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Men Are Uncultured

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Any surprise who in this couple is bored?

"Don't send flowers
Or take showers
But I'll be there to pull your weeds, oh yeah
I don't read books
I don't French cook
Or stroll around in galleries
I hate opera
I hate Oprah
Don't fill my head with poetry"
Alice Cooper, Fantasy Man

Primarily in Sit Coms: Men absolutely loathe opera, classical music, visual arts, and books. But they LOOOOOVE sports. If they don't act in this manner, there's either something wrong with them or they're Camp Gay. Never mind that for a long time virtually all opera and classical music — and most literary books — were written by men specifically as manly diversions, those things aren't manly!

There are also strong class undertones to this trope - being cultured is seen as a middle/upper-class trait, and there is a trend in media for the working classes to be depicted as more masculine (including the women, for that matter). Indeed, this trope is often used in depictions where being cultured is an implied class shorthand for the rich. Also, you'll notice that the women making them go are either completely oblivious to the fact, or don't care, that their companion is not having a good time. There’s some Truth in Television here in that, historically, upper-class women didn’t usually have to go out to work, and had servants to do the housework, so they were the people who had most time for culture. Or, looking at it another way, their job was to sustain the culture that marked their families out as upper class.

This is one of the many ways that the Grande Dame will make life an utter Damnation de Faust for her Henpecked Husband.

Compare Men Don't Cry, Women Are Wiser; Buffoonish Tomcat is a related trope for cat examples. When the man is a slob, this trope is almost always included also, but the opposite isn't always true. Surprisingly, despite the fact that The Lad-ette can be basically summarized as "a man's attitudes/behaviors in a woman's body", you very rarely see ladettes who have the same aversion to "culture". Contrast Real Men Wear Pink for manly men unafraid to show their softer side, and Cultured Badass for manly men who find your lack of appreciation for opera grounds for a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. It's also the reason why most of the adults who have to write The Dreaded "Thank You" Letter are men.

If a man being cultured is treated as a sign that he's less "manly", in terms of being gay or otherwise, that's Gender Nonconforming Equals Gay.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Protagonist Train Heartnet from Black Cat. He pretty much only lives for fighting and bounties. He's unable to get through even the index page of a book, and hates fancy Dances and Balls. He is, of course, the complete opposite of Big Bad Creed, who is Wicked Cultured. And Ambiguously Gay.
  • Inverted in Sailor Moon, Mamoru is far more cultured than Usagi. But then again, Usagi isn't exactly the most cultured of the women.
  • Inverted with Austria in Hetalia: Axis Powers. He loves the fine arts and music and hates the outdoors — and is definitely more cultured than his wife Hungary.
  • Berserk: Unlike the rest of his male comrades who are enthralled with the extravagance that the taxpayers' money give to the Midland aristocratic-held ball, Guts doesn't seem very impressed with his surroundings (noblewomen and all) and spends the majority of the time supporting the wall away from the commotion. In fact, he only went to the ball in order to counterattack in the assassination plot against Griffith. Guts also isn't big on reading (assuming he's even literate), so the only chance he'll be picking up one of those sleeping pills is if there is an array of pornographic art in it. But what do you expect? He's a mercenary.
  • Dragon Ball does this with Goku, though he was raised on the outskirts of civilization not to mention his later revelation of being a Saiyan (and the head trauma as an infant). However, most of the Saiyans are 'uncultured' by human standards, being a race devoted to fighting.
  • In Vandread Tarak and Mejale are separated by men and women respectively. Mejale is a bright and shiny planet with high-tech features and women dress in unique fashion. Tarak is a militarized planet, where everyone is either in the military or a factory worker and eats food pellets.

