The Codes of Gender: Identity and Performance in Popular Culture

Arguing that advertising not only sells things, but also ideas about the world, media scholar Sut Jhally offers a blistering analysis of commercial culture's inability to let go of reactionary gender representations. Jhally's starting point is the breakthrough work of the late sociologist Erving Goffman, whose 1959 book The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life prefigured the growing field of performance studies. Jhally applies Goffman's analysis of the body in print advertising to hundreds of print ads today, uncovering an astonishing pattern of regressive and destructive gender codes. By looking beyond advertising as a medium that simply sells products, and beyond analyses of gender that tend to focus on either biology or objectification, The Codes of Gender offers important insights into the social construction of masculinity and femininity, the relationship between gender and power, and the everyday performance of cultural norms.

Viewer Discretion Advisory: This program contains violence, nudity, and sexual themes.

DVD contains two versions: a full length version (72 minutes) and an abridged version (46 minutes) which has been edited for nudity and length.