In a lot of television and film it can be argued that hypermasculinity is an ironic take on masculine identity – an intentional exaggeration that serves to highlight the more primitive aspects of masculinity and male self-identity. It can also be argued that these tough-guy action hero types speak to a kind of identity crisis in the male psyche, almost a rebellion against feminism and the metrosexual ‘new man’ that has been put forward by certain media, commercial and advertising as the new desirable. It’s likely that no one explaination can cover the whole story. Hypermasculinity may have gone out of fashion for a short while in the 80s and 90s but it is certainly nothing new. It’s reemergence in the form of reality TV shows has been very successful with male audiences.
“The concept of moderation is AWOL,” said Stuart Fischoff, senior editor of the Journal of Media Psychology. “We live in extreme times, and to get an audience interested, you have to keep upping the ante.”
For fans — many of them young men in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic — the shows deliver a vicarious thrill and a testosterone-charged option when they’re not watching sports.
“It’s not heavy cerebral lifting,” said Carlsbad resident David Migdal, a serious “Ice Road Truckers” fan who says he’s rarely watched episodic TV since “The Sopranos” left the air. “These guys work hard, battle the elements, get paid and move on. They’re throwbacks to a simpler, more basic time. They’re the last American cowboys.”
And, most important to the viewers, the newly minted stars of these shows are as authentic as their callings. If the cameras weren’t there, in other words, they’d still be risking their necks for a paycheck.
And here’s an interesting article about a content analysis of police dramas in 2001:
This study examines the presence of a macho personality constellation in male characters appearing in a wide variety of police and detective programs and correlates machismo with the antisocial actions of those characters. Though many types of television genres and other media content also contain “hypermasculine” portrayals, police and detective dramas are the current focus due to the presumed presence of both stereotyped gender roles and aggression and crime. Therefore, this study also adds a novel perspective to the much-researched investigation of television violence.