penguinfaery: (Lost-Sawyer-"BITCHES TAKE MY PIE.)
Terra ([personal profile] penguinfaery) wrote2011-11-12 06:47 pm

Terra has thoughts

So there was this tumblr post about how "It's just as hard to be Ken as it is to be Barbie." and as I was sitting there today, watching Immortals and objectifying the shit out of the hot shirtless men in that movies, I was also turning that thought over in my head.

Because it's true. It is no more realistic to expected men to all look like Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans then it is to expected woman to all look like Angelina Jolie and Scarlette Johansson. That is an entirely unrealistic, objectifying and unfair streotype.

However, that's not the stereotype that is the issue.

Because the regular joe guy who thinks he's gonna walk into a bar downtown with his pot belly, acne scars, cowlick, whatever flaws a normal guy has and think he is gonna get Angelina Jolie is regarded just as out of it as I would be if I thought I'd go cruising downtown and picking up Brad Pitt. It is understood that those people are...unobtainable idols.

This issue is, in Hollywood, this is considering a social awkward loser male:


Pretty fair. A little polished up, but it is a TV show. I meet guys like Howard at most conventions.

In Hollywood this is considered a socially awkward loser female:


Nope. As we were discussing last night Sarah is the the closest thing to a Manic Pixie Dream girl that probably exists, and even she crushes the streotype by...having a personality and not holding up the loser males till ~all their dreams come true~ And Sarah is not a loser. Sure, she likes geeky things. She also takes us out and charms her way into free stuff, and can have the hottest guy around eating out of the cup of her hand.

Not loser material. Sorry.

And it's not that there aren't ANY realistic females. To be fair to the Big Bang Theory, Amy, Burnadette and Penny are all very real females. Yeah, Penny would have probably been one of the hotter girls at my school but I still buy that she would have gone to my school. That she would be a real person I could meet.

I could never imagine Zooey D up there hanging out at a comic convention as she is in The New Girl. MAYBE I could see her as one the the chic, hipster girls at my college...but that as close as college gets to the "popular" kids. She's the cream of the crop, not average.

To make the point in a different way, we have Supernatural, which...let's not lie, is hot guy fan service all over. Somewhere in the stack of Supernatural Academic essays they aid it is "the female gaze" sure tries to be.

However, this is their "normal" girl:


Which is actually not to bad for the CW. I do think Jo falls in the same line as Penny. She would be one of the hotter girls, but I can still buy her as an average, typical girl, even if she is on the pretty side of that. But...Jo isn't suppose to be the pretty girl in the group, like Penny is. Jo isn't at the top of the pyramid, or even in the middle, she is suppose to be at the bottom. And...she's not. Alona Tal is gorgeous.

Compare this to the average guys? Ash, Andy, Bobby, Crowley.

To, again, be fair there is Becky. But Becky is one average girl compared to many average males. And again, Becky is suppose to be bottom of the rung in the losers category and...she is not bottom of the rung in that category. She wears make up, has nice hair and cute clothes. She's thin, and has a pretty cute face. She is Average McAverage visually, and she is who they cast as the loser of the losers.

It's not the idols, the cream of the crop that bother me (Even though they have problems too, that's just...not the problem I'm addressing here and now). They're not suppose to look normal, on either gender. It's that over and over again you have a handful of beautiful woman, a handful of gorgeous guys, and then a bunch of normal guys. Aaaaaaaaaaand that's it.

When Christina Hendricks is held up as "Omg this woman is so normal and curvy and healthy...." No. She is not "normal". She is a freakin' goddess among men. She is a hot mutation who just happens to be a not size zero mutation. The issues is she has become "normal". Zooey Deschanel has become "the awkward loser".

Sit down and try to name off "average" actresses. I ran out of actresses before I ran out of hands. And I'm sure, with our powers combined we could make a pretty legit list (And it's hard not to list them because the nice thing about them is they are all amazingly talented), but...when I do the same with males I could go on and on and on. And then some. And don't have to confer with other or rack my brain to do it.

And there is probably a hand full of examples to derail everyone on of my points, but...the point is there are only a handful of examples.

