The O.C – Representation of Men

March 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

The O.C, a pivotal point in many teens live during its 4 season span.  I remember first hearing about this famed show, after its first season.  I didn’t much care for teen drama shows, and therefore wasn’t interested in watching its premier season, however after much insisting on the part of my friends I began to watch the second season.  Eventually I was hooked, and remained hooked for seasons 2 and 3.  After Marissa died, it all went down hill (a major jumping of the shark occurred), and I barely paid any attention to season 4.  Reading chapter 38 brought back many memories of the beloved television show.

Two of the main characters are touched upon, when examining the roles of men and the way they are portrayed within TV shows.  Ryan, the brooding, handsome kid from the wrong side of the tracks, represents hegemonic masculinity.  This type of masculinity is the most important within the patriarchal culture.  Seth, the cute, science geek represents complicit masculinity.  This type of masculinity “does little to challenge the patriarchal gender order, thereby enjoying its many rewards”.

Two conspicuously absent or underrepresented types of masculinity within the OC are marginalized and subordinate.  Marginalized means men of a different race (other than white) and men with disabilities.  While race is addressed very sparingly within dialogue, or characters that appear for less than a minute in a scene, men with disabilities are completely absent.  When there is a character of a different race within a scene, they often only personify a stereotype of the culture.

Subordinate masculinity represents men who are effeminate or gay.  This type of masculinity is at the very bottom of the hierarchy.  The only real representation of this type of masculinity is Luke’s father, who we find out is gay in the first season.  The other representation is Luke’s anti-homosexual remarks (he is uncomfortable with his fathers sexuality).

When gay characters are represented within TV shows and movies, they are often represented as a stereotype.  They usually personify many misconceptions of the gay community.  For example, when characters on TV shows talk about someone who is gay, they usually assume that they are feminine.  They put a pitch to their voice, flounce around, etc.  While this is the way some homosexual men behave, it is not an accurate portrayal of all gay men.  Many gay men behave just as any heterosexual man would, they just prefer men to women as sexual partners and lovers.  Characters often assume that gay men enjoy everything the women do, nice clothes, food, shopping, hair, etc. however, once again, this is not necessarily the case.  The gay community is completely and totally underrepresented within mainstream TV. 

While I do agree with this analysis of the OC and its clear lack of homosexual and racially different men, I don’t think the creators of the OC ever meant the show to be analyzed so.  It is a soapedy, part comedy, part soap opera.  It was created, not to make a statement, but to provide teens and young adults with an hour of entertainment every week.  It is supposed to be popular, with attractive stars, and watched enough to sell good ad time.  Therefore, although the show clearly lacks a dynamic representation of men, it is still an enjoyable show with (in my opinion) purely an entertainment purpose.




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