English / White Man'S Muscles
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Autor: anton 20 December 2010
Words: 952 | Pages: 4
The White Manâ€™s Muscles
In todayâ€™s society, the naked white male body is found everywhere. It can be seen in print ads, including clothing catalogues, TV commercials, and especially in movies, yet the prevalence of the naked white male body is something that has only been embraced since the 1980s. Prior to the 1980s, half naked white males were hardly ever seen in popular film because of the negative effects it would have on male self-esteem and masculinity.
People in our generation remember watching films such as Rocky, Rambo, and The Terminator, which showed incredibly built and tan white males in some type of extreme action role. However, people would be hard pressed to find a film in which a half naked white male was not shown as superior regardless of muscle size. Although some of the actors who portrayed Tarzan did not have the characteristics of the ideal male specimen, the prevalence of a tan, and the superiority over the animals in the jungle and the darker natives shows that the typical ideal of white male dominance is not limited by lack of muscles.
Bell Hooks stated that given a choice, and a possibility to come back as something other than you are, most people would choose to come back as a white male. People for many generations have acknowledged the advantages of being a white male. The obvious lack of public displays of the typical white male body was a way in which men could protect the ideals associated with being the highest class in the most dominant race. According to Richard Dyer, â€œa naked body is a vulnerable body.â€ Why would people considered to be the most powerful open themselves up to something that could threaten their masculinity? The threat associated with white male masculinity and their bodies is because their bodies are the same as everyone elseâ€™s. The portrayal of the typical white body would lead people to question why people that are so similar to them command all of the power. If people could not see their bodies, they could not question their masculinity or their power.
The hard muscled and tanned bodies of people such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were used in action movies not just because they fit the part, but because they exemplified what a â€œwhite maleâ€ was. The obvious differences between these men and other men off the street plays into the ideals of masculinity. Only toned bodies, bodies that simulate the ideals of perfection can truly avoid any of the horrors that are associated with coming into contact with femininity and non-whiteness. Men like to see these toned men as opposed to regular guys because they do not need to fear their shortcomings. Only few people can live up to the idea of the perfect man and so seeing them on film is a form of escapism. If real men were depicted, all of their fears associated with being normal would be realized.
The use of bodybuilders in film instead of standard males was a mask to cover up the inadequacies of white men. Using these perfect beings has negative effects even today but it is constantly being reinforced in our society. The ideal of the perfect man being as muscular as Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone has fallen by the wayside however a new ideal of perfection has risen to take its place.
White males are now commonly seen shirtless in films and in some instances completely naked. This is a result of a major change in the ideas about what society thinks is acceptable. Bodybuilders are no longer considered the best representation for masculinity because of the ideas associated with how they got their muscles. A man who uses steroids to get muscles is not something that we want to promote in our healthy society. However, the new idea of what is appropriate is not better than in the past.
Although white men no longer have to have the largest muscles in order to be shown naked, in order to be taken seriously by society and in film they must be physically fit. In films directed strictly at a female or male audience the men portrayed play into the new ideal about what masculine men should act like. In Sheâ€™s the Man, buff men parade around shirtless for much of the movie. Men in this movie that are not built and athletic are portrayed as being nerds and creepy. This is similar to American Pie. Men who are more masculine and fit into societyâ€™s stereotype of what being a man means are more attractive and muscular. You relate to the sensitive yet muscular Oz whose main goal is to lose his virginity. Men that are not muscular are portrayed as awkward like the character of Jim. He has the same goal as Oz yet while Oz is being viewed seriously, Jim is the source of much of the comedy in the film.
Although the ideal of white male muscles in our society has changed, it is more prevalent in our society than in the past. Before the movies that showcased white male muscles were only directed at certain audiences while today the stereotypical use of white male muscles can be found directed at every audience. There is a power that is associated with white male muscles and as a result of our society, it will never disappear, rather it will be reshaped to fit into a new ideal.
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