And it's not...I don't want this post to come off as "Pretty people are awesome and normal people are fugly." or "Pretty people are shallow, worthless visuals and normal people are awesome." A normal person can be pretty (Kristen Vangsness is drop dead gorgeous). A pretty person can be a phenomenal actress. Having good genes doesn't make you a fake card board cut out. Having a few extra pounds or a crooked nose doesn't make you worthless. I would not say no to a date with either Andy or Ash's actor (maybe Jim Beaver. He is a little old for me. But only maybe.) But there is a richness to having a huge variety of people, a richness only present on the male side of things.

So yeah. It's hard to be Ken. But at least if you're not Ken you still have something that represents you out there. You have your Adam Sandlers and Jonah Hills and John Cusacks. Call me when Kristen Vangsness gets a movie vehicle.

One that's not centered around her being over weight or a plain girl or anything of that variety.

[identity profile] 2011-11-13 02:17 am (UTC)(link)
First, I totally agree with you. And there is nothing normal about Christina Hendricks.

The one caveat I would add is that... female attractiveness is very singular. Tall, thin, blonde (or redheaded, but not in a gingery way), busty, etc. There is only one way to be an attractive female, and that's the only way they're thus presented.

But, and I don't know why, men get more leeway to be attractive in different ways.

Ashe doesn't count. He has a mullet and just does not count.

To me, Andrew is like Jo. In the episode, he's presented as lame loser with a moby dick bong, but, absent that context... Andy is pretty attractive. Not-attractive enough to be counted as as 'normal,' but still well above the bell curve.

Crowley is kind of short (5'8", and yes I googled that), I think he has a bit of a gut, but fuck. He's sexy. Maybe it's the all black suit, the accent, and the scotch, but somehow media has a male-only archtype for a short plump guy, with enough style points, to be handsome.

Same with Bobby, who is probably about as handsome as someone can be at 61. Because, again, there's some male-only archtype where you can be 61, fat, heavy-drinking guy in a trucker hat, and pull it off in a way that's attractive.

For some reason, these archtypes don't exist for female characters, and I don't quite know why. Probably because male viewers need to see cleavage to be occupied.

[identity profile] 2011-11-13 02:42 am (UTC)(link)
No, no you forgot there are TWO kinds. The tall blond, and the overly tanned, long thick dark hair Kim Kardashian look. You have the "All American" girl and the "Exotic". So then the (Amazingly beautiful) pale brunette gets to became the "plain" girl. Even if she is one dye job or fake tan away from going either of the other two directions.

I think, when they walked into the office Jo and Andy could have been on equal grounds.

But Jo got lip glosses and hair curled and mid-drift bearing. And Andy got scruff and a bong, and blood shot eyes. I think a lot of what makes or break this invisible line happens in wardrobe and make up, and less faces.

Even big bang theory has this issue. They got facially average guys, but sans Howard, wardrobe's idea of geeky seems to be "Vintage superhero shirts" and some how they missed that's just hipster.

And I actually think you found better words than me. The different kinds of pretty. It's not that Kathy Bates is unattractive, she is just not...that. They missed the middle area where attractive drops off to Steve Buschemi (on...the male side. On the female side that would be a...much steeper drop)

(I would also date Mark Sheppard. Just...sayin')

[identity profile] 2011-11-13 02:49 am (UTC)(link)
1. I ignored "Exotic" because I find it...k inda grotesque, and I have never actually seen Kim Kardashian.

2. (9:44:33 PM) soratoyuki: on bbt, which one is howard?
(9:45:25 PM) soratoyuki: theres sheldon, then theres 70s guy, guy that bangs hot chicks, and indian guy
(9:45:34 PM) Laura: 70's guy
(9:45:36 PM) soratoyuki: thanks

[identity profile] 2011-11-13 02:56 am (UTC)(link)
Sometimes it can be. Sometimes so can blond beauties (The Girls next door?). But like Inara from Firefly is...Gorgeous McGrogeous pants. Also, Joss Whedom is pretty legit good at getting normal looking people. Both Morena Bacarin and Christina Hendricks were meant to be abnormally grogeous people in that world, and I think the other three woman have their own beauty that is pretty far from typical. Buffy is pretty good too (Of course the fact I find Buffy herself pretty thoroughly unattractive may color that).

