Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Have 99 Problems and Double Standards are Almost All of Them

I noticed something tonight while watching LOST. Actually I noticed two things, A) That I was shipping Sawyer and Claire (weird), and B) That some of the male actors on this show are singularly unattractive.
This isn't a dig at them, this is an observation. Though everyone here (and in the entertainment industry, with a few exceptions) is extremely talented and doing quite well for themselves, only the males actually have a market in which being unattractive is OK.  Because every woman on that island is smokin', even without the use of a comb or shower on most days.
Think about it. Women in the media are always attractive. This is always true with the leading lady, though sometimes the comic relief characters and villains and other side characters may be less Covergirl quality.  But even in these cases, when the actress may not be conventionally beautiful, she is still way on the upside of average. I honestly cannot think of one successful actress who could be thought unattractive.
Can we say the same of men?
There is a much bigger market for unattractive males in the entertainment industry than unattractive females.  Some of this is because of the kinds of movies that are being made.  In an action movie, targeted at men, there may be one or two female characters (who will always be the sultry, Megan Fox-y kind, because, well, men), and then a huge ensemble of men. The target male audience isn't really concerned with whether or not these guys are attractive as long as they are muscle-y and can kick some butt.  Plus there's the goofy sidekick character and the dastardly villain character, almost always male dominated.  These guys can be funny looking. Male villains are often hideously scarred, wearing a full face mask, or just downright creepy. Female villains, on the other hand, are often wearing leather and delivering double entendres with a delicately curved eyebrow, intent on getting their way by seducing the hero into a pile of blubbering man flesh.
Males identify their worth by how strong they are/how they can be a provider, so they identify with strong, get-it-together characters. Whether or not that tough guy is hot is further down their list of what makes them relate to the character. And isn't the success of movies built on whether you resonate with the characters you're watching?
Females are wired differently (in more ways than one, but that's a whole different cake.) Due to an inherent desire to be, well, desirable, and significant outside influence that has been pounded into us practically from birth that our worth is directly tied to our physical attractiveness, whether or not a character is attractive is one of the key factors in determining whether or not women will relate to her.  When I was in middle school I read the book Spindle's End by Robin McKinley, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. The protagonist was not attractive. It was made clear by the book that she was average at best, but this was not a driving point of the story.  It was briefly mentioned, and then the plot set in.  I really enjoyed it, and passed it along to a friend to read.  She gave it back to me when she was only halfway through.  When I asked her why she didn't like it, she shrugged and said she just couldn't get into it. Since I'm That Girl who takes a personal offense when you dislike a book that I like, I probed her as to what exactly turned her off.  With the barest hint of chagrin, my friend replied "Well... she wasn't pretty."
I'm sure that had it been flipped (the princess had been pretty and the prince had been just average), her reaction would still have been similar.  It's not really the gender of the character that is the deciding factor here, but the gender of the audience.  Women relate to physical attractiveness because it's what we have been taught to relate to. It is the be-all and end-all of our existence, and we want only to surround ourselves with attractiveness in order to cushion ourselves.
That's the double standard.
It's not really Hollywood that has the issue, it's the collective consciousness that has been perpetrated by the media and reflected back from women in a vicious cycle that helps no one. The media projects an "ideal beauty", women strive to achieve it, making it relatable; the media runs on relatability, and so on... the unattainable, hyper-attractive ideal is reflected and refracted from one to the other, becoming increasingly prevalent and increasingly impossible. Strides have been made in the direction of casting fuller-figured women (which has opened a whole new can of worms as far as body-shaming goes but THAT'S ANOTHER POST), but still we have yet to see a market where an average-to-less-than-averagely attractive woman has just as much of a shot as her equally average-to-less-than-average male counterparts.  Maybe this can't really be fixed because of the human wiring to want to surround ourselves with attractiveness. But it's still an issue that I feel needs to be addressed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Howdy! Thanks for leaving a comment! :)

This site is designed by Snicklefritz Design Company