The White Man's Muscles
In today's society, the naked white male body is found everywhere. It can be seen in print ads, including clothing catalogues, TV commercials, and especially in movies, yet the prevalence of the naked white male body is something that has only been embraced since the 1980s. Prior to the 1980s, half naked white males were hardly ever seen in popular film because of the negative effects it would have on male self-esteem and masculinity.
People in our generation remember watching films such as Rocky, Rambo, and The Terminator, which showed incredibly built and tan white males in some type of extreme action role. However, people would be hard pressed to find a film in which a half naked white male was not shown as superior regardless of muscle size. Although some of the actors who portrayed Tarzan did not have the characteristics of the ideal male specimen, the prevalence of a tan, and the superiority over the animals in the jungle and the darker natives shows that the typical ideal of white male dominance is not limited by lack of muscles.
Bell Hooks stated that given a choice, and a possibility to come back as something other than you are, most people would choose to come back as a white male. People for many generations have acknowledged the advantages of being a white male. The obvious lack of public displays of the typical white male body was a way in which men could protect the ideals associated with being the highest class in the most dominant race. According to Richard Dyer, "a naked body is a vulnerable body." Why would people considered to be the most powerful open themselves up to something that could threaten their masculinity? The threat associated with white male masculinity and their bodies is because their bodies are the same as everyone else's. The portrayal of the typical white body would lead people to question why people that are so similar to them command all of the power. If people could not see...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document