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MARKETING MASCULINITY: A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF GENDER ROLE PRESENTATIONS IN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS AT THE TURN OF THE 21 st CENTURY BY ALLISON WHITCOMB A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partia l fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Emily Fairchild Sarasota, Florida May, 2012
ii Acknowledgements The journey of not only writing a thesis, but also of being a student at New College, has b een nothing short of an adventure. So many people have come into my life and helped me to be here today, and I am forever grateful. Professor Fairchild, you have been instrumental to my success at New College, and it was the class I took with you my firs t year that shaped me as a burgeoning Sociology and Gender Studies enthusiast. Throughout the years, your encouragement has pushed me to love learning, and I could not have imagined going through this thesis process without you. Professor Hirshfield, you have been such a wonderful mentor and professor over the past couple of years. I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with you, and the advice you have given me has shaped so many different as pects of my life. I would a lso like to thank Professor Re id for sitting on my committee and always being a friendly face on campus. Professor Hernandez, thank you for all of your support in the Senior Seminar and throughout my time at New College. Thank you to my parents, Derrick, Jasmine, Chessa, and Emily fo r their unwavering support. Mom and Papa, thanks for always letting me call and Skype you to read the chapters of my thesis, even if y ou did not totally understand what I was saying. Delaney, you have been such an integral part of my time at New College. You w ere the first person I met, my roommate for all four years and now one of my best friends and greatest supporters. You have taught me so much about comp assion and friendship, and you hold such a special place in my heart. Ilene, I am beyond fortu nate to have met you. You have truly changed me as a person, and I know we can always t urn to each other when in need. No matter where we end up in this world, know that you will always be close to my heart. Heather, I reme mber bei ng neighbors first yea r, being great
iii friends second year, and then being so excited to be your roommate my last two yea rs We have had so many laughs together, and you wil l always be my Preshy. Loey, Natalie, Landis, Annie, and Christie, my beautiful girls from Miami, you all mean so much to me Chris, Alex, Jenica, Corrie, Staci, Marilyn, Monica, Alyssa, Lynn, the other Soc seniors Mackenzie, Essie, and Claire, my Hillel family, my work family, you all have brought smiles to my face, shaped me as a person, and supported me through out this process. New College you have been the best thing that has ever happened to me and shown me what ecstatic wonder truly is. Thank you for everything!
iv Table of Contents Acknowledgements ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. ii List of Tables ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... v Abstract ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. vi Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 1 Lite rature Review ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 8 Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 28 Analysis and Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 35 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 54 Appendices Appendix A ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 59 Appendix B ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 61 References ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 62
v List of Tables Table 1: Cost of Super Bo wl Commercials from 1967 to 2010 ................................ ... 24 Table 2: Normative and Non normative Gender Performance ................................ .... 31 Table 3: Number of Male and Female Performances of Masc ulinity and Femininity in Super Bowl Commercials ................................ ................................ ........... 35 Table 4: Number of Male and Female Performances of Normative and Non normative Gender in Super Bowl Commercials ................................ .............................. 36 Table 5: Male and Female Pr esentations of Masculinity and Femininity in Super Bowl Commercials from 2000 through 2010 ................................ .......................... 43 Table 6: Male Presentations of Normative (Masculinity) and Non Normative (Femininity) Gender Performances in Super Bowl Commercials in 2000, 2005, and 2010 ................................ ................................ ..................... 47
vi MARKETING MASCULINITY: A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF GENDER ROLE PRESENTATIONS IN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS AT THE TURN OF THE 21 st CENTURY Allison Whitcomb New College of Florida, 20 12 ABSTRACT Developments throughout the past century illustrate an abundan ce of progre ssive changes regarding gender, leaving us in uncharted territo ry with new understandings. This thus presents a unique opportunity to explore current portrayals of gender in society An analysis of Super Bowl commercials, some of the largest commercial campaigns in America (Tomkovick, Yelkur, Christians 2001; McAllister 1999), provides a look into gender presentations in American media. Advertisements in particular are arguably one of the most powerful societal influences, reflect ing social n orms and reveal ing what is regarded as most desirable. The Super Bowl itself also embodies many aspects of "American" values, based on ideals of hegemonic masculinity with a foundation of aggression, strength, and competition Th erefore, in this study I perform a content analysis of Super Bowl commercials from 2000 through 2010 to explore gender role presentations in American media at the turn of the 21 st century. I fin d that Super Bowl commercials serve to perpetuate normative masculinity through images and messages, but also through the use of humor, which serves to police gender roles and reinforce traditional ideas of gender. I discuss the implications of this paradox in which progressive ideas exist in larger society though are not reflected in th e media. Dr. Emily Fairchild Advisor Sociology/Gender Studies
1 Chapter 1: Introduction The different waves of feminism throughout the 20 th century pioneered and paved the way for an abundance of progressive changes regarding traditional understandings of gender. This led to the development of women's studies, and an eventual shift to gender studies, including the reconceptualization of what it means to "be a man" (Messner 1994). These challenges to traditional views of gender over the past several decad es leave us with new understandings of gender roles and norms. This thus presents an opportunity to explore how masculinity and femininity are currently being constructed and p ortrayed in contemporary media Understanding how gender is constructed in soc iety is critical, as it has considerable implications that affect individuals. S pecifically with regard to individuals' life chances gender can greatly influence education, jobs, wages, class status, and more. It is therefore my aim to explore the ways in which masculinity and femininity are constructed at the turn of the 21 st century. To do so, I have explored the construction of gender in some of the largest media campaigns in our culture: Super Bowl commercials. MEDIA AND GENDER IN SOCIETY Much rese arch has shown that the media is greatly influential in the process of socialization, and this is often accomplished through commercials and advertisements ( Rossiter 1977; Ewen and Ewen 1982; Pike and Jennings 2005; Park 2005; Dill and Thill 2007 ). More s pecifically, research has explored the ways in which the media socializes individuals with specific consideration of gender norms and beauty ideals ( Garst and Bodenhausen 1997; Du Plessis 2005; Park 2005). Ewen and Ewen (1982) attribute the
2 significance o f commercials to the fact that aside from simply selling products, commercials extend to sell pieces of culture and society by revealing what is desirable and normative. In doing so, commercials serve to socialize individuals by outlining different presc riptions about the performance of normative roles. Therefore, in gaining a better understanding of what gendered messages actually exist in advertisements, we can analyze media as a socializing agent, becoming critical spectators of the media rather than passive consumers. To understand what gendered messages exist in the media, it is important to first gain an understanding of the development of norms in society. The concepts of masculinity and femininity as they are commonly conceived of in soc iety repl icate a structure based on a polarized binary that situate s masculinity and femininity as opposites from one another. In order to understand gender inequality and the construction of rigid, polarized gender norms, it is important to recognize the ways in which gender expectations are formed. Focusing on expectations regarding femininity and female beauty ideals, Wolf (1992) refers to the expectations in society as "the beauty myth," revealing the social construction in the use of the term "myth." David a nd Brannon (1976) complement Wolf's analysis through their exploration of the construction of the male role. They write that from childhood, boys are taught what not to do; they are taught not to be a girl, they are taught not to cry and be sensitive. In this, boys develop "an image of the male role, rather than an idea of what real flesh and blood men are like" ( ibid : 234). These proscriptions, coupled with prescriptive ideals, all reveal the social constructio n of norms that are policed by "dos" and "do nots," whilst replicating polarized norms.
3 Social construction is pivotal for my research because this position underscores how norms, beliefs, and opinions in society are shaped through individuals, interactions, and institutions. The media is a major c atalyst in this process because it serves to sell ideals (Ewen and Ewen 1982); thus, studying the messages that exist in different advertisements provides a better understanding of the processes behind gender role socialization and social ideals. Addition ally, recognizing the social construction of these norms als o allows for greater chances for the fluidity of norms and destabilization of oppressive structures. Therefore, I aim to better understand the messages surrounding masculinity and femininity foun d in Super Bowl commercials at the turn of the 21 st century. My findings provide an insight into the collective construction of larger cultural beliefs, values, and norms. THE SUPER BOWL As noted, studying messages in the media provides an understanding of the processes behind gender role socialization and social ideals. A prime site for this analysis then is the Super Bowl, as Super Bowl commercials are some of the largest advertising campaigns that occur in our culture ( McAllister 1999; Tomkovick, Yelk ur, and Christians 2001). Consequently, analyzing these mega media campaigns provides a unique perspective into analyzing advertising in America because of their magnitude and significance. A symbol of American culture, the Super Bowl embo dies many diffe rent aspects of "American" (i.e. "mainstream" U.S. cultural) values. Largely based on ideals of hegemonic masculinity, there is a strong foundation of competition, aggression, and Capitalism imbued in these "American" values. Thus, the Super Bowl is a p articularly
4 interesting site of study in regards to studying gender. Furthermore Super Bowl commercials often take advertising to the extreme, with "the more fantastic, special effects laden, campy, the more chockablock with celebrities, the more out th ere' an ad is, the better" (Kanner 2004 : 5). Super B owl commercials are not "polite ; rather they are in y our face and attention grabbing. I t is because of these hi ghlighted extremes that gender is made more obvious, revealing messages that may not have b een easily discernable in safer, milder commercials. This therefore provides a site to examine messages surrounding gender. McAllister (1999) explores and analyzes the discourse in Super Bowl advertising, approaching it as a cultural event, rather than as superficial ads. This more holistic analysis of Super Bowl advertising allows us to see how the Super Bowl and advertisements become pieces of our culture, infiltrating dialogues, media coverage, and news reports well before and after the event even take s place. In fact, for Super Bowl XXXIV ( in the year 2000 and included in my sample ), entire portions of the show were sold and renamed by different corporations; Charles Schwab & Co. hosted a pre show, E*Trade hosted the halftime show, and Pontiac hosted a post game "cool down" (Kanner 2004: 3). This demonstrates how corporations capitalize on the exposure of the Super Bowl in order to advance their product, image, and services. As a result, the Super Bowl becomes more that just a singular event; rather, it is a conglomeration of dialogues, news coverage, images, and commentaries that then becomes a part of the larger American culture. With an audience of 750 million viewers worldwide Super Bowl advertisers are presented with an opportunity not only to se ll their product, but to become a part of the
