Friday, November 4, 2011

Quiet Riot Girl - Unpopular Men: Representations of Men & Masculinity in Pop Culture

Quiet Riot Girl has penned a guest post for Rachel Rabbit Write, an often interesting and provocative blog centered around human sexuality. QRG is responding in this article to the "feminist media and cultural criticism that completely ignores men, or belittles and demonises them whilst going on and on about “sexist” portrayals of women in film and television. Lindy West and other feminists caused me to ask a question I am now known for asking: no, seriously, what about the men?"

She finds it disturbing that feminist critics can spend whole books arguing that women are damaged when they are reduced to stereotypes in cultural media, but when it's done to men, it's seen as okay and fairly accurate. What a stupid double standard.

It's funny to me that some of the best defenses of men and masculinity often come from women (on both sides of the political spectrum). In particular, QRG is no fan of Hannah Rosin, author of The End Of Men, who is guilty of arguing that the portrayals of men on television these days are accurate, i.e., we are all a bunch of inept losers.

I like her take in this article, so here is a very cool piece of it:

Guest Post | Unpopular Men: Representations of Men & Masculinity in Pop Culture

This is a guest post by the notorious Quiet Riot Girl.

* * * * * * *
Rosin cites TV comedies such as: Man Up!Last Man StandingHow to Be a Gentlemanand observes:
“They all feature men who are unemployed or underemployed, love to play video games, and are desperately in need of a makeover. ‘Life is a big jerk and punches you in the face over and over again,’ complains Bert Lansing, a lughead personal trainer in ABC’s How to Be a Gentleman, played by Kevin Dillon from Entourage. Now that I have actually seen them… I worry that maybe I have helped to unleash a race of genetic mutants onto the population–diseased and dysfunctional men ranging from placid to sad to furious, fumbling around in the office, the supermarket, or the bedroom while the rest of America laughs.”
I could add to the list of programmes featuring ‘loser’ male characters, The King Of Queens, Two And A Half Men, Everybody Loves Raymond and Family Guy.
If Rosin was a feminist woman commenting on negative representations of women in TV programmes you can be sure that, like Lindy West did in her SATC review, she’d be crying ‘stereotypes’! and ‘sexism’! and ‘misogyny!’ But no, comparing these shows to some others, she writes: ‘The loser-men sitcoms, by contrast, are fairly heavy on the realism’.
So Rosin is saying programmes like Two and A Half Men, featuring an alcoholic, workshy womaniser, are ‘realistic’ depictions of how men are in general. Misandrymuch?
Charlie Sheen is a good example of how feminists, and others, conflate fictional male characters with their real life creators/actors. When Sheen had his ‘breakdown’ recently, journalists rushed to make the connection between the behaviour and personality of the character and the actor who played him. They have also done this with directors such as Woody Allen, drawing parallels with his marriage to Sun Yi and his films about older men and younger women, and Roman Polanski, who has been convicted of rape, and who makes quite violent films. This does not happen to the same degree with women actors and directors, I don’t think.
Is Kathryn Bigelow’s interest in violent men in film, linked to any of her lifestyle choices? Does Kim Cattrell get accused of being a ‘prostitute’ in real life? I think the feminist blogosphere has something to answer for here, with its preoccupation with ‘smearing’ the characters of men in the public eye, or at least emphasising their bad points ad nauseum.
Feminist critics can sometimes seem to only ever judge film and television by how it deals with women and women characters. The Bechedel Test is a classic example. Devised by a lesbian comedian, it asks people to list films which ‘pass’ the test, the criteria being, the films must contain at least two women characters who talk to each other, about something other than men.
I understand the motivations for this, as many Hollywood films especially, are very male-focussed, and women are often playing ‘token’ roles as wives or mothers or ‘sex interest’. But this crude test ignores the qualities of some of my favourite films, such as Paris Texas, Taxi Driver, Hard Candy and Out Of Sight, all of which include brilliant performances by women. It also ignores films I love which are almost completely man-oriented such as Mean Streets, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and My Own Private Idaho.
The whole article is definitely worth a read.

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