In preparation for this exercise, watch the commercials during one night of prime-time television on a chosen channel, and describe the depictions of men in these commercials and note them on the discussion board. If possible, share a YouTube link for an ad so your peers can get a better sense of the ad. In addition, answer the following prompts:
1. Description. What sort of categories do these male characters fall into? For each category, what are the characters’ typical behaviors? What do they look like, including their normative body types? What is the range of their actions? If they were coupled with a female counterpart, what did she look like? What are the male characters’ relationships with other men and other women?
2. Analysis. Look for patterns in the descriptions of male characters in prime-time ads, especially with regard to body type, behaviors, race and ethnicity, social class, and relationships with other men and women. Is there a certain kind of male character that predominates in these ads? If so, what is that character?
3. Interpretation. What conclusions can you draw about male characters on television? What is it about these characters that suggests an appeal to the “ordinary” guy? Is it evident, from watching these portrayals of men, that standards for male behavior are high or not very high? Why is that? How close are the portrayals of men in advertisements to men you know in real life?
4. Evaluation. If portrayals of women in advertising affect the status of women in society, what might be the effect of advertising images of men on men’s status in society? What sorts of changes might you make to the portrayals of male characters in ads?
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