5 American culture Kanner writes, "a single Super Bowl commercial can change our vocabulary (Whassup?!), sense of humor (money coming out of the wazoo), buying traditions (M&M's), or product associations" (2004 : 5). The messages found in Super Bowl ads garner significant importance, largely due to the ways that they become a part of American culture through the surrounding discourse and the sheer size and consequential exposure of the Super Bowl. Because of th is grand stage that Super Bowl affords advertisers, the cost of a S uper Bowl advertisement has sky rocketed over the years, with the average 30 second time slot costing around $2.5 million to $2.8 million (CBS News 2010). Even with these figures, the milli ons of dollars spent to ensure a time slot do not even take into account the actual cost of production. This only furthers the ads cultural significance because it demonstrates that though the price of production is very high and labor intensive, the opp ortunity to gain exposure and disseminate specific messages is deemed important enough that price is not considered an issue. In fact, the notoriety of the cost of Super Bowl advertisements is in itself a form of social status, revealing the intimate rela tionship between wealth and status. Though the prices are extreme and the cost of production high, it is worth the exposure that the Super Bowl provides for advertisers. With all eyes on the television screen, coupled with the fact that the audience is li ke none other, one in which individuals are actually primed to watch the commercials, advertisers are presented with an opportunity to "[be] in front of an audience actually willing to be advertised to" (Sann and Dusenberry in Kanner 2004: xvi). The Super Bowl thus provides an environment of extremes (with high production costs, considerable exposure, and campy campaigns),
6 providing a means through which underlying messages surrounding gender roles can rise to the surface. Because of the in your face adver tising, gendered extremes are made more obvious. Rather than vaguely hinting at an idea, Super Bowl commercials are blatant and extreme, making mes sages that may not have been clear in a safer, milder commercial very obvious It is then that an analysis of these messages can better examine what cultural norms and ideals are being presented on screen. PRESENT RESEARCH In order to analyze how Super Bowl commercials construct masculinity and femininity I conducted a content analysis of Super Bowl commerci als from the years 2000, 2005, and 2010, providing a look at messages at the turn of the 21 st century. I used the adland.tv online archive as a site to gain access to the commercials. Adland.tv is the most comprehensive Super Bowl commercial archive, hav ing 38 out of the 44 Super Bowl years. Using random selection, I then chose a total of 25 commerc ials from each year to be coded (thus, having a total sample size of 75 commercials). My analyses were shaped by themes of masculinity proposed by David and B rannon (1976). I used these themes of mascu linity as a framework to explore the different ways that messages surrounding masculinity emerge in the commercials, and I will discuss these themes more in depth later in my work. To complement these themes of masculinity, I look to Kanter's (1977) four roles of women, which I also discuss more in depth in my methods chapter. Although both David and Brannon and Kanter's pieces were written several decades ago, their work continue s to serve not only as classic t heories in gender studies, but their methods also continue to be the basis of current
7 research ( Gentry and Harrison 2010; Tager, Good, and Brammer 2010; Littlefield and Ozanne 2011; Kray 2011; Ridgeway 2011 ). Furthermore, they are comparable in both date and structure, providing an equal analysis of bo th masculinity and femininity. In using these themes of masculinity and femininity, I have formulated my coding sheet to look at male performance of the themes of both masculinity and femininity, and female p erformance of both masculinity and femininity. In doing so I am able to trace "normative" performances (male masculine; female feminine) and "non normative" performances (female masculine; male feminine) in the commercials. Analyzing these perfor mances allow s me to examine reoccurring themes surrounding traditional and non traditional gender roles in the Super Bowl commercials over time. It is also notable that taking memos throughout the coding process has enabled me to conduct more grounded res earch with issues that may not be guided by the themes outlined by David and Brannon and Kanter. It is in this that my research will be able to contribute a new perspective and expand notions of gender roles as they are currently being constructed in comm ercials. In my research I analyze Super Bowl commercials at the turn of the 21 st century, and as such, I provide a look into how gender is constructed in modern day commercials. In chapter two, I situate my own work within the context of previous researc h in regards to gender role theory and socialization and the media, concluding with an overview of gendered commercials in the Super Bowl. In chapter three, I discuss the methods employed in my study. I n chapter four, I present my data alongside an analy sis and discussion of the commercials. And finally, in chapter five, I discuss in greater detail the implications of my findings.
8 Chapter 2: Literature Review In this chapter, I discuss the theoretical and empirical foundations of my work. I use the fi rst section to explore the underpinnings of gender theory, looking specifically to the social construction of gender. I then turn to how gender roles are both constructed and conceived, as well as the implications of such views. Subsequently, I move to t he ways through which a collective construction of gender is reproduced in the media. This section serves to outline how socialization and the media are instrumental in shaping individuals' understandi ngs of gender. To conclude, I explore the Super Bowl focus ing on how it is a prime site for the construction of gender. Together, these three sections provide a framework for understanding my analysis of gender presentations in Super Bowl commercials. GENDER THEORY Gender is all around us, affecting coun tless aspects of our lives, so much so that many do not even realize all of the ways that gender manifests itself on a daily basis. And yet, gender is constantly created and re created through interactions and s ocial life, and "is the texture and order of that social life" (Lorber 1994). In fact, for most it takes an intentional disruption of gender roles and expectations for this active gendering to become apparent ( ibid .). When these disruptions occur or expectations do not align, a dissonance arises. This dissonance is critical because it underscores the importance of gender in the facilitation of interaction. Furthermore, it highlights the ways that gender is not inherent, but is constructed collectively. Th e idea that gender is socially constructed arose as a counter to essentialist
9 beliefs that there are inherent biological differences between women and men ( Ferree, Lorber, and Hess 1999 ). In fact, scholars attribute the beginning of gender scholarship as occurring in the late 18 th century when Ma ry Wollstonecraft declared that most differences between men and women are socially created and not natural (Wood 2003; Kramer 2005). However, it really was not until Betty Friedan (1963) wrote The Feminine Mystique that "hundreds of thousands, if not mil lions [were awakened] to what they long felt but were unable to articulate" (Horowitz 2000 : 226 ), and the study of gender became a serious scholarly pursuit. It was also Friedan's focus on the intersection between media and gender, something that was larg ely understudied at that time in history (Ponder 2007), that made Friedan's work a major turning point for both gender theory and media studies, both of which inform my own research on gender in advertisements. Because gender is a central component of our everyday lives, it is important to gain a true understanding of what it actually is. T he terms gender and sex are commonly c onflated, and yet differ widely and can have varied implications for individuals' lives. According to Wood, gender is "a social, s ymbolic construction that expresses the meanings a society co nfers on biological sex" (2003: 21). Wood (2003) writes of ge nder variations across cultures, over time within any given society, and in relation to the other gender. With this cross cultural an d spatial variability, social construction becomes apparent as not all cultures agree on one true understanding of gender. Alternatively, Lorber and Farrell define sex as an individual's "biological, genetic and chromosomal characteristics" (199 1: 7). Th erefore, while sex is comprised of the biological, hormonal, and chromosomal characteristics of "male" and "female," gender is the social construction of "maleness" (masculinity) and "femaleness" (femininity). Simone de
10 Beauvoir famously wrote, One is no t born, but rather becomes, a woman ... it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature ... which is described as feminine" (1953: 267). As outlined by Beauvoir, we find that while individuals are born sexed, they must be taught how to be masculine a nd feminine (Lorber 200 9 ). This idea of social constructionism is foundational to West and Zimmerman's (1987) theory of "doing gender in which gender is seen as being constructed in everyday interactions through various "social doings." These interactio ns are key because they reveal how "doing gender" is something that is done collectively with others. Through this theory, gender is found to be a "routine, methodical, and recurring accomplishment" ( ibid : 126) by which individuals constantly construct gen der. These constructions and "doing of gender" are guided by a complex of "perpetual, interactional, and micropolitical activities" that partition our society into categories of masculine and feminine ( ibid : 126). One way that this "doing gender" is achiev ed is through gender display. Based on theories from Goffman (1976 ) that highlight how individuals "display" gender to others through actions, dress, speech, and behaviors, gender display is a means through which individuals accomplish gender. From the w ay we dress, down to the pronouns we use, gender display conveys our gender identities to others It is in this understanding of gender, as somethi ng that is "done" and "achieved" by those displaying it and those interpreting it, that we shift our awarene ss from individual matters to a more social, interactional approach that highlights the ways that gender is something that is constructed collectively.
11 This collective construction is al so related to gender roles, another element situated within West and Z immerman's work on gender, and a central component of my own research as I am interested in gender role presentations in Super Bowl commercials. Gender role theory looks to the social construction of categories based on one's gender, and L orber describes gender roles as "behavior and attitudes appropriate to women and men that are learned in growing up and applied to adult wor k and family situations" (2009 : 316). Often associated with these roles are particular expectations that are significant because the y enable individuals to enact social scripts, facilitating interaction between individuals based on previous understandings. Kanter (1977) speaks to this in her exploration of the ways others are able to "respond to and understand" individuals by the very categories that they are placed in. Gender attribution (Kessler and McKenna 1978) is similar to an interactive perspective whereby individuals often attribute gender to others in interactions based on a cultural schema of maleness and femaleness. This process of gender attribution is based on social constructions, and is formulated in the interaction between displayer and attributor. Therefore, gender is not natural, nor based on any biological essentialized truths, and instead is a social achieveme nt (Kessler and McKenna 1978). West and Zimmerman (1987) clarify this issue of achievement with the concept of accountability. They state that doing gender consists of managing different social events so that the outcome is seen as gender appropriate (or ina ppropriate), and therefore made accountable by others (135). Kendall (2010) nicely articulates West and Zimmerman's theory of accountability writing, "our actions will be evaluated by others based on how well they think we meet the normative conceptions o f appropriate attitudes and activities
12 that are expected of people in our sex category (the socially requi r ed displays that identify a person a being either male or female)" (370). Thus, one's achievement of the doing of gender is largely due to interacti ons wit h others and the ways in which those others hold individuals accountable for normative displays of gender. In fact, when individuals do perform non normatively, they often experience negative reactions from others, such as rejection, revealing the ways that others hold individuals accountable, even in non normative performances. In emphasizing accountability and interactions, West and Zimmerman are able to draw attention to the social nature of gender and the ways it is seen as "natural," even thou gh it is "produced as a socially organized achievement" (129). An example that illustrates this notion of gendered interactions is found in Judith Lorber's book Gender Inequality (2009 ). She writes of how she once saw a baby in a stroller dressed in dark clothing with a baseball cap (typified as masculine), and from these gendered signifiers, she surmised that the baby was a boy. Lorber then noticed that the baby was wearing earrings, flowered sneakers, and lace trimmed socks (typified as feminine), stati ng "Not a boy after all. Gender done" ( 54). This "doing of gender" that Lorber observes through different gendered signifiers demonstrates the ways that different gender displays allow others to "respond to and understand" individuals based on categoriza tion centered on ge nder. In this situation, g ender was achieved not only through gendered signifiers, but a large part of this interaction was that it was a socially "appropriate" situation, as West and Zimmerman discuss, that enabled Lorber to identify t he social context and respond. Thus there was accountability, and gender was achieved.
