Six packs, success and solitude: men in the media | Modern Masculinity

Six packs, success and solitude: men in the media | Modern Masculinity

Hello ladies. Look at your man, now back
to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me. A successful man in an advert doesn’t talk very much. He’s really, really big,
strong, stoic, isolated and solitary. I mean maybe that’s the dream
maybe that’s what men want. I don’t know. So, this week I’m going to be looking at
images of success in advertising and the media targeted at men. I feel like in the past 20 years
on the women’s side, things have changed massively and there’s a lot
more diversity when it comes to beauty and what success means as a woman. ‘Hey, you ready?’ But when I look across at men, it feels
like there’s still a very specific mould. There are lots of men working in the advertising industry, for example, who believe that these stereotypes are actually incredibly negative and that
something needs to be done to change that. But these conversations shouldn’t
be limited just to advertising agencies. David Beckham as well.
– David Beckham is the one, definitely! Showing like, what actually happens in
everyday life. So I started this journey at New Macho,
an advertising agency in Shoreditch where I spoke to Fernando. ‘To be honest the end goal of this
journey is a sustainable gender balance.’ It’s like going to the dentist. He had these kind of developed nuanced ideas around advertising and I guess the
impact that has on society and stereotypes about men. So, we did a big research in 10 countries
and we realised many things. One was that men were performing who
they are – not being who they are. They are performing
what is expected for them to be. They then start following a path towards what
we define a successful man is in a way that is quite narrow and
sometimes materialistic. ‘Not just living in style but the style.’ And they have an emotional gap and that emotional gap … they tend to fill it sometimes with an addiction. That could be something soft, like drinking or it can go further like,
with drugs and then it can be something more acceptable as being a workaholic … until if you keep that for too long,
you get anxiety, depression, and then you get the
mental health issues. We wanted to put this under the spotlight
of society that men were suffering. Can you give examples of people who represent that kind of archetype? Like celebrities. We used to play with 007 and now Thomas
Shelby for Peaky Blinders, Mad Men … All of the images of a guy that is
successful, always in control … The way we are defining this idea of a successful man
is for me the worst stereotype and we are not talking about it. I think we are ready now to talk and when we talk about it people is more open to listen. If you go back to the kind of history of advertising, almost every stereotype, every ‘ism’ at some point … advertising has played a role in
it whether it’s racism, whether it’s sexism, and I think in masculinity,
secretly so, every time a brand expresses a man … First of all, he’s perfect, secondly he’s
sculpted to the eyeballs and always he’s got that pout on, he can’t show emotion. I’ve got a a 10-year-old boy now. I catch him looking in the mirror
to see if he’s got a six-pack. But, you know, he looks to Cristiano
Ronaldo and he looks to all those images and goes that’s what
masculinity is all about. If that kind of imagery is the imagery that kids grow up
to actually aspire to and look up to, then that’s going to impact on their
values and how they think about things. Do you think you can basically change
and have an effect by changing the images you’ve got on an advert …? Totally! Brands have contributed to the problem so almost by definition brands can help
solve the problem. It’s just that in some ways commercial gain at any cost has overwhelmed the ability for brands and communication to do something good. It can be good,
it can be an enormous force of good. And it can also
generate profit as well, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. You can do well by doing good. I’d like to quickly look at a few more
of those because I think that’s quite … – Yeah. I don’t know, I’m quite interested
to get your take on the different ads. Is it a watch ads special?
– Yeah. This one … there’s no one in it. It’s kind of got that solitary vibe you were talking about.
– Exactly! It’s like cabin in the woods. Check me out, I’m at one with the wilderness,
I’m the type of man who can take on Mother Nature herself and win. I just think if you’re the type of man who’s
gonna be out in the wilderness, maybe you should be able to tell the time from the sun. Again, by himself, your journey, connector …
I don’t even think that makes sense. Oh, it’s a disgusting watch. It’s silly because we’ve all got phones now. I know but it’s nothing to do with telling the time. It’s basically saying ‘check out
what type of man I am’. Bolton! So, in order to do a bit of research from
here in Bolton … I put together a bunch of covers from GQ with a wide
selection of men and I’m gonna ask guys to tell me who they think represents
success and who they respect. It has got to be a choice
between David Beckham and Stormzy. David Beckham. I was drawn to David Beckham straightaway. A great role model, superstar, fashion icon … I think he maximises his potential,
he’s a family man, he’s an icon for the UK. In a lot of places in England, especially,
there aint much out there for people. It’s the only two that have come from
nothing to actually be something. So you got, John Legend and you’ve got Drake. I think the way they dress are pretty cool. Drake’s half a million pounds watch. What is it about watches? It’s like, if a guy drove a Ferrari and a
