Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are American Chopper and Cake Boss kind of similar?

In Carroll’s paper on “Men’s Soaps,” there were a few point that really stuck out to me and a few point that got me trying to think of other possible examples. Carroll states that American Chopper creates a world of blue-collar workers who perform skilled labor. This labor is always understood to be male. When I read this section about the masculinity of skilled, blue-collar labor, I could not help but think of a particular episode of The Office. Michael Scott goes to have a “man meeting” in the warehouse because there is a “women in the workplace” meeting being held in the office. Throughout the series, the warehouse workers are portrayed as strong, blue-collar, and masculine. Michael gathers all of his male employees, goes to the warehouse, and begins his meeting. However, there is a woman, Madge, who works in the blue-collar warehouse who Michael overlooks. Having watched this episode just yesterday, it was a very clear parallel to me that blue-collar workers are generally assumed to be male and their work, masculine.
Another aspect that Carroll touched upon was the success of American Chopper and what it can be attributed to. She says that, while part of the show’s success is partly based in the current hype surrounding reality television, another aspect of the show’s popularity comes from “its presentation of men at work and its production of a masculine family melodrama” (Carroll, Men’s Soaps, pp 266). I am wondering how the popularity of American Chopper compares to the popularity of Cake Boss – a show that also presents men at work in a family atmosphere; however, one could argue that the type of work in Cake Boss is more stereotypically feminine. While both shows portray men at work alongside family drama, the two shows will probably never be categorized together because of the portrayal of more “masculine” work in one versus the more “feminine” work in the other.  If ratings for both shows are similar, I would be interested in who the audiences are for these shows? My guess is that more men watch American Chopper and more women watch Cake Boss.
And speaking of audiences, the article quotes Clark Bunting saying, “We have some of the most affluent audience in the history of the network…” (pp 266). Maybe it is because the material for the last section of class is fresh in my mind, but I immediately thought, “I’d like to see that audience analysis!” I wonder who exactly is watching this show? How are they taking it in? Does it affect them in any way? Are there particular reasons – some which Carroll shed some light on (patriotism, crisis of masculinity) – that people watch the show?

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