With the pandemic fading (at least for now), there are fewer occasions to swallow ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine or to inject oneself with bleach.
“One of the biggest stories of our lifetimes is the total collapse of testosterone levels in American men … completely changing the way people are at the most fundamental level,” Carlson says in introducing the trailer for his latest “documentary.” After showing the teaser, Carlson brings in his expert “fitness professional” Andrew McGovern.
McGovern recommends that you “expose yourself to red-light therapy and the Joovv” — a brand of red light — “that we were using in the documentary.”
“Which is testicle tanning,” Carlson explains.
“It’s testicle tanning,” McGovern agrees, “but it’s also full-body red-light therapy.”
Carlson, the most-watched Fox News host, sums it up: “So, obviously, half the viewers are now like, ‘What? Testicle tanning — that’s crazy.’ But my view is, okay, testosterone levels have crashed and nobody says anything about it. That’s crazy.”
No, this is what’s crazy. To the extent declining testosterone levels are a problem, the correct solution would be to address a major cause: rising obesity. Instead of shining a red light on your private parts, dear Fox News viewer, turn off Tucker Carlson, get off the couch and go exercise.
But Carlson isn’t primarily hawking a genital-lighting device; he’s really touching all the erogenous zones of the Trumpian right.
There’s perceived loss of national pride: Carlson sees testosterone collapsing in “American men” (it’s a worldwide phenomenon). There’s paranoia about the government: “The NIH doesn’t seem interested in this at all,” Carlson says, impersonating some presumed official from the National Institutes of Health saying “it’s not a big deal” (the topic is widely studied). There’s paranoia about the media: McGovern claims the benefit of red-light therapy “isn’t being picked up on or covered” and says “there’s a lot of people out there that don’t trust the mainstream information.”
There’s the usual racist fearmongering: After the trailer shows several fit White bodies, the first Black body to appear is obese (as President John F. Kennedy intones that “there is nothing, I think, more unfortunate than to have soft, chubby, fat-looking children”), and an image from a street riot is used to convey “weak” America. There’s obsession with gender and sexuality: A shirtless man throws a javelin that turns into a flaming rocket; a man squeezes a cow’s udder; and other men, several also shirtless, exercise, fire a gun, wrestle, flip a tractor tire, swing an ax, swallow raw eggs and, of course, stand naked in front of red lights.
There’s the Trump right’s celebration of masculinity as aggression rather than chivalry or gentlemanliness, a notion promoted lately by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka. In the trailer, words appear on the screen over President Biden stumbling on Air Force One’s stairs and Democratic senators kneeling in tribute to George Floyd: “Good times made weak men; weak men made hard times.”
Above all, there’s the unwavering faith in junk science — or, as Carlson’s “expert” calls it, “bromeopathy” (apparently a form of homeopathy in which you get advice from friends). Red-light treatment is used for various skin conditions, and it’s not impossible a man can boost his testosterone by plunking down four figures to aim such a device at his nether regions. But, as Marc Goldstein, a Weill Cornell Medicine male fertility expert told the publication Inverse, the claim lacks “convincing scientific evidence or properly done studies.”
Anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. lends his expertise to the Carlson trailer to claim a “50 percent decline in sperm counts,” adding, “We’re headed for a calamity, and that’s not hyperbole. … It’s just a mathematical fact.”
Actually, sketchy data makes sweeping conclusions suspect. But there’s little doubt testosterone levels are falling — and there’s no doubt obesity can contribute to this by facilitating the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
Maybe Carlson will encourage his viewers (including one particular Florida resident who favors Big Macs and eschews exercise) to pursue healthier lifestyles. So far, his greenlighting of red-light therapy seems to be telling them that what they really need to be true men is more testosterone. And though testosterone supplementation will indeed increase a man’s “manly” aggression, it will also reduce his fertility.
Millions of Tucker Carlson viewers unable to reproduce? Maybe junk science isn’t all bad.