Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Hammer Is My Penis

I thought I'd go out with a bang in my last blog post and discuss the portrayal of penises in pop culture. The penis: the symbol of male power, virility, and just the overall representation of manliness. In the following clip from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, two rivals discuss Penny, a girl that they both have their eyes on. Captain Hammer, on the left, relentlessly teases his nemesis Dr. Horrible about his plans with Penny.

If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, you're missing out. Especially if you liked Buffy, you should definitely experience another creation by Joss Whedon. This scene displays stereotypical gender roles in such a great way. Captain Hammer is the stereotypical male: over-confident and cocky, taking home the girls and bragging about it. His muscle-shirt shows off his body, and he's attractive and he knows it. Dr. Horrible is the less manly one, taking crap from Captain Hammer and standing by while the girl of his dreams gets taken home by his arch nemesis. Penny is treated as simply an object to win, or a toy to play with. Captain Hammer tells Dr. Horrible, "I'm gonna give Penny the night of her life, just because you want her. And I get what you want." It's as if Penny is just an object, something for Captain Hammer to win over Dr. Horrible. And of course, my favorite part, where Captain Hammer articulates just what the hammer actually is... proving his manliness and power over both genders.

Now, as much as I love Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, I'm not sure it does much for gender equality. It definitely makes fun of Captain Hammer, and in a sense the stereotypical male, but the only other alternative is the sad specimen of a man at this moment that is Dr. Horrible. He can't even muster up the courage to tell Penny how he feels, and just lets her be taken away. In addition, Penny doesn't do anything to strengthen the female gender here. She seems perfectly content to be used by Captain Hammer, and oblivious of everything else going on. Overall, Captain Hammer seems like he has the upper hand in this situation, proving that the Hammer prevails once more. In addition, the ending of the tragicomedy doesn't exactly give a great view of either gender. If you haven't watched it, you should! Does the whole thing support one gender over the other, or does it actually support neither? If it's neutral, does that mean it shows equality for the genders? What do you think the creator accomplishes by making fun of male virility? I would argue that it actually still shows some sort of obsession with the power of the penis, and, while making fun of it, still supports its dominance in society.

1 comment:

  1. I've never seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, but I definitely would agree with your interpretation of Captain Hammer as a sort of humanized interpretation of the penis, and its significance as a symbol of masculine superiority. I also wanted to point out though, as obvious as it is, that all of the characters names are such blatant stabs at the characters they're supposed to portray. As you were saying with Penny being simply their play toy, I think her name being Penny definitely alludes to her as the "token" through which they play out their rivalry. She is like the unimportant little coin that everyone picks up off the ground out of habit, only to carelessly toss back down any second later for the next person to come along and to the same thing. In the same respect they each just pick Penny up if she happens to be "heads-up," or luckily useful at the moment, and then disregard her right after.


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