When it comes to masculinity, Shinee falls farthest from the dominant American view of masculinity. With shiny, fitted costumes, makeup, and choreographed dancing complete with hip shakin’, Shinee presents themselves as sexualized objects in much the same way as Girls’ Generation. Furthermore, they have no women and no interaction with women in the video, marking them as receivers of sexual interest rather than purveyors of the male gaze. The lack of women also hints toward homosexuality, the antithesis of dominant masculinity.
One Direction definitely has a pretty-boy image- with their carefully groomed hair and frequently changing costumes, but their song lyrics express some masculinity. One Direction is asking a girl to “Let me kiss you,” and they say “I just wanna take you anywhere that you like,” and “I just wanna show you off to all of my friends,” making them the pursuers of their own (less passive, more forceful) sexual desire rather than passive receivers of attention.
While the band members show much male-to-male affection, this is more acceptable because of their playful and boyish image. Obviously still goofy kids, they are not yet claiming manhood and therefore don’t need to assert their masculine heterosexuality yet. Imaging the band making this same music video, but looking 15 years older. Significantly weirder, right?
While Macklemore’s focus on his own appearance and clothing conflicts with stereotypical masculinity, he expresses his masculinity through objectification of women. In the first 20 seconds of the video, there are close-ups of women sexually sucking on straws, which cuts to Macklemore using the two women as armrests. The camera’s sexualization of the women and their mere presence asserts Macklemore’s masculinity by contrast, as well as expressing his heterosexuality. The women seem to be Macklemore’s accessories, and this dominance further asserts his masculinity.
A$AP Rocky’s music video portrays the most mainstream masculinity of the four. The song lyrics center around his sexual desires and virility, and their movements and manner of singing show aggression and power. This is contrasted by frequent shots of silent, scantily clad women dancing sexually, often focusing on specific body parts rather than their faces.