Masculinity and Popular Television

Masculinity and Popular Television

Rebecca Feasey
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1r1zht
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  • Book Info
    Masculinity and Popular Television
    Book Description:

    An introduction to the key debates concerning the representation of masculinities in contemporary television programming.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3179-7
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. 1 INTRODUCTION: THEORISING MASCULINITIES ON THE SMALL SCREEN
    (pp. 1-6)

    Television studies is the new and growing academic discipline that emerged out of a diverse range of sociology, politics, film, media and cultural theory departments during the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, even though television studies was originally understood as the populist subfield of existing disciplines it has more recently gained critical renown and respectability in its own right. After all, the history and pervasiveness of television, the virtually unlimited number of programme choices available, the sheer reach of the medium and the ability to access and archive previously ephemeral texts has appealed to a recent generation of scholars...

  4. 2. SOAP OPERA: THE MALE ROLE IN THE WOMEN’S GENRE
    (pp. 7-19)

    Soap opera has traditionally focused on the home, the family, domestic tribulations and the strong woman, and as such, it has long been said to appeal to the female viewer. However, more recently, the genre has tried to extend its audience by bringing in a range of central male characters as a way to attract the man in the audience and a wider range of television advertisers. With this in mind, this chapter will introduce a short history of the soap opera and briefly consider the representation of women in the genre before looking at the changing depiction of masculinities...

  5. 3. SITUATION COMEDY: HOMOSEXUALITY AND MALE CAMARADERIE
    (pp. 20-31)

    Situation comedies have been categorised as those humorous classical narrative shows that use regular characters, a routine setting and variations of the same plot over, over and over again. Such shows were first heard on American radio in the 1920s, and the genre remained popular with audiences when it transferred to the small screen in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In fact, the genre has lost little of its appeal over the intervening years, with sitcom continuing to dominate the contemporary television schedules (Mills 2005: 57).Throughout the genre’s long history, the sitcom has tended to focus on both the...

  6. 4. ANIMATION: MASCULINITY IN THE NUCLEAR FAMILY
    (pp. 32-44)

    Cartoons can challenge the dominant conventions of mainstream television programming, and as such, the animated sitcom is in an ideal position to present alternative and even subversive representations of family, friendship and masculinity on the small screen. After all, while the traditional domestic sitcom is said to be ‘largely limited to projecting a tame, normative, and uncontroversial version of family life’ (Palmer-Mehta 2006: 183) ‘animation seems to have given television comedy the appropriate mode in which a subversive view of [the] family . . . could be presented’ (Tueth 2003: 140). Therefore, this chapter will outline the history of film...

  7. 5. TEEN PROGRAMMING: ISOLATION, ALIENATION AND EMERGING MANHOOD
    (pp. 45-55)

    Television has routinely featured teenagers and the teen experience in a range of talent shows, variety programmes, soap operas and sitcoms, with such programming culminating in the teen television drama of the early to mid-1990s. These texts do not merely reflect adolescent interests and anxieties, but rather, they play a significant role in managing and shaping the teen experience. However, even though the small screen appears saturated by the trials and tribulations of teen life and a varied spectrum of adolescent concerns, this youth demographic has little or no control over such representations. After all, if one considers that the...

  8. 6. SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY TELEVISION: CHALLENGING DOMINANT GENDER ROLES
    (pp. 56-67)

    Although telefantasy covers a wide and diverse range of science fiction and fantasy texts (Johnson 2005: 2), this seemingly loose genre can be distinguished by a number of key codes and conventions that include interplanetary travel, encounters with aliens, advanced technology and visions of the future. Moreover, telefantasy routinely draws on different times and distant planets in order to reflect contemporary social, cultural and political concerns. Because telefantasy is not confined to either naturalistic or realistic conventions, this genre is in a position to offer alternative representations of sexuality and gender on the small screen. Although early examples tended to...

