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The Influence Of Gender In American Popular Culture

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Popular Culture in the form of media does not always do a fair job of reflecting accurate characteristics of men and women. Society has added to this by creating what is known as gender roles among men and women. They are like a type of social guidelines which men and women follow in order to be accepted by today's society. Although this was designed with the best intentions it can have negative results.

There are many examples of gender roles playing a part in our society. Television serves as one of the most common "voices" for the social guidelines; it reflects dominant social values to its audience which in turn reinforces them by presenting them as the norm. Television implies that it's a man's world buy usually placing men in the more powerful and wealthy roles while leaving women as just "eye candy" on the arm of men. As Daniel Chandler wrote, "Viewers are frequently invited to identify with male characters and to objectify females. This has been called 'the male gaze'". The CBS TV show King of Queens is a good example of this, staring a beautiful thin stylish women paralegal married to an overweight lazy delivery driver. You rarely see the scenario switched, it's always a better women paired with a lesser man.

The TV show Beverly Hills 90210 is a great representation how TV invented the ideal type of male in female. They ranged in personality types but all share the same qualities. Rich upper class American's who seemed to have it all, and yet still managed to get their homework done. They are faced with endless problems, from drug abuse to murder. The shows intentions were to bring real problems to its young viewers but the reality is that a soap opera does anything but that. This kind of show brings down the self-esteem of young people (mostly girls) by placing unrealized role models. The characters drive high priced cars, living in mansions and never have a bad hair day. Their problems are so bizarre that most teens can't really relate. They in turn feel like they are nothing in comparison. They are young and naive can't get past the fact that it's a fictitious show and not a true representation of real life.

Reality TV has taken the gender roles to a new level. These shows are even more unrealistic and unachievable by today's young adults. Shows like MTV's "My Super Sweet 16" a reality show about spoiled rich teens throwing over the top elaborate sweet sixteen birthday parties. The show creates an even bigger boundary between the average teen and these crazed rich kids. It reinforces this kind of behavior again as the norm. They also teach kids to have next to no respect for adults and make it seems as though adults get in the way of their lives. On one episode it stars a young girl who disobeys her parents wishes and sneaks

to Malibu for the weekend even after she was told repeatedly that she was not allowed. When her parents found out she was there they cancelled her credit card. She was more upset that her card was cancelled then at the fact that her parents knew she was doing something she shouldn't. When her parents decided that she would not get the $75,000.00 Land Rover they promised her, she through a 3-years-olds temper tantrum and ultimately got her car in the end.

These shows have a bigger influence on young girls making it seem like money is everything and you are not a women unless you have the "stuff" to prove it. They show case rare teens as normal everyday Americans which in turns make the actual normal teenager feel as though they are sub-par. Even the people who feel as though these types of shows are wrong still watch them because they are drawn to the outrageousness of it. They make young kids feel as though they have the right to act this way too. It keeps kids minds away from the important things in life, like school, and focuses them on material things. Children today seem to be skipping through their childhood and going straight



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