13 This becomes complicated when certain gendered traits, or a specific gender or idea of gender ( i.e. normative, traditional), is valued over others. This then means tha t those other traits or ideas of gender are less valued, and there becomes a disparity between individuals based on their gender, known as gender inequality. Lorber argues that gender inequality is an intrinsic property of the larger social structure and i s produced and maintained by social processes; "the social order as we know it in Western societies is organized around racial ethnic, cla ss, and gender inequality" (2009 ). The implications of inequalities that are reproduced and maintained by society ar e plentiful, affecting individuals' life chances such as their wages, education, and class statuses, based solely on a constructed category. Wolf (1992) discusses the implications that strict gender and beauty standards can have, arguing that the waves o f feminism made great strides in terms of reaching greater terms of equality (on the surface, at least) with women having more money, power, and status than ever before. Yet, it is also at this same time that: Eating disorders rose exponentially, cosmetic surgery became the fastest growing medical specialty,pornography became the main media category, ahead of legitimate films and records combined, and thirty three thousand American women told researchers that they would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds t han achi eve any other goal. (Wolf 1992: 10) While progress was indeed made in terms of gender equality, the above excerpt reveals how this progress was not universal. Wolf argues that this is "no accident" and is a backlash against feminism, in which many images of female beauty are used as a political weapon against women's advancements. Wol f terms this "the beauty myth." When looking to gender in essentializing terms, such as placing worth on women's beauty alone, this reifies differences between hegem onic patriarchy and submissive women, and
14 gender inequality is then reproduced. This becomes problematic when specific individuals are afforded certain rights or statuses based on something that is not essentially a part of their existence. The social con struction of gender then becomes pivotal because it removes the power from essentialized categories and shifts it to individuals themselves. As David and Brannon outline, gender is a learned so cial role based on interactions and expectations and is a cruc ial component of socialization. If we identify these different sex and gender roles as socially constructed, we can avoid the replication of gender inequality, paving the way for change and a move to more open, less limiting roles. While my research large ly focuses on the micro level, it is still necessary to look at gender as a social institution, as it has many consequences that shape the micro level. In Martin's (2004) analysis of gender as a social institution, she performs a meta analysis of what soc ial institutions actually are, outlining eleven different components that comprise a social institution. Overall, Martin finds institutions to be social groups imbued with a sense of power, with distinct practices that shape behaviors by societal members, which in turn shape these individu als' identities. Lorber's (2009 ) work on gender and social institutions also speaks to this, and she argues that for a society to function smoothly, there needs to be an extent to which there are agreed upon terms so th at predictability can foster a society devoid of confusion; classifications, expectations, and agreed upon terms are all items that serve to foster consistency and cohesion. As an institution within society, gender serves to organize individuals' lives an d better assimilate within society (Lorber 1994). Society depends on a certain predictable division of labor, designation of goods, and assigned responsibilities ; one way that these
15 designations for appropriate roles are determined is through gender, much like race ethnicity, or age (Lorber 2009 ). While gender does have an integral role in society, it is when the social construction of gender is forgotten and roles are essentialized that inequality can be reproduced. Because of this, it is critical to k eep these theories of gender and fluidity in mind when looking to different elements of society, such as institutions like the media. In recognizing the significance that gender has in individuals' lives, it is also important to recognize the ways that es sentialized notions can be limiting and a site of inequality. ADVERTISING, SOCIALIZATION, AND GENDER The media is often a prime site for the construction of gender, with different messages and images constantly shaping individuals' understandings of what masculinity and femininity are. And yet, the media in its current manifestation is not what it has always been. In fact, the high definition commercials and computer enhanced graphics of today stand in stark contrast to the simple handbills of the 15 th c entury. Initially, these first forms of widespread advertising were made possible by the invention of the moveable print press (Eisenstein 1980) Inventions and innovations throughout the years have made communication increasingly more accessible. From the radio to the television to the Internet, advertising has become ever more accessible and gained increasing presence. The United States in particular allocates a vast amount of money and resources to increase this presence, with more than half of the w orld's advertising budget spent in America, totaling a price tag of $249 billion each year (Leiss, Kline, Jhally, and Botterill 2005). American society is relentlessly exposed to advertising; in fact, Yankelovich, a
16 market research firm estimates that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw 2,000 advertisements a day, compared with up to 5,000 today (New York Times 2007) This exposure serves not only to surround individuals with images of products, but interpretations of the larger society. T hrough the process of selling a single product, advertisers communicate social values and beliefs, which in turn rein force the larger social system (Marchand 1985). With all of this, we see that advertisements in America are a multi billion dollar industry, affe cting individuals throughout their day to day lives, and serving to communicate social values and beliefs. One major component of socialization is communicating social values in society to individuals According to Arnett (1995), socialization serves to d evelop individuals' principles, provide role preparation, and cultivate a foundation of values and beliefs. The media is a major contributor in the socialization process, and is greatly influential in shaping individuals from early ages through commercial s and advertisements specifically ( Rossiter 1977; Ewen and Ewen 1982; Pike and Jennings 2005; Park 2005 ; Dill and Thill 2007 ). While much evidence supports the notion that the media also presents depictions of race and class ( Clawson and Trice 2000; Jenni ngs 2002; Sommers, Apfelba m, Dukes, Toosi, and Wang 2006) Jhally identifies "gender [as] the social resource that is u sed most by advertisers" (1990: 135). Within this focus, scholars find that advertisements serve as one of the instruments through which individuals shape their sense of self and gender (Reichert 2005). As a component of socialization, media is crucial in constructing understandings of masculinity and femininity, or "what it means to be a woman or a man" (Reichert 2005: 104). Because of th is socializing role, advertising is a means of observing larger beliefs surrounding ge nder in society. Therefore, in my current study, I
17 examine gender role presentations in Super Bowl commercials as a means to analyze current depictions of gender roles a t the turn of the 21 st century. Media and Socialization Television is often a window to the outside world (Anastasio, Rose, and Chapman 1999) to which many individuals turn to explore topics, events, and ideas occurring global ly As such, many individua ls interpret images and messages presented on screen as reality; television therefore has a high potential for influencing an individual's various beliefs and conceptions. Additionally images of race, social class, and gender shown in the media all work to reflect norms in society ( Wilensky 1964 ; Gamson, Croteau, Hoynes, and Sasson 1992; Kimmel 2008 ), whilst simultaneously creating new ones by revealing what is considered desirable. Because of this cyclical effect of the shifting of norms and ideals, ind ividuals' concepts of self are consistently being shaped and shifted as well. This is largely due to the considerable presence of the media and the extent to which individuals internalize images in the media ( Moradi, Dirks, and Matteson 2005 ; Forbes, Jobe and Revak 2006 ). Reichert (2005) discusses the importance of internalization of advertisements and their role in influencing an individual's sense of self and gender. He notes that this shaping of self is due to sex role socialization and sex role stere otyping that occurs throughout one's life; therefore, as a component of socialization, media is crucial in constructing roles. These roles are important because they serve to shape individuals' senses of self. Individuals are able to formulate different identities through the different roles they assume ( i.e. the roles of mother, employee, or woman all work together to
18 inform an individual s sense of self). With specific regard to how the media fits into this, Gergen's (1992) work on the saturated self i s an excellent resource when analyzing the impact of media on identity and the construction of self. Gergen (1992) explains social saturation as the process by which individuals are immersed in new forms and patterns of communication, shifting and shaping one's sense of self In fact, he directly explores how television influences individuals' sense of self, terming it the pinnacle of "self multiplication." In this, media figures are able to be significantly present in more than one place at a time, thus expanding types of relationships available to people, such as individuals' development of an identification or association with certain concepts found in the media. This "self multiplication" then enables individuals to access different sources of gender socialization, and one part of this is social scripts. Social scripts enable individuals to "perform" in their everyday lives; a common theme in Goffman's (1959) work is the analogy of social life as a performance S ocial scripts enable individuals to un derstand the appropriate performance and roles for a social situation (1959 ) I n regards to the media, individuals are presented with cognitive scripts for socially "appropriate" behaviors that they may not be able to find elsewhere. Goffman (1976) and W est and Zimmerman (1987) explore these social scripts in terms of gender. These gendered scripts are important because they depict understandings that are not necessarily inheren t or "essential" (Goffman 1976: 76); rather, the significance lies in their ab ility to foster interactions between individuals. Interactions and social scripts are then based on idealizations and consequent expectations of a collective understanding, which lead s to the facilitation of int eractions within society. T he recognition that these idealizations are
19 not "essential" or inherent qualities destabilizes the categories, providing fluidity and distinguishing the performance aspect of it. Therefore, while gender is discrete, it is also something that is fluid and that individua ls have the ability to shape themselves, therefore gaining authority over their own identities. The media then becomes an important factor as Brown (2002) underscores, because it is a prime site for individuals to garner clues to what is appropriate, desi rable, and expected when they are constructing their identities. Essentially, it is in this recognition of the role of the media in socialization that gendered differences and inequalities can be better dismantled to achieve a greater fluidity of norms an d beliefs. Media's Role in Constructing Gender Kimmel (2008) reminds us that gender "is a relationship, not a thing" (122) and thus is something that is continuously shaped by individuals and society. In this, gender is "something that one does, not som ething one has" (West and Zimmerman 1987) and is actively and interactively defined and redefined in daily interactions (Kimmel 2008). Related to this interactive view of gender is the belief in the social construction of reality, where reality' is form ed by passing knowledge' through communication to each participant in reality" (Ponder 2007). Reality is mutually constructed by participants who experience it, rather than being an entity outside of the individual; therefore, individuals, interactions, and institutions have the potential to be a part of this fluidity, of the malleable societal norms. Acknowledging that reality is socially constructed enables one to understand the important role media plays in socialization (Renz 2004). Knowing societal expectations is important for individuals to be active and
20 accepted participants in society (Ponder 2007), and in understanding expectations one must accept socially constructed knowledge (Berger and Luckmann 1966). There are three ways in which individua ls access socially constructed knowledge: verbal cues, objects, and signs ( ibid .), all of which (not coincidentally) are essential components of the media and advertising. Through verbal communication, the observations of others, instruction by others, an d ridicule by peers, individuals learn their cultures' interpretation of reality and what is the norm (Ponder 2007; Berg er and Luckmann 1966). With objects Berger and Luckmann write, "human expressivity is capable of objectivation, that is, it manifests i tself in products of human activity that are available both to their producers and to other men as ele ments of a common world" (1966: 33). An example of such would be print advertisements, which allows for advertisers to exten d their availability beyond di rect face to face interactions. This is illustrated in the ways that certain advertisements featuring prominent individuals endorsing products may lead consumers to associate the characteristics of said individuals with the endorsed products (such as a fa mous athlete promoting running s hoes; one may believe that they can also achieve athleticism if they purchase the same shoes) revealing the ways that meanings are often attached to objects in society (Barthes 1977). Berger and Luckmann write that objects enable individuals to access subjectivity from the distributors of the objects; in other words, "the [object becomes] an objectively available constituent of the reality [ one shares with others]" (1966: 33). Furthermore, it is precisely when certain objec ts assume other meanings (such as Berger and Luckmann's example of a knife representing enmity or violence), that the object then extends beyond a human product, and transforms to become "an objectivation of human subjectivity" ( ibid : 33)
21 Although objects t hat proclaim certain truths may be present in our everyday lives, they can be rendered meaningless without signs. Signs are distinguishable from objectivations by their "explicit intention to serve as an index of subjective meanings" ( ibid : 34). Wherein o bjects, with the potential to become signifiers, are created for a specific utilitarian purpose, signs can both be objects that hold subjective meanings, and simply meanings in and of themselves. Berger and Luckmann (1966) once again illustrate this in th e example of a knife. While a knife as an object can be transformed from a utilitarian weapon to become a sign through the subjective meaning of violence and other meanings attached to its original purpose, an alternative sign would be a black X. Marking a black X on one's home may also indicate the same intentions of enmity and violen ce, yet it is simply a sign, neither tangible n or utilitarian like the knife. This example illustrates the fluidity between the "instrumental and the significatory uses of certain objectivations" ( ibid: 34), and it is also in this fluidity that we find how pliable individuals' implementations of social cues, objects, and signs can be in the social construction of reality. In the case of advertising campaigns, sign systems are created when multiple signs are associated with one another in an to attempt to send a message about expectations and what is considered "normal" reality (Ponder 2007). This becomes especially pertinent for advertising agencies because this normal realit y is often determined by those who are in a position to disseminate messages to the larger society. Ponder (2007) writes that in order for these groups to remain in power, they utilize different mechanisms to maintain their appearance and their messages, and a popular avenue that exists is the distribution of various media.
