Woman in the media have been a main focus we have tried to fix for generations but we’ve never pay the same amount of attention for the stereotypes we give males on these same platforms. For New Zealand the representation we give males in the media is a constant issue for the kiwi identity. Our society expects these males to have the understanding mind of fixing something themselves to becoming a daily beer drinker. With these number of stereotypes the media represents of New Zealand males its put pressure on their identity making it seem expected that if they don’t follow societies idea of a typical ‘kiwi bloke’ they don’t belong to idea of what it is to be a kiwi. For years this has been an issue in New Zealand and we are only just starting to pay attention on the ramifications and impacts its bringing towards males.
So what is a typical kiwi bloke?
Since the early 30’s in New Zealand the media has taken advantage in creating an ideal image of a kiwi male. From their choice of clothing and preferred attitude, even the choice of careers kiwi males are expected to choose had been a constantly been represented in some form of media. Otago University did a study of the flawed idea of masculinity in New Zealand stating that the first known influence of masculinity for men began before the 19th century when the first Pakeha settled on the land. That means that for more than 100 years men have been influenced to reach a certain level of masculinity before it became sociable acceptable.
But the idea of a real ‘kiwi man’ wasn’t as big as it is today. This is due to the media. Through advertisements and films, media has taken advantage in constructing the kiwi identity of a man. The idea that a man should know how to use a tool or be able to fix anything because it’s in their ‘DNA’ has been widely pressured throughout New Zealand males. An article ‘Manifesto’ written by Lee Suckling states ‘DIY is so deep-rooted in the Kiwi male psyche that it’s impossible to live in this country, own a home and not be somewhat handy.’. This is true, and with the help of the media these stereotypes for New Zealand men are growing more putting more pressure on them. So how do they create this?
An advertisement produced by Mitre 10 called ‘sandpit’ demonstrates a good example of how the kiwi male identity is looked at. The advertisement focuses on creating the idea that every ‘kiwi bloke’ should know how to build something himself rather than going to get help from someone else.
Though the advertisement is comedically acted by kids, it represents the stereotypes of kiwi males and the idea of how males should be expected to build and use tools themselves, being a labelled ‘local handy-man’. A noticeable quote we see in Mitre 10’s advertisement is when one of the kids quotes to another, ‘Oh come on mate, do it yourself’. This quotes itself looks into the fact that New Zealand male identity have been pressured on what they should already know. At the end of the advertisement Mitre 10 states ‘DIY it’s in our DNA’. This shows the stereotype of kiwi males and what they should already be, it shows that the idea of males being a handy man because it’s in their nature has become so overly used that its almost frowned upon if you can’t fix something yourself.
Another example of a kiwi male identity being represented through media is shown in the movie Hunt for the Wilderpeople directed by Taika Waititi.
The movie portrays a young Moari kid who is dropped off at a new foster home in the middle of nowhere, belonging to a couple Bella and Hec. Hec is describe as a middle-aged man who is known to be tough, teaching Ricky (the foster kid) the ways of how to hunt and use a gun. Already we see the representation of kiwi males, showing that having a tough or stern ‘attitude’. Through both examples we see of common appearance that these ideal stereotypes of a kiwi male is to able to use your hands. From doing anything yourself, whether it be building something yourself to hunting we see the little options males are given when it comes to the kiwi identity.
The purpose of these representation of kiwi identity in the media is to show New Zealand males how they should act. The companies such as Mitre 10 use these representations of the kiwi male identity to create a profit by the products they sell. Want to be considered a man? Buy a tool from us to show that you are considered a kiwi man. Another advertisement that represents the kiwi male identity is produced by ‘old spice’ demonstrating the idea that buying their product will get you anything in life. The advertisement shows an ideal looking kiwi male using Old Spice body wash, stating ‘We’re not saying this body wash will make your man smell like a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but we are insinuating it.’.
Although the advertisement is shown for male audiences the way they’ve filmed it captures the attention of females in showing that their man should look and smell like this once they use ‘old spice’. These New Zealand companies take advantage of the stereotypes of kiwi males in creating an advertisement for their product claiming that if they use they’re product you become the ideal kiwi man. Because of these representations of kiwi males throughout the media it encourages kiwi’s to be these stereotypes because if not are they really considered a typical ‘kiwi bloke’ in the eyes of society?
From all this influence pressured onto NZ males its created an impact in shaping the kiwi male identity. With the media putting immense pressure of males with advertisements from building companies such as Mitre 10 and Bunnings Warehouse, teaching men that should be able to fix anything with a tool, to companies like Old Spice showing how a man should smell and present himself. All these aspects of how a male should act is creating a false identify for males all around New Zealand.
But through the amount of representations New Zealand males are given throughout the media it’s starting to create an affect on these males, including suicide. The suicide rates in New Zealand has risen up in the past 3 years with the ratio of three to one of male to female suicide rates. Especially around the ages of 14 to 24 the suicide rates were becoming higher between males and Maori. Auckland psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald states, “I think the reality is we do have this approach – particularly with boys, [as] I think there is a gender difference with parenting – of ‘Don’t cry, toughen up, get over it’. We expect our young to be tough and unfortunately that means we don’t let them be vulnerable.”
The way males are represented in the media in New Zealand can cause a harmful impact on the identity of a kiwi. All these stereotypes we see throughout advertisements and film help bring this idea that kiwi males should aspire to be like this into reality. Though the media has created these represenations of a kiwi male for years, the more attention we bring to it today the more likely it will stop in the future.