Mixed Messages: Māori/Pasifika Masculinities and Aotearoa/New Zealand Identity in Television Advertising, 2000–2019
There is an ongoing association between masculinity and New Zealand identity which can be traced in popular culture and television advertising. Until the early 2000s, white (Pākehā) men/homosocial “Kiwi blokes” predominated but television advertising has since featured a steady increase in Māori/Pasifika men and boys, which also reflects their greater prominence in local popular culture (in comedy, for example). Similar to representations of African American men, Māori/Pasifika masculinities are subject to binary stereotyping: generally more positive in advertisements for commercial products and more negative in anti-drug public service advertisements. These categories relate to the incorporation of non-white subjects into colonial, patriarchal discourse (and shift according to its imperatives). One important shift internationally is the emergence of non-white fatherhood as a way of signalling ethnic diversity while also reaffirming colonial and neoliberal values. There is a related shift from the male “hard bodies” of the 1980s and 1990s towards a more relational, “softer” masculinity; locally, there is a shift away from the “hard” Kiwi bloke (or non-white sporting “warrior”) towards “postfeminist fatherhood.” This features kindly, often humorous paternalism and “magical” scenarios, including literal and metaphorical father/son relations, which may, in the local context, take on connotations of tāngata whenua welcoming manuhiri (Pākehā) into “their land.” A “progressive” discourse of positively imaging Māori/Pasifika men as implicit “fathers of the nation” (and clearly there is a slippage here between Māori and Pasifika through the use of ethnically ambiguous actors) justifies heteronormativity and reconfirms the homosocial emphasis in New Zealand identity as well as neoliberal values.
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