Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema

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Steven Cohan, Ina Rae Hark
Psychology Press, 1993 - Performing Arts - 272 pages
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Screening the male re-examines the problematic status of masculinity both in Hollywood cinema and feminist film theory.
Classical Hollywood cinema has been theoretically established as a vast pleasure machine, manufacturing an idealized viewer through its phallocentric ideological apparatus. Feminist criticism has shown how difficult it is for the female viewer to resist becoming implicated in this representational system. But the theroies have overlooked the significance of the problem itself - of the masuline motivation at the core of the system. The essays here explore those male characters, spectators, and performers who occupy positions conventionally encoded as "feminine" in Hollywood narrative and questions just how secure that orthodox male position is.
Screening the Male brings together an impressive group of both established and emerging scholars from Britain, the United States and Australia unified by a concern with issues that film theorists have exclusively inked to the femninie and not the masculne: spectacle, masochism, passivity, masquerade and, most of all, the body as it signifies gendered, racial, class and generatonal differences.
 

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Contents

VALENTINO OPTIC INTOXICATION AND DANCE MADNESS
23
FEMINIZING THE SONGANDDANCE MAN Fred Astaire and the spectacle of masculinity in the Hollywood musical
46
MAMAS BOY Filial hysteria in White Heat
70
THE DIALECTIC OF FEMALE POWER AND MALE HYSTERIA IN PLAY MISTY FOR ME
87
DONT BLAME THIS ON A GIRL Female raperevenge films
103
DARK DESIRES Male masochism in the horror film
118
MORE HUMAN THAN I AM ALONE Womb envy in David Cronenbergs The Fly and Dead Ringers
134
ANIMALS OR ROMANS Looking at masculinity in Spartacus
151
FEMINISM THE BOYZ AND OTHER MATTERS REGARDING THE MALE
173
THE BUDDY POLITIC
194
MASCULINITY AS MULTIPLE MASQUERADE The mature Stallone and the Stallone clone
213
DUMB MOVIES FOR DUMB PEOPLE Masculinity the body and the voice in contemporary action cinema
230
CAN MASCULINITY BE TERMINATED?
245
Index of films
263
General index
267
Copyright

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Page 16 - Sadism demands a story, depends on making something happen, forcing a change in another person, a battle of will and strength, victory/defeat, all occurring in a linear time with a beginning and an end.
Page 17 - The repession of any explicit avowal of eroticism in the act of looking at the male seems structurally linked to a narrative content marked by sado-masochistic phantasies and scenes. Hence both forms of voyeuristic looking, intra- and extra-diegetic, are especially evident in those moments of contest and combat referred to above, in those moments at which a narrative outcome is determined through a fight or gun-battle, at which male struggle becomes pure spectacle. Perhaps the most extreme examples...
Page 11 - As the spectator identifies with the main male protagonist, he projects his look onto that of his like, his screen surrogate, so that the power of the male protagonist as he controls events coincides with the active power of the erotic look, both giving a satisfying sense of omnipotence.
Page 11 - A male movie star's glamorous characteristics are thus not those of the erotic object of the gaze, but those of the more perfect, more complete, more powerful ideal ego conceived in the original moment of recognition in front of the mirror.
Page 18 - ... instances of male combat which seem to function in this way. Aside from the western, one could point to the epic as a genre, to the gladiatorial combat in Spartacus, to the fight between Christopher Plummer and Stephen Boyd at the end of The Fall of the Roman Empire, to the chariot race in Ben Hur. More direct displays of the male body can be found, though they tend either to be fairly brief or else to occupy the screen during credit sequences and the like (in which case the display is mediated...
Page 15 - The tension between two points of attraction, the symbolic (social integration and marriage) and nostalgic narcissism, generates a common splitting of the Western hero into two, something unknown in the Proppian tale. Here two functions emerge, one celebrating integration into society through marriage, the other celebrating resistance to social standards and responsibilities, above all those of marriage and the family, the sphere represented by women.

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About the author (1993)

Steven Cohan is Professor in the Department of English at Syracuse University. He is the author of a number of books including "Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural Value and the MGM Musical" (2005) and "Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties "(1997).

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