Corsa, it would be two different things, you would look at them differently, wouldn’t you?
– Yeah … It’s a status symbol. Definitely Ed Sheeran.
– Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran as well. The guy started from busking, and having nothing to what he’s got now and where he’s gone with it and that’s a
massive idol of mine, I respect him a lot. Conor McGregor, 100%. Why is that? Because it’s just … he’s a man’s man, isn’t he? He thinks he’s the man, he knows he’s the man, so … I think he’s the man as well. I feel that it’s important also to go
and speak to young men who are potentially at risk of kind of taking on
those stereotypes and I guess having the burden of feeling they have to live up
to that so I decided to go to Ladybridge high school to speak to a group
of young boys and one girl and ask them how they see these images of success and if they see them differently. So, we put together a list of guys who get put
into a lot of adverts and I wanted to ask you to each pick who
your favourite one is. What does success look like? And I want you to choose who’s successful and who you respect. Who do you think is going to be the most popular? I’d say David Beckham.
– You think everyone is going to pick David Beckham? Yeah. For success, who have you put down? For success I put David Beckham. For me to be successful you need to work hard and like, learn from your mistakes. Who else said David Beckham as one
of your answers? You three down the front. OK, cool. You guys haven’t said anything, who have you chosen? Conor McGregor! Because of his UFC career and all he’s come through, since he was like younger and so
he’s like the undisputed champion. He punched an old man for drinking his whiskey. No, but he has changed from back then,
he was an idiot … It was only last year He is an undisputed champion. Are there any other ones?
You guys haven’t spoken … Yes?
– It’s probably James but like … James Corden?
– Yeah. Like, I’m not trying to be mean but like, when you become successful, you have a lot of money, you normally look better. In that picture he’s got a
bow tie on, he looks very smart … Are you more talking about the fact that, like … ? Ronaldo, when he was younger, he had some problem with his teeth and like something to do with this, Ronaldo got his teeth fixed
and nose fixed, like, you can tell he meant to look better
and fix the problem that you have. How important do you think that is? Even though you don’t look the part of being successful, you could still be successful
in any way, shape or form. He’s probably one of the
most famous out of all of them. Maybe because he’s like, grateful for how he looks like,
while some people are not grateful. They just want to like look like dolls and stuff. Do you think that they look like they’re happy? No. No? One brand that has changed
its approach to men over the past 10 years is Lynx. They replaced their ‘Lynx
effect’ tagline with the ‘find your magic’ campaign, claiming it inspired confidence
and individuality. I wanted to see which campaign resonated
more with the class. What if a two-year-old is watching TV and saw that? It’s an advert that was shown on television. That’s stupid, man. I want you to watch this advert now, OK? ‘Is it OK to be skinny?’ ‘Is it OK to not like sport?’
‘Is it OK for guys to wear pink?’ ‘To have long hair?’ ‘To like cats?’ ‘To take a selfie?’ ‘Go online to search and see for yourself.’ That’s a good advert, I respect that. You had a very strong feeling at first, OK? Which advert did you prefer? I prefer, like, the second advert.
– Why do you prefer the second advert? Because it shows what actually happens in everyday life with people like, with low self-confidence, if they are doing the right thing … I liked the first one actually, not because
of the girls or anything, but because they had something to do with actual Lynx, it actually advertised what it’s
meant to advertise. OK, and what would you say? I would say the first one kind of manipulates people, it’s like, oh, if you wear this all the women will come running after you, and you’d be like the centre of
attention while the second one, it shows that you have real life situations. Can I just say, I know everyone here
loved it, yeah? They are just not admitting it
because they are shy. Guys, I just want to say,
thank you so much for today! I really appreciate it. Thank you for coming! So, I think this has been really interesting,
I’ve really enjoyed speaking to all the different guys that I’ve spoken to in this episode. There is, it seems, an appetite to change
this image that we’ve got, this very rigid image of success for men. ‘Who am I? Who am I?
Who am I?’ But yeah, you don’t what to put men into a box where it’s like, you’ve got to be really, really vulnerable all the time and be in
touch with your feelings because lots of people don’t connect to that. It’s about, like, that whole range and whole
package of what being successful is which is what I think is happening more
when it comes to advertising directed at women. It was a moment when I was in the
classroom and the boys talked about, ‘well, when you get money, like Ronaldo, you get your teeth fixed, your nose fixed …’ And I just thought, oh my God. I don’t really think about young guys and plastic surgery in that way because that’s
something that’s always attributed to girls. And yeah, it really made me
think like, this is impacting on boys and we are not having this conversation. This is somewhere that needs to be
addressed and looked at further and it is something that matters. So, if you want to stay up to date with everything we’re
doing, please like, comment and subscribe.

