Tuesday, March 6, 2012

He Just Needs the Right Broom

I am fascinated by the idea that masculinity exists as a foil to femininity and it is oftentimes portrayed in the media as such. Countless characters gain initial power and esteem based on masculine norms. The buff, stud of a man dressed in athletic gear with female arm candy are initially the character we “look up to” or see as some sort of authority. He is also the character that we expect to be brought down by his hyper-masculinity. Of course there are the easy examples of superhero flicks (of course phallo-centric) where the male, dominating hero encounters the limitations of the anaconda in pants and usually needs the sensibility of a woman to bring him back. It is so interesting that these are the images that sell; Mad Men is a show centered around and devoted to traditional masculine ideals and people eat it up! Of course, I love it to and I can watch it while recognizing the chauvinism, but how many people cannot or do no take the time to deconstruct it?

I want to focus on Hitch, I think Will Smith embodies masculinity in both his physical presence, but not in his relationship “techniques.” He is a male icon for nerdy guys that want to get laid or find love, but his “toxic masculinity” hinders him in his own romantic pursuits. He has been victimized by the same gender norms that he substantiates, because he cannot fulfill them when it comes to his own life. He almost sabotages his budding relationship, because he tries so hard to live up to his own scripted ideals of what a man is supposed to be in a relationship. The audience loves to watch him self-destruct using the same tenets that he has been brainwashing his clients with. Ironically, what he claims to be is almost a feminist ideal. He respects women and speaks about them lovingly, and yet he still takes on the knight in shining armor persona and expects to be the "one in charge" in many ways. No wonder people are up in arms about gender role portrayals in the media that affect men in the “real world;” male role models are limited to the body-builder on the Old Spice commercials, the guidos on Jersey Shore and the mixed messages of the romantic yet foolish, Hitch.

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