The sexualization of the male figure receives considerably less review than that of the sexualization of the female figure (for quite obvious reasons like the substantial amount of imagery we see in the media and the power association of this imagery), however when combined with issues of racial prejudice the power issue is shifted.
The myth being utilized within this photo that I have taken of a Magazine cover is not that of a gender issue; this basketball player is most likely not being examined so explicitly because he is a male, he would be seen as being objectified due to his African-American ethnicity.
This again relates to the eroticization of the exotic and draws upon the stereotype (myth), that black men have large penises. In this picture the focus is being shifted from the player’s achievement as a basketball player, to the objectification of his body. Other’s may argue that this is ESPN’s “body issue” and that this is not objectification but rather examination and therefore validated, however if we were to replace the person on the cover for a ‘white’ or Asian, basketball player posing naked it would most likely be considered perverse or wrong. This seems to point to how entrenched the eroticized African-American has become within the media.
One specific paradigm of myths is those that relate to the perceptions we may hold about different ethnicities. A surface level interpretation, these myths may seem harmless, however if we are to dissect these generalizations they are often extremely detrimental toward those of whom they are aimed.
The picture above is a photo I took in a café recently. I was quite astounded to see a chilli sauce bottle named “Hot! Samoan Boys Chilli Sauce” and immediately began to unpack the myth that could have led to the naming of this sauce. Personally I believe this may be the eroticization of the exotic; the sexualization of the other, yet obviously in a drastically euphemized form. I am not specifically sure as to where this idea of an overtly eroticized exotic originated from, however I would guess it has roots in colonial times when the British were seeking conquest of any and all land they set foot upon. One such method in attaining power was to ‘breed out’ any ‘inferior’ indigenes.
So, why is this myth being used to sell a particular brand of chilli sauce? Again I am simply guessing as I have no background information on this sauce or who makes it; yet I assume it is attempting to cater toward a early to middle aged women, who may see this myth as an erotic fantasy.
Another myth we are accustomed to seeing within the advertising world is ‘fresh food’. Fast food chains are continually waging an ongoing battle against negative media coverage of their products; this is an example of two conflicting ideologies. Fast food chains are portrayed (most likely justifiably) as being unhealthy and often unsustainable, so they tend to address this attention by utilizing a myth of fresh or authentic food. They euphemize their product.
I took this photo of a domino’s pizza box as the design caught my attention, apparently the dominos sauce is made from vine ripened tomatoes. This may not necessarily be a lie, however I am skeptical as to whether they are grown in an organic beautiful orchard as the picture connotes. Sure most tomatoes do ripen on the vine, and the paste that they use to make their sauce probably contains a considerable amount of tomato extract so they can therefore claim that their sauce is made from vine ripened tomatoes. I would go so far as to personally guarantee that tomatoes in the form depicted on the box have never been seen within a dominos fast food franchise.
The average everyday consumer sees this image and then feels validated in their choice of purchasing from such fast food chains. On a side note it is interesting to discuss what are considered the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choices about diet this in itself seems to be moralizing upon another myth regarding what is “real food” (real food in this myth referring to unprocessed organic or sustainable).
Myths are an important part of human society. The most important thing to remember is that they are constructed ideas which have been perpetuated throughout history. Just because the idea is in a sense ‘generally’ accepted does not mean that there is any fundamental truth behind the idea.
An interesting myth within today’s popular culture is the glorification of apocalypse and I have noticed this trend within many new release video games. I think this idea is stemming from a more common or cliché pastoral myth; the pastoral myth involves the rejection of modern society and a yearning for a more primitive society and a connection with land. Each of these four games above have been released in the last few months and their storyline revolves around a landscape which has been desecrated in a particular way, forcing the protagonist to draw upon primitive survival instincts in order to thwart an antagonistic society. There is no division between machine and nature.
This is prevalent in the imagery used on each four cover, two featuring a bow and arrow and all four an apocalyptic backdrop. Paradoxically this creates a certain nostalgia for an anarchic future, where power would be shifted from society back to the individual – Interestingly this pastoral or apocalyptic myth could be explained through a Marxist perspective and arguably have resulted from a disinterest in a capitalist consumer society. The myth seems to be euphemizing an apocalypse, as if it would bring about a second age of personal humanism.
Class system is something that is often addressed in the media; however the reason for this is often ambiguous. One would think that in order to avoid any animosity toward themselves, the ruling class would do everything in their power to detract attention from the matter. However this is when the power of myth comes into play and is used to cast a blanket of ideology over the working class.
One such recurring myth which could be seen as a way to subjugate the lower class is that of ‘authenticity’. This is the idea that it is authentic, noble and true to be lower class. “In Time” is a recently released movie (which I watched a few months ago) and a typical example of this ideology. The protagonist seizes a chance to transcend his place in the slums and takes a slice of the ‘high life’ only to learn that it is morally wrong to hold that sort of money or power and gives all his standing away charitably whilst also converting and seducing an upper class female to see the light and reverse her wrong doings in being upper class. This myth perpetuates the ideology which comforts the everyday working class in regard to their social standing.