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Dr. Michael Kimmel and Male Stereotypes in Advertisement, Essay Example

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Essay

The essay “Bro’s Before Hos” by Michael Kimmel brings to light the various gender roles men have been cast in the liberal media. These stereotypes, generally making successful men worldly, wealthy, egotistical, and well-built are illustrated through advertisements commonly found in any coffee-table magazine, or roadside billboards, and can cause undue pressure on men with different economic, social, or moral situations, best illustrated with the following two advertisements for ABSOLUT Vodka and BMW.

ABSOLUT Vodka and BMW

advertisements for ABSOLUT Vodka and BMW

The Absolute Vodka and “The ultimate attraction” advertisement of BMW seem to be promoting aspirational products which contribute to lead a life of pleasure or live in ease and comfort, but in actuality, these advertisements are pursuing the ideal significant other. According to the “guy code” introduced by Kimmel, the male stereotypes, generally making successful men masculinity, worldly, wealthy, egotistical, and well-built, which conveys through advertisements commonly found in any coffee-table magazine, or roadside billboards. And based on the “code”, can cause undue pressure on men with different economic, social, or moral situations, the concept of male stereotypes can best illustrated in both Absolute Vodka and BMW advertisements.

First looking at the ABSOLUT advertisement’s text, “In an ABSOLUT World”. This could be taken to mean at first glance that the vodka is the best in the world. However, when scrutinized further, many subliminal things become apparent.

The torso of the “ideal” man the woman is apparently piecing together is virtually centered in the image. Of course, this torso is cut and pasted from a Hollister catalogue–for most people, the muscles illustrated barely exist. Perhaps in an “ABSOLUT” world, but for most men this physique is not realistic.

The arm the woman is holding is also very representative of the ad as a whole. The idea is clearly the creation of an “ideal” man, and this man has flowers in his disconnected, well-toned arm. This subliminally connects this vodka with some kind of connection that involves loves, leading one to associate the vodka with love. This arm is used in another way, as well. The fact that it is disconnected, and clearly visible in the woman’s hand, can point pull on the heartstrings of single men everywhere. This is yet another example of undue pressure.

The “man’s” other arm is very important to consider as well. It is not simply that he is holding a guitar, normally considered to be an attractive trait, can certainly serve to put down a single man who cannot play an instrument. In addition to the fact that he is holding the iconic guitar, he is also holding the guitar in an iconic fashion. The pose is very reminiscent of a band taking in the applause of an audience after a performance. Rock-and-roll subliminally equates to sex appeal, and, indirectly masculinity. It is also necessary to consider the tattoo on the arm holding the guitar. This further plays into the “rock-star” image, as well as a “bad boy” image that contains sex appeal as well. This bad-boy image is another show of masculinity.

His lower half implies another huge case for the masculinity subverted in the ABSOLUT advertisement; the appearance of wealth. The pants the man is wearing, as well as the shoes, point to wealth of some kind. The man was clearly dressed in a very classy manner, which is often indicative of wealth, traditionally a desirable trait–the male as the breadwinner.

It is interesting when, at face value, the company is saying “drink our vodka”; while subliminally they are implying that doing such will somehow help you achieve a perfect mate–in this case consistent with male stereotypes described by Kimmel as “Man-code”, and subject to hard scrutiny by peers.

Considering the BMW advertisement, where a man is clearly engaging in intercourse while seemingly thinking of a BMW, raises even more questions than answers. Of course BMW is using sex appeal to attempt to sell their vehicles, however this advertisement goes way beyond stereotypical and borders on offensive.

The man and woman are posed in a sexual position, again, as Kimmel would agree with, pointing to the masculinity perceived by the people viewing the advertisement. This subliminally ties sex and driving a BMW; thus appealing to traditional male stereotypes and pressure to sell their product.

Although the men in the two ads are facially very different–including hair styles, and glasses. They are, however, very similar in many ways. The BMW advertisement again places importance on the physique of the man–his arm muscles, abs, and chest are all composed in the image–clearly visible and thrusting the man into the category of masculine according to Kimmel.

The positioning of the two people also has particular significance. The man, placed on top during sexual intercourse in the advertisement points to male dominance as well. This is another “manly man” trait discussed by Kimmel, and worth mentioning in the BMW advertisement. Another part of this advertisement that clearly points to male dominance, and particularly alludes to wealth more than anything.

The BMW itself has become somewhat of a status symbol in today’s society, clearly illustrating a person’s wealth. Foreign exotic cars, particularly high-priced European vehicles, have become commodities by themselves. The positioning of the magazine over the woman’s face makes it clearly visible, serving two purposes.

Connecting the image of a BMW with the carnal and primal human need for sexual intercourse and the label is clearly the main purpose. The advertisement is clearly targeted at men, alluding to the pleasure one can gain from driving a BMW. Sex and pleasure, again according to Kimmel, are directly related to masculinity in the eyes of society.

While the BMW advertisement may look much less subversive, and more easily interpreted when looked at closely, it is the complete opposite. It is not the fact that the BMW connects sex in the advertisement; it is the fact that the man is thinking, or visualizing the BMW over his partner’s face. On a very subliminal level, the entire purpose of this was to illustrate “the ultimate attraction”. There is an underlying theme that owning a BMW can actually serve to replace romantic affection, or sexual needs. This is now serving to teach generations these principles.

One cannot walk down the street in many places, or even through a grocery store, without overhearing an elderly couple talking about “kids these days…” and the like. This has become a stereotype itself. However, there is definitely validity with regards to morality. Although the 50-ish age bracket seeing the “Marlboro Man”, as advertisement becomes less and less regulated it has become more and more subversive, allowing for the manipulation of many emotions.

Further proof can be seen in the children that have been bred into these masculine roles. A study in 1999 by Children Now found that the media’s portrayal of roles to “reinforce men’s social dominance”. This shows clearly that these media roles have shaped the modern idea of the ideal “man”

In this way, modern masculinity has been shaped by the media, with most men never living up to the standards of physique, monetary status, sex appeal, or worldliness that the modern media has turned into the idea of the “ideal” man. On the other side, a man thinking of a car during intercourse is a powerful statement attesting to another stereotype of men as uncaring, materialistic, and primal animals.

Works Cited

“How the Media Define Masculinity.” MediaSmarts. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <http://mediasmarts.ca/gender representation/men-and-masculinity/how-media-define-masculinity>.

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