The most recent episode of Disney Channel’s newest original series “Gravity Falls” featuring 12-year-old Dipper Pines and his twin Sister, Mabel and their Grunkle Stan was VERY interesting and inspiring.
The episode “Dipper vs. Manliness” went on the air just last Friday and there are several things I pointed out in this episode that really hit home with me and probably with a lot of you.
Much like a lot of boys and men, including myself, in this episode Dipper was trying to prove his “manliness,” or his status as a man. When he tries to tell Mabel and his uncle, Grunkle Stan, that he in fact IS a man, his uncle reminds him of the fact he has “no muscles,” “smells like baby wipes” and “the…incident.”
The scene then cuts into a hilarious and yet embarrassing moment of Dipper singing in front of a mirror in the bathroom to a top 40 song that was being sung by a women. His uncle stan walks in on him singing the song, hence, “the incident.”
A challenge begins! Dipper claims that he can pass the “manly test” machine that sat across from them in the diner. It was a grip and your strength would show the rate of how manly you were. Dipper failed that.
He even tried to prove that he had chest hair. He failed!
Desperate to solidify and prove that he was in fact a man, he wanders through the woods, alone and discouraged, trying to figure out what it meant to be a man. While out there, he runs into a group of creatures called “man-ataur,” half man, half taur (the one-time running joke that continues throughout the episode).
He’s put through ALL these tasks and tests that he must pass by order of the “manataur,” but the last test, he was to kill a bear with multiple heads.
Dipper realized that the bear he was supposed to kill near the last half of the episode listened to the same song he liked and listened to as well. He realized that someone finally understood him. His view of manliness begins to seemingly change. He couldn’t bring himself to killing the bear.
He returns back to the cave of the “manataur” and confesses that he couldn’t kill the bear. The leader of the “manataur” ordered Dipper to finish his task or else! Dipper then stands up for himself and tells everyone in the cave this:
“You keep telling me that being a man means doing all these tasks and being aggro all the time, but I’m starting to think that stuff’s malarkey…so maybe I don’t have muscles or hair in certain places, and sure, when a girly pop song comes on the radio, sometimes, I leave it on, ’cause dang it, top 40 hits are in the top 40 for a reason…they’re catchy.”
Dipper is given his final ultimatum. Either kill the bear, or never be a man. He denies the request. Once Dipper returns to the diner, his twin sister, Mabel calls out for him to come into the diner with her and their Grunkle Stan.
Dipper confesses that what he was asked to do just didn’t feel right. He thought it was wrong, so, he just gave up and left.
“you were your own man and you stood up for yourself…” said Grunkle Stan. “you did what was right even though no one agreed with ya, sounds pretty manly to me, but, what do I know.”
I could honestly relate to Dipper’s problem here, and perhaps you can too. I struggled for a long time to try to figure out and solidify what it meant to be a man.
Dipper was finding himself asking this question: “is it physical…is it mental…what is it.”
The answer to Dipper’s question can be answered as follows:
I won’t be able to say it all in one article, but I’ll make the points here and now of what it is NOT:
Being a man does not mean driving a nice car.
Being a man does not mean having a whole bunch of money.
Being a man is not merely defined by chest hair, a deep voice and the ability to lift 50 to 100 times your weight. You can have all those things and STILL be just a boy.
It’s not the muscles that make you a man.
It’s not your stature.
It’s not your strength.
It’s not about being the most popular.
Dipper was looking for the image that would point him to what it meant to be a man. He was searching. Maybe you are searching. I’ve talked with several men and boys and it seems like they are lacking that focus and that example. They are looking for the true definition of “manhood” and “manliness” in money, cars, women, success and more. But, they still are missing out.
I’ve had guys tell me that I was the one missing out – that I was the loser and the wimp, and yet, while I was fortunate to help my Mom, or mentor my younger cousin like a little brother or be the one to volunteer and wash dishes at my aunt and uncle’s house from time to time after dinner, they were struggling to figure out what it meant to really “man-up.”
Like so many guys, they try to act tough, or “aggro” (aggressive or aggravating) as Dipper said. They try to “front” and pretend like they have no real sensitive side. Some even still hold on to a very old and stereotypical belief that men don’t cry, share their feelings or issues or have a sensitive side of any kind.
Let me point you to Genesis 1:26, which states “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
God created Adam in the likeness of God. God’s image!
A man is someone who looks more and more like God through taking responsibility, through speech, through service, but not by himself, but through the righteousness and holiness that can only occur through relationship with God and Christ Jesus.
Notice that God gave Adam responsibilities. We have a responsibility to take care of everything on earth from people to nature. We have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right, what’s holy, what’s just and what’s important!
I was blessed to have my Father and Mother at home as I grew up. I was blessed to have my uncle, whose my Pastor and mentor help me over these last few years. I’ve had a chance to see several men including my family members show me what it means to truly be a man. They were only able to show me that because of what it meant to Love like God loves us. To protect like God protects. To teach and show the truth and wisdom like God does!