Howard very much to me seem like the guy who BUYS cool clothes in stores...and then has no idea how to wear them. IDK how they hit that on the head and then assume Sheldon can dress himself at all.

This is probably all jumbled and shit. Apologies if it's incoherent.

[identity profile] 2011-11-13 05:12 am (UTC)(link)
You bring up a lot of really good points here. I agree that the "Ken" image (or the overly-muscular 6-pack abs ALL THE MUSCLES AND STEROIDS guys on men's fitness magazines) is just as unrealistic for the average guy as the starlet is for the average woman.

BUT even the "average" guy is going to find some representation of himself in popular media. And they'll get to be a variety of characters: main characters, sidekicks, good guys, bad guys... even if they're a sidekick or comic relief, they'll probably be a decently rounded character. There's a painful lack of "average women" in media. Your example of Zoe Deschanel being in this role is right on. She's amazingly beautiful, and yet she's the "dorky girl" or whatever.
And SO MANY movies do that where they TELL us that a character is unattractive, but it just amounts to "oh, she wears glasses and no eyeliner and has messy hair and a sweatshirt on." And then suddenly she's "transformed" into the beautiful girl by a pair of contacts, a blowdryer, and a pushup bra. Where... no, the actress playing "ugly duckling" is NEVER GOING TO CODE AS UGLY.

I have two things I'd add:
Women, even beautiful ones, are more frequently subject to things like photoshopping when they appear in "official" images. It still happens with men, obviously, but it's the whole of course you don't look like Scarlet Johansson; Scarlet Johansson doesn't even look like that picture of her that made the cover of Cosmo. It certainly still happens with men, but not to the same degree of "even the hottest of the hot is too flawed unless we fix her."

And second, there are a fair number of shows that show the "average guy" still getting the hot girl. Sitcoms do it a lot, but the "guy comedy" type movies often do, too. It's often the "oh, the funny charming guy gets the girl in the end, beating the hot jerk guy" thing, but the women in question are always beautiful in every way. The funny charming guy doesn't decide he wants a funny charming girl who is a little heavy around the middle and forgets to put eye makeup on some mornings; no, he wants the head cheerleader. If there are "hot guy ends up with average girl" stories, they tend to be the makeover type story that I mentioned above... that the "average" girl was really totally hot all along! She just needed better hair! Or it's a rom-com starring Meg Ryan or another pretty actress that isn't nearly as average as the movie wants us to believe.

[identity profile] 2011-11-14 05:40 am (UTC)(link)
Exactly. All of this. I got a reply on tumblr, and tried to work some of this in, because yes...all of it,

[identity profile] 2011-11-14 08:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I think about this topic a lot, lol.

I saw the reply on tumblr, and I think that the points you made were a good response to it.

Because exactly: not arguing that men have it super-easy when it comes to media representation (which is still very flawed when it comes to portrayals of "acceptable" masculinity) but just that they aren't nearly as limited as women. Your list of actors in that response that wouldn't be "conventionally hot" yet are still considered attractive and still get to be lead characters is really telling... there aren't many women who could look similar in terms of "flaws" and still get a lead female role.

[identity profile] 2011-11-13 05:58 am (UTC)(link)
Yes yes yes yes yes.

It used to really bother me that boys get to bear their acne scars in public and be considered normal, whereas girls who don't wear makeup are ugly. As an undergrad I would purposefully experiment by fixing my hair nicely, wearing nice clothes, everything sans the makeup and people would still sometimes treat me as a slob. This was also in the south, though, which is definitely Barbie and Ken land.

[identity profile] 2011-11-14 05:41 am (UTC)(link)
It is not so strong here. Or people do not call you out on it. But it still happens.

[identity profile] 2011-11-14 04:27 pm (UTC)(link)
I think there are two things at play here, Hollyweird Standards and the real world. That, and a little bit of mental maturity.

I agree with you, there are not enough "normal" folk in movies and TV.

I think there could be a lot more acceptance of people that are outside the norm and are still sexy and interesting. You're a big gal but you are still fun, and witty and can look hawt... I think attitude has a lot to do with it.

I'm glad Kevin James has had a string of starring movie roles, maybe there's still hope.