September 23, 2013
Television and Masculinity: Where have all the “men” gone
Remember those times when intimidating, protective men took over the televisions? Remember those old TV Westerns where the men were nothing but equipped with swords, guns and horses? A majority of the population surely does. Television has been around for over a century, and it certainly is no mystery that it has changed drastically over time. The traditional American family has been portrayed in television for decades, and in many different ways. However, the view of the standard family has been altered significantly through the media within the last twenty years or so. One main type of role in television in particular that has evolved into something different is the role of men. What has happened to all of the men and masculinity? The portrayal of fathers, boyfriends, brothers, or any other type of male character, has been modified so much that it has offended some people. Over the years, the masculinity portrayed on television has diminished a great amount.
In the 50s, families portrayed on television were very structured. Mothers were responsible for cooking and cleaning and staying at home while the fathers were in charge of the household. While this is still the case today, it has been modernized. As opposed to the 50s, men are less polite and tend to have a more crude style humor. Back then, men were more strict and uptight, making their rules clear in the household. Today, men are more flexible and portrayed as “.” For example, “men are constantly shown in a negative light. You can’t expect boys to participate in domestic life if they are not made welcome” (Kean). This is quite true, and a stellar example of a man being portrayed as crude would be Peter Griffin from Family Guy. Some other examples that Kean states are “…from the character of the feckless father Frank in Shameless to Ben, the plain stupid dentist dad in My Family and even Pete Brockman, the ineffectual man of the house in Outnumbered” (Kean). Men used to be displayed onscreen as strong, independent, and responsible. Today it seems that they are portrayed the exact opposite way.
Let us take Leave it to Beaver for example. In that show, the father was played as somebody who was both strict and caring. He was a role model to his children and was loyal to his wife. He was a fatherly figure and was a character worth praising. Today, men are seen on television cheating on their wives and/or letting their children do whatever they want, while the mother is disciplining the husband and begging him to help out more. Men today are often looked at as sometimes appearing dumb or careless whereas in the 50s and 60s men were shown as extremely intelligent and handy.
The second wave of feminism in the 60s and 70s is what really caused the depiction of men to change, resulting in women being shown having more power. Women were tired of being controlled by men. In an article about the changing roles of TV dads, Jenna Goudreau writes “as feminism built, moms began overshadowing TV dads, who played the part of the well-meaning idiot” (Goudreau, Forbes). Because of this, men began losing their original masculinity. They were no longer illustrated as “man of the house.”
Some men have become insulted as a result of their representations in the media. They are often seen as shallow and are claimed to only go after women for their good looks. It is a huge insult to the male gender. Basically it has gone from men being the man of the house and having the power to do anything, to the men being the ones that CANNOT do anything without a woman. Gondreau adds that “on ABC’s Modern Family we get one couple where dad’s a doofus and mom’s in charge, another where dad’s a curmudgeonly doofus and mom’s a well-meaning bimbo and even given a couple with two dads they’re both caricatures” (Goudreau, Forbes).
In the 1950s, mothers were usually never out of the house while the men were...
Cited: 1- Kean, Danuta. "Why DOES TV Love to Portray Men as Idle, Feckless Idiots?" Mail Online. N.p., 28 June 2010. Web. 23 Sept. 2013. .
2- Johnson, Nicole. "The Depressing Depiction of Men in the Media." The Good Men Project. GoodMenProject.com, 13 Dec. 2011. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. .
3- Goudreau, Jenna. "The Changing Roles Of TV Dads." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 15 June 2010. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. .
4- Klein, Amanda A. "Compulsory Masculinity on The Jersey Shore." Antenna RSS. N.p., 26 Feb. 2011. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. .
5- Barkhorn, Eleanor. " 'Where Are the Andy Griffiths? ': On Pop Culture 's Dearth of Admirable Men." The Atlantic. N.p., 5 Nov. 2012. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. .
6- "The Changing Role of the Modern Day Father." The Changing Role of the Modern Day Father. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. .
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