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100 thoughts on “Six packs, success and solitude: men in the media | Modern Masculinity”

  • Iman I met you briefly at a event in NYC a few months back. You should've asked me do this interview. Some of us work harder that don't get all this media coverage lol Good series! 👌😎

  • What is up with these videos about masculinity by the Guardian? I'm a man and I don't think we are that complicated for there to be an entire series on it.

  • GQ exercise completely pointless. "Which of these cover stars do you think are successful". By being on the cover of GQ you are by definition successful. Started well with false images of mens physique and then went down that weird tangent.

  • People should just go to the gym and put the fork down , Iam 20 now and I used to be chubby at 12-15 then one day I decided I dont want to be fat and lost 25 kg in one year and have been going to the gym ever since and I look like the men in the adverts people need to stop sulking and feeling bad for themselves. Stop eating junk food and expecting to look amazing it’s not the adverts fault

  • Really great series. Might have been an interesting experiment to instead ask for peoples opinions based on unknown male magazine figures, just because responses would be exclusively based on appearance as opposed to appearance + celebrity status. Nonetheless, a great episode. Really important journalism!

  • What this video has made is make me want to watch more ads like this cause they are so fricking cool ! They're just so fuun

  • This video fails to realize that there are two kinds of men. Gay men, Straight men, and each have very different natural behaviors and desires. To lump all men in one category as "Men" and claim that one behavior is bad for all men and another is great for all men, is wrong and dishonest. Some men naturally are macho, and Hetero women love it, lets not pretend that they don't. And Lets not pretend that straight men don't try to macho it up further to get their attention.
    Some men are naturally feminine and delicate, and Gay men love it. Lets not pretend that they don't. And lets not pretend that gay men don't try to feminize themselves to get other men's attention. Again, Straight men and gay men have very different natural behaviors and desires. And, what Feminist tend to call, "toxic masculinity", is male heterosexuality, because it's hetero men that they don't like. this isn't actually about being fair and honest.
    Lastly, a guy in the video claims that men are only acting as what they think a man is, but their not being their authentic selves. This is false. Straight men are being their authentic selves. It;s closeted gay and bisexual men who pretend to be masculine straight men who aren't being authentic. We are not all suppose to act like feminine gay men.

  • About "the ads'. It doesn't matter how you change the ads, if you're a straight man and you see that women want to have sex with masculine, muscled men, you're going to get in shape in order to be with said women. You can try and pretend that women are not apart of the equation when it comes to maleness and masculinity in straight men, but all you're doing is lying and confusing weak minded people.

  • Ah. I do agree with one thing, which is what the Host says near then end, that there is a range of natural behaviors and desires within men as a group. I wish this was discussed more in detail, and not tagged on real quick at the end, because this is a detail that everyone misses, both the Feminists and the Traditional male folks.

  • the fact that these things are even discussed is beyond me. everyone wants to be in good shape, good looking and succesfull, and itsnothing wrong with that. no ones wants to be fat and ugly, and no man wants his significant one to be fat and ugly aswell, and its nothing wrong with that either.