     Comic Books 
  • Subverted in a story in the furry Beatrix Farmer series. When Beatrix, a cute bunny femme, is moving into her cat friend's apartment, she is surprised when her coquettish friend enlists the aid of several handsome males to help them. Although Beatrix doesn't care for the idea of being suddenly surrounded by strange men, apparently being old-fashioned chivalrous, things improve when she breaks out her massive book collection and finds to her delight that all the men are even more intrigued by her sophisticated taste in literature and they spend just as much time browsing through her books as they are putting them away.
  • Donald Duck constantly has to prove his cultural capital to impress Daisy. Then again, sometimes Daisy will admit that the theatre shows she brought Donald to are boring...
  • Tintin: Tintin: The Calculus Affair has Tintin and Captain Haddock hiding in the Klow opera. Tintin wakes the Captain up at the end with a disapproving Grande Dame looking on.
  • Justified in Diabolik: the titular Villain Protagonist and inspector Ginko, while cultured, aren't as cultured as their respective fiancees, but Diabolik was raised by criminals and has a culture mainly centered on his 'job' and Ginko is a middle-class cop, while Eva Kant (Diabolik's lover) and Altea (Ginko's fiancee) both come from high society (Eva was originally referred as "Lady Kant" for a reason, and Altea is a daughter of nobility and a duchess and member of a royal family by marriage).
  • Pondus runs on this trope. Straight men are obliged to be ignorant of anything cultural - except sports, at least if you ask Pondus himself.
  • Nemi as well. Nemi innocently asks a boy in a park if he likes poems. He panics on the spot and states that he is straight, not a homo...
  • In Blacksad, Smirnov is dragged to a gallery by his wife since she wants their children to appreciate fine art, he is surprised to see that Blacksad is here. Blacksad himself is only there for a job and is somewhat indifferent to the paintings. However, one woman who is part of a left-leaning intellectual group says that cultured and smart don't always go together.

  • Jamie MacDonald, the Violent Glaswegian spin doctor from In the Loop is uncultured and proud:
    • When he hears an MP listening to Debussy, all he can ask is: "What's the name of the fuck with the fiddle?"
    • He's not a fan of opera either: "It's just VOWELS! Subsidized foreign fuckin' VOWELS!"
    • It goes beyond music: he was also disappointed with There Will Be Blood: "There was hardly any fuckin' blood! It's a fucking great title - you couldn't have a better title for a film, except maybe There Will Be Tits."
  • In Repli Kate, a journalist who comes to interview two scientists is accidentally cloned. The clone is a blank slate, and the lead's wacky friend decides to educate her to prefer football and beer and other blokey things. He ends up as the henpecked boyfriend to a boorish Lad-ette who doesn't care about his feelings. (The lead and the real Kate are much happier together.)
  • Touched on in Batman Begins, where when Bruce asks his father to leave the opera because of his fear of bats, Thomas turns to Martha and says it's him that wants to leave because "a little opera goes a long way."
  • In A Night at the Opera, Groucho's character deliberately times his arrival at the opera house so he will miss the show.
  • Gene Hackman's famous line from Night Moves, when his character's wife asks him to go see My Night at Maud's: "I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kinda like watching paint dry."
  • Subverted in The Fifth Element. Cab driver, ex-commando, and all-around manly man Korben Dallas is hauled off to the opera to meet with his contact... and is so moved by the performance he almost bursts into tears. For bonus points, that was the first time Bruce Willis saw that performance and his reaction is entirely unscripted.
  • Henry Higgins believes in the inversion of this trope in My Fair Lady, according to his song "I'm An Ordinary Man," with lines such as "You want to talk of Keats or Milton; She only wants to talk of love. You go to see a play or ballet; And spend it searching for her glove." This is probably because of Values Dissonance from his time period versus the modern version of this trope, plus the fact that he is a member of the upper class and thus is proud of being educated and cultured.
  • Contrasted in Se7en. Detective Somerset is portrayed as the man bleeding acculturation, where he even digs into Dante Alighieri to try solving some cases. His partner Mills plays the other end, with an example of him throwing away a book, disdainfully of course.

  • Inverted in A Brother's Price: Jerin's grandfather was the one who taught the whole family table manners and such stuff. The Grandmas were uncultured soldiers before they acquired their husband, and became rooster-pecked wives, who would do anything to make him happy.
  • Discussed by Harry King in Raising Steam as he and his wife move up Ankh-Morpork's social circles. He hates it.
    "Got another bloody civic thing on tonight, Effie just thrives on them. I told her I'm busy, what with dealing with the railway, but she's determined to make a better man of me. And all this business about what knife and fork you eat from, it's a deliberate puzzle set out to make a simple bloke like me feel like a stranger."

