Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What if I have my "best body ever?"

Using sexuality to advertise products has become increasingly more prevalent in society today. Companies will do anything they can to sell their product even if it is at the expense of the consumers lack of knowledge about the particular item. Having a half naked male or female to promote a particular product will increase the rate of purchase because "sex sells". This term has been used for many years and has been an effective yet controversial tool in selling products with mostly the objectification of women. However, as seen throughout the collage, it is clear to see the that males are equally subjected as well as giving an unattainable image that is portrayed on Men's Health Magazine. Objectifying men in a way that is deemed acceptable and gone unnoticed in today's culture inspires consumers to thrive for an unrealistic image while using sexuality to attract both males and females to buy their products.

Men's Health Magazine is one of the more popular magazines among male teenagers and young male adults. The material that is written in the magazine is often unreliable and subjective. However, the consumer is unaware of such false statements as well as the unattainable image that is depicted on most of the covers. As seen in the collage, all the covers have advertisements that are geared toward achieving the ideal body for a young male. By displaying the males without their shirts, and photo shopped bodies, it gives the reader an image that is strived for but never attained by most individuals. Most of the time, women sexuality is used to advertise both men and women products, however males are used just as much to reel in the consumer. As Kilbourne states, “They [girls] are even more powerfully attuned to images of women, because they learn from these images what is expected of them, what they are to become.”(Kilbourne 263). This is also true for men. Men aspire to look good and impress girls. Learning from these images, just as females learn from theirs, males assume that this is what is expected of them. Terms such as; Improve your sex, The Abs you've always wanted, Strong, Lean Better Body, are all terms used by the magazine the throughout the world. It is advertised such that by simply just using their workouts inside the issue, listening to their advice on diet or sex, and reading the material, you will look like a celebrity and have the body you have always wanted or have the sex your girlfriend dreams of. Author Anastasia Higginbotham states that “You should love yourself for who you are,” (Higginbotham 96). In the article, she is refering to women as she writes how teens should love themselves. This is true for men because by giving consumers a false image and depiction of an ideal body, it lower's self esteem and truly doesnt stick to the 'Be who you are" phrase used by so many peers today. This also gives females a false impression about men. The ideal image is not one that is viewed the same by all females but with advertising like such, their perception is morphed into the norms of society. This magazine, along with other health and fitness magazines use men in a sexual manner to attract the reader and give one the impression that this is the body that all females want their male partners to have. Just like female magazines such as Cosmopolitan, objectify women and sell their products through sex, Men's Health Magazine uses men to sell the ideal image that is strived for by most young males.

Does sex really sell? Yes, it does. Sex sells ideas, products, misconceptions and most importantly it sells the "normative ideals" of our society. By using celebrities and other "barbie doll" individuals (both male and female), companies can persuade a consumer to by a product simply by implying the message that using their products will get you to look like the image that is depicted. This is seen in both Male and Female products and both genders are affected by their counterpart. Males are to look like the images seen in the collage and through advertisement, most males are susceptible to trust the products or workouts that are to get you there. Throughout society, both males and females are vulnerable to such ideals because the ability to give into the norm. Kilbourne discusses that adolescents “are in the process of learning their values and roles and developing their self-concepts. Most teenagers are sensitive to peer pressure and find it difficult to resist or even to question the dominant cultural messages perpetuated and reinforced by the media. Mass communication has made possible a kind of national peer pressure that erodes private and individual values and standards, as well as community values and standards (Kilbourne 258).” Targeting both late teenagers and young adult males, it makes men easy targets because males are typically not viewed as objects in our culture because it is more offensive when women are the victims. It does not cross the mind of many people that such companies are portraying men in such a manner that is actually distorted. Males are just as vulnerable to these ideal images that are portrayed to us as females.

Works Cited
Higginbotham, Anastasia. “Teen Mags: How to Get a Guy, Drop 20 Pounds, and You’re your Self-Esteem.” Becoming A Woman In Our Society: 93-96

Kilbourne, Jean. "The More You Subtract, the More You Add." Gender, Race, and Class in the Media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003.

Images Works Cited

Men's Health

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Men's Health -Dwyane Wade

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Men's Health

Friday, July 17, 2009

Blog Post 1 Assignment

Hegemony, as stated in James Lull’s essay, is described as something that “implies a willing agreement by people to be governed by principles, rules and laws they believe operate in their best interests, even though in practice they may not” ( Lull 63). In other words, hegemony suggests the great social dominance of one group or person over another that allows the interior group or person to believe that performing a certain act or thinking in a certain way will better them in some way. This concept of hegemony and counter hegemony is represented in the popular sitcom Friends in the pilot episode by the two characters Rachel and Joey.