  • I wouldn't think too deep about what that high school kid said in regards to having your teeth or nose fixed. It doesn't mean just because he's a man, he can't get his teeth fixed. I mean most children get braces or some get their teeth fixed. There is nothing wrong about that.

  • As a man.. These men represent freedom.. The stoic men.. The average man is out of shape, bends over to please his woman at the expense of his own interests…

  • I don’t think it’s the physical appearance that men are worried about, it’s the social expectations to always be this Uber competitive, Ultra productive, and Emotionally repressed.

  • I wanna be that man & I wanna man like that. How's it bad to encourage a man to be the best version of himself? We're meant to celebrate mediocrity?

  • Reality is that men do not have the same privileges that women do. You can't dismiss the masculine and still perform just as well in the society. If you are not physically and mentally strong, if you have nothing of value to offer, then you risk being destroyed by the society. At my lowest points in life I did not get any compassion. Women come to laugh at you and reject you. Men come to put you even further down in order to bounce of your failures. Even your own family will push you through your limits.
    Ultimately, I believe that this is precisely the reason why most of the campaign targeted at men have not changed. Society at large needs strong men, because without them there won't be any society. Mental and physical strength and hard work bring success. Success brings respect, money, women and progress. And this is how it will always be.

  • The thing with the more "positive" adverts is that they just come across as preachy. They could have the same intended effect (boosting the self esteem of young men) by simply representing different qualities of men as virtues instead of the typical ones (muscular, handsome, alpha). There doesn't need to be exposition explaining why, (think of the Gillette commercial for example) if anything that just comes across as patronizing. There is a rule for good writing: Show, don't tell. And that's exactly where these adverts go wrong. They try to tell us what to think. It's important to understand that Irreverence is a common quality in young men that haven't intellectually matured yet, so the attempts to TELL them what to think often times falls on deaf ears or even worse, gets made fun of for the attempt. Ciao.

  • They’re going about it wrong.

    The reason men only have one ideal image is because what is most attractive about men really is not their looks, but their ability to portray strength; be it through physique, or their ‘emotionless’ ready-to-fight faces that implies a high drive in biological dominance.

    For women fundamentally it’s different. Women have always had optimal levels of attractiveness through physicality, which is always subject to change depending on the environment. That is why there is more leeway into other ideal images of women.

    Edit: of course I do have hope but it would be extremely difficult to portray another image of immoveable strength, if the image of strength has literally changed aesthetically.

    Can’t be strong if you’re too busy changing your wardrobe y’know?

  • If this is what a man is supposed to be when why do so many women think a guy is a creep or a weirdo if he’s not always around people🤔?

  • I feel like this is just like an excuse to not strive to greatness and avoid hard work, to me there is nothing wrong with having an ideial or goal of the optimal lifestyle and persuing it

  • Self selected adverts depicting "success" as she defines, all depict success as she defines. Ummm. Hello? What a stupid video.

  • The problem can't be put on gender. People have simply lost what it means to be their gender, and that's why I'm going to clear it up for you:
    To be a man: focus on what is True.
    To be a woman: pipe down, stop taking selfies and have some kids.

  • When you change your body is does honestly strengthen your mind… you know you have more muscle mass and look better with no clothes than most. This does improve confidence experienced it myself… money is also fantastic it allows you to set any type of life wanted for you, your wife and your children

  • I love your genuine journalistic nonbiased approach, I sense a great deal of equality been addressed in regards to the modern global real man experiences!

  • “There are men that work in the advertisement industry that believe these stereotypes are negative”

    Those men are soft, pudgy, effeminate, and aren’t really men in the first place…

  • I expect something more nuanced from The Guardian. Yes, watches are jewelry for men to represent status. Although I value the point she is trying to make, I wish there was a deeper understanding of what adevertising does: why those are the steretypes that are reinforced?

  • I don't believe it's harmful, no one really believes or strides or tries to emulate what they see in these advertisements or media, the people whom surround you, wouldn't let you get away with it if you try to act that way, it's just fun, we like our toys and as men, most of us like cool, shiny, bulky, fast, tough stuff, at the end of the day we enter the wilderness with family or friends cause it's more fun and they make life better, we don't even try to put on a serious face cause laughing at all the dumb funny stuff our friends and family do is much better. We're just not that dumb, most of us end up ok.

