An Analysis of Representation of Masculinity in Music Magazines

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An analysis of representation of masculinity in music magazines, with particular reference to Kerrang and NME magazine

‘Representation is the construction and aspects of reality in any medium, especially mass media. It can be presented in speech, writing, still and moving pictures.’ For my research investigation I will be analysing the representation of masculinity in music magazines, and will do this by studying the codes and conventions that cause the representation of masculinity ion two magazines. These magazines are the February 2011 edition of Kerrang and the March 2008 edition of NME, separated by three years to also compare if concepts have changed over the years, I will closely analyse the message these magazines send out to both men and women and how it effects them both, whether it gives them expectations of what to expect in a man or it gives them aspirations to achieve the goal of what these messages put across. As said in the Boys to Men: Media Messages about Masculinity ‘the media’s portrayal of men tends to reinforce men’s social dominance.’ The concept of masculinity has been around for hundreds of years. There have been many studies and theories that have derived from this idea of masculinity and recently these theories have been applied to music as a link to masculinity. ‘Freud’s concept of phallocentrism is embodied in Rock Music as the guitar can be seen to be phallic symbol, a symbol of dominance and power,’ something that men of today, and centuries before today have strived to have. In 1999, Children Now, a California-based organization that examines the impact of media on children and youth, released a report entitled Boys to Men: Media Messages about Masculinity. The report argues that the media’s portrayal of men tends to reinforce men’s social dominance. The report observes that: * the majority of male characters in media are heterosexual * male characters are more often associated with the public sphere of work, rather than the private sphere of the home, and issues and problems related to work are more significant than personal issues * Non-white male characters are more likely to experience personal problems and are more likely to use physical aggression or violence to solve those problems. In 1952 NME was released and became the most influential music magazine in the UK covering indie/rock music. The magazine is known today as one of the top grossing magazines in the country being constant competition for the other music magazines published. Just like every other magazine, the front cover is a vital part of the magazine. It is the first aspect of the magazine readers will see so therefore must capture the characteristics people look for in magazines to ensure purchase. NME covers, feature the same ideologies each week; a popular artist or group (usually male), the colour scheme red, black and white (unless it is a special edition, in which case the colour scheme will relate to the main article or the theme of the issue) and finally the mast head in it well known font style and colour. The February 2008 issue cover presents its format in its own individual style in a way to make it a unique magazine. The focus of this issue is the main image of two male artists; they give direct eye contact with the audience looking down at the camera, presenting the idea of them being dominant over the reader. The men are wearing black clothing, a mysterious and dominant colour which creates an image of rebellion and hiding their motives from the world. It is said that “Cultural types – such as the gentleman, the everyday man, or the rebel – are the staple representation of gender in popular fiction because they are easily recognisable and condense a range of important attitudes and values” meaning, that the way magazine producers present the men on their cover determines how their audience will recognise the values and attitudes the producers are trying to portray to them. The graphics...
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