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Categories: Features

John Travolta and Olivia Newton John became household names thanks to their iconic roles as Danny and Sandy in the ultimate musical film Grease. Over 35 years after its release, it is still widely recognized as the classic musical movie; there have been plenty of releases aiming to take the title away but nothing has quite encapsulated the sheer hysteria Grease created with its appeal to a universal audience of men, women and children. Since then musical films have largely appealed to the female demographic, which raises the question: why don’t men see musicals when choosing a film to watch?

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When I asked a random selection of individuals to describe what they thought of musical films such as the 2008 blockbuster Mamma Mia,  the words use to describe the genre ranged from “glitzy” & “glamorous” to “flamboyant” & “heart warming”. These descriptions are those that would entice stereotypical female audiences to watch musicals but would not draw in stereotypical males, who when asked generally say they prefer the action genre.

This is a shame, because by choosing action movies over musicals men are missing out on two hours of fast-paced, fun-filled drama intertwined with big song and dance numbers that ensure you leave the cinema with a smile on your face.

It’s plain to see that many popular musicals do cater mainly to a female audience. Take the 2007 smash hit Hairspray, for instance, with its predominantly female lead cast, over-the-top songs and production, and lyrics resonating with women as opposed to men. 

High School Musical is another musical phenomenon that targeted the female audience perfectly with the casting of teenage heart throb Zac Efron and pretty girl-next-door Vanessa Hudgens. With them there was someone for the girls to fancy (Efron) and someone for them to root for (Hudgens) without being threatened by her looks due to her sweet personality.

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However, films like Hairspray and High School Musical alienate the male gender and therefore sabotage their chances of appealing to a mass market, which means less ticket sales.

There are men out there that do appreciate musical films, but no one would never know about it as they would most likely hide their appreciation out of fear of being labelled feminine.

Being a fan of musical films does not fall into the stereotype of a heterosexual man, therefore this genre is not going to be celebrated on a big scale, as the films that usually do garner wide acclaim and smash hit status are the ones that generate audiences of all sexes.

Moving forward, if musicals do want to appeal to men they should approach the same route of the upcoming release of Annie, which appeals to a universal audience of families, where it is promoted as a feel good fun film that is a great watch for kids and their parents. Also, it is being released around Christmas time which is the prime family bonding season and has a cast that appeals to all, as Jamie Fox and Cameron Diaz can be admired by both genders. 

The key in attracting males to musicals is the casting of the male lead; Travolta in Grease is a excellent example of this. His performance as the cool Danny Zuko is what made the film universal, along with a soundtrack that could get both sexes involved in the rom-com festivities. Maybe musicals are happy with their target audiences of women (if they are, that’s great), but with a few tweaks they can be made to be more socially acceptable for men to openly display their love for them. 

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Posted on Jan 1, 2015

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