Monday, April 03, 2006

Real Men Love Jesus and other Balderdash

[Note: This post deals with an earthy element of our popular culture. If you're sensitive about such things, you may want to skip this one... +LB]

I find something smarmy about Christian bumper stickers in general. But this one, "Real Men Love Jesus" especially makes me want to hurl. I think I've finally figured out why.

Ever notice that this sticker is never on a VW beetle, or a Volvo, or a Ford Escort. Typically, one finds this sample of highway reading material attached to a pickup truck, usually a very large and very loud pickup truck – the kind with a hemi.

And usually the driver of the pickup truck seems to be trying to make a statement about his virility. Maybe he has a shaved head, has bulging biceps, wears a skin-tight black t-shirt, and might even sport a tattoo or three. And just so there's no mistake about his manliness, being a Christian and all, he's going to tell you that "Real Men Love Jesus." He may even sport three or four of these stickers for emphasis.

Yes, we get the picture, dude. You're not a wuss, a girly man, or a guy who reads anti-war poetry in coffee houses on open mike night. You don't cry over movies and Hallmark cards, you don't use words like "taupe," and "mauve." You don't imbibe beverages with umbrellas in them. You don't play croquet, do ballet, or eat vegetarian. You don't watch Queer Eye, and you won't be standing in line for a ticket to Brokeback Mountain. I think we get it.

But if you think about it, the bumper sticker says nothing about Jesus. Jesus is really only inconsequential. It might as well say "NY," "the Chicago Bears," or "Popeye's Chicken" for all that it matters. "Jesus" is only an object in this sentence. The subject, the one whom the bumper sticker is telling you about is, well, actually, the driver of the automobile.

It's all about the guy driving the truck!

Again, this isn't about Jesus being a Real Man (which would be refreshingly incarnational). Rather, our driver wants you to know he is a Real Man.

As if you should have to be told! Manliness ought to be self-evident. If a bloke has to tell you that he's a man, maybe he's compensating, or hiding something. I've just never felt impelled to inform people of my masculinity – and not just my status as a man, but as a "Real" man – I suppose as opposed to transsexuals, guys who don't drive pickup trucks, and presumably, non-Christians.

I mean, if you have to put a bumper sticker on your car to say it…

Well, anyway, the Real Men sticker is really not much different than another truck accessory designed to promote one's sense of virility. Yes, there's something else that makes the same point graphically and visually - as opposed to verbally. I don't know what they're called, so I'll just describe them. They're anatomically correct representations of a pair of testicles (usually in flesh tone) that dangle from one's hitch mechanism.

Classy, eh?

The message is clear: "You see the back of my hitch? Well, I have them. I'm a man. A Real Man. You may not see them in my pants, but I want you to know that I have them." Distasteful? Childish? Beyond the pale? Sure. But these prosthetic gonads do get the point across – the guy driving the truck wants you to know that he thinks of himself as a Real Man with all the necessary accoutrements and equipment.

Once again, if you need an anatomically correct representation of genitalia on the back of your truck to convince people of your masculinity, maybe you're a little over-worried about your public persona. Just a theory.

Now, I find both of these displays of "Real Manliness" to be distasteful. But, of course, one of them is worse than the other. One of them is only mildly annoying, whereas the other is something children should not be exposed to. On the one hand, the dangling hitch thingy is silly and juvenile, but the bumper sticker is worse, it's obscene. For it incorporates the name of our dear Lord in an attempt to hijack his holy name to aggrandize oneself. It breaks the second commandment, and trivializes the incarnation.

So at the expense of being considered nuts, let me implore Christian men who really feel compelled to convince me of their masculinity: get rid of those wretched bumper stickers, and replace them with something less offensive, like the rubberized family jewels.

Better yet, there's absolutely nothing wrong with having only one chrome-plated ball on your hitch, and no trivializations of our Lord on your bumper. In fact, your masculinity (and your Christianity) should simply be self-evident.


Peter said...

Funny, and insightful. But, but do you really need to bring out the big gun of "blasphemy?" Save the heavy artillery, and keep skewering.

Father Hollywood said...

St. Peter the Redactor:

Duly noted, and I agree. I'm more of a cavalry man than an artillery guy anyway. I have rephrased the sentence.

Sancte Petre, ora pro nobis...

(Oh, boy, now I've gone and done it...)

Mike Green said...

"Truck nuts." They're called "truck nuts." God save us.

Twice Burned said...

Living the country life, I have seen my share of "truck nuts." I have often been tempted to carry around a spool of pink ribbon, so that when I see them on a truck in a parking lot, I can take a length of my pretty pink ribbon and tie a big bow right above the offending danglers. Sort of a decorative, bloodless castrator. Well, on second thought, I don't want to carry the feminism thing too far, so maybe I should use blue ribbon? Yikes! No! Then the guy would think I was awarding him first prize at the fair!