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In many Old Spice ads, you see a man, who is sexy, strong, and sometimes even aggressive – a very hypermasculine character; this ad is no different. The setting is important as it represents wealth. The background is a beach, somewhere tropical and luxurious. There is a white horse, also symbolizing wealth and masculinity. Then you have the character, who is shirtless with muscles popping out smirking at you. The whole setting creates a fantasy for its viewers. One that is filled with characteristics attributed to men: wealth, strength, physical appearance. Overall, this is a very hypermasculine ad that is trying to sell its viewers an idea of what a real ‘man’ looks like. I will address why such a representation is extremely problematic as it sets out hegemonic hypermasculine ideals of what men need to look like in order to classify as one. Hypermasculinity is a notion which is often an amplification of male qualities – particularly sexuality, strength, and violent behaviour. The idea is that ‘real men’ embrace these components and are proud of it. What would happen if a man refuses to adopt these qualities? They may be outcasted or belittled as they no longer represent the ideal form of a man. The two main problems that I will be focusing on in this particular ad are the notion of physical appearance/strength and the definition of a man based on hypermasculine traits.
I changed the ad by replacing the “smell like a real man, man” to “smell like a hypermasculine man, man.” I also placed emphasis on the characters muscles and mentioned that he was being objectified. My approach to this ad was to deconstruct the hypermasculinity embedded in it. As mentioned, hypermasculinity is an amplification of male qualities and this ad fits that notion perfectly. Strength is often attributed to men and it is classified with large muscles or a muscular toned body. Men are constantly reminded to live up to this ideal by going to the gym to get ‘buff.’ Thus, physical appearance becomes an integral part of their identity. If you happen not to have muscles or look ripped, then you are either effeminate or not worthy of being called a true man. We often talk about female objectification and the sexualization of the female body, but this too applies to males. The character is shirtless for a reason, the ad wants to grab your attention and it does so using a hypermasculine character which further objectifies him to create capital. This brings me to my next point, the definition of a real man. Real men are meant to be tough, strong, and heterosexual. This ad can very well be catered towards a female audience as it sets out a romantic scene where the character plays the knight in shining armor, or rather the more modern version of it. He’s so hot and strong that he’ll sweep you off your feet and ride with you on his white expensive horse to a luxurious destination of your dreams. It sells you the idea that this is what real men are like, so if your partner happens to buy Old Spice products, they too can sweep you off your feet. But why wait on your partner to buy it? YOU could purchase any Old Spice product and can turn this fantasy into reality!