Monday, August 15, 2016

Masculinity stereotypes in media... is a myth

There is a quite common notion that the media at large, especially movies, TV series and video games, very often convey a very stereotypical notion of masculinity, ie. the message is that men are tough and stoic, and show no emotion, and they especially don't cry, and if some man cries, it's a sign of weakness, and shameful, and unmanly.

I would posit, however, that this is just a myth. One of those myths that has somehow formed, and that most people believe, even though nobody can cite examples or point to actual cases. It's just commonly believed to be true... mostly because everybody else believes it to be true, and nothing else.

After all, from the hundreds of thousands, even millions of movies, TV series and video games out there, can you name even one that conveys the above message? One single example from the millions?

There certainly exist a few such works where somebody expresses that sentiment, ie. castigates somebody for crying or showing emotional weakness. However, in the vast majority (if not all) of cases that character is depicted as being an unsympathetic and unlikeable bully, often somebody that the audience will hate and dislike, and who the audience will most probably disagree with.

Can you name even one single example where the message is conveyed in a positive manner, ie. in a manner that is supposed to be taken seriously, rather than as the act of a unlikeable bully or villain, who is bullying the person showing emotion?

From the thousands and thousands of movies, TV series and video games I have seen and played, I can't think of even one single example. On the contrary, a few counter-examples come to mind. For instance, the badass manly man who can mow down thousands of enemies by just flexing his muscles at them, the one and only John Rambo... shows emotional vulnerability in First Blood, and it's depicted very emotionally and tactfully. The message is quite clearly that even a tough man can be hurt by the horrors of war, and it's ok to show it. The audience feels sympathy for the character when he breaks down.

Where are the examples of the opposite? There probably are a few there, but I can't remember any.

I think this is just a myth. There is no message of "toxic masculinity" in art.

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