Using detailed examples, explain representations of masculinity – AS Level essay

 

This is a so-and-so homework essay done using examples looked at during lessons. Some major let-downs are that it doesn’t have an introductory paragraph, connectives, or a good conclusion. Other than that, the body is rather spot-on for a homework piece.

Male stereotypes such as men being heroes and strong are seen in media such as Die Hard 4.0 and The Expendables through the use of actors with muscular bodies, revealing glistening physiques and low-angle shots. Countertypes are also present in the media, for example; stayathomedads.co.uk and some news articles address role-reversals in the stereotypical husband and wife relationships. Advertisements aimed at men often use stereotypical images to be able to relate to the target audience; the Dove moving image advert during the American Super Bowl uses this convention. Among these representations, there are indications of drug use by males in films like Shifty. There are also subtly displayed stereotypes in some of these materials such as men being gamers, lovers and leaders.

In film; a stereotype commonly seen is the representation that men are brave, strong and protectors; ‘The Action Hero’ stereotype. This common stereotype is represented in Die Hard 4.0, The Expendables and Skyfall. Representations of this stereotype are expressed through medium close-ups and low-angled shots which show the strength and power of the male characters. In terms of character; costumes are usually war-torn with facial expressions depicting aggressiveness, which are connotations of fighting/violence – this is mostly seen in The Expendables. Another technique to show strength is used in oiling the actors’ muscles and the light source from fire and explosions cause their bodies to glisten, putting emphasis on their strength. The title of Die Hard itself connotes the determination to win, or die in attempt. In Skyfall, the main protagonist is seen holding a gun in one of the opening shots, which is an action code that signifies that there will be action in the film. The protagonist also gets a reward in the form of a girl, which is stereotypical of male heroes. Skyfall represents ‘The Strong Silent Type’ stereotype, with the character being in control and succeeding with women. These stereotypes are reinforced with calmness of characters and the skilled use of weapons.

In an English urban thriller, Shifty portrays the main male protagonists in in varied ways from typical action/adventure films. The scene is set in a council estate in London, as such; all characters are designed to suit the environment. In terms of male representation, all of the males portrayed in the film appear to have something to do with drugs. Because of its dark nature, the film’s lighting is low-key for most parts. It also incorporates cultural identities and the fact that ‘Shifty’ has 4 A-levels but still deals with drugs rather than having a real job – from these plot devices, a complex representation is drawn which consists of various interpretations, such as men being aggressive, submissive and professional at their occupation. ‘Trevor’ is shown to have control in his family through having demands in choices that affect his family. Trevor is not a stereotypical drug user since he has a reasonably nice house and family, whereas Shifty and Chris are more stereotypical ‘lads’ – they use colloquial language, repeated use of cursing and going around carrying out deals. These social realism techniques make the entire representation seem real; as such we receive more complexly constructed representations.

Advertisements aimed at men often use stereotypical images to relate the good/service to the target audience. An example of an advertising campaign that uses this scheme is the Dove USA Super Bowl XLIV ad for grooming products for men. The advert was shown during the event because middle-aged American men are the primary audience for the sport. It made use of a chronological stereotypical American male’s life in a montage of shots in sync with a man’s voice singing a narrative to the tune of ‘William Tell Overture’, which consists of activities which men would stereotypically do throughout their lives, such as getting married and “(having) three kids”. Each stereotype is visually shown, such as a boy playing with some masculine toys and riding a bicycle. This is an example of anchorage; the narration leads to an open range of interpretations. The main perspective the audience should receive is the representation of stereotypical things men would do in their lifetime. The montage of different scenarios serve as ‘hooks’ while the narration through song provides an anchor to the meaning.

In the music industry, there are vast representations of male stereotypes. One Direction is a ‘boy band’ with a target audience of teenage females. On their website, the colour scheme makes use of soft colour shades such as light green and sky blue – these soft colours suggest femininity, which suits the target audience. The font and use of symbols such as stars and hearts make the page look like a girls’ scrapbook, which helps relate the band to the target audience. A contrasting representation to this is the Dizzee Rascal website.         On this page, the colour used is mainly black and white – these two colours connote simplicity and perhaps even the artist’s ethnic origin, which is clearly presented on the page. His serious expression shows dedication to his occupation. These conventions show that his songs are aimed at males rather than teenage females.

A representation that most industries refrain from using is of the metrosexual male; a man who is in touch with his feminine side who has male qualities but also takes pride in appearance. This representation was used in a perfume advert for ‘1 Million by Paco Rabanne’. The actor used is not a stereotypical strong, manly character but instead; he is clean cut and slim with contrasting formal attire which is shown in each of his shots, showing he cares about his appearance. He wears a feminine belt and each pose he strikes resembles one that a female would do – however, when he clicks and a girl’s dress falls off, his heterosexuality is signified. A groovy, rebellious lifestyle is indicated with each click; whenever the actor clicks, a quick fix is shown for cars, gambling and women which could represent the wants of men. So as with the Dove advert, the institute uses scenarios to relate with the target audience of men.

A countertype in the media representing masculinity is househusbands. Daily Mail news articles address that househusbands are becoming increasingly common. The online news article has images which portray closer relationships between a father and child. The first image on the page is constructed for the article and depicts a man with a baby in a doorway with a woman in the background in office clothes, presumably going to work. This image shows the role-reversal in the relationship where the wife provides income for the family and the husband stays at home, looking after their child to match the context of the article. The shot is medium-long and is focused on the man and child in the foreground in order to bring attention that the husband will be staying at home with his child so that the audience is shocked with what is first perceived, because it is against the norm. This challenges the stereotype that society widely accepts. A second image is used and uses the same aesthetics. Older generation audiences are likely to have an oppositional reading to this countertype because in their generation, it was idealistic for the women to stay at home while the husband provided an income for the family to thrive on. There are lots of audience viewpoints and responses based on how they were brought up on this idea.

It is apparent that stereotypes are used by the media to appeal to a certain audience, such as adverts using stereotypical images to appeal to men who are familiar with the stereotypes and can therefore relate with the imagery. However; along with stereotypical representations, oppositional readings can be made by certain audiences such as the older generation with ‘househusbands’.

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