Our interpretation of gender in the media can take place intuitively, it gradually develops from numerous images that we see and become accustomed to and accept as normal. The Cultivation theory (Mass Communication Theory 2010)

“Posit that television viewing can have long-term effects that gradually affect the audience.”

The theory goes on to explain that the more time a person spends watching television; the more likely they’re consumed and misled for it to be reality. For example if you continuously watching western films of cowboys, your interpretation of a masculine man is someone who is brave, robust and who knows how to use a weapon.

During the early 1980’s films that had really pin pointed masculine male gender were ones like Rambo and Terminator. Both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger had toughness, bravery and muscle. During the 80’s they had defined the meaning of masculinity for American men, in their analysis Jefford S. (1994, pp. 46-47) states that

“if there is anything heroic left in American culture it rests in male bodies like these!”

This is a 1980’s print advert for Calvin Klein who is advertising the iconic underwear and takes place in America. The image is of a man who is standing strong with his hands firmly on his thighs that connotes a sign of control and power. The second shot of the advert covers the models face and the audience’s focus is directed to his body. This muscular build is a clear indication of how the public in 1980’s thought a real man should look like.

This is another advert by Calvin Klein, however it is taken place in the spring summer 2015 campaign. Justin Bieber a famous musician models the underwear; he is hugely admired by his female fans and considered one of the hottest music artists around in today’s generation. When comparing the two Calvin Klein adverts, it is obvious that physically; Bieber is considered a mere boy because of his baby face and small build. In the second shot Bieber is directly looking at the audience, which takes us to Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze and the idea of ‘confrontation’. Bieber staring directly at the audience illustrates the feeling of intimidation and supremacy.

This advertisement is from Ralph Lauren for a 2013 summer Ad campaign. This particular print advert goes against the typical masculine male,
the dog he is holding is something that captures the audience’s attention. It is well known that dogs are considered ‘a man’s best friend’, however it represents this male to be affectionate, a quality that some may consider quite feminine. He is also wearing a pink Ralph Lauren polo, a colour that is thought to be a binary opposite for masculinity. That being said, Smith K (2012) says that in Japan

“The color pink has a masculine association […] said to represent the young Japanese warriors who fell in battle in the prime of life (the Samurai)”.

This colour viewpoint is clearly subjective, depending on the culture you grow up in. One might also argue that both Calvin Klein adverts have serious facial expressions, whereas the modern Ralph Lauren advert has someone smiling. The modern masculine man in todays generation doesn’t need to be somber, but can instead be just as manly with a smile.
Overall, conventional masculine themes don’t really prevail strongly in this generation as it once did before. Instead through the progression of time, societies idea of a masculine man can have feminine features and still be as strong as the orthodox male in the 80’s.

Mass Communication Theory (2010) Cultivation Theory. Available at:
(Accessed: 27 March 2016).

Jeffords S. (1994) Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era
California: P. Tomasulo.

Smith K (2016) All About the Color PINK. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2016).

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