I’m Jess, from Marin County, California.
Roadmap of the spectrum from MOST to LEAST masculine:
Fuckin’ Problems. Truly, the title says it all. Over, and over, and over again. The visual and auditory message pounded into our heads. The hyper masculinity is off the charts in this video. Whether it’s the furious booty popping of objectified women faceless in the background, aggressive rap verses regarding “bad bitches” “niggas” and “dicks”, an overt display of wealth through massive gold chains, or simply the entire video resting on merely four different shots of the rappers and women performing for the camera. Fuckin’ Problems is the stereotypical “masculine” rap video on steroids, it seems to boast masculinity, and depicts the rappers’ need to perform masculinity as an essential part of their image: dominant male figures in the industry.
Thrift Shop presented masculinity much more subtly in comparison to Fuckin’ Problems, because it didn’t use lyrics to ingrain messages of male dominance. Instead, Macklemore essentially showed us that even when you shop at a thrift shop, wear grandpa clothes, and the occasional fur coat, you can still get the ladies (correction, Macklemore can still get all the ladies). The confidence in his slow gait as he struts down the thrift store aisle exudes a self-assured masculine ego, and coaxes the audience to acknowledge the idea that Macklemore doesn’t need s*** to show his manhood, especially not through material possessions. Masculine is simply what Macklemore seems to promote he “embodies”, and his swagger in this video assuredly represents his male dominance.
*ARE THEY KISSING?! Hm….
Whereas Thrift Shop and Fuckin Problems were rife with stereotypical masculine indicators, SHINee verges on queer and androgynous. Masculinity takes a backseat in this pop video with synchronized boy-band hip thrusting and heartfelt close-ups. This video could be about a guy for all we know (since it’s in Korean), but in an effort to establish any semblance of masculinity, the guys wear sleeveless tanks to highlight their toned biceps, they are outfitted in serious black leather, and the prized masculine symbol – a car – is added to the mix. SHINee needs only establish their masculinity in so far as it can win over teen fans, but masculinity is clearly NOT a key part of defining their image as male pop stars.
One Direction works similarly, but reaches the farthest end of the spectrum with barely any indicators of their masculinity. The video is void of any masculine moments, and their heterosexuality rests solely on the song Kiss You addressing a female. This video reflects OneDirection entirely: a group of cheesy, British, attractive, self-proclaimed romantics that need only represent those four factors to attract tween girls (maybe even boys too!). This type of masculinity is young and spritely, sex is out of the question, style enhances attractiveness, and the bromance is celebrated. Although a group of metro boys playing with each other through song and dance screams: “This is a queer moment”, masculinity at this age requires no validation in the industry or to be established as teen dreamboats. OneDirection is/are the poster boys for young tweens looking for cute, romantic, and friendly boys. They can flash nipples, kiss each other, and make videos about kissing girls WITHOUT ONE FEMALE PRESENT IN THE VIDEO, because their heartthrob image depends on physical perfection rather than masculinity. Stereotypical masculinity is fading with the rise of young male stars like the Biebs, due to the fact that the tween market of young girls is propelling this type of male into powerful stardom. As demonstrated in this video, a new masculinity is emerging with the almighty bromance bubbling at its core, bursting with queer moments, and pouring into the media with undeniable force.
They are a boy band for Christ sake, bitchez and hoes won’t ever be a part of THIS male image.