Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The (Real) Ugly Truth: Analyzing The Film "The Ugly Truth" And How It Reinforces The Idea Of Masculinity

I chose this movie because it is one of my favorite movies and also one of the only “chick-flicks” that my male friends will watch. I have always wondered why this movie was a hit for both males and females besides the fact that two attractive people play in the starring roles. After analyzing masculinity in this class, I can truly examine and try to understand what makes this movie so gender diverse, and specifically what makes it so appealing to men.

This movie is about a female producer of a news show and a male host of a show called “The Ugly Truth” in which he talks about men, women and sex. His show is very much like “The Man Show” with women dressed in skimpy clothing and talking about what men like. The host is hired by the news station to do a segment in the news show to get better ratings and more viewers. The movie continues to portray the work relationship and personal relationship between the male host and the female producer.

There are a lot of actions that happen within the movie that relate to the class discussion involving men and the work place. One scene that related was the scene that producer, her boss and the host went to a dinner with their corporate owners. Even though the female producer has been there much longer and has a higher position in the network, the host gets much more attention from the network boss and the corporate owners. In fact, when they first arrive the network boss makes the comment “You remember Abby (the producer), and you all know Mike (the host).” The men in power, because both the network boss and the corporate owners are male, give more attention and praise to the new male talent than the devoted female producer. We discussed this aspect of men in the workplace in class and how men feel that other men should be in higher positions with better pay than women. The male superiors like to associate with other men and put them on the “glass escalator,” pushing them to be successful. They do this in the movie by trying to get the host to sign a contract and putting him on the fast track to getting more airtime on the news show.

During the discussion of men in the workplace, we also spoke about the social expectations of men and their coworkers. At the end of the dinner, the producer went home with her new boyfriend. As soon as she left the host and the network boss were discussing how the meeting with corporate went. After they agreed that the meeting went well, the host said “Let’s grab a drink.” The men are expected to socialize with each other through “male-bonding” types of activities such as golf or grabbing drinks. The female producer was not invited to the outing, only the “guys.”

There were also a few scenes in the movie which paralleled the sexual harassment in the “Women in Iraq” article. In the article it talked about how women in the service that were stationed in Iraq were sexually harassed verbally, regardless of their rank. Throughout the movie the host says very sexist things to his superior, the producer, that are much like what the service men said to their female commander. Some examples of this is when the host meets the producer and finds out she is his boss he claims “I like a woman on top.” Then, when she tells him that he has to do what she says when she gives him the earpiece before the show he says “promise me you’ll talk dirty.” Even though he is her subordinate, she allows him to talk to her in that way because he is the man and it is his way of showing he has power. She gets disgusted with him in the movie over it but never suspends him or gives him any type of repercussion for his sexual harassment actions.

The main focus of the movie is about men and their sexuality and relationships with women. There are many examples highlighted throughout the film that we have discussed in class such as biology, the male box, the male gaze and the role of men and women in marriage and other relationships. The movie reinforces the idea of men acting the way they do because of biology during the scene of the news show segment on gorillas. In this scene the host dresses up as a gorilla and shows clips of gorillas mating saying that it is biological the way men act towards women and seeing them as sex objects. It relates even to our discussion on the “Cave Man Theory” that women are for mating, reproducing, and to be controlled by the men because that is how we are biologically programmed.

The movie also talks a lot about the male gaze and seeing women as objects and not subjects. On the host’s show in the beginning of the movie he is giving advice to women on how to get men. He says that you don’t need the steps the self help books give you, “you only need one, and it’s called a StairMaster!” He goes on to tell the women that men don’t fall in love at first sight, they fall in lust. On top of that, they don’t fall for personality at first, they “fall in love with your tits and your ass.” Throughout the film, when he is helping the producer get a date with the man she likes, he tries to mold the producer into a sex object wearing revealing, tight clothing, getting hair extensions, and buying sexy lingerie. These things all reinforce the idea that the idea of masculinity is seeing women as play things and sexual objects, not equals. The producer dressed professionally and wore her hair back but that made her look more powerful and the men, according to the host, did not like controlling and powerful looking women.

The movie also touched on the idea of the role of men and women in a marriage, especially referring to the power structure within marriage. During the host’s first segment on the news show, he talks about the two anchors who are a married couple. He says that the wife has emasculated her husband by becoming more popular, being the breadwinner, and being generally more successful than her husband. The host said that these reasons explain why her husband would no longer have sex with her because she wouldn’t “let him be a man.” This idea that in order for a man to be “masculine” he must fit into this box where he is the breadwinner and the one with the power while the woman must make less money and be less successful so that she depends on the man.

While I still enjoy this movie because it is a good romantic comedy and has a lot of funny parts, I do view it differently after analyzing it. The only problem is that other viewers will not analyze it as I have and it will still engrain the idea of masculinity into our society and continue to help perpetuate the notion of the role men and women are supposed to play within our society.

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