Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nike Unleashes The Beast Sample Blog & Response

From Dr. Lowry

This poster from Nike’s “Unleash the Beast” ad campaign fits nicely with the chapter from Threshold Concepts on the social construction of gender. Football players are often depicted as the embodiment of masculinity (especially in Texas!), and this player is no different. In Nike’s take on the idea of extreme athletes as beasts, the football player charging down the field is surrounded by images of ferocious, menacing predators including bears, wolves, and tigers. I think the animal pictures shift the focus from the idea of a competitive, athletic masculinity to something more predatory. Launius and Hassel write, “violent masculinity is at the foundation of patriarchal culture, based on, as hooks states, ‘the belief that it is acceptable for a more powerful individual to control others through various forms of coercive force.’” In this picture, coercive force is valued and celebrated. I also think it’s interesting that the player in this ad is African American. On one hand, it’s a sign that African American athletes are valued as much as white athletes. On the other hand, it perpetuates the cultural stereotype of African American men as predatory and aggressive.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Margaret,

    Great find! I agree with your observations about this Nike advertisement and its comments on violent masculinity. I was particularly interested in your points about the simultaneous praise and condemnation of the African American athlete in this photo (like a backhanded compliment). Depicting masculinity as violent, especially as it relates to sports can be problematic in society for relationships among men as well as relationships between men and women. The animals in this photo are substitutes for opposing team members, which encourages athletes to think of themselves as hunters and the opposition as prey. Some suggest it’s hard to get out of this mindset off the field and that it should not be surprising when this behavior carries over into real life, translating into fights or as some have suggested, rape. I’m not sure I fully agree with this assessment, but I do find it compelling. You might like "Football Town Nights" from Inside Amy Schumer, which satirizes this issue, but makes a poignant case for the above opinions.​ I'd be interested to see an athlete's perspective of this issue since I did not play competitive sports past middle school.