CMN 3104- Reading #3.docx
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CMN 3104: Reading #3 Jan 20th 2014
Man Up: Viewer Responses to Images of less than ideal males in Advertising
Sociologist Michael Kimmel (1996) has declared that masculinity proceeds from men’s bodies.
The ideal male image in advertising and other media portrayals, according to Kimmel, includes standards of
power and independence as well as qualities such as rugged individualism, adventurous spirit, risk taking,
displays of physical prowess and having a high degree of personal autonomy.
But what happens when the average guy confronts idealized images in advertising and perhaps realizes
that he cannot live up to such expectations.
Many men may become depressed and dissatisfied with their bodies.
Social comparison of less-than-ideal images in advertising:
Specifically, what I have set out to do is to consider how men compare themselves with less-than-ideal
images in television advertising, particularly when they are portrayed as cavemen, those less-than-ideal
Viewing less-than-ideal images make us feel better about ourselves:
Men who view advertisements in which they confront images of less-than ideal men seem to feel that things
could be much worse.
In other words, the key figures in the commercials set the bar so low as to create a social environment in
which men find comfort.
When compared with the physical grotesqueness, public exposure and lack of manners portrayed by key
figures in some advertising, men feel a sense of relief that this was happening to them not me.
Social comparison theory is helpful in explaining the self enhancement that men experience as they
encounter advertisements that feature less than ideal men.
The utilization of a less-than ideal image may serve the purpose of metaphorically “spreading the word”
about a new or emergent less than ideal masculinity- an unintended consequence of advertising.
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