Going against human nature is a futile thing to do when interested in short-term political gain.
NOTE: Please note this version of the article is missing many links to sources and references. For the full version, please read here: http://theunlikelyno.com/2019/01/11/355/
My wife loves the show This is us. I don’t think there were many shows she enjoyed as much as this one. We watch many shows together, but few of them, if any, made her such a true fan.
I never watched This is us; all I know about it is coming from my wife, and based on what she told me about the show – I don’t think I ever will.
The show is about people. It’s about their interactions with other people and their day-to-day hardships and triumphs. They cry, oh, how much do they cry – there’s always a tragedy waiting around the corner, there’s always a hill to climb followed by a slope to slide. Nothing will ever be “just fine”.
All of the above is a staple of life for almost everyone. Everyone will face similar feelings and struggles throughout their lives, which makes the show very easy to connect with, at least on paper.
So why do I find myself so unattracted to it, while my wife certainly is? And not just her, my mom, my sister, her female friends, my female colleagues and so on – they love it and they love talking about it. In contrast, I haven’t heard any male around me talk about this show. Granted, this doesn’t necessarily mean none of them watch the show, but it certainly makes it more likely, according to Occam’s razor, at least.
I would posit the reason is mainly connected to this very famous study. According to its findings – female infants are more attracted to faces, while male infants are more attracted to mechanical objects (a mobile).
If we take these findings into consideration when trying to answer the question of This is us’s sex appeal (that is, the appeal for a particular sex, not physical sexual attraction), we can have a bit more clarity as to why mostly females find themselves so enchanted by it: it focuses almost purely on people and their inter and intra-dynamics.
Males, on the other hand will usually tend to have a tougher time finding female companionship for a SciFi opera, action-filled vendetta, or a war epic.
Shows and movies that are able to successfully attract both females and males to the same extent usually cleverly weave both interesting, engaging and grounded characters, as well as an element of suspense and action (for instance, think the first couple of seasons of Game of Thrones).
Going back to This is us, we understand why it attracts my wife to begin with, but how does it make her stay so engaged? It’s not just the people, it’s their struggles. The characters in the show may be perceived as “regular people” at a very cursory glance, but thinking of it, a show about regular people would be as boring as it gets: they wake up in the morning, they go to work, they do their chores, they do something fun, they go to sleep. I watch people around me do these exact same things all day, every day – there’s no point of turning on the TV for more of it.
No, This is us is not about regular people – it is about misfortune magnets disguised as regular people. Apparently, there’s always someone heartbroken, lonely, sick, dying or dead, and sometimes all of those things together. My wife enjoys engaging with these emotions and happenings, so it seems, and so do many other females.
For the life of me, I can’t understand it.
Or can I?
The human male and female brains have evolved together over millions of years. Despite their obvious and many similarities, group trait differences across the sexes are well documented.
Looking at the classic, traditional depictions of primal hunter-gatherer societies (which spanned over 90% of human history, according to the Cambridge Encyclopedia of hunters and Gatherers), females tended to focus on child-rearing, along other near-home activities. Their primary drive was the survival and success of their offsprings; to this end, keep in mind that some scholars claim lineages were matrilineal.
In order for that to happen, they had to develop a nurturing aspect which males did not have (at least not to the same extent). They had to effectively deal with emotional and physical distress and know how to alleviate it in order to raise successful kids.
If you think of it, it made sense for these societies; a female in late-stage pregnancy would tend to be much less effective in hunting than males and would risk two lives rather than just one. Thus, having females (as a group) specialize around that key differentiating aspect, child rearing, and males on a different, more physically demanding aspect made a lot of sense and was actually fundamental for the emergence of Homo Sapiens as a species.
What does it mean? As mentioned, it means females, as the primary (only?) caretakers of children had to withstand the harsh reality of losing a child, or two, or all of them at a young age (here I’m not only referring to the mothers, but to the entire female kinship circle which used to be involved with child rearing); they had to be able to deal with other mothers who lost their children, who could be stricken with grief and sorrow.
