Arts and Entertainment

“Guy humor” farts and burps its way to the top

By Denebola
Published: November 2008

By Erica Rose

Beer-guzzling sports fanatics, promiscuous dancers, half-naked women, fart and barf jokes, and awkward male bonding moments are just some of the hilarious aspects of the renewed “guy humor genre in popular media. “Guy humor, a distinctly American and relatively new art form, epitomizes simplicity at its finest by pairing subtle wit with gross-out humor.

National Lampoon first popularized “guy humor in the late 1970s with the popular movie Animal House. Inspiring famous catchphrases such as “Toga, Toga, Toga! and “fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son, Animal House was the first film to exhibit how young men interact with one another. The film incorporates binge drinking, sly wise guys, and sexual innuendo to achieve the full comedic effect.

In popular culture though, commercial media uses these same techniques to slant their advertisements and products to teenage boys, persuading them with naked women and flashy objects. Films and television influence teenage boys to the extent that their attire and speech can usually be traced back to a popular film, television program, or commercial. “Guy humor, while originating in the US, is a trend that has escalated into a worldwide phenomenon.

In a study conducted by Boston College professor Juliet B. Schor, one in four boys between the ages of 13 and 17 say that their favorite commercials are from Budweiser, which consistently uses “bathroom humor and subtle wit to advertise its products.

The director of advertisement for added his acknowledgment of this trend when he stated that the website’s “main target is men. Men like sex, therefore we use it.

In November 2004, actress Nicollette Sheridan spent weeks in the center of the mens’ sports world because of her involvement in a promiscuous promotion skit. Preceding ABC’s NFL Monday Night Football, a skit was aired in which Sheridan ran supposedly nude into the arms of Philadelphia wide receiver Terrell Owens. The skit was designed to bring more male viewers to ABC’s Desperate Housewives whose next episode posted the show’s highest numbers to date, once again confirming the trend.

These trends of grabbing the male audience transcends the world of cinema as well. Top Hollywood producer, Lynda Obst stated, “The film industry has a singular addiction to teenage boys. They are the main contributors to high box office returns. Many up-and-coming production companies incorporate themes into their films directed towards the male gender to start up their business.

Guy humor did not become a worldwide phenomenon, however, until the emergence of director/writer/producer Judd Apatow. The director and writer of The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up and the executive producer of Superbad and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Apatow brings new meaning to the MPAA “R rating. His films are highly sexual, graphic, and full of candid conversations about bodily organs and processes.

Besides being controversial, Apatow’s films distort the stereotypical male protagonist. Apatow’s main characters are pathetic, shrewd, and somewhat unattractive, while his supporting characters are generally good looking and unintelligent.

This reversal of male character relationships is the backbone of the new guy humor generation. No longer are the Clark Gables or Carey Grants of the world the heroes of film or television. Average guys such as Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and Jonah Hill are now lead actors who get the attractive women at the end. They paint perhaps a more inspiring picture for a teenage boy, showing that normal guys can get the hot girls too.

Rogen and Rudd have also capitalized on this new form of media by bringing together the male teenage population and instilling a confidence in the average teenage boy with their two new “guy humor films coming out this fall, Role Models, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

“Part of the genre is bringing guys together, senior Lee Silver said. “Seeing those movies is not just about watching a film, it’s the experience.

In fact, Apatow has stated that “part of [his] work is to shock America, while the other part is to bring the country together. Guy humor is not a shallow commercial incentive, although many marketers use it to attract teenage buyers. Guy humor is a way of life: a turbulent shocking way of life that is the future of teenage America.

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