Friday, July 15, 2011

Louie's Masculinity Struggle



“Night Out” an episode from the television series Louie, identifies many different expectations of what it is to be a man in modern society.  The episode follows the hilarious Louis C.K. (known for his stand-up comedic performances), through his everyday life as he enters back into the world of dating through a much different lens, as the stereotypical out of touch father figure.  He is out of shape, timid, and seemingly unconfident.  Louie’s character represents how hegemonic ideals of patriarchy are expected of men, however when men do not meet such expectations, they are labeled as pathetic or ridiculed.

The episode starts with Louie’s date nervously revealing that she has children, her facial expressions reveal she is afraid of what Louie’s reaction may be.  Louie is relieved and almost excitedly tells his date, he as well as two daughters.  Immediately Louie’s date implies she is no longer interested in a man that has children, she remarks “its just too much for me to handle”.  This example portrays the idea of having children as only a gender role only acceptable for women and not men.  The notion of a man caring for his children in modern day society is seen as matronly, therefore alluding that already in the first five minutes of the episode Louie is definitely not defined as a typical patriarch. 

However, it is not only in the show Louie that demonstrates the idea that men are not supposed to be nurturing figures.  In the article “Patriarchy, The System”, the author Allan Johnson conveys that patriarchy is…”about defining women and men as opposites, about the “naturalness” of male aggression, competition, and dominance and of female caring, cooperation, and subordination. (Johnson,94)”  Louie demonstrates the complete opposite of the “normalized” man. His gender role is questioned as a single father when Louie cancels on the babysitter insisting he will just stay in with his girls, he is deemed as a “pathetic loser”.  The babysitter insists Louie must set a good example for his children and do what “normal” men like to do… “get drunk and get laid”.

When Louie enters the bar, he attempts to fit into the hegemonic ideals of a patriarchal society.   Author James Lull describes hegemony as an “inter-articulating, mutually reinforcing process of ideological influences.” (Lull, 62) Louie’s attempt to hit on a women in a very unenthused way, reiterates Louie’s submission to the hegemonic society in which masculine social ideologies imply that in order succeed as a man, one most dominate over women.  Although Louie’s un-patriarchal ways have little effect over women living in a highly patriarchal culture where even females lend into such a social status quo of gender relationships.

Over and over Louie is mocked for his awkwardness and failed attempts to show interest in the world of male strength and dominance.  Louie witnesses two black males come into the bar, when his friend replies in relation to Louie that he must be more like the black men who “know how to get laid”.  These men are ironically described as confident, black, handsome and not boring.   Louie seeks help from these men with much hesitation, hoping to seek the masculine satisfaction of “scoring women” he is expected to desire.

Louie has fallen into the ideologies of a modern patriarchal society in fear of being a socially abnormal man, or a called a “pathetic loser” for not wanting  to spend the night aggressively hunting down woman.  Right before Louie decides to leave the bar, he walks up to a younger woman who turns around screeches and runs off.  This allows Louie to realize another point author Johnson is making, that patriarchy  “has to do with us as individuals-how it shapes us and how we, in choosing to participate shape it.” (Johnson, 96) Louie’s masculinity has been diminished only on the basis of the social parameters other characters have outlined so clearly that it would be hard not to participate. 

Louie’s confidence towards himself promotes just how simply men fall victim to overt masculine identities and patriarchal values.  Our society has shaped so specific hegemonic gender roles, that any slight deviation from norm results in insults that questions one’s self worth and identity.  Louie is shown at the end of the episode smiling for the first time when he takes his daughters out for an early morning breakfast.  Louie’s character demonstrates how hard it is for a man to emerge from gender stereotypes without losing his masculinity.

-Kristi Patelunas

Works Cited-

3 Arts Entertainment. “Night Out” Louie. FX Network. 8 September 2010. Television.

Johnson, Allan G. “Patriarchy, The System An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us.” The Gender Knot:Unraveling Our Patriachal Legacy. 1997. Print

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon. Humez. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2003. Print.

3 comments:

  1. Your blog post was very well written. And I really enjoyed you having the Hulu episode up since I have never watched this television show.
    The positive feedback is:
    -Your post was very organized and well thought out, I felt the ideas progressed in a logical order.
    -Each situation from the television show was backed up with analysis. This is a very thorough analysis of the episode.

    Ways to improve:
    -At points the wording was a little awkward, and there were a few grammatical errors.
    -Personally I feel like the last paragraph has brought up the situation of Louie smiling with his daughters, but I think it deserves a little analysis just to tie it in. At this point I don't quite see how it is relevant.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kristi-
    Archi has pointed to exactly the issues I was about to note here. One added issue was the need to use MLA format for your quotes and use the quotes in a point-by-point, "expert witness" style to back up your original points in order to prove your thesis.

    The following outline can be used as a reference point (the numbers indicate the paragraph sequence) to structure and order a basic, written analysis:

    1. Intro Paragraph (with thesis at the last sentence)

    2. Point A (your first point/assertion that supports your thesis)

    3. Point A with quote from "expert witness" (author cited through the use of a direct quote to back up your point/assertion made in paragraph 2)

    4. Point B (your point/assertion that supports your thesis that can be directly linked with point A, so that your transition from point A to B is logical and adds depth to your analysis)

    5. Point B with quote from "expert witness" (author cited through the use of a direct quote to back up your point/assertion made in paragraph 4)

    ....
    .... repeat the steps above until your points have been made and you've adequately proven your thesis.

    #. Conclusion (after all points have been made)

    For the alpha-numeric grade, see the "gradebook" section of SOCS; however, for the more specific breakdown of points, click on the link for "assessments" to view the "TV Analysis" rubric that was used to calculate the grade you see in the gradebook section.

    - Jessie

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ooops!!! I misspelled Archie's name! Sorry Archie!

    ReplyDelete