Media Culture and Identity
I chose to focus on the topic of masculinity in modern society and how it is represented in today’s media. I specifically chose to look at the hit television show, The Bachelor, which airs on ABC. The show centers around a male bachelor who is looking to find a relationship by the end of the show. There are over 20 female contestants who all spend time with the bachelor and try to win his heart. The bachelor picks women each week to stay on the show, essentially disqualifying the other women until he finally chooses one woman at the end. I felt that this show is a great example of how masculinity is represented through modern media. Many movies and television feature men who fit the more traditional idea of masculinity. These men are usually portrayed as tough, rugged individuals who show little emotion and seem to always have a female to save. I wanted to analyze the way in which the latest season of The Bachelor’s star, Colton Underwood, breaks the mold of traditional masculinity.
Colton Underwood is an ex NFL football player who on the surface appears to be an average male hunk with little depth of personality. However, from the beginning of the show Colton proves to be extremely kind, honest, and respectful. He shows a level of humor and compassion that immediately win all of the women on the show’s hearts. Colton is also a virgin, and openly shares it with the women on the show and all the viewers at home. Colton is very vulnerable and in touch with his emotions. He is not afraid to cry, and he is not afraid to tell the women on the show how he truly feels. This is a direct departure from what we are accustomed to seeing in the media. A man like Colton usually does not star in the lead of an action film or fit the traditional masculine mold. However, The Bachelor proves that men like Colton can get the girl in the end, and find happiness in relationships.
The keywords that I chose were gender, representation, and media. In this example, traditional gender ideals are challenged by the way Colton is represented through popular media. The media has a lot of influence on how we as an audience think of ourselves within our societies, and how we are supposed to behave. Masculinity is represented through the show, which uses Colton to redefine what it means to be a man in modern society. Because the show is a greater representation of relationships and romance in modern society, other keywords that could be used are stereotypes, culture, and ideology.
I chose to use many pieces of media in my project. I began my video essay by showing clips from the movies, Predator, Die Hard, Star Wars, and Thor. Each clip I used from these movies shows the male lead. These male leads are rugged tough guys who are dominating men. They pull of daring acts of courage and don’t play by the rules. However, they always seem to get the girl at the end of the film. After, I used a clip from the show Friday Night Lights featuring one of the shows main characters, Tim Riggins. In the clip, Tim talks to his love interest, Lyla Garrity. She asks him what he has done all summer, in which he replies, “well, last week I had a threeway with the Stratton sisters.” He then proceeds to suggest that Lyla is jealous of him. Tim Riggins is a personal favorite character of mine, as well as many other young men in America. It is these representations of men in media that we as an audience become accustomed to and love. I chose to show these clips in the beginning to set the scene.
Eventually, I use pieces of media from the show itself. I use a clip that shows Colton on a one-on-one date with one of the women. He takes her to the amusement park and spent the day with children from a children’s hospital. I used this clip to show the stark comparison between Colton and the previous men I showed in the beginning. I then use clips that show the women talking about Colton and his virginity. They all talk about how hot Colton is and how they are excited to be the first ones to sleep with him. While most men would dream of being on a show with a bunch of attractive young women who are all there for him, Colton is not like that. I then show clips of Colton revealing his feelings about what he is looking for in his potential relationship on the show. He says he has been rejected before, and it has hurt him. He is not looking to get to the end of the show to find that the woman he has chosen was ultimately not there for the right reasons. Again, this shows that Colton is a different kind of man who is very emotionally vulnerable and looking for a true partner. The final clips I use show Colton crying over Cassie, who he told he loved and she did not reciprocate. Colton then goes on to essentially end the show and pursue Cassie. They end up together in the end and are still together today. The ending of the show is further proof that traditional masculinity is represented differently today than how it was in the past. The Bachelor demonstrates that men like Colton, the so-called “nice guy” can find be manly and vulnerable at the same time, while getting the girl of his dreams.
Putting together this project was a great experience. I learned a lot about the ways in which the things that we see everyday on television and films have a great effect on the ways in which we envision what it means to be masculine, or attractive, or romantic. Our culture and understandings of gender are shaped heavily by the things that are presented to us in our media.