The Ideal View Of Masculinity

Submitted By neala09
Words: 1156
Pages: 5

The Ideal View of Masculinity

For as long as there have been men and women, there have been expectations placed upon them for both their appearance and behaviours. These expectations can be fulfilled through socially acceptable and ideal methods. In Tarzan of the Apes and Knocked Up, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Judd Apatow present completely different perceptions of masculinity in their main characters. Burroughs develops Tarzan’s character to exemplify features of a perfect male with his superb physical strength, appealing appearance, and responsible manner. Meanwhile, Apatow shows Ben in a different light, presenting him as a less attractive, less muscular, lazy, and generally irresponsible man-child. Also, looking at Tarzan’s courteous approach towards women versus Ben’s expected immature response, it will be easy to see the differences in their personality. Despite the fact that Tarzan of the Apes was written almost 100 years earlier than Knocked up, Burroughs still presents a more idealistic view of a male by modern standards. Two prominent characteristics society seeks in the ideal male are their physical strength and handsome looks. Apatow and Burroughs describe and visualize their main characters in ways that ultimately make them opposites in this regard. Tarzan is portrayed to be the king of the jungle, stronger than the average man and unbelievably handsome. The beautiful and highly desired female character, Jane, describes Tarzan: “What a perfect creature! There could be naught of cruelty or baseness beneath that godlike exterior. Never, she thought had such a man strode the earth since God created the first in his own image.”(Tarzan of the Apes, 1912, p.162). Not only does this show the validation from a prominent female character, it also makes a comparison to God’s first man. To use terms such as “godlike” in the description of a man, very strongly expresses to the reader how Tarzan is above all others, how he is truly ideal. Meanwhile, Apatow uses the actor Seth Rogen to play Ben, an overweight and unkempt man-child. To open the movie, Ben and his friends, all dressed like juveniles, are seen playing many childish games. Ben, the leading actor in the movie, is dressed particularly poorly, wearing a pad over his crotch and an ill-fitting cut-off shirt. He is also the only one shown smoking drugs. Because of this, the inferences drawn about Ben’s physicality and overall appearance would definitely be considered undesirable. Burroughs and Apatow both successfully create distinct characters, but when it comes to one being physically ideal, it is easy to see that Tarzan better fits the role. By comparing the actions of Ben and Tarzan, it is clear to see how Tarzan’s maturity and responsibility, trump Ben’s immaturity and irresponsibility when creating a more ideal personality. Even though Tarzan is raised by apes and lacks adult, human influences in his life, he learns to be like a full grown man, showcasing maturity and responsibility at a very young age. These characteristics are recognized when Burroughs shows Tarzan defending his mother from attack. He protects her and states: “Let all respect Tarzan of the Apes and Kala, his mother.” (Tarzan of the Apes, 1912, p.58). This ability to learn on his own, and ultimately protect and respect his mother displays qualities that are definitely ideal for a man of any age. By comparison, in Knocked Up, Ben’s actions demonstrate the very opposite; the entire movie is based around his poor decisions which ultimately lead to him unintentionally impregnating a women. Apatow continues to show this by having Ben always cracking jokes, and never once maintaining a mature conversation with Alison, the women bearing his child. In one scene in particular, Alison is extremely angry and requires Ben’s consoling, but he is unable to as he is too busy making smart, inappropriate retorts like, “I’m sorry, I’ll get you vaginal reconstructive surgery”. The constant joking and lack of