Black Rifle Coffee recently got into trouble with conservatives for some of the stances they’ve taken lately. You can read more about it in the Revolver News article here. The point of this post isn’t to discuss their controversy. The politics and debate are somewhat predictable. The more fascinating thing about Black Rifle Coffee and the Revolver News article is this line that stuck out to me:
“In many ways, the imagery that Black Rifle indulges is actively harmful. Male-to-female transsexuals famously have a cartoonish, porn-influenced, stereotypical idea of what being a woman is like. That’s why drag queens have such a garish, over-the-top look. BRCC ads evoke the same idea, but for men. Their target demographic is, in a sense, male-to-male transsexuals.”
The phrase “male-to-male transsexuals” is apt. I’ve written in the past how there is a phenomenon I call the Manliness LARP. It’s a Dungeons and Dragons-style role-playing game where men grow beards, learn about whiskey, and pretend to be men. At the end of the day, it’s a consumerist ploy to convince men that they’ll be manly if they purchase these razor blades/booze/coffee/whatever. It’s a similar marketing tactic to what cosmetic companies use on women. Purchase this thing, and then you’ll be fulfilled/attractive. It’s not manliness or manhood. It’s a fad used to separate insecure men from their money.
We live in a world where Christianity is considered a negative. But we also live in a world where authentic manhood is negative. That’s part of the reason why Black Rifle Coffee was able to be so successful. They appealed to the manhood crisis.
However, it should have been evident from the beginning that Black Rifle Coffee was inauthentic. Their definition of manliness was always safe and immature. It was frat boy manliness. It was a caricature. The Black Rifle Coffee man likes three things: Bacon, Boobs, and Bombs.
These are the acceptable things men are allowed to like in the world. And these are the things that should be red flags for us as consumers. If a company leans into these tropes, it’s safe to say they’re not for manhood, at least not in any authentic way. They’re for the aesthetics of manhood but without the commitment. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too. It’s called skin in the game, and they have none.
I’ll support a company geared towards men when they talk about the family. When they talk about a man’s responsibility to his community. When they portray men as more than just a frat boy with a job. Where’s the company that shows men thriving as husbands and fathers? Until I see that. I assume all these manliness brands are trojan horses.
Man is permitted to be lustful and gluttonous when he’s not halfway across the world at war doing lord knows what. That’s how they want you. Fat from junk food and impotent from pornography. And if you’re neither of those, well, there’s always the Army. Heaven forbid we encourage men to give a damn about the True, the Good, or the Beautiful. Who has time for that? I just got a new cedarwood beard balm. And, it’s not going to massage itself into this beard I hide behind.