In the essay “Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body,” author and philosopher Susan Bordo discusses the history and current state of male representation in advertisements. While using her feminist background, Bordo compares and contrasts the aspects of how men and women are portrayed in the public eye. She claims that there has been a paradigm shift the media with the theory that not just women are being objectified in the public eye, but also men too. Since the mid-1970s, with the introduction of Calvin Klein commercials, men have started to become more dehumanized and regarded as sex symbols. In a similar fashion to how Bordo describes gender, race plays a similar role in the media. People of all different ethnicities and cultures are being categorized into an oversimplified and usually unfair image by the media over basic characteristics.
Bordo’s thesis can be shown in many common examples of modern media and advertising. For example in the animated television show The Simpsons, creator and writer Matt Groening uses satire as a means of addressing these stereotypes of gender and race through exaggeration of certain distinguishable traits and personalities of characters. Yet simultaneously, the stereotypes that are reinforced by some members of the show are then unexpectedly broken by others to show the viewer how much the media can alter one’s own opinion.
In The Simpsons, the son of the protagonist, Homer Simpson, is a ten year old boy named Bart. He is the type of male that works hard to try to make women like Bordo spill coffee all over a table and go “weak in the knees” at first sight (191). Like a model in a Calvin Klein poster, Bart is constantly offering himself up to the gaze of those around him. Instead of monitoring his body for the sake of staying healthy, his motivation for staying in shape is to stay attractive in the eyes of girls in his class.
Bart is also a textbook example of the “dumb jock” stereotype. While this belief may not hold true in the real world, the writers of the show take it to an extreme for Bart. Grades and homework are a nonessential element of school to him because they will not make him look any sexier. Instead he would rather focus on things like combing his hair because messy hair, in his opinion, is unattractive. But he does work towards retaking the third grade because that will give him an advantage over the other guys in his class when it comes to getting girls because he will be a year older than everyone. The writers satirically address this stereotype to make their viewers think that all males that are concerned about their body image are unintelligent and only care about how they look. And hopefully this will scare the viewers and make them try to avoid turning into someone like Bart in the future.
Bart’s behavior around others also takes a turn for the worse. He constantly tries to establish himself as the “alpha male” so other boys will feel inferior and submit to him. This leads to bullying...