I thought I'd share this blog entry that I found on MORPHOSIS's blog:
Maybe it's all the "True Blood" we've
marinated in this summer, but between Eric and Alcide frolicking half-naked on
the small screen, superhero after superhero displaying their superwaxed
superchests, and the increasingly lascivious casting announcements for Steven
Soderbergh's male-stripper movie "Magic Mike", it's time to notice
that we may be entering a new Golden Age in American entertainment : the Golden
Age of Male Objectification.
For decades, while film and television have
gotten progressively racier, the objects of the camera's increasingly lurid
gaze had largely been women. The reasons for this are so unofficially official
they're like unwritten laws, habits that have been codified into "common
sense" even if they don't make much sense : Hollywood's a boys' club and
male audiences want sex and violence, while women want hearts and flowers. So
women are lusted after by the cameras, while audiences looking for a little bit
of dude to ogle had to be content with tame rom-coms, subtext, and the dreaded
But no more ! The summer of 2011 officially
became the season that the male gaze was reflected back at itself -and with
enthusiasm ! In the summer's superhero movies, a supremely buff body became
part of what made these heroes so super. The "Captain America"
trailer had Dominic Cooper doing the old look-over-the-top-of-my-sunglasses
move to get a load of the newly pumped up Chris Evans. In "Thor", Kat
Dennings's audience-surrogate character spends half the movie talking about how
nutso everything is and the other half pointing out that this blond god from
the heavens is massively pumped. Fourteen years ago, America lost it when
Batman's costume included rubber nipples. Now we've got a Spider-Man whose
costume lifts and separates.
And consider the "yowza ! yowza !"
ad campaign for "Crazy Stupid Love" that centered around Ryan
'You-look-photoshopped' Gosling's gleaming torso. "Friends with
Benefits" saw the upset of the year when Justin Timberlake ended up more
exploited than Mila Kunis. Whole sections of plot in "The Devil's
Double" centered around staring at Dominic Cooper while he took a shower.
During the '2011 Summer of Dude', what was previously subtext became text. This
wasn't just, "Oh, Paul Newman had a legitimate reason to take his shirt
off in this scene" stuff. Emma Stone stopped "Crazy stupid Love"
in its tracks so we can all get a long, lingering look at at the physical
perfection of her male counterpart, and Ryan Gosling just stood there and let
The trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere, at
least not if Steven Soderbergh has anything to say about it. Once again, male
sexuality is getting put on front street, with Channing Tatum playing a
stripper, joined by an ever-expanding cast of exploitable males, who have
already been served up for prurient public consumption : Alex Pettyfer, whose
"Beastly" was almost entirely about the loss and reclamation of his
Abercrombie good looks; Joe Manganiello, his "True Blood" werewolf as
naked as he is boring; and Matthew McConaughey, who turned being photographed
working out into a cottage industry. Matthew Bomer counts as the demure one,
and that's only because "White Collar" features him gratuitously
shirtless once every other episode.
This fall offers quite a few more opportunities
for trend-spotting. The bro-fighting drama "Warrior" might not have
Tom Hardy doing anything quite so titillating as working out in sweatpants, but
time was you couldn't show two sexy men sweating all over each other without at
least six tossed-in scenes of topless women to counterbalance it, the cinematic
equivalent of bros sitting with a buffer seat between them. Will the upcoming
gods-and-togas saga "Immortals" take the winking beefcakes of
"300" even further into the realm of dudesploitation ? And then there's the sure to be
"NC-17 Shame", which stars Michael Fassbender as a sex addict; both
he and Carey Mulligan go full frontal in this film, but thus far, he's the only
one getting attention for it.
As revolutions go, the movie industry learning
to exploit their male movie stars is more a matter of fairness than real
upheaval. It's not like women are suddenly not being objectified; now it's just objectificationfor all. But if the upshot is a slight widening of
the traditional Hollywood gaze, a recognition that all sorts of audiences are
looking for tawdry thrills at the movies —not to mention, more movies about
male strippers with hearts, and asses, of gold— how is that not progress ?