Jumping from way back in time to the here and now, having a high likelihood of an infant surviving their first 5 years is only a matter of the very recent past from a historical perspective and, it is plausible to assume, it had almost no effect in terms of changing the deep emotional and cognitive structures which characterize females (again, as a group); however, it definitely changes the day-to-day experience of the average female.
Examining a different factor, diseases that used to ravage populations and cause untold tragedies have been almost completely eradicated, globally or regionally, with other quarantined and targeted; also, a very recent phenomenon in historical terms. Again, hundreds of thousands of evolution years did not just go away because humanity was able to contain deadly diseases in the last century or so.
Finally, and to drive the nail all the way in the wall, poverty, which used to be a world epidemic is being quickly eradicated, again – in historical terms. Especially in the West, the constant worry about feeding your family and making it past winter, which was present for thousands and thousands of years, has no more ground to stand on; however, once more and for the final time – the evolutionary mechanisms developed to help humanity cope on an individual level did not just go away.
If you’re getting slightly confused, I’ll try to reorganize my thoughts to this point for the benefit of both of us.
Humanity during the hunter-gatherer period, which spanned over most of our species’ existence, developed a sex based role split, with females tending to close-to-home activities (child-rearing as a focus) while males to further out activities.
Both females and males developed evolutionary emotional and cognitive coping mechanisms to handle this split.
Being the primary caretakers of offsprings during ages of disease, war and hunger, females developed a tendency towards people, nurture and emotional well-being.
This tendency does not disappear over a century or two and, according to my belief, will continue to find an outlet in the foreseeable future.
This outlet is This is us.
In an environment with little to no actual risks, at least when compared to millennia past, the fictional hardships of a fictional set of characters allows for a sort of repository of evolutionary instincts sans real world impetus.
The same could be said about males and action or thriller movies and shows; the human brain isn’t made for complacency or calmness. It is made for constant worry and doubt – be it real or made-up; it is naturally oppressed.
Take proportions, for example. The phrase “don’t get things out of proportions” encapsulates this entire sentiment in just a few words. This saying is usually meant to address scenarios when someone allegedly reacts to a stimulus in a way incongruent to its actual magnitude.
Wouldn’t you say that getting all teary-eyed because a fictional character died in a show is “getting things out of proportion”? Wouldn’t you say that getting excited over a fictional character being shot with fictional bullets posing absolutely no risk is also “getting things out of proportion”?
In an equal fashion and to further articulate the point, humans are susceptible to the well documented fight-or-flight response, in similarity to many other animals, originally intended to be triggered in life threatening situations. Nowadays, life-threatening situations are rare, but is the fight-or-flight system gone? Nope, it is just being applied to other, much more mundane risks, such as speaking in front of a large crowd or a job interview.
So, us humans are prone to apply deeply ingrained age-old survival strategies even in the most rudimentary circumstances. A boring job, dissatisfaction with a partner or a minor physical discomfort all get the same treatment our forefathers and mothers gave to hunger, plague and life threatening skirmishes. It’s not “wrong”, it is who we are right now – this is us.
Taking all of the above into account and with a recognizable pivot, we can better understand why there’s a strong pushback against the progressive agenda. Attempting to treat humans as Tabula Rasa (clean slate) and ignoring the multitude of deep instincts working in tandem to bring us to where we are could only be considered a threat, and the human psyche, as discussed above, is not prone to make exceptions.
That is also why, in a similar way, we find the alt-right struggling to gain ground (for the record, I’m neither progressive nor alt-right myself). The alt-right is attempting to push Whites into more of a tribalistic, collectivist view-point, which just isn’t that natural for the race, as it tends to be more individualistic (This is doctor Kevin MacDonald’s point of view, which I tend to trust in the matter).
In order to gain political ground and advance agendas, activists must understand the deep-seeded roots of human behavior, especially the characteristics of the group they’re trying to target and work with it hand-in-hand, instead of attempting to conquer it.
A couple of angry tweets won’t change what the last two centuries couldn’t.