Typically, when we think masculinity our minds divert to the ever so attractive Ryan Reynolds or Ryan Gosling because indeed that is what their star image is comprised of. When I hear the name Will Ferrell, I usually associate him with comedy. So, after reading Absurd Masculinity: The Time-Bending Comic Persona of Will Ferrell by R. Colin Tait, I saw Will Ferrell in a different perspective. He truly is a version of absurd excessive masculinity.
I’ve come to the conclusion that excessive masculinity is an exaggerated version of character types through the display of being masculine at the same time. And rightly so, I think this is Will Ferrell’s star image. Time and time again, we’ve seen him take on these roles as Tait mentions in his piece that are iconic representations of the exaggerated American man: man as child, man as adolescent, man as reactionary, and man out of time. These time dependent portrayals with comedy is what has made Will Ferrell the star he is today. Tait points out an important point to support this idea:
“it [Ferrell’s acting history] nearly resembles an earlier version of stardom in the Vaudeville era, where performers enter a market with fully-rendered star persona traits.”
This predisposed quality for Ferrell has indeed given him the confidence to continue this version of his excessive masculinity because he’s already witnessed success with it.
Another star I think that fits the bill for this excessive masculinity is Ben Stiller. One of my favorite films ever of Ben Stiller’s is Meet the Fockers. I believe he takes on the “man as reactionary” portrayal, and does so in an excessive masculine way to induce the comedy factor. However, while both these stars take on excessive masculinity, I think Ben Stiller is a toned down version of Will Ferrell. I believe that Will Ferrell is more risky in his character portrayals and roles whereas Ben Still chooses to choose characters that people can more so easily relate to with the added excessive masculinity factor. I think this difference has done wonders for each actor’s star image in their own specific ways, and has essentially made the stars who they are today.