Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity Response


An introductory statistic in this article was alarming: it's reported that 86% of all violent crimes are committed by men. It's an unfortunate fact that people are going to find ways to identify with characters in the media and reproduce their actions. The media, in turn, reflects society and this becomes the vicious continuous cycle of violent media. Many claim that it's what people want to see. All too often, constructions of masculinity in the media are depicted by characters who are seen as strong and powerful, or good protectors, if they are involved in violent acts. Even the violent bad guys are still seen as "cool" these days. It's interesting that the media almost always creates action heroes exactly the same: white, male, tall, strong, powerful, aggressive, and violent. We have Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Captain America, and the list goes on and on. I appreciated how the article took a look at these big, aggressive, violent super heroes and how they become the models of "real men" or masculinity for young white males along with touching on the "angry, aggressive, white working-class male" as an anti-authority level who is almost more attainable for men and more easy to replicate. Men in the media definitely don't get as much attention as women do. There needs to be more of a concern within our culture about the ways we are portraying men as well.

Discussion question: Men in the media who are seen as powerful and attractive are also often aggressive and violent in their behavior. Why do we reward men in our society for portraying this very limiting version of masculinity and ignore other types of portrayals? Why should we have to equate heroic masculinity with violent displays of masculinity?


Hi there,

Well I was reading your post, I kept going back and forth to your discussion question as to why the men in media who many idolize are often portrayed as heroes yet are still aggressive and violent just as much as the villains are? There honestly is no difference in what the hero and villain does in order to achieve their goal: both main characters use their aggression, strength, and violence to intimidate others to give them what they want or they would forcefully make them do it. I guess the only difference is intent: good guys do bad things for good reasons (saving the damsel in distress/world or common good) versus bad guys do it for greed or selfish reasons. I find it interesting that we are able to rationalize bad actions as okay if done by good people -- almost like it's okay to lie because it will devastate the other person.

I think it is so important to discuss the super-hero position while discussing men and violent nature. I just think that while growing up we are searching for idols and these "classic heroes" have become the face of most idols, especially for young boys. Why not? These young men are being taught that they need to be strong and tough in order to become protectors, maybe not to the extent of saving the world, but on a scale applicable to their own situation. When it becomes apparent that they don't need to exhibit these skills, they find outlets to which they can prove their manhood and it continues throughout their lives and the media keeps feeding these ideals. How does the construct begin to change? I keep thinking about the introduction of female super-heroes. A majority of them and their powers come from being sexy! Think about Wonder Woman in her skimpy one-piece that highlights her cleavage and her curves. Or even Rouge from X-men. Her power in the cartoons was that she would attract males, kiss them and they would die! Then there is Catwoman and all of the forms she has taken. All of them have involved some form fitting outfit and a beautiful woman who seduces men so she can steal. The construct of our idyllic superheroes further exemplifies these ideals about how men and women obtain what they want and how best to achieve these goals.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by denni293 published on April 9, 2013 11:34 AM.

kats: response and discussion question was the previous entry in this blog.

The Invisible War is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.