Seth Rogen and the beta male : an exploration of masculinity in Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up, and This Is the End
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It has been suggested that gender is a societal construct and as such its features can shift depending on the beliefs of society (Connell 77). If this is the case, then hegemonic masculinity, as defined by Raewyn Connell, should also shift its features based on societal changes. In this project I examine Seth Rogen’s representation of beta male masculinity in his performances in the television show Freaks and Geeks (1999), and the movies Knocked Up (2007) and This Is the End (2013). These texts were chosen because Rogen, an actor who I argue embodies the contemporary beta male in U.S. film and television, is a significant character in each. I use textual analysis of the films and television show to track how masculinity is portrayed and how one text paved the way for the others through the actor’s rising star status. I also briefly examine Jason Segel in Freaks and Geeks and Jay Baruchel in This Is the End. I explore how critics and fans receive Rogen, as well as the societal context surrounding Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up, and This Is the End. I use discourse analysis to understand how these texts fit in to the cultural climate in which they were released. This project aims to identify the type of masculinities these texts endorse and whether they accept or challenge the most idealized societal norms of masculinity at the time of production. How do the masculinities depicted in these texts differ from dominant hegemonic masculinity as reinforced in prior decades of film? How can masculinities that historically fall outside of the dominant hegemonic standard now be framed as another type of hegemonic masculinity? Not only will this project look at how these masculinities function within the texts themselves, but I will also place them in context with the social and cultural landscape of the time in which the texts were released.