Man Objectified

In Commentary, FILM, THEATRE & TV, HOME by Hannah Oliver


A couple of months ago we had a revelation; probably delivered by the tabloid press, that Chris Hemsworth felt rather self-conscious when asked by Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor to whip off his top. In current muscle bound cinema it seems bizarre to think that any sort of bodily shyness exists. Regardless, this certainly puts the spotlight on the increase in the use of male sexiness within cinema. Is the nature of men in cinema changing for both female and male audiences? The idea that cinema can now be advertised by glamorizing men as women are often used in advertisement is growing.

acd6d67d-c5b9-4515-809d-866cd52425cb_thor-shirtlessTo see some real evidence of the role of the male changing in cinema we must look back a few years to 2006 and remember the release of Casino Royale where one can witness the changing nature of James Bond advertising. Previously, audience would have been visually assaulted by the main man himself with a flux of semi naked Bond girls. But prior to the release of Casino Royale there was something of a role reversal. Eva Green did not appear semi-naked on posters, television ads or cinema promotions but Daniel Craig certainly did. Perhaps becoming one of the more iconic shots of cinema is Daniel Craig strolling out the waves in those little shorts; evidencing what will become the increasing use of the male to see cinema.

Theorist Laura Mulvay espoused the ‘Male Gaze’, the idea that women are portrayed as eye candy to the male audience and as someone that the female audience should aspire to be. Whilst not being named the ‘Male Gaze’ there is certainly some aspects of male sexiness in cinema that links to this theorizing – the idea that the female audience can enjoy the eye candy whilst the men can aspire to be like their largest man crushes. Indeed to help these aspirations google any attractive cinema male and it is guaranteed that within the top three hits there will be the Hugh Jackman/Christian Bale/ Jamie Foxx (to name but three) workout created solely so that their adoring fans can imitate their outrageously agreeable male crushes. 300 seems to be the film which is most likely to evidence this; featuring a plot predominantly aimed at a male audience, some attractive women and a large amount of inappropriately clothed Spartans. Who hasn’t pretended to be Gerard Butler in front of the mirror? And even if you don’t feel you look particularly like your favourite Spartan hero, at least you can now copy his gym routine.

A further obvious example comes in the form of novel turned film mega franchise Twilight. Regardless of your view on the films it can’t be denied that there is plenty of topless action. It appears that Taylor Lautner failed to keep his top on for the majority of his parts throughout the series and the splitting of audiences into teams of which the captains are the two main characters seems enough to prove that something is afoot in the realms of cinema; regardless of whether it be directed at teens or not. Whether you are ‘team’ Edward or Jacob it still seems likely that the presence of either one helped sell the film.

It is becoming increasingly easy to identify male actors who can be used to sell films. Large numbers of people will go and see a film if it stars Ryan Gosling or Michael Fassbender; they inhabited an ora of sexiness, whether it be the character whom they play; notably The Kid in Drive, or whether it is just based on their looks they therefore directly appeal to both male and female audiences for very similar reasons.

Michael-Fassbender-e1346850174225So there it is, the growth in cinema of the attractive male being used to sell films. Whilst women are still being subjected to a ridiculous level of glamorisation to sell films, see Springbreakers for a particularly obvious (Obnoxious?) example, there is certainly an increasing number of films using attractive men to plug themselves, be it Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender or Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Rupert Radley

Rupert Radley contributes weekly to the film section of The Student. He studies Politics at the University of Edinburgh. His interests are summed up by film, cats and coffee. We could go on about Rupert a bit more but that’s about it really.

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