What are some questions I would ask myself if I was to analyse something such as a television advertisement relating to masculinity?
I can only think of the following:
- How the gender roles are upheld
- How the ad represents women and men
- How they're challenged
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In any kind of textual analysis, there is a standard mode of preliminary analysis which will help you arrive at conclusions no matter what lens you are using to analyse. In this case, your "text" is the commercial itself.
First, you should ask, "Who is the author/creator of the text?" In this case, you want to think about the company behind the advertisement and not necessarily the writers of the ad itself. What product is being advertised? What is this company's reputation or success rate? With whom are they competing?
Second, ask, "Who is the intended audience for the text?" There are a number of factors which allow a viewer to decipher the intended audience. Look at the age of the actors, the scene in which they are presented, and the attitude/sentiment expressed. Is this commercial targeting mainly young people, old people, or both? Is it targeting mainly men or women? Is it targeting a specific race, or is it meant to be multi-racial (or non racial)? Just jotting down some of these small details will be helpful.
Third, consider the context of the commercial. One thing not necessarily immediately considered in television advertising is when does the commercial air? Is it coming on daytime television, prime time, during the news, a sporting event, or only on specific (perhaps cable only) channels? Marketing experts are very clear about when and where to air TV commercials. Consider how many commercials are for cleaning products during daytime TV (targeting a predominantly female audience who are likely "homemakers"). This will help you further determine the targeted audience and the appeal of the commercial.
After answering these preliminary questions, what you really want to determine is what message does this commercial want to convey? You can look at your text by asking, Does this commercial relate specifically to masculinity? If so, how? If so, what message is conveyed about men, to men, or against men?
I hope this helps. A final point you could draw in at the end of your analysis, especially if you are a man, is, "How did I react, personally?" It is always appropriate to finalize an analyzis with a personal reaction or opinion.
I think another question could be if the advertisement is physically appealing. If it is in any way sexist or offensive to either gender.
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