     Live-Action TV 
  • Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple (1970). And Felix is the opposite, obviously.
  • Gilmore Girls: Zigzagged and mostly used to make statements on class. On the sliding scale of uncultured to cultured, the ones who are cultured tend to be of the Old Money variety. Lorelai's father, Richard, shares a love of literature with his granddaughter Rory and enjoys attending plays and operas. Working-class Luke, on the other hand, infamously shouted "finally!" at the end of Love Story and is baffled by the abstract art at his nephew Jess's publishing house. Jess himself subverts the trend, being a street-savvy smart-ass committed to a "bad boy" image who nonetheless is in the Genius Book Club with Rory and keeps up flawlessly with all of the numerous pop-culture references. When Paris accuses him of being this trope because he isn't fond of poetry and likes the Beat movement, Jess is offended and informs her not only has he read Jane Austen, he's of the opinion she would have enjoyed Charles Bukowski.
  • Tim Taylor of Home Improvement is the patron saint of this trope. He often teases his more sensitive assistant Al. Subverted in one episode where it turns out he actually did read and understand the copy of The Feminine Mystique that Jill gave him (though he refers to it as The Feminine Mistake).
  • Married... with Children, though most of the women aren't any better.
  • Doug in The King of Queens resists as much as he can when Carrie tries to take him to classical music concerts or ballet. The trope was at least played with a bit when Carrie, upon actually going to a classical music concert, wound up being so bored she fell asleep.
  • Mike Biggs in Mike & Molly is a typical Chicago cop with a multitude of practical down-to-earth skills. Molly Flynn got a literature degree and has an intellectual streak. Mike feels threatened when just about everybody else - especially Samuel the waiter - can talk books and classical literature with her in a way he simply cannot begin to get close to.
  • A variant in Noah's Arc: Masculine guy Wade invites the artsy, feminine Noah to watch the movie he worked on. It turns out to be a cheesy, low-brow Buddy Cop Show film, during which Noah quickly falls asleep.
  • Subverted in Angel:
    • When Gunn, who had fought from moment one against going to a ballet ends up going and loving it. The seemingly more cultured Cordelia sleeps through it. And snores. LOUDLY. Classy lady.
      • Not to mention Angel, when he recalls seeing the same troupe back when he was Angelus.
        Angel: I saw their production of Giselle in 1890. I cried like a baby. And I was evil!
    • For being a badass, leather jacket-wearing vampire, Angel was pretty psyched. Then again, Angel is a badass, leather jacket-wearing vampire who has been known to sing awful, mangled karaoke versions of "Mandy" because he "thinks it's pretty".
    • Angel gives an impromptu lesson about Baudelaire to a bunch of museum tourists while tracking a humanoid demon (who had told a security guard that Angel was stalking her — meaning he also had to evade the guard). It was an impressive Establishing Character Moment in the otherwise execrable episode She.
    • Spike: When he was human, he desperately wanted to be a Romantic poet, and (as we find out when the gang is told to go enjoy their last day on Earth), still kind of does.
    • And again by Spike (and possibly Angel): Spike tells Angel that if he sees Les Misérables, he'll lose his soul because it'll make him perfectly happy.
    • As part of his legal upgrade, Gunn has complete mastery of Gilbert and Sullivan (to help with diction).
      Gunn: (grumpily) "I was cool before I met y'all."
  • This trope is also subverted by Angel's parent show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Giles is by far the most cultured of the group (with Willow a close second), also being likely the smartest. However, he's also a major badass and loves classic rock.
  • Played with in Emergency! when the personnel of Station 51 are visited by a female TV reporter who assumes they are not cultured. Indignant, they set out to prove her wrong by showing all the sophisticated arts and hobbies they indulge in. Unfortunately, they do too well as the previously promised football game tickets she promised them and they were eagerly anticipating were switched out for opera show ones by her on the assumption that they would prefer them.
