The Re-Invention Of Gendered Hollywood Genre
According to Allan & Coltrane (1996), gender portrayal in the popular media is often presented in the differentiated context. Males tend to be presented in active roles, enjoying freedoms and often offering their opinions. Their masculinity is often emphasized. Females are usually depicted in supportive relationships to males and/or children as wives, homemakers, and mothers. It is a rare occasion when they suggest opinions and lead their male partners in to an adventure. Certainly, there is a range of degree in such relationships. In well-featured film Pleasantville, the viewers are transported into the yesteryear society that depicts traditionally defined roles of males as breadwinners and opinion makers and females as submissive homemakers. However, colors are introduced into their grey and white daily routine with following transformation of gender roles into more androgynous depiction. There is a connotation of something wrong going on with the active and opinioned males attempting to defend the traditional ways of gender roles. Yet, the sentiment that I perceived was that of progress – that is away with the “old ways.”
Murnen, Wright, & Kaluzny, G. (2002) argued that many popular features present such sentiment. Even the remake of traditionally offered “Adventure With Dick and Jane” shows rise in female gender role as an aggressive risk taker and a participant in bread winning despite a little rebellion from her male counterpart. Despite these changes in contemporary media, females continue being portrayed as sex object throughout different genre. Especially disturbing is the greater proliferation of new wave animated features as in Adult Swim series, Futurama and alike where full body or partial nudity or explicit scans of body parts are frequently employed.
Despite such habitual depiction of gender roles, we see an incoming of new-era depiction of females taking active roles in our society (Rouner, Slater, & Domenech-Rodriguez, 2003). True-to-life or “based on real events” features present female gender roles as being aggressive and active as far as decision-making ability/opportunity is concerned. We can take a pick at the powerful feature “Flight” in which the female main character refuses to be manipulated by arrogant and corrupted male Marshal and takes charge in the difficult situation that saves the life of her daughter.
Similarly, male characters are shown more and more as less manipulative and less aggressive roles with brighter depiction of their feminine component. In an infamous feature “40-Year Old Virgin” there is an argument between traditionally set male role with the new androgynous male who does not see a particular significance in having frequent sex and who is not really preoccupied with the image of necessary male aggression. With this character looking for “clean” love and even relationship, the viewers are left wondering whether it is an anomaly or a new wave of gender impression.
The clear boundaries are presented clearly by the media to propagate the traditional stereotyping without considering that the real life presents opportunities for both genders to be aggressive or passive, breadwinners or homemakers, opinion-makers or opinion-takers, masculine or feminine, agreeable or argumentive. In our society 45% of managers and executives are females, which directly suggests that the control of decision-making is almost equally distributed between two genders.
Thus, further discussion on the topic is fruitless because it is not what is being done to people but how people perceive and interpret that to enhance (or destroy) their lives. Thus, their attitudes depend upon their unique perception and interpretation of what is featured by the media. Media’s propagation of gender stereotypes depends upon the consumer market – if market is present and abundant then the product is available. Thus, we cannot blame the media in its entirety. The consumers must take the responsibility in such warped gender representation. It will be naïve to believe that due application of pressure applied on to the media to limit such depiction would become effective unless the attitudes of viewers will significantly change. For this to happen, the society must mature into that of more rational and equal perception of the gender roles.
Allan, K., & Coltrane, S. (1996). Gender displaying television commercials: A comparative study of television commercials in the 1950s and 1980s. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 35(3-4), 185+.
Murnen, S. K., Wright, C., & Kaluzny, G. (2002). If “Boys will be boys, ” then girls will be victims? A meta-analytic review of the research that relates masculine ideology to sexual aggression. Retrieved March 31, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000654895
Rouner, D., Slater, M. D., & Domenech-Rodriguez, M. (2003). Adolescent evaluation of gender role and sexual imagery in television advertisements. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47(3).