Liberal Gabe lives a comfortable life with wife Clem and 13 year old son Emile. But he’s growing up fast; one day Gabe catches him watching a disturbing video of Anthony Mason, an influencer known for his violent misogyny and homophobia. Worried, the parents disagree about how to parent the problem. The tension escalates when Clem suggests Mason’s success might be drawing Emile in, sending Gabe into a tailspin about his masculinity. Emile’s behaviour similarly worsens when he makes a misogynistic comment to his swim coach, and after the family fall victim to a viral TikTok prank, he punches another child at school. As Gabe and Clem try to make sense of what happened, Emile explodes, revealing that he got into the fight after Gabe was called a soyboy for his tame response to the TikTok prank. After several attempts to calm him down, Gabe snaps, slapping Emile. At Emile’s next swim meet, he wins first place and the family celebrates. But as the excitement subsides, so do the parents’ smiles. Gabe sits, uncertain about the future, about his role as a father, and about the man he worries he’s become.
What intrigued me about Proverbs 1:8 was the simplicity and universality of its instruction; be warned of sinful men who entice you and follow the wise instruction of your parents. What really hooked me though were its layers, the depth of its context; the advice comes from Solomon, a man blessed with an incredible wisdom he is desperate to pass down to his children, and with an unfaltering faith in how that might be achieved. I had been reading a lot around Andrew Tate - a man who hijacks and warps teachings of the Bible to entice young men one minute, then slams it as effeminate and weak the next - at the time that I was exploring Proverbs, and its advice felt particularly salient. It provoked a number of questions around fatherhood in the age of social media, and about the sources of “wisdom” our children are increasingly looking to. And so Proverbs 1:8 provided the jumping off point for Soyboy, an examination of what happens when a son is enticed by a sinful man in 2023, and how his father’s instruction saves him from the “ill-gotten gain” that “takes away the life of those who get it”.