Crash, Bernstein and the Death of Masculinity

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A canceled Disney XD series shows why men need to do manly things … even if it’s with a purple puppet.

Are my kids manly enough to watch “Crash and Bernstein?” The bigger question remains … does our culture want them to be?

Masculinity is under attack these days. Consider college coursed dedicated to eradicating toxic masculinity or celebrites demanding the death of the patriarchy. Enter a fuzzy puppet with a surprising message we need now more than ever.

The Disney XD series followed a pair of best friends. One of them happens to be a puppet, but we’re all a little different, right?

The show’s setup paints the picture. Young Wyatt Bernstein (Cole Jensen) has three sisters and desperately craves a male role model. There’s no father in Wyatt’s family, at least initially. Dear ol’ Dad shows up in later episodes. His role remains small both on-screen and in Wyatt’s life.

Enter Crash (veteran puppeteer Tim Lagasse), who comes to life one day out of Wyatt’s boyish imagination. Crash likes to break stuff, head butt friend and foe alike and crack wise.

Wyatt couldn’t be happier. Crash is the buddy he’s always wanted, someone to indulge his inner dude without apology. They play tricks on each other. Their horseplay is comically intense. They tease the girls in their lives. And, at the end of each episode, they have each other’s back.

In between epic face slams, that is.

My son and I discovered the series a while back while category surfing on Netflix. It’s gone from the streaming giant now, but this Dad bought all the episodes via Amazon to make sure he can watch it whenever he wants.

Or rather “we” can watch it.

Yet our culture often suggests men apologize for the instincts on display. Or, in some cases, simply wish them away. It’s a shift that avoids biological truths.

Open The Washington Post and you’ll read a Style columnist applauding women’s clothing designed for men – “the end of gender is near,” the article declares. The 2015 hit “Magic Mike XXL” shows our heroes not only taking in a drag show but hopping on stage and indulging their inner queens. I’ve even heard from fathers who complain Amazon.com has separate toy sections for Boys and Girls.

Even Adam Carolla has taken notice.

The podcast king has weighed in on efforts to neutralized differences between the genders. His argument? We’d laugh if we tried to do that in the animal kingdom, so why are we doing it with people?

RELATED: Why My Sons Needed to See ‘Jaws’

We’ve gone from pushing equal rights for women (good!) to ignoring the fact that men and women are different (huh?). Suddenly, a harmless kiddie show seems like a counter-culture statement.

In the quest for equality the cultural pendulum may have swung too far.

It’s great that we now more readily embrace our differences. Girls who love rugby, not tea parties, should be treated no differently than those who adore more “traditional” gender activities. Boys in ballet tights? No problem. As fathers, we should respect and support our children’s passions.

Yet it’s also clear to any parent that there are innate differences in boys and girls. That shouldn’t be ignored … or denied.

“Ghostbusters” director Paul Feig has said he prefers female comics, in part, because their brand of humor is less aggressive than their male peers. Few directors know our collective funny bone as well as Feig, despite that movie’s disastrous results. He did oversee “Spy,” “Bridesmaids” and the seminal TV comedy “Freaks and Geeks.”
Men are different than women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, even if it sends some Social Justice Warriors racing for their “safe spaces.”

Sadly, “Crash and Bernstein” lasted only two seasons. Crash may return via a new show, but it’s hard to say if the reboot will capture the masculine musings of the first series. We need Crash and his face slams now more than ever.




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