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Stereotypes of Men in Media

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:43pm
Canadian Website Media Awareness Network has published the list below (full post here ) of common media stereotypes of men. I'm sure that many men will feel that they fall into several of the stereotypes, depending on the day and the situation.



Coming from a media background (as an actor) I understand that it's necessary sometimes to play stereotypes in order to convey a message in a shorter, easier fashion. Unfortunately, so much media (movies, music, television) uses these shortcuts that these stereotypes have become pervasive.



It's difficult to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue using media when so much of the media defeats that meaningful dialogue with stereotypes. The question then, is how 18 - 40 year old men (the largest consumers of media) talk with each other about important issues?



The answer, as far as I'm concerned, is that more honesty and more openness is required. When media is all pervasive and it's so easy to hide behind a screen name, then we must be more willing to communicate, more willing to be open and share with others our experience and our fears.



Common Stereotypes of Men in Media

Various media analysts and researchers argue that media portrayals of male characters fall within a range of stereotypes. The report Boys to Men: Media Messages About Masculinity , identifies the most popular stereotypes of male characters as the Joker, the Jock, the Strong Silent Type, the Big Shot and the Action Hero.

The Joker is a very popular character with boys, perhaps because laughter is part of their own "mask of masculinity." A potential negative consequence of this stereotype is the assumption that boys and men should not be serious or emotional. However, researchers have also argued that humorous roles can be used to expand definitions of masculinity.

The Jock is always willing to "compromise his own long-term health; he must fight other men when necessary; he must avoid being soft; and he must be aggressive." By demonstrating his power and strength, the jock wins the approval of other men and the adoration of women.

The Strong Silent Type focuses on "being in charge, acting decisively, containing emotion, and succeeding with women." This stereotype reinforces the assumption that men and boys should always be in control, and that talking about one’s feelings is a sign of weakness.

The Big Shot is defined by his professional status. He is the "epitome of success, embodying the characteristics and acquiring the possessions that society deems valuable." This stereotype suggests that a real man must be economically powerful and socially successful.

The Action Hero is "strong, but not necessarily silent. He is often angry. Above all, he is aggressive in the extreme and, increasingly over the past several decades, he engages in violent behavior."

Another common stereotype...

The Buffoon commonly appears as a bungling father figure in TV ads and sitcoms. Usually well-intentioned and light-hearted, these characters range from slightly inept to completely hopeless when it comes to parenting their children or dealing with domestic (or workplace) issues.

What ways do media cause conflict in your life? How does media frustrate you? How do you propose that we overcome the muffling effect that media has on real discussion?
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