At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture


“The Big Bang Theory’s” Sheldon Cooper: Politically INCorrect Hero

posted by Jack Kerwick

The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom centering on four young male scientists in their late ‘20’s to early 30’s who also happen to be die hard superhero and sci-fi fans, is among the most highly rated of contemporary television shows.

One of the characters is “Sheldon Cooper,” portrayed by Jim Parsons.

Sheldon is a brilliant astrophysicist who’s as intelligent as he is socially inept. At once cognitively gifted and emotionally challenged, Sheldon is brutally honest with friends and strangers alike.  Much like “Mr. Spock” from Star Trek, Sheldon is a logic machine; emotions tend not to compute—or, if they do, it is only with the greatest of difficulties.

Though for a couple of seasons he has had a girlfriend—another scientist whose life has been about as sheltered as his has been—Sheldon remains a virgin. In fact, he has never even kissed a woman.

Nor does he care to do so.

Sheldon’s emotional poverty conspires with his obsessive-compulsive disorder and paralyzing fear of contracting germs to preclude sexual temptation on his part.

And this is what makes Sheldon Cooper into a Politically Incorrect hero: He is the most explicit, unapologetic asexual character in perhaps all of television history.  Sheldon’s asexuality is that much more salient when it is seen against the backdrop of the hyper-sexualized culture, and particularly the hyper-sexualized image of men, relentlessly fueled by the media.

Sheldon is a caricature, for sure.  Yet this caricature is a welcome relief from the popular caricature of men as slaves to their libidos, purely material bodies in motion for which quaint notions of self-worth or self-respect are readily traded in, when they aren’t outright scoffed at, for sex—however brief, casual, and noncommittal the latter invariably is.

Another sitcom character, Jon Cryer’s “Alan Harper” of Two and Half Men, epitomizes the prevailing media conception of men.

Alan is a pitiable little man without so much of a vestige of self-respect—or, for that matter, any genuine respect for anyone else in his world. He is a pathological taker whose mission in life is to live at others’ expense while satisfying his sexual appetites whenever and however he can. Though it is not before long that the women in his life come to view him contemptuously, Alan nevertheless is eager to forfeit opportunities for dignity in exchange for an orgasm.

In sharp contrast, Sheldon’s cup of self-respect “floweth over.” He is exceptionally accomplished in his field and while he irritates them to no end, Sheldon has also managed to garner the respect, and even love and admiration, of his friends. He has convictions on all manner of topics and he isn’t fearful of articulating them—ever.

Sheldon, you see, would never think to divest himself of self-worth if this was the price for sexual satisfaction.

Radicals intent upon bringing about “the fundamental transformation” of Western culture have always recognized that it is the values of “the bourgeoisie” or “the middle class” that have constituted the most formidable obstacle to their designs.  Essential to these values are what can only be described as “conservative” mores, bequeathed by Christianity, regarding sexual conduct.  Inseparable from these mores are those regarding the nature of the family—the single greatest buffer between the individual and the government.  Hence, to enlarge government it is necessary that the family, via a revolutionary change in society’s sexual norms, be undermined.

To this end and by way of these means radicals have been busy at work for a very long time.

The ease with which marriages can be ended through “no fault” divorce; the elevation of abortion and contraceptives to the status of a Constitutional “right;” the loss of stigma surrounding illegitimate births; the promotion of so-called “gay marriage;” and the romanticizing of sexual promiscuity in commercial advertizing and other media outlets—in short, the politicization of sex—have weakened the traditional family while paving the way for larger and larger government.

And this change in mores is accompanied and reinforced by an emasculated vision of man according to which he is on the order of a beast—a sex-starved beast.

The character of Sheldon Cooper frustrates that vision, in large measure by highlighting it for what it is.  Perhaps this is why Sheldon must be portrayed as a laughable eccentric.

It is more helpful, I believe, to think of him as a Politically Incorrect hero.

 



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