22 As this reveals, a particularly salient manner through which the social construction of gender is achi eved is through the media. B eing a gendered institution itself, the media serves t o reflect, construct, and reproduce gendered differences and inequalities (Kimmel 2008), and this is accomplished through the carefully planned messages that are disseminated through images and advertising. As explored earlier however, once individuals ar e enabled to become critical audiences, they then can be empowered to move from passive consumers to critical spectators and work to destabilize structures such as the media and advertising that serve to replicate rigid norms. Since our society is informed by a c apitalist structure, advertising is of particular interest because it is not a haphazard source of beliefs and ideals. Advertisers target spec ific demographics (such as different genders), thus making gender a major factor in profit drive for adve rtisers. Furthermore, b ecause they are governed by competition and profits, the messages found in advertisements are planned and executed with extreme to ensure that their cost r esults in the highest return Given the extreme care that is put into produc ing commercials, the messages contained in the advertisements are imbued with a sense of significance as they are intensely planned and meticulously designed. THE SUPER BOWL While routine advertisements are largely what influence individuals given their frequent exposure on a daily basis, the Super Bowl, though it only occurs once a year, provides an exceptional case to examine. The sheer size of the Super Bowl is greatly influential in setting this spectacle apart. As Kanner notes, with 130 million vie wers nationwide, "where else can you reach half the pe ople in the US at once?" (2004: 7). In
23 fact, for the years between 1992 through 2003, the Super Bowl delivered a television audience of over 120 million American viewers for each year; no other media ca n predictably deliver this size of an American TV audience ( Yelkur, Tomkovick, and Traczyk 2004). Moving to an international scale, the number of Super Bowl viewers jumps up to 750 million worldwide. These numbers are critical because they reveal the uniq ue opportunity that Super Bowl advertisers are presented with to reach so many consumers simultaneously. This thus makes the commercials true investments with vast amounts of money, time, and resources allocated to ensure the messages presented will yield the hig hest "bang for the buck." Because of this, advertisers will often to go to extreme measures to make sure their investment is worth it, and the more "out there' an a d is, the better" (Kanner 2004: 5). For this reason, Super Bowl advertisements pre sent extremes, enabling gendered messages to become more obvious and making for an excellent site to examine messages surrounding gender Due largely to the Super Bowl's audience size and notoriety, a great amount of exposure and status has evolved over th e years to make Super Bowl commercials some of the most expensive advertisements and forms of media more broadly. Table 1 illustrates the changes in cost of Super Bowl commercials over time. With the cost of a 30 second time slot in 1967 selling for $42, 000, the average cost of a 30 second time slot in 2010 jumped up to a range of $2.5 million to $2.8 million (CBS
24 News 2010). When adjusted for inflation, we find that the average cost of a 30 second commercial in 2010 has increased 950% from the first Sup er Bowl in 1967. 1 TABLE 1: Cost of Super Bowl Commercials from 1967 to 20 10 2 Super Bowl Year Advertising Cost I 1967 $42,000 IV 1970 78,200 IX 1975 110,000 XIV 1980 275,000 XIX 1985 500,000 XXIV 1990 700,000 XXIX 1995 1,000,000 XXXIV 2000 2,100 ,000 XXXIX 2005 2,400,000 XLIV 2010 2,65 0,000 And yet, despite the considerable increase in costs, advertisers continue to pay for the top spots year after year, due in part to the very distinctive nature of the Super Bowl. On top of the hefty price t ag associated with Super Bowl commercials are the actual costs of production. This only furthers their cultural significance because it demonstrates that though the price of production is very high and labor intensive, the messages are still deemed import ant enough that the cost does not outweigh this unique opportunity. Indeed, companies will often capitalize on the notoriety of the cost of Super Bowl advertisements as a me ans to establish themselves as "the best of the best," creating a form of social s tatus amongst their audience. Commercials are also able to gain social status by featuring socially and culturally prominent figures such as Betty White, the rock band Kiss, Oprah Winfrey, and Megan 1 Inflation was calculated us ing the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm 2 Cost based on 30 second t ime slot. Information derived from "Super Statistics on the Super Bowl Phenomenon" ( Yelkur, Tomkovick, and Traczyk 2004).
25 Fox, all of whom were featured in Super Bowl XLIV which is included in my sample Super Bowl commercials then become a part of American culture and entertainment. In fact, the Super Bowl has been one of the most influential catalysts for the development of advertisements as a form of entertainment (McAllister 1999). With films such as Space Jam and Little Giants that first appeared as Super Bowl commercials, before later being made into movies reve al the impact that Super Bowl advertisements can have on entertainment, culture, and American society. Tomkovi ck, Yelkur, and Christians (2001) expand on this notion writing, "The Super Bowl has become so ingrained in the U.S. culture that nearly all the top 10 most watched television programs in American broadcasting history are Super Bowl broadcasts." By the ea rly 1990s, Hollywood had even started to use the Super Bowl as a means to promote new movies ( Yelkur, Tomkovick, and Traczyk 2004). In their analysis of Super Bowl commercials and movies Tomkovick, Yelkur, and Christians (2000 ) found that o ver 70 percent of the Hollywood movies advertised during Super Bowls have been considered successes by the studios that released them, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Super Bowl as a vehicle for successful product promotion. Super Bowl commercials also achieve st atus through their sheer pres ence. The commercials are discussed months in advance as the media eagerly anticipate which new commercials will be presented in the coming year. McAllister refers to the anticipation of the advertisements before the actual S uper Bowl and the dialogue that follows the Super Bowl as a sense of "fetishizing" (1999). This fetishization not only fixates on the commodity and the campaign, but also the commercials themselves, revealing the extent to which these advertisements have become internalized as a fixture of American culture.
26 Super Bowl commercials are talked about on news stations, written about in newspapers, and have even earned their own special category at the Emmy Awards (McAllister 1999). McAllister writes, "just a s a successful fetishism of commodities limits the way that consumers view and understand products, a successful fetishism of campaigns may limit the possible viewpoints and critiques with which consumers may approach this messa ge system" (1999: 424). With this fetishization, the audience then sees the cleverness and entertainment that the ad provides. Individuals therefore may not be able to recognize how easily the ad influences consumption, or more largely, how it influences the socialization of ideas, values, and norms. This very idea reveals the socialization process that takes place in Super Bowl commercials that serves to perpetuate values and norms, and consequently shape the millions of individuals watching the messages on screen. As these million s of viewers turn their attention to the Super Bowl each year, theories of gender and socialization are increasingly important to keep in mind. Furthermore, given the distinct nature of the Super Bowl as an already highly masculine event with themes of co mpetition, aggression, and sports, the Super Bowl is a uniquely gendered event. The synergistic relationship between gender, socialization, and the media all work to shape individuals. In identifying gender's role in shaping the media, one can become emp owered to analyze the messages critically and move from a passive consumer to a critical spectator. I intend for my analysis of Super Bowl commercials to provide that impetus. Grounded in sociologi cal literature rega rding gender, socialization and the m edia, my content analysis incorporates relevant theories and methods to explore normative and non normative gender roles in Super Bowl commercials at the turn of the 21 st century In doing so I aim to examine conceptions of gender using models based on
27 t heorists David and Brannon (1976) and Kanter (1977).