  • Completely averted in Frasier, where Frasier and Niles are both very, very cultured. Their father Martin, less so. Daphne also finds opera boring. But subverted behind the scenes where John Mahoney (Martin) is a very cultured man, and in fact, introduced David Hyde Pierce (Niles) to opera.
    • It's played with on Cheers, though. Frasier relaxes over time, partaking in commoner activities if only to bond with his friends. His nigh-robotic wife Lilith contrasts him by balking at even these small concessions.
  • Put through the wringer in The Red Green Show, in which in later episodes the Possum Lodge members recited the Man's Prayer at the end of every episode— "I am a man / But I can change / If I have to / I guess." Many of the men, including Red himself, were uncultured to varying extents. The only exception was Red's nephew Harold, who was Proud to Be a Geek.
  • Virtually all the male detectives and lawyers on the Law & Order franchise, save Det. Goren of Criminal Intent. Expect copious Lenny One Liners if the victim or suspect is from New York's art scene.
    • Especially hilarious since at least two of them, Jerry Orbach (Lenny) and Jesse L. Martin (Green) were seasoned Broadway veterans.
  • Often highlighted with Diane and Sam in Cheers, but in particular, the episode where Sam convinces the bar regulars to go with Diane to the opera. In a genre-savvy moment, Woody is assigned to be the "keep everyone awake" guy, having drunk lots of coffee and wearing his extra-tight shoes. Cut to the viewing box at the opera, and everyone is sound asleep and snoring, including Woody and Diane.
    • Sam attempts to subvert this in one episode where he has to hang out with Diane's literature professor ex-boyfriend Sumner, so he prepares for it by reading War and Peace. He becomes understandably furious when Sumner says he used to teach a class about Tolstoy and is sick to death of talking about him. And also when he finds out there was a movie version he could have watched instead.
    • In another episode Diane drags Sam to an art museum. On their return, she claims he enjoyed himself and learned a lot, but Carla asks him to name a single piece of art he saw there. He's unable to.
    Carla: Name any piece of art in the world!
    Sam: ...Michelangelo's "Two Muscular Guys Touching Fingers."
  • Averted in Black Books: Bernard is extremely cultured and despises all popular culture, while Fran has little time for high art. Manny, however, plays this trope fairly straight. However, all of this is sometimes ignored for Rule of Funny purposes.
  • Played with and averted on Peep Show. Mark is quite cultured and absolutely loves History as well as loving Video games. Jez is completely uncultured but thinks he is. Ben isn't and is quite vocal about it. Most of the women (Elena, Zahra, Toni) like to act cultured but are usually shown to be just as shallow and fake as the men.
  • This trope is inverted in the second season of How I Met Your Mother when Ted and Robin begin dating. Ted is a lover of classical literature, art films, and intellectual discussion (to the point where his friends sometimes call him out for being pretentious). Meanwhile, Robin is a lad-ette who loves hockey, scotch, cigars, guns, and other stereotypically "manly" things.
  • Friends played this very straight. Anytime one of the male characters showed an interest in something other than sports, beer, or women, he was mocked not only by the other men but also by the women.
  • Pawn Stars: Subverted by Rick, the Old Man, and even Chumlee, who are quite knowledgeable about art, history, and culture. Played straight with Corey, who's never even seen Star Wars and doesn't think highly of people who have.
  • Played straight with Mick Rory in The Flash (2014) and Legends of Tomorrow but averted with his partner in crime Leonard Snart. Being a professional thief, Snart keeps an eye out on the world of fine art, mostly so he can steal valuable pieces. In "White Knights", he even reads up on a popular Russian ballet Le Roi Candaule in order to use it to woo Valentina Vostok. Mick, though, couldn't care about art. Sure, he understands that other people find art pieces valuable, but he himself can't see why. He'd just as happily light up a valuable painting just to see it burn.
  • Late Night With David Letterman. From "Top Ten Reasons Why Mills College Students Don't Want Men Attending" (May 18, 1990)
    "9. Annual production of Chekhov's Three Sisters replaced by 3-day Stooge-a-Thon."
  • Coach: Hayden wants out of going to a gallery showing with Christine, so he sends Luther, who ends up loving it.

