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Title: The governing gaze of masculinity in contemporary culture
Authors: Vella, John Paul
Keywords: Men -- Identity
Men in popular culture
Masculinity in popular culture
Issue Date: 2018
Citation: Vella, J. P. (2018). The governing gaze of masculinity in contemporary culture (Master's dissertation).
Abstract: Contemporary culture bombards us with perfectly touched up images of men in a day and age where we are simultaneously told that we should love our bodies for whatever they may look like – hairy, fat, bald, short, skinny, manboobs, beer belly. Are the behavioural expectations instigated by the governing gaze of men in contemporary entertainment and advertising media putting pressure on men to perform their masculinity in specific ways, just as they did in the past, albeit in different ways and forms? This dissertation adopts a critical perspective by drawing on a Foucauldian conceptualisation of disciplinary power as an instrument of coercion and on Foucault’s understanding of the construction of the subject, of surveillance and of the Panoptic Gaze. Although Foucault’s work does not show much interest in gender/masculinity issues or in media texts per se, his conceptualisation of power will be an asset in deconstructing masculinity issues and power in the media in this dissertation. Closely examining carefully selected examples of contemporary entertainment and advertising media texts, the purpose of this dissertation is to explore to what extent the rhetoric (in Barthes’s sense) of masculinity and constructions of representations of masculinity in adverts, lifestyle magazines, online articles, and film may potentially be considered to serve as agencies of domination in governing men to construct their masculinity and male body image in the mediated mirror image of western hegemonic masculinity. Some of the questions to be addressed are: In what way has the masculinisation of consumption converged with the feminisation of the representation of the male body? How has the male body become commodity fetishism? In what way do representations of masculinity in film and TV, adverts and general interest men’s lifestyle magazines contribute to the selling of fitness and of fit bodies? It will be argued that popular culture texts in the media serve as Foucault’s ‘regimes of truth’, coercing men into constructing their male body image in the light of mediated hegemonic ideals as perpetuated by and in the media. Thus, a critical exploration of the mediated mythscape of masculinity will reveal in what ways the representations of masculinity and of the hypermuscular body in contemporary media texts are used to persuade men into consuming not just a product that can be purchased but also an ideology. This dissertation contends that media texts in contemporary culture construct power relations among a multitude of bodies, categorising, amongst so many other types, the beautiful, overweight, underweight, healthy, fit, unfit, muscular, and emasculated, by normalising the desire to own the precious hypermuscular physique it promotes. The Panoptic Gaze has encouraged men to survey their own bodies for signs of abnormality against a body image that may, in essence, be unrealistic. This dissertation concludes that the phenomenon of ‘Hypermuscular Sensitivity and Hypersensitive Machoism’ may be considered a new myth that is currently being constructed, which may nonetheless generate new transgressive bodies, and therefore, subject any consumer of media texts to even further surveillance, under a new guise.
Description: M.A.ENGLISH
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2018
Dissertations - FacArtEng - 2018

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