28 Chapter 3: Methods Sample The sample of this study cons ists of 75 commercials overall; 25 commercials randomly selected from each of the Super Bowls in the years 2000, 2005, and 2010 (Super Bowls XXX IV, XXXIX, and XLIV respectively). In 2000 there were a total of 52 commercials, 121 commercials in 2005, and 63 commercials in 2010. It is notable that 2005 did have a sizably larger number of commercials, which I can only posit wa s attributed to outsid e factors such as the economy. It is because of this that I decided to run a Simple Random Sample to choose 25 commercials from each year to achieve consistency throughout. Random selection Because I was interested in the actual messages perpetuated by advertisers, and not the reception of the messages, I chose not to look at top rated commercials. Ultimately, I am most interested in the messages that companies deem important enough to allocate vast amounts of time, resources, and effort t o create. Thu s, I performed a Simple R a ndom S ample of Super Bowls XXXIV, XXXIX, and XLIV to obtain a representative and non biased sample from the past decade. For obtaining my sample, I used the online Super Bowl commercial archive Adland (www. adland.tv/SuperBowlComme rcials ) because of accessibility. Adland is the largest online Super Bowl commercial archive and has Super Bowl commercials since 1969, making it a great resource f or easily locating different commercials. From the archive of advertisements, I then const ructed a spreadsheet to include each commercial
29 listed alphabetically and categorize d by year. I then performed a Simple Random S ample of 25 commercials per year with random selection from Earl Babbie's The Practice of Social Research (2004) Appendix C i n the Random Numbers table. In my random selection, I decided to exclude any movie trailers, television show previews, or NFL promotions, including Fox, MGM, Warner Brothers, NFL, Paramount, Dreamworks, and Walt Disney. I decided to exclude these because they are not commercials that are promoting a certain product or service. Rather, they are promoting a different form of media altogether, which is not something that I am interested in in cluding i n this particular study If any of these were selected, I simply replace d it with a different randomly selected commercial. In performing the random selection, I randomly chose the 7 th column, selecting the first 2 digits in the random sequences for the year 2000, and in the final selection I had selected 25 ou t of 52 commercials (not including movie trailers, television show previews, or NFL promotions) For the year 2005, I chose the 11 th column and because 2005 had more than 100 commercials, I chose the first 3 digits, and in the final selection I had sel ec ted 25 out of 121 commercials. Finally, in 2010 I chose the 18 th column, and selected the first 2 digits of every random sequence, which produced 25 selections out of 63 commercials. The list of commercials I studied can be found in Appendix A. In order to examine gender role presentations in commercials over time, I used a content analysis for this study Content analyses use coding and analysis of reoccurring themes to provide a means of obtaining the most "objective, systematic, and quantitative desc ription" (Berelson 1952). Content analyses are particularly well suited for communications research because of the analyses' ability to answer the questions, "who
30 says what to whom, why, how, and w ith what effect?" (Babbie 2004 : 320). My research involves analyzing the content of Super Bowl commercials in regard to gender role presentations. My analysis employs both quantitative and qualitative data, as I performed a content analysis (quantitative) while also taking memos, (writing comments and noting ob servations and patterns ) throughout the coding process to provide a qualit ative account of the commercials' narratives I began my research by watching a preliminary random sample of Super Bowl commercials while taking field notes to identify reoccurring themes, which aided in formulating my coding sheet. In these notes I paid particular attention to 1) prevalence of gender in the commercials, 2) normative and non normative gender displays, and 3) different advertising techniques that would be relevant to the focus of this study, such as voice overs, music, or graphics. It was through watching this preliminary sample that I determined David and Brannon (1976) and Kanter's (1977) models to be the most appropriate to an alyze gender role presentations. I al so found the use of humor to be a notable factor that influenced gender role presentations, which will be discussed later in this chapter. Themes of masculinity and femininity Because my coding is centered on gender role presentations, I partitioned my c oding sheet into male performance of masculinity and femininity and female performance of masculinity and femininity. In doing so, I am able to trace "normative" performances (wherein there is male performance of masculinity and female performance of femi ninity) and "non normative" performances (wherein there is female performance
31 of masculinity and male performance of femininity) in the commercials, as illustrated in T able 2 below. Analyzing these performances allows me to trace reoccurring themes surrou nding traditional and non traditional gender roles in the Super Bowl commercials over time. TABLE 2 : Normative and Non normative Gender Performances Male Female Normative Masculine Feminine Non normative Feminine Masculine David and Brannon's (1976) w ork on masculinity is widely recognized in gender scholarship, and provides an overview of four different themes of masculinity. However, from previous research I have done on masculinity, I found that David and Brannon's four themes were lacking an analy sis of sexualit y. Therefore, Doyle's (1995) "Hormones in O verdrive" was incorporated into the coding for the present research. With this, the final themes of masculinity used in my coding were No Sissy Stuff, Give Em Hell, Sturdy Oak, The Big Wheel, and Hormones in Overdrive. David and Brannon (1976) define No Sissy Stuff as the stigma of anything vaguely feminine and includes the characteristics of homophobia, absence of warm familial relationships, denial of vulnerability, lack of romance, and inexpre ssiveness. The theme of Giv e Em Hell is defined by David and Brannon as "the aura of ag gression, violence, and daring" (1976:12). Defined by "a manly air of toughness, confidence, and self reliance," the Sturdy Oak characterizes masculinity with notions of being calm, cool, confident, independent, and strong. This theme builds off of the metaphor of men as strong, "sturdy oaks" while women are "clinging vines." Echoing themes from Weber 's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1930 ) David a nd Brannon attribute "the Protestant
32 ethic" in shaping our American culture, and thus shaping our understandings of masculinity. The theme of The Big Wheel reflects this, and is built on the foundation of success and status, with attributes such as achiev ement, upward mobility, fame, machismo, blue collar work, and provider status as components comprising this facet of masculinity. The final theme of masculinity that I coded for was Doyle's (1995) Hormones in Overdrive, defined by having uncontrollable se xuality and an insatiable desire for sex. To achieve parity of the themes of masculinity, I used Kanter's roles of women (1977) to code for femininity. David & Brannon (1976) and Kan ter 's (1977) works were published merely a year apart and outline a comp arable number of themes for both masculinity and femininity, offering a nice similarity between the two. The themes I coded for femininity were Kanter's roles of Mother, Seductress, Pet, and Iron Maiden. The roles of Mother and Seductress are both rooted in Freudian theory that posits that in an attempt to deal with women's sexuality, men envi sion women as either M adonnas or whores asexual mothers or overly sexual seductresses (Kanter 1977). From this we find the role of Mother to be characterized by as exuality, emotionality, and sympathy, and exhibiting listening skills, comfort, and the ability to cook, launder and sew. The role of Seductress is characterized by attractiveness and being a sexual object. The role of Pet includes being cute, humorous, amusing, and supportive. T he final role of women is Iron Maiden, typified as being competent, independent, resistant, and strong. Therefore, in coding for these themes in the commercials, if a character acted emotional, I wou ld code for the role of Mothe r; conversely if a character were sexualized, I would code for Seductress.
33 Finally, i n watching the commercials, I i dentifie d humor to be an important component of the advertisements that often shaped the messages I was coding. I thus decided to incorpor ate humor as a component of my coding; my coding sheet, with all of the themes and categories of humor, can be found in Appendix B. Humor in advertising Different types o f humor can complicate messages; due to sarcasm or exaggeration, gender role presenta tions may exist, but the underlying intent may differ (i.e. a man wearing a sk irt is seemingly transgressive but the presence of sarcasm or joking removes this). Thus I incorporate the coding of different types of humor to account for the impact of humo r in the normative messages. I base my coding of humor on Kelly and Soloman's (1975) analysis of humor in over 2,000 commercials in which they were able to identify seven different types of humor employed by advertisers, all of which I code for in my stud y. The seven types include 1) a pun the humorous use of a word or phrase in a way that suggests two interpretations, 2) an understatement, representing something as less than is the case, 3) a joke, speaking or acting without seriousness, 4) something lu dicrous, that which is laughable or ridiculous, 5) satire, sarcasm used to expose vice or folly, 6) irony, the use of words to express the opposite of what one really means, and 7) intent perceived, intent of advertiser to be humorous.
34 Memos and Analysi s While I did formulate my coding sheet based on preset themes, taking memos throughout the coding process enabled me to conduct more grounded research (Glaser and Strauss 1967) with themes that may not be gui ded by those outlined by David and Brannon (197 6) and Kanter (1977). In grounded research, rather than beginning with a hypothesis, one begins research by first collecting data, and then allowing themes to emerge from the data in a more organic manner. For example, by taking memos in addition to codi ng, I do not limit my research to pre set themes, but I also allow for other themes to come through in my observations. After completing my coding process and collecting memos, I considered their implications within the context of the theories that this study is based upon. The details of this analysis are the subject of the subsequent chapter.
35 Chapter 4: Analysis and Discussion In this chapter, I will explore the data that I collected coding 75 Super Bowl commercials from the years 2000, 2005, and 2 010. The data include both qualitative analysis of commercial narratives, as well as employing a quantitative analysis of male and female g ender role presentations using the model s of masculinity and femininity discussed in the previous chapter SUMMARY OF FINDINGS My findings are threefold and each informs one another. Table 3 below illustrates the number of men and women's performances of masculinity and femininity that I coded From this, my first finding wa s that somewhat unsurprisingly, men and w omen overwhelmingly perform gender normatively. My second finding was that men's normative gender performances are the most common gender performance in th e sample, contributing to the Super Bowl's already highly masculine nature And finally, my third f inding was that men's non normative gender performances uphold traditional gender through humorous framing. Each of these findings link together to reveal the ways that commerci als sustain gender normativity. TABLE 3: Number of Male and Female Performance s o f Masculinity and Femininity in Super Bowl Commercials Masculinity Femininity 2000 2005 2010 2000 2005 2010 Total Male 41 55 54 4 11 17 182 Female 12 7 8 27 30 18 102
36 Normative Gender Presentations Compared to the beginning of the 20 th century, with the activism and waves of feminism that swept over the following decades, we are indeed at a particular moment in time with regards to gender equality and scholarship, and it is thus why studying the turn of the 21 st century from 2000 through 2010 is so notable. While we are now living in an era of unprecedented equality for men and women, with more women in the workforce and education than ever before, this certainly does not translate into total equality; a large gap still remai ns between men and women's representations in society. Thus, it is my intention to use this research as a means to quantify how men and women are presented in Super Bowl commercials, some of the largest advertisement campaigns in our society. We might exp ect that the commercials would be somewhat progressive in terms of gender equality, reflective of larger progressive social attitudes surrounding gender roles. I expected to find more parity of gender performances, with a growing number of equal represent ations of both male and female roles. Furthermore, within these performances, I anticipated a growing display of non normative gender presentations, revealing a move to a more fluid understanding of gender, if not simply a move away from strict gender pol icing. And yet, I found that men and women overwhelmingly perform gender normatively, as is evi dent from the numbers in T able 4. TABLE 4: Number of Male and Female Performances of Normative and Non normative Gender in Super Bowl Commer cials Normative Non normative Total Male 150 (53 %) 32 (11%) 182 (64 %) Female 75 ( 26 %) 27 (10 %) 102 (36%) Total 225 (79 %) 59 (21%) 284 (100%)
37 From this table, we find that the re were 225 performances of normative gender role presentations amongst men and women, nearly four times greater than the 59 instances of non normative performances. These high numbers of normative performances serve to sustain traditional understandings of gender, and the Super Bowl itself becomes a site of gender normativity One such example that exemplifies gender normativity is found in Heineken's "The Big Drop" from 2005. I n this commercial, a woman is performing Kanter's (1977) role of "Mother serving as an example of normative femininity. In the commercial, a man is distraught because a case of beer has fallen. In an attempt to comfort him, his girlfriend listens and sympathizes with her boyfriend, thus serving to reinforce femininity as something related to nurturance and emotions. Conversely, an example of how non normative femininity presented in the commercials is found in Cadillac XLR's commercial "Elope" from 2005. The commercial opens with a teenaged girl jumping out of her bedroom window, scaling down a large tree, and then running to steal her parents' spor ts car. She then drives wildly to meet up with her boyfriend in the middle of the night. This commercial thus rejects the roles of women as passive. Instead, the girl is presented as defiant, aggressive, and independent, evoking motifs from the masculin ity themes "The Sturdy Oak" and "Give Em Hell." Once the girl reaches her boyfriend's house, the commercial shows her pull him in for a passionate kiss, conveying sexual intimacy, and revealing the theme "Hormones in Overdrive." In this, the girl is not a sexual object, li ke Kanter's role of "Seductress ; rather, she reveals her own desires for sex with a passionate kiss that she
