2008


Shut down MetaFilter? While you're at it, why don't you just pack us all off in cattle-cars & be done with it?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:57 PM on January 31, 2008


Excellent plan! Round 'em up, boys!
posted by languagehat at 5:01 PM on January 31, 2008


What's the cattle prod mapped to? R, or X?
posted by CKmtl at 5:06 PM on January 31, 2008


To add insult to injury, now he's samba-dancing.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:13 PM on January 31, 2008


Sounds like I touched a sore spot, languagehat!
posted by NortonDC at 6:24 PM on January 31, 2008


One point Hymowitz misses, as many of you point out, is that "delayed marriage" does not equate necessarily with "delayed adulthood" -- unless, as she does, one automatically assumes that marriage "makes boys into men". She also, however, misses much multicultural data supporting the fact that economics, more than maturity, causes a delay in marriage. If we look at more agricultural societies, for example, the inavailability of land for a farm can delay age of marriage. In our society's case, it's the drive to get a college education and get established in a job that affects age at marriage and timing of childbirth. When the expectation is that you have fewer children and give them all the educational advantages you can so they can succeed in a highly technological world, this is an intelligent choice. Add to this the fact that women as well as men seek careers and then seek mates/children (or sometimes have the children without mates), and the hurry to marry is less important. And maybe that so-called "immaturity" is just how men (and women) occupy their free time until they get married, not the cause of the later marriages.

Also, if she thinks that "immature humor" is a new thing, she missed the Cult of the Three Stooges, Mad Magazine, Laugh-In, and sources that are probably much older than I am. If she thinks "immature humor" is a MALE thing, she hasn't been getting the emails I've been getting from female friends, replete with jokes that mock the changes of age (sagging breasts, memory loss), offer punch lines with pictures of scantily-clad musclemen, and make fun of rednecks and others who violate middle-class hidden rules. Hardly mature and high-brow there.

Another thing -- the demographics of marriage have not changed in one respect -- men marry women who are, on average, two years younger than them. So if men are marrying later, and they marry on average two years younger, women are marrying later as well.

As for the responder upthread that made the "tick, tick, tick" comment (I suspect implying that Hymowitz is bitchy because her biological clock is ticking), there's a couple interesting things to note here: 1) women's "maternal instincts" have been shown by research to be largely dependent on their situations and whether they are in stable marriages that could support a child. 2) The "marriage crisis" she's predicating on women having trouble finding men mature enough to marry sounds eerily reminiscent of that Harvard study 20 years ago that said highly educated women were going to face a marriage crisis because there were a lack of older and equally educated men to marry. It turns out that study was proven very false because human beings are extremely adaptable to their situations -- highly educated women found younger/less educated men to marry and were happy with this.

(I'd also point out that "tick, tick, tick" could be construed as a veiled "ad homimem" attack, as if women are driven by their biology to write badly reasoned screeds like this. Most of us are not -- see above.)
posted by lleachie at 6:48 PM on January 31, 2008


Wow. This degenerated quickly.

If the author of this article made the point that men are immature because they aren't devoting their time or efforts to improving the world around them, or engaging in some creative pursuit, then she might have a point. But that point could have, and should have, been made 40 years ago at the dawn of the television age. The moment it became socially acceptable to sit in front of a box for hours on end, the fabric of that great society unravelled.

Instead, her point was that supposedly grown men today are only interested in sex, immature comedy, and yes, video games. Sex is "too" easy to come by, so men don't marry. Evidently that's a problem, because of some non-specific risk to the social order caused by not marrying and having more than two children. And her solution is to waggle her finger and scold, "Grow up you men!"

I agree with the point that a lot of men and women act immaturely well beyond what is probably appropriate, but the playing of videogames and the enjoyment of casual sex aren't examples of this.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:07 PM on January 31, 2008


the state of our economy is such that people often can't afford to do what they really want in their working life

This is precisely why I would never live in the states again...
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:24 AM on February 1, 2008


the state of our economy is such that people often can't afford to do what they really want in their working life

This is precisely why I would never do cocaine again...
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:38 AM on February 1, 2008


Sounds like I touched a sore spot, languagehat!

Nah, as far as I'm concerned the "We have cameras" guy can do no wrong. Don't mind me, I'm just samba-dancing.
posted by languagehat at 6:02 AM on February 1, 2008


Here's what men want: sex, money, power, glory, and fame.

Most of the single young men I know would like success in their chosen career, enough money to be comfortable, and respect from their community - sort of like what all people want. Similar perhaps in type, but not in quality, to what you say they want.

Many would also like a girlfriend - a love, a companion, a bestfriend, and yes, a bed buddy, but also someone to play X-Box/Carcasonne against. Or to rant to about the news, or download to about work, or to talk to you while you do the dishes.

Kind of the same as what most of the single young women I know want, and what all of the couples I know are thankful that they have.

As for crayons! They are brilliant - cheap, colourful, effective art tools. And fun (of course).

And may I please nth to the highest degree the comment about the relationship between economics and age of marriage? Average age of marriage in North-West Europe and North America has swung up and down repeatedly over the last few centuries -- and just about always in response to changing economic conditions. In the 1680s, people were getting married at similar ages to what they do right now, and some quarter of women never married. Or was that a quarter of all? Anyways, lots of people not marrying.

That said, forming your own household and marrying was taken as a shift from a kind of adolescence (or perhaps better described as "young adulthood") to full adulthood -- but the independent household aspect may have been the most important bit.
posted by jb at 11:54 AM on February 3, 2008


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