Rachel is introduced to the show as a runaway bride, who has come to the realization that she is not in love with her fiancée. She describes how she was more in love with the gravy bowl on the table then her fiancé Barry, and was also more concerned with how he looked like Mr. Potato head. Rachel has always relied on her fathers’ money and now was looking to rely on her fiancé’s wealth. She did not know how to survive alone. Cooking, working, independence was nonexistent in Rachel’s world. Completely naïve to life as an individual, Rachel slowly begins to understand that she has to learn to live for herself.

On the phone with her father explaining her situation, she uses a metaphor to describe what has happened. She has been told all her life to do everything a certain way and to live according to their rules. She uses a shoe to explain this. “All my life I’ve been told to be a shoe…a shoe, a shoe, a shoe. What if I don’t want to be a shoe, what if I want to be a purse or a hat?” Taken literally, her father seems to offer to buy her a hat over the phone. Hegemony in this case is addressed with the understanding that Daddy will buy everything for me, and then my fiancée and everything will be done for me. She has always followed her fathers’ rules and has never done anything for herself. This co-dependency slowly fades as Rachel begins to hang out with her friends. She begins to cook, search for a job, and cut up her credit cards (which are paid off by her father). She adapts to this new world initially but comes to realize that she must learn to be independent by adapting to the environment that exists and is accepted between her and her friends. What she now believes to be real is “a matter of human definition and collective agreement, a reality that is socially constructed” (Newman 36).

Counter hegemony is also portrayed with Rachel throughout this episode. She leaves her fiancé because she knows she doesn’t love him. She calls him several times, leaving message trying to explain herself and acts independently by making coffee for the first time in her life for her friends while realizing she no longer wants to be that “shoe”. She knows the society is always changing and she needs to accommodate to her new surroundings in the city living with her friend Monica. She ultimately gets a job the coffee shop; however she tells a customer to go fill up the requested order from a customer across the café. She knows what she has to do to live for her, however still is trying to adapt to the new lifestyle of the ongoing changes of ideas that at her age, independence is crucial to a successful life.

Joey, a character that is introduced as Italian guy with an attitude that is depicted in most comedy as crude, sex-crazed, sexist, childish, egotistical and stupid. ( Newman 94). A witted womanizer, whose Italian presence created a traditional tough guy persona on television sitcoms at the time, Joey has the idea that every woman is into him and that eating food with your fingers in cool. The image as men as dumb and clueless. But far from being demeaning and destructive, these images have the luxury of being harmlessly humorous. (Newman 93). For example, he suggests that a woman be pushed down the stairs while he and his friends are watching a small conflict between to young woman on television. Even after Rachel just called off her wedding, he insists on offering his support to her. Seemingly a nice gesture, Rachel seems intrigued and flattered; however Joey then goes on to say that his roommate is not there all the time, implying that Rachel should come over to be with him. The conflict of hegemony is addressed because his ideas of woman are engraved in his mind from his family values and his background. His comments throughout the show are that of a child, and his sarcasm is often offensive but acceptable by his friends. They have come to accept his personality just as society comes to accept different media depictions of such characters. As stated by Lull, “dominant ideological streams must be subsequently reproduced in the activities of our most basic social units - families, workplace, networks and friendship groups in the many sites and undertakings in everyday life.” (Lull 62)

Even though Joey has his egotistical, macho mannered persona, he is a close friend of all the characters and helps Rachel with her search for independence. He offers suggestions, ideas, and his own opinions to the others in the show. Even though he is against the norm in his approach to such things as woman and life, his hidden sensitivity peaks through, just taken as that of a clueless, dumb, male.

The show Friends displays many representations of hegemony and counter hegemony as you can see with just the two characters, Rachel and Joey. Rachel’s attempt have her own life is expressed thought her counter hegemonic desires for true love, independence and knowledge. However, when taunted by her wallet, still being in hold of her credit cards she still finds it easy and normal to purchase things with her fathers’ money. By ridding of such items she forces herself to live independently by finding a job and becoming a “hat” rather than a “shoe”.

Works Cited
Lull, James ”Hegemony” Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a text reader. Gail Dines and JeanM. Humez., editors - 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks. London. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2003.
Newman, David M. Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class,
Gender and Sexuality. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

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