38 initiates herself, therefore exhibiting the theme "Hormones in Overdrive." "Elope" thus provides multiple examples of non nor mative femininity in commercials. A n example of how non normative masc ulinity presented itself in Super Bowl commercials was exemplified in American Airlines' commercial "A Good Face Licking" from 2005. In this commercial a man calls his home and leaves multiple voicemails, with messages such as "hey sweetie" and "I love you," seemingly calling a loved one. The commercial then reveals he is in fact calling home to his dog. In this commercial, the male character, like the female character from "The Big D rop" a ssumes Kanter's (1977) role of "Mother" as he exhibits emotions and kindness. No such role exists for men, and thus by being emotional, the character exhibits non normative masculinity. Alternatively, t he Dove for Men's commercial, "Th e Journey to C omfort" from 2010, also known as the Mant hem," provides an example of what normative masculi nity looks like in a commercial The commercial's musical lyrics outline an exhaustive list of the different gendered ways a man must perform to "prove" his mascu linity. The commercial's music is set to the William Tell Overture, a widely recognized song for it s dramatic and bold movements The song gained popularity after it s use as the theme song for the movie Lone Ranger and it is often used in scenes of batt le, contributing to a sense of hyper masculinity. However, in the commercial "The Journey to Comfort," the lyr ics have been added to the original William Tell overture tune and are as follows: Get born, get slapped, then cry out loud, learn to walk and t alk, make your parents proud, be good at sports, play hard run fast, careful when climbing the rope in gym class, lift weights, be strong, know how to fight, be safe don't stay up all night, be tough, be cool, be full of life, don't show your sensitive sid e, go out with your friends but be a gentleman, too, then find the perfect girl who'll say I do,' go check out a noise and never be scared, don't waste your life on the couch in your underwear, rake the leaves, trim the hedge and mow the yard, honey can y ou open this jar, have a kid it's
39 time for a family, before you know it, you'll have three, don't use a map always know where you are, change a flat tire while they wait in the car, you've reached a stage where you feel at ease you've come this far and it wasn't a breeze, you can take on anything, of course you can, because you're a man! Lines such as "be good at sports, play hard run fast," "be strong, know how to fight," "don't show your sensitive side, go out with your friends but be a gentleman, too, then find the perfect girl," "you've come this far, and it wasn't a breeze, you can take on anything, of course you can, because you're a man!" reflect multiple themes of masculinity including Give Em Hell, No Sissy Stuff, Hormones in Overdrive, and Stur dy Oak. Th is commercial thus serves as an example of how men are compelled to perform gender, and often in very normative, masculine ways. The Journey to Comfort also illustrates ideas surrounding hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is the nor mative archetype of masculinity (white, heterosexual, married, educated, upp er middle class) (Connell 1987), and the different prescriptions outlined in the commercial serve to uphold a hegemonic model of a standard for masculinity. One component of hegemo ny is based on the inferiority of another in order to maintain the power inherent to hegemony. Thus, if traditionally inferior women suddenly become more empowered, this poses a direct threat to understandings of masculinity. On a more practical level, i f more women are in the workforce, it thus threatens the jobs that may already be held by men. If more women are in higher education, they then can go on to earn degrees which may provide them with higher salaries in the future, therefore making them less dependent on men, the classic "breadwinners." Consequently, though we might expect gender presentations in commercials to be more progressive at the turn
40 of the century compared to years past, it is also plausible that the commercials would present contr ary to that. And in the advertisements I coded, we are in fact seeing a backlash to the increasing empowerment of women in the larger society, a sort of last stand of hegemonic masculinity and a resorting to more traditional gender roles. Microsoft's comm ercial "Flight Attendant" from 2000 reproduces these traditional gender roles and ideals on screen. Though the larger social climate has made some of an effort to move away from gendered language in professions (such as female "stewardesses" are now "flig ht attendants"), "Flight Announcement, reproduces these i deals, with a female flight attendant and a male businessman. Over and over, commercials I coded reflected the same storyline of males playing roles of achievement, whilst women were found in the supporting" roles. This serves to reproduce images of hegemonic masculinity and "emphasized femininity" (Connell 1987). Emphasized femininity is an exaggerated form of femininity based on the idea that women must conform to the needs of men, reinforcing patriarchy and hegemonic masculinity (Connell 1987). Emphasized femininity can be seen on screen through themes of compliance and subordination, with women often catering to men's desires and needs. This is evident in Monster.com's commercial "The Road Le ss Traveled" from 2000. In this commercial, there is a female main character who remains silent throughout the entirety of the commercial, as six men and two women recite Robert Frost's (1920) poem "The Road Not Traveled." Though the commercial features two women who do speak, one is coupled with a man, and thus her recitation of the poem is not solely her own voice, but is in synchronization with a man. The other woman who speaks is holding hands with a line of children, assuming a feminine role as nurt urer and teacher,
41 another very gendered profession. These three women featured in the commercial, one silent, one coupled with a man, and one presented in a nurturing role, are contrasted to the six men in the commercial whose voices are all presented lou dly and clearly. Furthermore, the men are all presented as well dressed, clean cut, and business like, echoing themes of hegemonic masculinity, while emphasized femininity is reproduced in the women's roles. This commercial also features themes of active and passive, with active men and passive women, a theme common in gendered images that serves to empower men and disenfranchise women. These examples illustrate the ways that hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity are reproduced in commercials, a nd thus a hierarchy of power and inequality is reproduced. This is significant, especially within the context of the Super Bowl, an event already highly charged with masculine undertones (sports, aggression, competition) because it perpetuates gender ine quality and becomes an arena of gendered hierarchy, a masculine dominated space that is exclusionary and limiting. Table 4 illustrates this gender inequality, revealing how normative gender performances are more common than non normative performances. Men performing masculinity and women perf orming femininity account for 53 % and 26% of all performances, respectively. This l eaves only 21 % for both categories of non normative presentations. When we look at the raw numbers, we see 150 instances of normative men's performances, compared to 75 normative performances by women. Viewers then are seeing much more normative masculinity than any other gender performance I interpret these high percentages as privileging normative masculinity over other forms of ge nder presentations.
42 Therefore, while the different examples at the beginning of this chapter provide a vignette of how normative and non normative gender presentations appeared throughout the commercials I coded when looking to raw numbers, these normati ve and non normative presentations were not seen in equal frequency As noted earlier, normative roles were coded nearly four times more than non normative (see Table 4). Furthermore, within these normative roles, normative masculinity was coded 150 time s, twice that of normative femininity, which was only coded 75 times. Therefore, in the following section I will explore the implications of these overwhelming normative masculine presentations in the commercials. Marketing Masculinity: Overwhelming Pres entations of Normative Masculinity There are three ways that normative masculinity emerged throughout my sample that served to overwhelm other gender presentations. We see this in the frequency by which it occurs, the ways that masculinity is privileged and the ways that n ormative masculinity overpowers other gender presentations in scenes In this section I discuss how these serve to reinforce normative masculinity as the dominant gender presentation in commercials. With a patriarchal structure, n ormati ve masculinity is something that has long been a part of American culture. However, g ender attitudes have become more progressive in the past several decades, and the gap bet ween men and women is closing As inequalities between men and women exist so th at most power is controlled by men, it remains that most of the progress over the years has been focused on women. Some examples in which this progress has manifest is with regards to women's suffrage, more
43 women in the workforce than ever before, and now more women in higher education than men. These advancements for women then pose a threat to hegemonic masculinity, which is defined as "a social ascendancy achieved in a play of social forces that extends beyond contests of brute power into the organizat ion of private life and cul tural processes" (Connell 1987: 184). My second finding that men's normative performances are the most commonly coded gender performance from my sample illustrates the ways that hegemony and gender normativity are reproduced in t he media. TABLE 5: Male and Female Presentations of Masculinity and Femininity in Super Bowl Commercials from 2000 through 2010 Masculine Feminine Total Male 150* (53 %) 32 (11 %) 182 (64 %) Female 27 (10 %) 75 (26 %) 102 (36 %) Total 177 (62%) 107 (37 %) 284 (100%) NOTE: Values presented refer to number of coded gender performances. Percentages are in parentheses. Significance tests reported for male to female comparisons are from Wilcoxan Sign Tests. p .05. Throughout the commerc ials I coded, I frequently saw examples of normative, hegemonic masculi nity being reproduced on screen. Evidenced by the 150 performances of masculinity by men, comprising 53 % of all gender presentations (see Table 5) normative masculinity is the most co mmon gender performance in my sample. These skewed numbers therefore reveal how images of normative masculinity serve to overwhelm other gender presentations. A n image of this normative masculinity that I frequently saw was that of men in the role of bus inessmen. This evokes sentiments of achievement and success, characteristics that comprise the ma sculinity theme of "Big Wheel"; interestingly there is no equivalent theme for femininity. Not only were these images of businesspeople
44 frequently male, but also they were overwhelmingly white, middle aged men, indeed the hegemonic model of mascul inity, specifically within our c apitalist society, which is centered on achievement and success. This was especially evident in the Wall Street Journal's commercial in 2000 ent itled "Fingerprint," which says, I n a world of infinite possibilities, businesspeople have always trusted the Wall Street Journal for guidance and perspective." And yet, the commercial, which features over 10 characters, only features one fema le. Thus "businesspeople," a gender neutral term, is negated by the images on screen which are overwhelmingly masculine. From this, we come to find that neutrality is indeed masculine, and in effect, women and femininity become invisible. An example that reveals the privileging of normative masculinity is in the Beyonc /HDTV commercial by Vizio from 2010. This commercial serves to privilege masculinity by featuring an almost entirely male cast The commercial opens up with a scene of the singer Beyonc singing and dancing, and then all at once a machine lifts her up and drops her into a metal chute. The remaining entirety of the commercial is dominated by male performances. In fact, Beyonc is the sole female character in the commercial that feature s over 10 male characters and or masculine activities (such as sports). Furthermore, the role she plays is one that is provocative and sexualized by her revealing outfit, ultimately ending when a machine lifts her, thus stripping her of her own agency and transforming her into a sexual object. Meanwhile, of the other male characters in the commercial, there is a martial artist and a medieval knight, both of which display normative characteristics of "Give Em Hell," with themes of aggression and combat. While the machine does lift the other male characters (specifically a male zombie, a young Caucasian boy, an overweight
45 Caucasian male, and an African American male), none of the characters lifted display themes of hegemonic masculinity. In fact, the tw o male characters that do display themes of hegemonic masculinity, the martial artist and the medieval knight, are both approached by the machine, but the commercial does not actually show the machine picking either of them up. These two masculine, male c haracters are thus the sole characters in the entirety of the commercial whose agency remains in tact. I find that this is an instance in which normative, hegemonic masculinity is privileged, making it superior to both women and other males. 3 Another way that normative masculinity is privileged is that even when commercials are seemingly feminine and follow a narrative of femininity or an all women's space, Super Bowl commercials reveal that masculinity often overpowers this narrative in the end. This th us makes femininit y inferior to the superior masculinity. An example of a commercial that was initially feminine, featuring a woman's book club, but then masculinized, is that of Bud Light's "Book Club" commercial from 2010. The scene opens with a group of about five women sitting around discussing a book, and then the main male character enters saying "H ave a nice book club, I'll be at the game," holding a bag of baseball bats and wearing a jersey and baseball cap. As soon as he turns to leave, he sees a bucket of cold Bud Light beers, and sits down saying, "S o what's the story?" A nd yet, as the female main character attempts to explain the premise of the book to him, he consistently ignores her, passing out the beers to the other female characters in a 3 While this commercial did not follow the overall pattern of normative masculinity as being coded most frequently, it is still an ex ample that reveals the privileging of normative masculinity. Thus, while not quantitatively privileging masculinity through a higher frequency of codings, the commercial privileged masculinity through the content and images shown.
