Network misrepresents film franchise, men in general

This month, Spike (the self-proclaimed network for men) is airing the films of the Star Wars saga. It is the first time all six episodes of the franchise will be presented together on basic cable. To promote this month-long marathon, Spike has released a series of subway-style posters sporting humorous slogans. Mostly, the posters are funny and good-natured (one featuring Darth Vader reads “A guy can only be called Annie so many times before he snaps”), but there’s something about Spike’s ad campaign for the airings that troubles me.

Spike is a television network that claims to be tailored towards men (note: when I say “tailored towards men,” I mean to say that studios create these shows with a male audience in mind, not that women can’t or shouldn’t enjoy them).

It chiefly features UFC tournaments, endless CSI marathons and those terrible montage programs of car accidents and skateboarders slamming against guardrails and destroying any chance they might have of ever reproducing. And so, for its month-long Star Wars marathon, Spike is taking a more machismo route in their advertising.

But Star Wars is not a film franchise geared towards men. In fact, I would say that the Star Wars films are some of the few action movies in cinema that truly transcend gender and appeal to just about everybody. I think New York Magazine’s Vulture blog said it best: “There are so many other action movies out there with crude macho overtones; do we really have to invent them for a movie where they don’t actually exist?”

The campaign’s main offender displays Princess Leia in her infamous gold bikini from Return of the Jedi with the slogan “Gold bikinis never go out of style.” Now, don’t get me wrong—I have a severe crush on Carrie Fisher in that movie—but to advertise the entire franchise with a half-naked woman goes against the spirit of the films, and is offensive to me as a male and a lifelong Star Wars fan. For Spike to presume that such imagery would draw me in is demeaning to men and women alike.

How about a poster featuring the fact that Princess Leia is the best shot in the franchise? She never misses. And honestly, a woman who’s a crack-shot with a blaster is just as sexy as one in a bikini.

On the surface, these posters are harmless, and I admit a few of them garnered a chuckle or two on my part. But they allude to something deeper and significantly more troubling than merely misrepresenting a series of awesome movies.

I am a man and I am proud to represent my gender. I love Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks, the Die Hard franchise and anything involving Harrison Ford as the president and Gary Oldman as a terrorist fighting aboard an airplane (on top of this, I don’t like anything involving Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling and a notebook).

But I am also a man who doesn’t particularly enjoy sports of any kind. I find the objectification of women that Spike partakes in to be distasteful and backwards. I cry, without fail, at the end of Moulin Rouge. And I hate—oh, how I hate—the UFC.

But Spike is a network for men—a network for me. So why do I find myself changing the channel?

Is it because I’m different? Because I fall into an entirely separate category of man? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think of myself as drastically different than the average guy (I am, after all, utterly clueless when it comes to talking to women). Spike is the problem here, not me. By narrowing their view of males to the beer-guzzling, football-worshipping, Neolithic variety, they create an unrealistic—and thoroughly offensive—image. Just as some women look at twig-like fashion models and see something altogether strange and foreign, I watch Spike and am utterly perplexed.

And of course I realize that a lot of men enjoy football and beer guzzling, and that a lot of men find skateboarder injuries hilarious (truth be told, I find them slightly humorous myself to an extent).

But it would be nice if television—and media in general—acknowledged men as significant individuals with widely varying interests and desires, not as the scheming, overweight slackers we see in sitcoms. It would be nice if commercials stopped pandering to the stereotypical, drooling male masses and ceased the objectification of women to increase sales. And it would be really nice if I could flip on the network for men without feeling ashamed of myself and my gender.

1 comment:

  1. I whole-heartedly agree that men are grossly stereotyped on television. Sitcom husbands are always idiots.

    I think it's the same for women, though. Lifetime television used as an insult about the "stupidity" of women is practically a clichéd insult now.


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