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Lessons I've Learned From TV: Lights, camera, workout

By Maurilio Amorim
On March 2, 2014

It has been said that the media's portrayal of men and women has led to insecurity in our society. By showing enhanced and edited images of male and female figures that the average person cannot naturally achieve, it's easy to see how the television and film industry places an unreasonable amount of pressure on viewers to look that way. The average person may not be able to achieve the six pack we see so often on television, but that does not stop the industry from creating these illusions in order to attract audiences. Although this is a serious problem, the issue I'm writing about is how we so often see these sorts of bodies and images, but we never see anybody work for them.
Just about any action film or show features a male character with a chiseled six pack and huge muscular frame. Yet, how often have we ever seen a character do exercise? Daniel Craig has spent a lot of time showing off his body in his three James Bond movies. Yes, he looks good and all of us men hope to look like that at his age, but he spends the entire movie living and breathing espionage. We never see him do a pushup or pick up a weight. We see him do a lot of cardio chasing terrorists, but surely those biceps did not grow themselves.
Let's look at a more extreme example. Look at either Vin Diesel or The Rock in any movie they've done. These guys look like they have never spent more than an hour of their lives outside of the gym, but with the exception of "Pain and Gain," how often do we see them working out or even in physically demanding jobs? Strangely, not very often. Yes, some guys are naturally born big, but not that big.
So often these action heroes are passed off as the everyday average man. But, does an everyday man look like The Rock, whose every single promotional poster demands a close-up of the bursting veins in his biceps?I don't have a problem with these sorts of images, I actually really like The Rock as an action star. I'm just tired of cliché Herculean body types with no effort.
If a show or film is going to show us a character for days on end on a busy schedule with no breaks that appears to be routine, all they really need to do is insert a quick clip somewhere of the character working out so we can at least buy into it. Ben Affleck seems to understand this. I recall he inserted a random scene of his character working out in "The Town." It was hardly necessary since he didn't appear to be in exceptional shape, but at least somebody gets it. I'm not going to buy Mark Wahlberg as a lazy stoner who eats chips all day in "Ted" when his "Pain and Gain" biceps are busting through the clothes that attempt to hide them. If we must be shown outrageous bodies, at least justify them with exercise scenes.

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