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The mass media have the ability to influence the way in which their audiences view people and objects. Any person or object is seen at a slanted view, the view of the broadcaster. Often the audience is not aware of this unbalanced representation and will see it as ‘the real thing’, the actuality
“The media give us ways of imagining particular identities and groups which can have material effects on how people have material effects on how people experience the world, and how they get understood, or legislated for or perhaps beaten up in the street by others. To come full circle, this is partly because the mass media have the power to re-present, over and over, some identities, some imaginings, and to exclude others, and thereby make them unfamiliar or even threatening.”
I have decided to look at how men are represented in two particular television advertisements. Women are also featured in the advertisements and I have looked at their roles as well.
The first advertisement I am going to look at is the Barclays advertisement. The advertisement is a monologue of a businessman aged between late fifties and early sixties. He is balding, but has a fashionable short haircut. He is dressed in a suit and tie and is sat at a table eating his breakfast. The room is very large with a few select expensive looking pieces of furniture. It leads the audience to assume that the whole house is big and of a similar minimalist style. In one shot you can see the view out of the window, which is the large expanse of gardens and in another you can see the gravel road leading towards the road and away from the front door. There is a maid present in the first room allowing us to realise that this man is very rich and successful at what he does. The monologue has been written very cleverly with the overuse of the word ‘big’. The monologue is made up of very many short quick sentences full of powerful sounding ‘b’ sounds. Many are questions that go unanswered but they all make you think. It is written as though the character is analysing the word ‘big’ out loud. He is saying his thoughts in the speed at which they come to him and they all lead on from the last point. There are many plays on the word ‘big’. The listener instantly picks up the ‘big’ theme of the advertisement, as it is very difficult to miss.
The advert opens with the question,”What is this about big?”
At this point standing immediately to his left is his maid. The shot shows the businessman sitting at the table and right next to him is the back of the maid. She is a very large lady and this sentence seems to be stemmed from his thought of looking at the large width of his maid’s bottom.
He continues to talk, emphasising how successful he is. His big house is mentioned together with his big chauffeur driven car, big meeting he’s going to, the big movie he is working on and the big fee he will charge for doing it.
The businessman’s character is one that the majority of a male audience can relate to, as he is how many people would like to be when they are older. He is successful, rich and has all the material things that come along with money. He also has his young girlfriend, who from which he likes to hear appreciation,
“Good Morning Big Boy!”
The advertisements final slogan
“A big world needs a big bank”
is very memorable and stays in the theme of the advertisement. Everyone who watches the advertisement will be able to remember the word ‘big’. Though remembering what bank was advertising is a slightly harder challenge. To make it easier they have chosen the word ‘big’ which starts with the same letter as the bank, which I think does jog peoples memories.
The second advertisement is the sixteen sixty four beer advert. The main character is a man aged between late twenties and early thirties. He is shown in the shower with water running down his slightly hairy chest. He steps out and places a white towel around his lower body. The scene looks like it has been taken out of a very saucy sex movie.
“The summer of 1986 also saw the launch of a press and poster campaign by Grey Advertising for Beecham’s Brylcreem. The campaign featured a range of masculine images, all playing on the ‘look’ of early 1960s’ neat and respectable masculinity (itself associated with Brylcreem adverts from this period). The images were subtly updated, however, displaying the highly groomed hair and skin of the models and – in the case of the two of the images – their developed arm and upper-body muscles.”
Since 1986 people have become more used to seeing men and women’s bodies on the television. Often men feel uncomfortable watching a man in such a naked state, but this advertisement is an exception. He stands in front of the mirror and flexes his muscles. It is all done in a very sarcastic way. It is entertaining to watch, as he obviously thinks that he’s the biggest sex god on earth. He then walks into the bedroom and turns over a picture of himself and his wife /girlfriend. It is the setting up of a scene where the audience expect to see an affair develop. He seductively lies on the bed. On top of all this there is a French speaking singer singing the tune to a song called ‘She’. French music is often associated with seduction and sexiness. The song is very powerful and adds humour to the advertisement. He then picks up two pints of 1664 larger. This is also a very comical moment. Here the audience realises that he is very excited and passionate about a larger. He seductively licks the froth of the top of each pint. The music stops very quickly when his wife/girlfriend walks in. The man is a character that I think that men would desire to be. He has just had a ‘manage a trois’ with his favourite beer.
In both of the advertisements there are women playing minor roles. The Barclays advert contains two very stereotypical roles of women.
“A stereotype is a label which involves a process of categorisation and evaluation. Although it may refer to situations or places, it is most often used in conjunction with representations of social groups. In its simplest terms, an easily grasped characteristic (usually negative) is presumed to belong to a whole group.”
The first woman is a maid. She is a very overweight lady. She is dressed in a uniform blue and white striped overall with a large white frilly apron. She has short blond curly hair and is wearing a lacy headscarf. She is between forty and fifty years old. This is a very stereotypical ‘maid’ character.
The second woman is the businessman’s girlfriend. She is between twenty-five and thirty-five years old, so is considerably younger than her boyfriend. She is dressed very sexily in a short black skimpy night-dress and a silk kimono, which hangs open. Her hair is messily held back by a small hair clip with a few strands falling onto her face. She has, denoted by her appearance, just woken up and has only just got out of bed to come downstairs for breakfast and to see her boyfriend off to work. She is the object of the male gaze in this advertisement.
“In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its fantasy on to the female figure, which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness.”
This young attractive woman has also been put into the advertisement to increase the businessman’s successfulness. So not only is he a successful man career wise, he also has a ‘to die for’ personal life. It is after all many a man’s fantasy to be nearing retiring age whilst still being able to attract and keep a young attractive girlfriend. A man of any age would envy her boyfriend so it still appeals to the whole age range of the male audience.
In the sixteen sixty four beer advertisement the woman playing the wife/girlfriend only comes in at the very last minute. She is playing the role of the leading man’s girlfriend or wife. She is approximately the same age as him and is slim and pretty. She walks into the room holding shopping bags filled with food. This is a very typical representation of a woman. She is nearly always associated with the household tasks such as food shopping, cleaning and washing. The other woman is seen on several occasions snooping around the man’s door. She is perceived as the general local busybody. She is between sixty and seventy years old and could easily be seen as a woman who’s only excitement in life is other peoples gossip.
The adverts showed a man in two completely different ways, but both characters were desirable to the audience. The women were shown in less favourable ways. They took up roles of convenience and annoyance in the men’s lives. The Barclays advertisement was broadcast on a week day evening on ITV and the 1664 advertisement was broadcast on a Weekend evening on ITV. Both are peak audience hours and so would be shown to men and women of all ages.
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