  • So, it's wrong to want to be strong, able to deal with the difficult things, be physically healthy, etc…. Those are all positive things

  • Success for men is about accomplishing great things. The money, the respect, the women, may come as a result of that. But all of the men we admire, regardless of their occupation, have accomplished great things. And in order to do that you have to have a certain attitude of not letting anyone step over you, that doesn’t mean to be rude, but to respect yourself.

  • Iman thank you for creating this! You’ve shone a light on masculinity in a way that men have been screaming out for for ages! The tone is perfect. Balanced, not condescending, and sparks a real conversation! Thanks for the great work! Looking forward to seeing more of it!

  • What's that got to do with lynx 🤣🤣🤣 because it actually had something to do with the product be logical and that got pushed under the rug the only man in that room with a genuine answer 👍 even I was like eh!

  • Funny enough men are not complaining about the ads. Do people really think a 500 pounds man would be seen in Calvin Klein boxer shorts 🩳 ads

  • Why didn’t she go ask a bunch of women what their “ideal” man should look like? Honestly, growing up, I noticed that girls drooled over the guys that looked like those guys in the advertisements. And so, I followed suit and trained myself to look like that and guess what, I got those girls. Let’s just be realistic here and not just point fingers at only men. If women drooled over non-athletic, skinny fat, or just plain fat men, I’m pretty sure those companies would be painting a different picture.

  • Yes being rich, successful, strong, healthy e.t.c shouldn't be the gold standard for men that's too hard. The woman is right men don't need to live up to those unrealistic expectations we can just do other things society will appreciate men more I am 100% sure of this.

  • The media perpetrates what biology suggests. Women want a specific kind of man typically, and that is what men are pressured to be.. that is if they want the most access to mates. The same goes for women. Women want signs of vitality: financially successful/responsible (resources) competitive (resources), and emotionally stoic (kind of all healthy btw). Men want signs of fertility.. youth, beauty, and motherly emotions (or soft, kind, nice etc). End of story. Cry about how that is unfair while people like me climb the ladder of status and get better reciprocation from the opposite sex.

  • Until the end, I still dont get the idea of this clip. She is not judgemental but she lacks a conclusive view.
    So is she against the wide society view of man or not?

  • As an individual, i face insecurities sometimes. But a real man doesnt give a damn what anyone thinks as long as hes doing right and winning.🙏🙏🙏🙏💪🔥

  • Damn these kids are so thoughtful and eloquent, I wasn’t that aware of things when I was that age, that’s amazing to see.

  • White kids: Connor!!
    Black kid: isn't he violent and unhinged?
    White kid: but that's in the past, he's different now
    Black kid: it was last year

    Different ideals of masculinity

  • I mean I started working out and eating well three years ago…and the results in women's attention is incredibly noticeable. So it's not really false advertising…women notice.

  • No need to lower the bar for us ladies, we’ll continue to strive for physical and financial success. We also understand that adverts are not reality.

  • This video only touched the surface of modern male masculinity. I think I speak for everyone when I say this should be a multi part series, with perspectives from famous actors, athletes, musicians, etc., in addition to female perspectives. I bet that would be one heck of an informative yet intriguing series.

  • More blokes these days are more interested in how they look than their athletic ability. It’s literally toxic masculinity in its finest form. If you’re one of those that go to the gym ‘just to stay in shape and definitely not to get a better body’ then you clearly don’t get the issue. If you wanted to just stay in shape you’d find something actually enjoyable like athletic sport. You go to the gym to look better. Me personally, I used to box growing up and then sacked that in for just the gym… biggest mistake ever. Girls don’t really care about looks anyway it’s more about wit and character

  • They say advertising created this problem so they should solve it. These companies are doing it because it works. The key question is why does it work.

  • Sorry ladies droll over men's with amazing body & it's proven fact. Don't agree with this, I was 6ft1 & weight 55kg just bones & skin, bullied, looked on & laughed at. As I started getting bigger, respect from others started to grow & so does the attention from females. & I feel a lot more comfortable & happy now I weight 91kg & hit the gym.