Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Male Image - Sports

In this article titled ‘Hooligans, Studs and Queers’: Three Studies in the Reproduction of Hypermasculinity, Varda Burstyn addresses the idea of ‘hypermasculinity’ and how this trait is portrayed in media and its effects on culture. According to Burstyn, ‘hypermasculinity’ is “the belief that ideal manhood lies in the exercise of force to dominate others” (912). Burstyn continues to write about three examples of this ‘hypermasculine’ ideology and how they connect and influence directly men’s identities. The three examples Burstyn gives are, “British football hooliganism, the cult of the black super-athlete, and the convergence of gay culture with the athleticized body” (193). Each of these three examples has to do with sports developing the male ideology. Burstyn believes these three examples highly influence the male identity because of how influential sport culture has been in “shaping and homogenizing masculine ideals across, through, and despite the multiple and diverse masculinities of real men” (193).

First of all, Burstyn writes about ‘Football Hooliganism’ and its relation to the ‘hypermasculine’ identity. This ‘hooliganism’ refers to the individuals in the United Kingdom engaged in football (American soccer) violence. “Collective violence” was practiced around championship games and weekly games and often times had to be censored by police (195).

Green Street Hooligans

I chose this particular clip from youtube because is directly illustrates the construction of a violent male identity in media. This entire film is about the excitement of being a ‘hooligan’ or individual involved in ‘football violence’. This film shows how serious those involved in this lifestyle are and how exciting and rewarding the lifestyle can be. It portrays these men involved in football violence as tough and they portray an image that seems to be appealing to a male audience. The end of the film redeems itself in that the main character realizes that violence is not always necessarily the answer to life’s problems, but the rest of the film supports violence especially when used to defend yourself or your family/friends.

Second, Burstyn writes about the black ‘super-athlete’. Basically, Burstyn suggests that the rise of famous black athletes really does not help to take away the stereotypes of the African American race. This is because of the commercialization of the black athlete. The African American athlete who is supporting a specific company through being in commercials, wearing specific gear, etc is, according to Burstyn “not a fighter for equality, justice or community,” but rather a “corporate warrior” (207).

Kobe Bryant Nike Commercial

I chose this Nike commercial because it portrays a black ‘super-athlete’. He is not in this commercial to somehow fight for racial equality or justice in terms of the African American race. Rather, he is supporting Nike as a major corporation by wearing and using their gear. He is working hard to achieve success and showing that he can achieve success with Nike’s gear, which only supports Nike and brings Nike more money and recognition, not the African American male.

Finally, Burstyn discusses ‘homoeroticism’. In terms of sports, and especially with male sports, homosexuality has not been accepted. Those involved in sports have been considered ‘manly’ while those men not involved in sports have been referred to as “pansies, sissies and mama’s boys” (214). However, today in sports, Burstyn discusses how ‘homosexual’ actions such as a slap on the butt and some language used in male sports like football such as: “Stick it down their throats” and some other sexually oriented phrases are somehow accepted in these athletic settings. Is this simply because football is viewed as a manly sport that using phrases that may be used to discuss homosexual tendencies are acceptable? Burstyn raises some interesting points in discussing the male identity in view of homoerotic interests within sports and among those involved or interested in sports.

Image from:
I chose this image because it portrays how 'homosexual' phrases or actions are acceptable in sports, especially male sports. In sports such as football, which is considered a 'manly' sport, somehow, a slap on the butt is an acceptable way of saying 'good job' or 'great play', etc. This cartoon puts a funny spin on how sexual 'references' are acceptable in sports such as saying "You were great last night." It seems very ironic that this type of action or these words are acceptable in the realm of sports and within the vocabulary of these athletes but when confronted by someone else and accused of homosexuality, these athletes would be extremely offended.

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