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Masculinity In The Media Essay

2048 words - 8 pages

Masculinity in the Media
Masculinity has changed and evolved since the beginning of human creation. Males have had to adhere to the social norms of their time to survive without undue persecution. In the beginning of the 19th century, there was a shift in the way men could attain manhood. It was no longer easy for a man to enter into manhood with straightforward expectations and rituals. The state of manhood became difficult to obtain because of its precarious nature. During the same period, the industrial revolution was in full bloom giving birth to mass information outlets like newspapers, magazines, and advertisement: media. This set a prevailing state where boys and men alike could gain material on how to become or be men through media. With the pervasiveness of mass media, there came cultural hegemony that still lasts today. Hegemony is defined as domination of one power or state within a league, confederation, etc, or of one social class over the other. In the case of American culture, a select few were setting the standards for what it took to be a man. Usually these men were in leadership positions and not of the same social class as the common American population. Presently, mass media (specifically television and films) plays a major role in how men and women perceive gender roles, sexuality, and beauty. Media has shaped expectations of masculinity and men's interpretation of family in different ways over decades of television. How does television affect the male perspective on masculinity? There is no doubting that media has a profound effect on people. Several studies have shown this to be true, but it is important to understand how it affects society.
Men and masculinity are represented in relatively very few ways on television. Although most media is trying to reproduce masculinity according to social norms, shows also illustrates cultural myths that do not necessarily exist in society. Hatfield states, “Fictional television can be seen either as an influence on, or reflection of, culture—the shared norms, values, and beliefs held by a society. Yet many groups exist within a society and multiple value systems may be at play” (p.530). On television and in movies there are very few forms of masculinity shown. The majority of male masculinity usually ranges from gun toting hard asses, to a playboy, to the effeminate man that is often there for comic relief. Men in society do not always fit into these three categories. Masculinity is a much more complex and complicated identity to develop. There are shows like 24 where the main character, Jack Bauer, is a governmental agent going around the world in twenty-four hours to stop terrorism. He is unattached emotionally and highly dangerous. This does not represent a real form of masculinity that we have in today’s culture. There are men that probably do fit into the same category as the fictional character, but they are very unlike the average males in society today....

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