April 18, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

Tucker Carlson’s ‘The End of Men’ is just ridiculous. It’s also a sign of liberal democracy in crisis

Take it seriously.

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I did not, and I hope you did not, watch Tucker Carlson’s infomercial on Fox called “The End of Men.” We don’t need to see it to know it.

Social media was ablaze last night after a “fitness professional” told the TV show host that when applied to a man’s netherlands, “red light therapy” can boost his levels of testosterone. As of this writing, “testicle tanning” is trending on Twitter. Welcome to Monday.

Another point of focus was the video introduction of the TV special. In it, young, muscular and naked-to-the-waist white men, in this order:

  • do push ups, 
  • shoot a semi-automatic rifle, 
  • milk a cow, 
  • grill some meat and 
  • wrestle. 

Then comes a panoramic shot of a white man, fully naked, standing in front of what looks to be a bike-share dock. A red light illuminates his groin so brightly it’s like his parts are missing. His arms are reverently outstretched. The scene is set to Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra

“Testicle tanning” is the answer to the subliminal fear of white men becoming less manly, more womanly, and the result of that — “society collapses.” It will take restoring white male strength, which is code for their rightful place in society, to “reestablish order.”

That’s followed by more unshirted white man lifting a tractor tire (?), chopping a tree (I think) with a double-headed ax (??), bathing (???) and drinking a globular liquid (let’s hope to God it’s raw eggs). It all ends with a Naked White Guy No. 2 standing before a rectangle of red lights. 

In conclusion, a male voiceover, slightly British-sounding, says: “Once a society collapses, then you’re in hard times. Well, ‘hard iron sharpens iron,’ as they say. And those hard times inevitably produce men who are tough, who are resourceful, who are strong enough to survive. Then they go on to reestablish order, and so the cycle begins again.” 

Reactions from the liberal quarters of social media have been mixed. Some called it grift, which seems true. For God’s sake, listen to the guy: 

It’s testicle tanning, but it’s also full body. Red light therapy has massive amounts of benefits and there’s so much data out there that isn’t being picked up on or covered. … I was recently exposed to a term called “bromeopathy” and I think there’s a lot of people out there right now that are don’t trust the mainstream information.

Others called it homoerotic. I presume some truth in that. But it can be hard to tell where homoeroticism ends and where familiar ordinary narcissism begins. I’m partial to the latter explanation. Making a fetish of men’s bodies isn’t necessarily about sex or sexual identity. 

(Saying as much is cruelty in disguise. If real men are really closeted gays, then closeted gays can’t really be real men? Let’s avoid that.)

The Nazis made a fetish of men’s bodies. Some were closeted, but all? As Annika Brockschmidt, author of America’s Holy Warriors, said:

Fascist aesthetic is highly militarized, focusing on sculpted male bodies that represent the strength of the volk

This form of hyper-militant masculinity can carry homoerotic implications. This is very on brand, not off brand for fascism. 

Other aspects are ruralism, anti-urbanism, idealized version of hyper-virility, anti-feminism, pro-natalism. 

This is a case study in modern American fascist aesthetics, anti-modernist, inspired by idealized ‘Roman’ bodies.

Others still called it ridiculous. 

After all, “red light therapy” (not UV light) is more fiction than medicine. It won’t boost levels of testosterone any more than herbal folk remedies will. (If you want more testosterone, it’s better to exercise.)

In any case, how are young, muscular and barechested white men supposed to restore order by consuming products manufactured in a society that’s ordered enough to manufacture products with which young, muscular and barechested white men reestablish order?

Sure, ridiculous, but overtop that is evil. 

The first tell, above all the above, is that a highly profitable cable news network took it seriously enough to broadcast it. Fox knows many of its viewership fear “testosterone levels have crashed and nobody says anything about it,” as Carlson told his “fitness professional” guest. 

“That’s crazy,” Carlson said. “So why is it crazy to seek solutions?”

Those solutions might include “testicle tanning” but that’s a stand-in for something else – the subliminal fear that white men are becoming less manly, more womanly, and the result, as the voiceover guy said, is that “society collapses.” It will take restoring white male strength, which is code for their rightful place in society, to “reestablish order.”

That doesn’t involve genitals, though.

It involves pushing women, racial minorities and sexual minorities (perhaps religious minorities) back to where they are “supposed to be,” where they are removed from the machinery of democratic power as well as the rights and privileges white men have historically enjoyed.

Carlson’s “The End of Men” is worthy of ridicule. 

But let’s remember it’s a reflection of a larger social paranoia about a form of government, democracy, and a set of values, liberalism, that have challenged, though not beaten, an ordinary familiar narcissism that’s now hoping to “restore” white men to the center of everything. 

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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