Advertising and Male Violence

Okay, we are finally going to get to use the video cameras.  We are going to take a look at advertising and male violence.  After this analysis, you are going to make a parody of advertising and male violence.  But first, you have to do a bit of work,

“Why should we bother looking at the influence of violence in the media on males?” Obviously, media portrayals of violence affect us all, and female bullies and abusers exist. But statistically, it is males who seem particularly prone to violent action in our society, and because of this, it is worth taking the time to focus on this issue as it specifically relates to men.



of violent crimes are committed by males


of victims of violent crimes are males

The fact is that violent behaviour is typically labelled as “male.” This doesn’t mean that all men are violent, but it does mean that violent behaviour is associated with masculinity.
Traditionally, the process of male socialization has encouraged boys to be aggressive, strong and powerful. When faced with aggressive or violent acts, attitudes such as “Boys will be boys” are one way that male violence is condoned and encouraged by society.

One place where this “Boys will be boys” attitude seems to be constantly reinforced is in the media. Although studies have not conclusively proven that media violence is linked to real-life violence, experts agree that constant exposure to violent acts committed by males in the media normalizes male violence, making it appear to be a part of our real-life culture.

One media influence that is often left out when discussing violence in the media is advertising. Yet many ads use violence to sell products. Just open up any magazine that is geared to teenage boys and you will be bombarded with advertisements that encourage aggression or violence.

Five advertising themes that use and encourage male violence are:

  1. Attitude is Everything – A certain attitude is promoted in ads geared toward young men.
  2. The Cave Man Mentality – Ads that feature masculine icons from popular history, such as a cowboy, pirate or an ancient warrior.  They are examples of violent, rugged males that support the premise that man is, historically, an aggressive creature.
  3. The New Warriors – These ads use sports figures to make consumers associate danger, violence and excitement with the products that are being advertised.
  4. Muscles and the “Ideal Man” – These ads portray a strong, muscular body with the image of ideal manhood.
  5. Heroic Masculinity – Is Hollywood’s glamorization of male violence. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson and Sylvestor Stallone are traditional examples of the actors who portray the violent male as an heroic ideal. Much attention has been given recently to a new brand of action hero embodied by actors such as Nicholas Cage or Tom Cruise. These modern heroes are supposed to be smarter and more sensitive than their predecessors, but they still get their share of mayhem!

    Activity #1
    Below are 5 examples of ads that incorporate these themes.  Discuss how each ad is related to their corresponding theme.  For instance, the first image below is a good example of number 1, Attitude is Everything.  Answer these questions on your wordress blog.

Cave Man Mentality
Muscles and the Ideal Man
The New Warriors
Heroic Masculinity

Activity #2
Go online and look at different advertisements that feature males.  Select 2 and explain how they are examples of 2 of the themes outlined that encourage male violence.  Make sure you either link to them or place them in your blog.


Activity #3
Not all advertisements encourage male violence.
Look for an advertisement that promotes a more positive or realistic image of masculinity.  Make sure you post it or link it to your blog.  Provide a detailed typed explanation as to why you selected that image.


Timeline:  I’ll give you about 2-3 periods to complete this assignment.  If you are done early, you can start brainstorming a video parody of male violence in advertising.

All the content was taken from the Media Awareness Network


3 thoughts on “Advertising and Male Violence

  1. Janice Flahiff

    Thank you very much….I found this through my WordPress blog.
    I think violence, even passing words and phrases (as take a stab at, it kills me, you kill me) dehumanizes us all…
    This was brought to my attention at a recent Pax Christi (Peace of Christ meeting)
    Wondering if glorification of violence in the media is just playing on what is culturally acceptable…sadly…
    maybe violent attitudes, thoughts and actions, are masking lonliness ( no good sense of community)…and fear of death…..just thoughts…again, thank you for this posting

    1. Hi Janice,
      Thanks for the comments. I’m sure that the glorification of violence is not a good thing. However, some boys in my media arts class had some interesting points. They are always playing violent games and watching violent t.v. and don’t think that this makes them violent. They claim that they don’t feel like hurting someone after taking part in violent activities. However, like you said, it could be masking other issues, such as loneliness as you suggested.

  2. Pingback: Seeing And Experiencing Violence Makes Aggression ‘Normal’ For Children « Health and Medical News and Resources

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