Beauty is Ambiguous

By Milo Serp

I was intrigued after watching the film in class on sexual culture and more particularly the portrayal of women in the media.  What I found to be more intriguing (or repulsive) about the portrayal of women in the media is how much they have been metaphorically “stripped” down of their dignities (and clothes).  In Sturken, M. and Cartwright, L.’s Practices of Looking it is said that images are “elements of contemporary advertising and consumer culture through which assumptions about beauty, desire, glamour, and social value are both constructed and lived.”  Exactly what has been said is that these images of sex and beauty are “assumptions” by the media trying to tell or sell to the world what they assume is beauty

The media assumes that what we as the consumer want is for women to be stripped down to their bare to satisfy our needs.  The woman must be partially if not completely nude for the product to even gain attention. This is where I believe our society has plummeted in dignity and become flawed.  For myself, while these images are very appealing, I do not find this to be beauty but more erotica in an ad.  Our sense of beauty is now associated with a pornographic kind of image- just to sell!  I don’t find any kind of romanticism in these images and they are simply porno in an ad.  So, really, what has caused us to make the change from romantic beauty to pornography?  Could it be that we are not satisfied with simple beauty and because of our tech-age, we have become accustomed to wanting more and more?  Are we not satisfied with classic beauty?

I decided to look back to what “beauty” was in the 1940’s and 1950’s with the beautiful and lovely sex symbol Marilyn Monroe.  Although she was fairly stimulating for her generation, she still tended to retain her beauty.  Although she did do nudes, she was always able to stay beautiful and not turn into what we have today which is sex, sex, sex, and well, kind of trashy.  She was a classic beauty and while it may have been because that generation wasn’t ready for the kind of media portrayal of women we have today, it doesn’t seem to matter much to me.  I still find that Marilyn Monroe’s kind of beauty is many times more beautiful than the kind of “beauty” we have been drawn to as of lately.

There is a definite lack of romanticism in our search for sex and beauty in modern times.  What we really want now is sex- fast, cheap, and easy.  Modern times are, so to speak, about having your cake and eating it too.  Everyone wants the same thing at the same time but without consequences and definitely with lack of involvement.  We do not want to try for anything anymore but want it to fall into our laps without any effort.  A problem with new generations is that everything is practically handed or spoon-fed and it is rare if there are any disagreements.   What I’ve learned about popular culture from this class already is that people tend to clump everything and everyone together so to classify them as a whole.  From an academic standpoint I find pop culture to be repulsive and shallow.  It has turned the class of Marilyn Monroe’s beauty into something cheap and seen before.  Like Andy Warhol said “I’ve decided something: Commercial things really do stink. As soon as it becomes commercial for a mass market it really stinks.”  Whenever something is introduced into culture it becomes cheap and done before.  Like a song you love but gets played on the radio so much that you end up hating when it comes on.  I know who I am in the simple fact that all the sex in the modern media is not for me.  It lets me know who I really am, which is not a media slave.  It helps me understand that I am more romantic than what is expected of me.  It also angers me because of how much the media has rubbed off on me.  I am trying to change this.

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