46 flirtatious manner. The female main character explains the book saying, We were discussing the relationship of two women who are thrust together by war ." T he only responses the male replies with are repetitions of the phrases "two women" and "thrusting ." Thus, the male shifts the commercial from a female space that features women in intellectual roles as they contemplate the book, into a male centered space that features the man performing themes of "Hormones in Overdrive" (with the repetition of the s exualized phrases "two women," which evokes an image of sexualized lesbian love, and "thrusting," a double entendre referring to sexual intercourse) and "Give Em Hell" (images of sports and athleticism). The commercial then ends with the entire male base ball team a t the women's book club meeting, and o ne female character asks one of the male characters, "S o do you like Little Women ?" The man then responds, "Y eah, I'm not too picky." In this, the man mistakes the woman's question about the novel Little W omen by Louisa May Alcott to be a question about his sexual partner preferences. This example reveals how the male characters in this commercial effectively turn the neutral scenes of individuals (notably all women) discussing books into ones imbued with sexual undertones. Furthermore, this comm ercial also illustrates how commercials with female centered images are transformed to be overwhelmingly male centered, privileging masculinity and reinforcing the Super Bowl as a highly masculine phenomenon. From these examples, we see the three ways that the commercials serve to privilege normative masculinity. With 150 performances, normative masculinity occurs more often than the three other gender performance s in my sample combined. With such a high rate, ima ges of normative masculinity then become the most frequently seen by audiences The privileging of normative masculinity also occurs when images of
47 hegemonic masculinity are made superior to images of women or other men. And finally, the commercials reve aled the ways that normative masc ulinity overpower s other gender performances. With images and performances that privilege normative masculinity, the overall message conveyed to viewers is one that values highly masculine typified traits over other gender performances limit ing emotions and compassion, and simultaneo usly encouraging aggression and competition. W ith such skewed images and messages, audiences rarely see female characters on screen without the presence of men, specifically without the presen ce of men masculinizing and monopolizing female characters' spaces. Upholding Normativity Through Humor Even in the instances in which men's non normative gender performances did occur, it often served to reinforce normative roles. In fact, when comparin g year by year performances, numbers indicate that men's non normative performances increased in the years 2000 to 2010. TABLE 6 : Male Presentations of Normative (Masculinity) and Non Normative (Femininity) Gender Performances in Super Bowl Commercials in 2000, 2005, and 2010 2000 2005 2010 Normative 41 (91%) 55 (83%) 54 (76%) Non normative 4 (9%) 11 (17%) 17 (24%) Total 45 (100%) 66 (100%) 71 (100%) Table 6 illustrates that over the years, men's performances of non normative gender roles has increa sed 15%. Yet, many of these instances of non normativity were complicated by the commercials' use of humor. While there may be a scene of a man performing a stereotypically feminine role (non normative), when coupled with humor, the possibility
48 of a prog ressive or transgressive message is lost because the humor reinforces the hilarity of a man not being masculine. Because masculinity is intimately tied to power, when a man does not perform masculinity normatively, it is then a step down from his power to something more inferior, femininity. Femininity is often associated with inferiority and dependence, and thus a man in a patriarchal society such as our own that performs femininity is seen as inferior to men that perform masculinity. Therefore, what we are seeing in the commercials is the message that normative masculinity (men's masculinity) is valued over femininity. This is made most obvious in the commercials' implementations of humor. For example in 2005, 75% of the men's performances of the "Mothe r" role were presented as humorous. This is most problematic, as the following examples will illustrate, because the "Mother" role explores emotions, and thus men's emotions are rarely presented in a positive, healthy manner, but rather as something that is laughable and ludicrous. B y presenting males' performances of femininity as humorous, this in effect serves to present men's performances of femininity as laughable and less valued. The implication is that women's roles are seen as less serious, and a re not held in the same regard as men and masculinity. This point is furthered in the fact that women's performances of non normative gender (masculinity) are not presented to be as humorous as when men perform femininity. This directly says something ab out femininity. A man stepping d own from his position of power is viewed as ridiculous and thus translates to femininity itself being viewed as inferior and not taken as seriously as masculinity. One ex ample where this is evident is in Heineken's commerci al "The Big Drop"
49 from the Super Bowl in 2005. The commercial opens with a case of Heineken beer falling in slow motion. The commercial then features a male boxer mid match, who gets knocked out because he pauses to gaze into the distance and the other b oxer punches him to the ground. The commercial then moves to feature a male politician, a male surgeon, a male musician, a businessman, and a man in bed having sex with a woman. All of these characte rs follow the suit of the boxer, pausing their activiti es to gaze into the distance. The man in bed is the only one who speaks, saying: "I don't know all of a sudden I feel really, really sad." At the woman's attempted consolation in which she reaches to hold him, the man jerks back and replies "don' t" in a distraught manner. The commercial then shows the beer finally shattering to the ground, and text appears reading: "It's all about the beer." This commercial plays on the idea of "a mother's intuition." While a mother's intuition is about women's nurturan ce and their "gut feelings" when it comes to knowing if their children are in danger, Hein e ken's "The Big Drop" satirizes this and is about "men's intuition." The characters in the commercials (all of which are male, except for the sole female who plays a supportive and sexualized role to her male counterpart) all have a sense that the b eer is in trouble. The men then stop their activities (all of which are also all gendered male activities boxing, performing surgery, having sex ) because they are di straught over the spilled beer. Thus, the commercial serves to satirize, and therefore make fun of women. The commercial also present s men as so fixated on beer after all, "it's all about the beer" that they cannot perform their tasks efficiently. F rom this, the message is that a woma n's intuition is humorous and men are easily influenced with their priorities not lying in interpersonal relationships, but within the fate of beer
50 Another commercial that feature s men's non normative gender performanc es coupled with humor is For d's commercial "Roadhouse," from 2005. The commercial opens featuring an all male biker gang riding up to a station wagon of a family of four (father, mother, son, and daughter). The bikers surround the car and intimidate the family, and the father smiles nervously. The bikers then ride off; one is even wearing a jacket that is embroidered with the words "BE AFRAID." The bikers then ride up to a biker bar, only to find a fleet of all black Ford pickup trucks parked out front. A biker then says, "I ain't goin' in there" as he trembles. The announcer then says, "We don't just make our tru cks tough, we make you tough." This commercial serves to emasculate not only "the family man" already a character that is often feminized a s being domesticated and emasculated in many media images but also the very masculine bikers through intimidation of the even more masculine trucks. Even the progression from station wagon to motorcycle to trucks serves to show the progression of the co mmercial s move through levels of masculinity. Furthermore, through the use of humor, the commercial pokes fun at the scared men to reveal themes of masculinity. Therefore, even in the presentations of men as emotional, it is not presented as positive or transgressive in a way that explores a range of male emotions; rather the images present the men's emotions as weak and inferior. Both "The Big Drop" and "Roadhouse" not only present men's performances of non normative gender roles as negative, but simult aneously the commercials set up ideals of hegemonic masculinity. It is in both the employment of humor and the hegemonic models that commercials that do explore male non normative gender roles do not promote progressive ideals, but in fact serve to police masculinity and reinforce limited
51 understandings of masculinity with the reverting to traditional roles. "Roadhouse" achieves this in setting up images of unfavorable masculinity, made unfavorable by hu mor and making the men that do no t fit hegemonic mod els the targets of jokes. The commercial then resolves with the hegemonic model of masculinity, even if it is not even manifested with in a human, but within a truck. The large, black trucks parked in front of the bar serve to represent themes of masculin ity such as "Give Em Hell" and "The Sturdy Oak." This is further reinforced through the announcer stating: "We don't just make our trucks tough, we make you tough." This then implies that the trucks transmit "toughness," in effect masculinity, to their owners. The final effect that commercials such as these achieve through their mockery of male non normative performances (femininity) and resolve into hegemonic models, is the message that femininity is inferior to hegemonic models of masculinity. By pre senting male's performances of femininity as humorous, this in effect serves to present feminin i ty as laughable and not valued. Thus, all three of my findings, overwhelming performances of normative gender by men and women, men's performances as the most c ommon gender performance, and the way that even non normative gender performances uphold traditional gender through humor, all reveal how commercials support and sustain normative gender performances. DISCUSSION Through both qualitative and quantitative m easures, it is clear The Super Bowl is a masculine centered event, and commercials with overwhelmingly normative masculine presentations contribute to the existing masculinity of the event Indeed, my research echoes findings that Kim and Lowry (2005) o bserved in Korean television
52 advertising. The authors found that although Korean society has experienced a progressive shift in terms of gender roles in recent decades, the advertisements they studied did not reflect this change. They thus concluded that commercials are "a lagging social in dicator of role changes" (2005: 901). My own findings reflect this in American advertisements, yet I argue that rather than being a lagging social indicator, the commercials are indeed an indicator of the larger social c limate, even if they manifest in opposition, the reaction still remains. The Oedipal dilemma for young boys forces them to separate themselves from their mothers, and then identify with their fathers. This separation requires a rejection of the feminine, and thus masculinity becomes defined by the negative, "not feminine." From this, masculinity has no baseline of itself, and boys and men must constantly prove" themselves (Mechling 2005 ). This establishment of masculinity often manifests in humor, miso gyny, and homophobia ( ibid ), which then shapes individuals' understandings of appropriate gender norms. Many of these issues manifested in the commercials I coded, specifically with regards to humor and misogyny. T herefore while the commercials are not revealing a more progressive climate overtly the messages I coded are a backlash, and indeed still a reaction to the past century of progressive change, and are reflective of the larger social climate based on patriarchy and masculinity. My findings that men overwhelmingly perform gender normatively are intimately linked to men needing to prove themselves to others, and often to other men (Mechling 2005). A man seen as feminine is viewed as degrading because of the patriarchal structure of American societ y where being feminine is seen as inferior. Mechling writes, "Boys practice a culture of shame in order to keep each other in line, on the right track
53 for adult heterosexual masculinity; they police the borders of masculinity, using jokes, taunts, and ins ults to attack anything vaguely feminine in another boy's appearance or behavior" ( 2005: 70). Not only d oes this serve to reinforce boy s and men's (and masculinity 's in general) superiority over women and femininity but it also serves to reinforce the ge nder binary, with specific expectations and standards for each gender. Reinforcing the gender binary forces individuals into distinct categories that are often limiting and restrictive. In a similar vein, gender policing also serves to restrict individua ls' expressions of gender. From an early age, boys are encouraged to be strong, stoic and tough, to be "real men." In FLOtv's commercial "Injury Report" from 2010, we are provided with an example of how commercials perpetuate gender policing of gender no rmativity. In the commercial, a man is shopping with his girlfriend, and an announcer comes on screen stating that there is "an injury report on Jason Glassman, as you can see his girlfriend has removed his spine." The commercia l then goes on to say, "C h ange out of that skirt, Jason." "Injury Report" thus serves to provide audiences with strict proscriptions for normative gender performances. It is commercials like "Injury Report," as well as the others explored in this chapter that serve to reinforce and privilege normative gender, and more specifically normative masculinity.