  • Katy Perry's "Ur So Gay" mocks her poseur boyfriend for, among other things, listening to Mozart and reading Hemingway.
  • Detailed in "The Truth About Men" by Tracy Byrd, which points out that men would rather go to Home Depot than watch romance movies. It includes the line "we ain't wrong, we ain't sorry, and it's probably gonna happen again".
  • Amy Dalley's "Men Don't Change" is about women trying to change the wayward habits of unfaithful men that they are dating: the first verse finds the narrator dumping hers after "two years of his crap", while the second highlights a friend who keeps giving her man a second chance because "he's good lookin'", unaware of how manipulative he is being.

  • Averted in Norse Mythology by Odin, who — aside from being the god of war, prophecy, and death — is also the god of poetry. Granted, Norse poetry is basically action movies set in verse.
  • Played straight in The Epic of Gilgamesh, in which Enkidu is ultimately the most uncultured, and his first taste of culture is a woman. This makes it so that he can no longer talk to the animals.

     Video Games 
  • Your initial party in Chrono Trigger. If you get technical, Crono is the only human male of the bunch. He's also not nearly as intelligent as Lucca, or a noble like Marle.
    • It's hard to tell how intelligent or cultured he is when he never speaks, though.

     Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons
    • The second episode has Homer and Bart suffering through a performance of Carmen. This is often subverted in later seasons where either Bart or Homer becomes involved in the arts and finds to their great surprise that they actually enjoy it.
    • Homer will often also subvert this whenever it's funnier for Homer to have random knowledge and sophistication when the audience isn't expecting it. A critique of the music from Star Wars:
      Homer: Peh. They're butchering the classics. Could that bassoon have come in any more late?
    • In another episode, Marge is astonished at Homer's receptiveness to a night at the ballet. He replies, "I enjoy all the meats of our cultural stew!" However, a minds-eye glimpse reveals that Homer, for some reason, thinks ballet involves a bear riding in a little car (and so does Carl).
    • The family does enjoy the work of Gilbert and Sullivan whenever Sideshow Bob is around.
    • The school bullies surprisingly enjoy ballet, and Nelson is a huge Andy Williams fan.
    • In one episode, Lisa uses Little Women to teach Bart how to read (or at least, read above a First Grade level). He is later shown reading the book for his own enjoyment when Nelson and the other bullies catch him in the act. They first tell him to read, with the implication that they won't beat him as severely if he does. By the end, they're threatening to beat him if he doesn't finish the book tomorrow. As they leave, they discuss the novel and critique Bart's narrative skills (i.e. not giving the various characters distinctive voices).
  • The South Park episode "Quintuplets 2000" has the boys bored by "Cirque Du Cheville" aside from the titular quintuplets, and Stan's grandpa worries it will make the boys gay. The other adults enjoy it though, so the boys decide to try and cash in by creating an arty circus of their own.
  • The Fairly OddParents! had an episode where men and women were separated. The men's half of the world turned into a barbaric Mad Max style wasteland dedicated to junk food, sports, cars, and fighting. The side with the women became an advanced civilization of fine arts similar to Ancient Greece.
  • Duckman had this happen in the episode "Exile in Guyville", where a fight between Duckman and Bernice ends up causing a national exodus between the genders when each side gets sick of the various foibles and flaws of the others, leading to the entire U.S separating down the middle, with the East Coast going to the women, and the West Coast going to the men. It's even specifically stated that the East was given to the women for its culture, apparently ignoring Los Angeles. The women's side becomes a refined, cultural place while the men turn theirs into a mix between a giant sports bar, Mad Max, and a cattle ranch. On purpose, mind you. The men also take the opportunity to just run around in their underwear constantly.
  • Life with Louie: Louie's dad was dead-set against his son learning Shakespeare until the teacher pointed out that Shakespeare was also "a war guy," citing Richard III as an example.

     Real Life 
  • The role of ballet in many operas was to make the men more willing to attend (lots of scantily clad young women doing acrobatic dance). The wealthy patrons, who were overwhelmingly male (The Jockey Club being especially influential), were interested in seeing attractive women on the stage. Ballet was cultivated to new heights at the royal court, and the main reason was that it gave wealthy men access to young unmarried women who were flexible.
  • The Art of Manliness seeks to avert this and is centered around the idea of men trying to be more cultured, among many other tropes once associated with manliness.