Living in the Dreamworld, Putting on the Tough Guise

Bianca Scofield

            The two documentaries Dreamworlds 3, directed by Sut Jhally, and Tough Guise 2, directed by Jason Katz, both display the ways that media and society perpetuate gender inequality. Both documentaries also show examples of the damage caused by this cultural and societal understanding of gender norms. Dreamworlds 3 specifically examines music videos and their effects on how we view sexuality, power, and gender in our society. Tough Guise 2 examines male violence in our society that is in part due to the gender roles established in the “Dreamworld”.

            I believe the most interesting aspect discussed in Dreamworlds 3 is the construction of feminity. In the Dreamworld, women are hyper-sexualized animals in a constant state of arousal. Women only have their being for sex and for the male gaze. They are not capable of living without the presence of a man as shown by their moping and crying in the music videos. They are almost never wearing conservative clothing unless they are role-playing as a teacher or just about to remove it and strip. The outfits and jobs that women are shown in and having in American music videos are cheerleaders, air stewardesses, teachers, schoolgirls, and policewomen. These images of women directly mirror that of women in porn videos. Music videos are in part responsible for the mainstreaming of porn in American culture. We see many similar pornographic images in music videos across all genres. The camera will scan a women’s body up and down focusing on the breasts and butt like a pornographic video. The camera will also fragment a women’s body thus making it more of an object rather than pieces of a human being with emotions and thoughts. This kind of objectification also leads to male violence because women are thought of as objects solely made for male pleasure. Another interesting aspect of Dreamworlds 3 is how female artists have difficulty remaining true to their work and selves when they have to follow a cultural script already written for them. Female artists’ music is sometimes not enough to sell their music, and often they have to sexualize their music videos to make money and be popular. For example, in the most recent year we can see a dramatic change in Miley Cyrus’ music, style, language and actions. She is no longer the innocent Disney channel star. She now relies heavily on her sexuality for her popularity. Most recently, in both W Magazine (her face is practically unrecognizable) and German Vogue, Miley Cyrus has shown either part of her nipple or both her breasts in her photo shoot (I attached the images at the bottom). Miley Cyrus has been enculturated to sell her sexuality as a female, because in the music industry this is what gauges one’s worth. The last take-away I got from Dreamworlds 3 was the song “Eat You Alive” by Limp Bizkit. Besides from it being the most awful song I have ever heard on all fronts, in the eyes of a young boy it completely justifies both the kidnapping and raping of women. I watched the whole video after I finished Dreamworlds 3 and at the end of the video, the girl the band has kidnapped gives in to him and gives them a heads up when the authorities arrive. I would like to point out this is a far cry from reality. If some random guy kidnapped me there would be NOTHING he could do or say that would change my opinion of him because the bottom line is he KIDNAPPED me. One of the most dangerous parts of the Dreamworld is that women are perceived to like and enjoy this mistreatment, sexuality and violence. In reality this is not what women want.

            Tough Guise 2 by Jason Katz examines male violence and what causes male aggression and the consequences of this aggression. The most interesting part about Tough Guise 2 was how the media, controlled mostly by white heterosexual men, never examines male violence as a gender issue. Whenever there is a tragedy that strikes America caused my male violence, the media quickly plays off the incident to be committed by a lone delinquent or mentally ill person (women have mental illnesses as well). They often use gender-neutral words such as “the shooter” instead of identifying them by their gender. However, when a female or black male commits a crime, their gender and race are discussed. This causes an invisibility of white heterosexual males. And even when male violence is discussed, media blames biology (testosterone). In the most horrific shooting in American history, Sandy Hook Elementary, Adam Lanza was thought to have a mental disorder, played lots of violent video games, and had a familiarity with guns because of his mother. His gender was rarely ever discussed as the cause of the shooting. I remember falling prey to this same rationale. It is easy to write Adam Lanza off as crazy rather than consider the societal factors the make men so violent in America. Lanza needed revenge and recognition and in his mind he received both. But why did he need revenge? And why did he need to enact his revenge so violently? He was disrespected as a child and needed to gain that lost respect. We cannot examine Sandy Hook without even considering that he was a man. It may not be the only cause, but it certainly plays a significant part. 



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