54 Chapter 5: Conclusion We are indeed at a particular moment in time with regards to conceptions of gender. Following a century of progress, change, and reform, the turn of the 21 st century enters a period of new understandings, and the media is a crucial component in helping to shape these understandings. As a part of socialization, the media is often a site for the construction of gender, exposing audiences to a host of diffe rent messages and images that shape understandings of what masculinity and femininity are. More specifically, commercials s ell more than just products, they also sell ways of making sense of society by revealing what is desirable and normative. Commercia ls then have a direct influence in shaping normative gender ideals. Super Bowl commercials, s ome of the largest advertising campaigns in American culture ( Tomkovick, Yelkur, Christians 2001; McAllister 1999) provide a unique perspective o n commercials in Western society. As a symbol of American culture itself, t he Super Bowl embodies different aspects of "American" values, much of which is based on gendered nuances. Therefore, analyzing the construction of masculinity and femininity in Super Bowl commerc ials provides a vignette of gender role presentations in commercials in American society. My thesis explores this and through a content analysis of gender role presentations in Super Bowl commercials at the turn of the 21 st century, I found that commerci als serve to sustain gender normativity. The coding sheets I constructed for the content analysis were based on David and Brannon's (1976) themes of masculinity and Kanter's (1977) roles of women. In doing so, I was able to trace the constructions of masc ulinity and femininity by both men and women, therefore enabling me to analyze normative (male masculinity, female
55 femininity) and non normative (male femininity, female masculinity) gender presentations in the commercials. The analysis of these co dings revealed three findings. My first finding was that men and women overwhelmingly perform gender normatively. In fact, normative gender performances comprised nearly four times the amount of non normative performances of all of the codings from the s ample. My second finding was that men's normative gender performances were the most common gender performance of the sample. This makes sense given that they are a part of a larger masculine event, thus reflecting themes inherent to the event itself (suc h as presenting men as masculine competitors). This not only serves to contribute to the existing masculinity of the Super Bowl but also serves to privilege masculinity. In privileging masculinity, hegemonic ideals are then reinforced, making those who do not fit this strict model viewed as inferior. Femininity is often associated with inferiority, and men who perform gender non normatively (i.e. femininely) are seen as abandoning their position of power, and they are thus seen as inferior to men that p erform masculinity. Therefore, commercials that privilege hegemonic, normative models of masculinity (men's masculinity) serve to reveal the ways that masculinity is valued over femininity. This is related to the third finding, which is that even in inst ances of non normative masculinity, advertisers' use of humor serves to degrade non normative performances, thus policing masculinity and making femininity laughable. With this, non normative performances are neither progressive nor transgressive, and ins tead serve to uphold traditional gender normativity through humorous framing. These three findings link together to create a coherent story: Super Bowl commercials sustain normative gender.
56 This research reveals that although the larger social climate may be seemingly progressive in terms of gender, this may not always be easily discernable on the television screen. Therefore, by becoming critical audiences of the media, individuals are empowered to analyze the messages found in commercials, rather than p assively consuming images. This is important, for it displaces the stronghold that the media has over socializing individuals and imbues in audiences a sense of agency. As a consideration for future inquiry, I would implore future research to consider the rol e of race in commercials and media I did not include it as part of coding as I was interested in simply male and female performances of gender (regardless of race) but I frequently saw images that reproduced hegemonic, white men in roles of power ov er men of color. Thus, I think including the factor of race would introduce an interesting component for future research. As explored, commercials are major socializing agents in society, and television shows serve as another example. In the past few yea rs, a growing number of sitcoms have been launched that are very blatantly gendered. The nature of a sitcom a situational comedy is very much based on humor As my thesis explores, humor often serves to sustain gender normativity. T herefore I would urge future research to look to the ways that humor in sitcoms serves to reinforce hegem onic, normative gender ideals. Three shows in particular that have come out in the last few years that are based on masculinity and also employ a sitcom format are "Las t Man Standing," "Man Up," and "Work It." "Last Man Standing" is based on the premise of a man whom has three daughters and a wife, and is essentially the "la st man standing." In order to "balance out" all of the femininity in his life, the main characte r must strive to employ different themes
57 of masculinity to assert his hegemonic position that perpetuates normative masculinity. This show reflects the a ttitudes surrounding a sort of last stand of hegemonic masculinity" that is threatened by progressive gender ideals. With this "last stand," there is a plight to maintain traditional roles, and thus traditional power relations and gender inequality as progressive attitudes are becoming the majority and we enter t he seemingly "last days of man." "Man Up" and "Work It" also explore gender norms, and through humor that pokes fun at the male characters being "childish" and unable to get jobs or be successful (something uncharacteristic of "The Big Wheel"), and thus the men must "man up" or in the case of "Wor k It," they must dress as women to get the jobs. With language like "man up," we see the undertones associated with masculinity and success; one must abandon passive, inferior femininity and "man up" in order to achieve success. Furthermore, the laugh tr ack in "Work It" serves to make men who dress as women or act feminine seen as something that is laughable and ludicrous. These shows then serve to perpetuate normative values, even when performed non normatively. While these may be the messages of the sh ows, future research should look to producers' intent and audience reception. "Work It" was cancelled just 10 days after its premiere, thus begging the question: are these images and messages not what audiences want? What do producers anticipate will be successful? And finally, future research should look to how many of these shows have succeeded, and if there has been a turning point of audiences' receptions. Audience reception of Super Bowl commercials is also something to be considered for future rese arch. The ways that audiences respond to the commercials
58 reveals a lot about what they actually think, whether the messages are discernable, what gendered ideals are being transmitted, and how they feel about all of it. Overall though, this study of the gendered messages found in Super Bowl commercials reveals that the messages do in fact exist. Furthermore, they exist in excess, and they serve to perpetuate normative ideals that are overwhelmingly masculin e, privileging masculinity and contributing to t he masculinity that is already inherent to the Super Bowl.
59 Appendix A Year Name Company 2000 Because Some Things Can't Be Replaced NAPA 2000 Being a Girl Visa 2000 Cheetah Mountain Dew 2000 Chess Lincoln LS 2000 David Duval Charles Schwab 2000 Dol phins Discovery Cove 2000 Doors Dodge Dakota 2000 Fingerprint Wall Street Journal 2000 Flight Announcement Microsoft 2000 Girlfriend Budweiser 2000 Hockey Rink Tostitos 2000 I'm a Girl Oxygen 2000 Invites Our Beginning 2000 Men M&Ms 2000 Meteors T abasco 2000 Mike and Mike I Computer.com 2000 Paper Monster On Money 2000 Right Now Chrysler Minivans 2000 Ringo Starr Charles Schwab 2000 Rock the Boat Pepsi One 2000 Snake Motorola 2000 The Road Less Traveled Monster.com 2000 The Worst Commercial Lifeminders 2000 Tornado Last Minute Travel 2000 Why Do We Love the Mouse? Disney 2005 A Good Face Licking American Airlines 2005 Bad Weather Toyota 2005 Be Cool Cadillac 2005 Big Drop Heineken 2005 Brad Pitt Paparazzi Heineken 2005 Budweiser Sele ct 3 Miller Lite 2005 Cockatoo/The Lady Bud Light 2005 Dig Out Mercedes Benz 2005 Elope Cadillac XLR 2005 Fair Enough Truth 2005 Family Outing RadioShack 2005 First Date Nissan Maxima 2005 Grills Dunkin' Donuts
60 Year Name Company 2005 Ice Fishing Subway 2005 LeBron James Bubblicious 2005 Mailbox Blockbuster Online 2005 Old Wives Tales Gum MTV 2005 Proceedings GoDaddy 2005 Rapid Release Gels Extra Strength Tylenol 2005 Roadhouse Ford F Series 2005 Snake Verizon Wireless 2005 South Australia Lexus 2005 Tan Lines Tabasco 2005 They'll Never Ask You For Safety Toyota 2005 V Cast Get Tiny Verizon Wireless 2010 Airplane Etrade 2010 Awesomer Emerald Nuts/Pop Secret 2010 Baby Girlfriend/Milkoholic Etrade 2010 Beyonc /HDTV Vizio 2010 Book Clu b Bud Light 2010 Chicken Warning Denny's 2010 Clydesdale Bull/Fence Anheuser Busch Budweiser 2010 Cockatiel & Prairie Dog CarMax 2010 Dave CBS Late Show 2010 Groundhog Day/Troy Polamalu truTV 2010 House Rules Doritos 2010 Injury Report FLOTV 2010 L ance Michelob Ultra 2010 Light Select 55/Budweiser 2010 Man's Last Stand Dodge Charger 2010 My Generation FLOTV 2010 Paint Hyundai 2010 Plane Crash Bud Light 2010 Squirrel Honda Accord Crosstour 2010 The Game Snickers 2010 The Journey to Comfort Do ve for Men 2010 Update FLOTV 2010 Whale of a Tale Bridegstone 2010 What's Wrong Etrade 2010 Your Tires or Your Life Bridgestone
61 Appendix B A. Whitcomb Title: ________________________________ __________________ Company: ________________________________ Year: ____________ Number: __________ Humor Presentation: ____N/A ____Irony ____Joke ____Ludicrous ____Pun ____Satire ____Understatement MALE PERFORMANCE MASCULINE FEMININE No Sissy Stuff ____Absence of warm relationships ____Denial of v ulnerability ____Homophobia ____Inexpressiveness ____Lack of romance The Sturdy Oak ____Calm/cool ____Confident ____Determined ____Independent ____Strength Hormones in Overdrive ____Desire of sex ____Uncontrollable sexuality The Big Wheel ____Achievemen t/success ____Blue collar work ____Fame ____Machismo ____Money/salary ____Provider ("breadwinner") Give Em Hell ____Aggression ____Physical fighting ____Sexual violence ____Sports ____Verbal abuse ____War Mother ____Asexual ____Comforting ____Cooks, sew s, launders ____Emotional ____Good listener ____Sympathetic Seductress ____Attractive ____Sexual object Pet ____Amusing ____Cheerleader/supportive ____Cute ____Humorous Iron Maiden ____Competent ____Independent ____Resistant ____Strong FEMALE PERFORMANC E MASCULINE FEMININE No Sissy Stuff ____Absence of warm relationships ____Denial of vulnerability ____Homophobia ____Inexpressiveness ____Lack of romance The Sturdy Oak ____Calm/cool ____Confident ____Determined ____Independent ____Strength Hormones in Overdrive ____Desire of sex ____Uncontrollable sexuality The Big Wheel ____Achievement/success ____Blue collar work ____Fame ____Machismo ____Money/salary ____Provider ("breadwinner") Give Em Hell ____Aggression ____Physical fighting ____Sexual viol ence ____Sports ____Verbal abuse ____War Mother ____Asexual ____Comforting ____Cooks, sews, launders ____Emotional ____Good listener ____Sympathetic Seductress ____Attractive ____Sexual object Pet ____Amusing ____Cheerleader/supportive ____Cute ____Humo rous Iron Maiden ____Competent ____Independent ____Resistant ____Strong Additional Notes: ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ __________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ __________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ __________
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