  9. 7. HOSPITAL DRAMA: REASSURANCE, ANXIETY AND THE DOCTOR-HERO
    (pp. 68-79)

    Although the 1950s hospital drama was home to morally principled and caring male doctors, more recently, this image of infallible masculinity has been replaced by less exalted representations of the male. In fact, today’s audiences are exposed to a large number of doctors who are not only tortured and tormented in their personal and professional lives, but who are actually culpable for the deaths of their patients. Therefore, this chapter will document the history of the feminine nurse, the female practitioner and the male doctor-hero on the small screen, from the 1950s to the present day, paying detailed attention to...

  10. 8. POLICE AND CRIME DRAMA: INVESTIGATING MALE AUTHORITY
    (pp. 80-93)

    The police and crime drama can be understood as one of the most masculine of television genres due to the fact that it tends to focus on the public sphere, professional roles and the male world of work (MacKinnon 2003: 69). Moreover, if one considers that the genre relies rather heavily on a rather simple formula of ‘crime, pursuit and capture’ (Sparks 1992: 5), then one might assume that the cop show is responsible for some of the most tired and passé representations of hegemonic masculinity on the small screen. However, irrespective of the simplicity of the formula and the...

  11. 9. SPORTS: MEDIA EVENTS AND MASCULINE DISCOURSE
    (pp. 94-105)

    Sports television is a loose generic label that covers a wide range of different production practices including live sports coverage, magazine programmes, quiz shows, fictional dramas and chat shows all dedicated to the world of sport. However, although there are clear distinctions in the style, presentation and format of such texts, what they all have in common is a commitment to masculine discourses in general and the hierarchy of hegemonic masculinity in particular. Therefore, this chapter will offer a brief history of organised sports and examine the depiction of sports coverage on the small screen before considering the relationship between...

  12. 10. REALITY TELEVISION: ORDINARINESS, EXHIBITIONISM AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
    (pp. 106-123)

    The term ‘Reality TV’ has been used by audiences and industry alike since the late 1980s to refer to a wide range of programmes that focus on nonprofessional actors in a range of both real-life and highly contrived situations. However, irrespective of the authenticity or artificiality of a particular stage or scenario, audiences have recently responded to the presentation of unscripted and ordinary people on television. Therefore, this chapter will briefly outline the changing nature of reality programming, drawing attention to the debates surrounding the genre’s claims to the real before considering the representation of gender that is being presented...

  13. 11. LIFESTYLE: DOMESTIC LABOUR AND LEISURE ACTIVITIES
    (pp. 124-137)

    Lifestyle programming has its roots in the hobbyist or enthusiast strand of television that was popular in 1960s Britain, when daytime schedules were keen to focus on a range of minority interests for ‘the jazz fancier or the pigeon fancier . . . the fisherman or cyclist or collector of LP records . . . the bridge player or the naturalist, the more sophisticated film-goer, the ardent motorist or the enthusiast for amateur dramatics’ (Radio Times cited in Brunsdon 2003: 6). However, due in part to an increase in home ownership and the continued inflation of house prices, the 1990s...

  14. 12. ADVERTISING: SOCIAL LIFE, SOCIAL STANDING AND SEX
    (pp. 138-152)

    In the UK, commercial channels air 12 minutes of adverts per hour, while in the US they show up to 16 minutes of national and local advertising in that same time. Moreover, because the British watch around 27 hours of television a week, and the ordinary American views for 31 hours, the average audience will be looking at between 5 and 8 hours of television commercials a week. Furthermore, if one considers that ‘commercials offer an extremely concentrated form of communication about sex and gender’ (Jhally 1990: 136) then it soon becomes clear that any examination of gender on the...

  15. 13. CONCLUSION: THE FUTURE OF MASCULINITY ON TELEVISION
    (pp. 153-156)

    Although masculinity was ‘once taken for granted as transparent, normal [and] too natural to require explanation’ (MacKinnon 2003: 21), our understanding of manhood, machismo and the male sex role has recently been ‘discovered, rediscovered, theorised . . . dislocated, unwrapped, unmasked, understood, embodied, fashioned, moulded, changed and put in perspective’ (Whannel 2002: 20). With this in mind, this book set out to examine the ways in which masculinities are being constructed, circulated and interrogated in contemporary television programming, and to consider the ways in which such representations can be understood in relation to the ‘common-sense’ model of the hegemonic male...

  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 157-174)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 175-186)