Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Power, the Glitter, the Muscles: Movie Masculinities

The portrayal of men in 1980s cinema exiled the emotional and vulnerable male persona of the 1970s popular films. Due to the second wave feminism stage this triggered social ideas of masculinity to be thrown into flux by the 80s and this misperception was also illustrated in the media. Through various types of the media there was a contradictory idea of positive masculinity. The ‘New Man’ were vulnerable and appeared to be challenged with a loss of identity echoing the experiences of the everyday man. Contrasting with this there seemed to be the punitive man; throbbing biceps, powerful and aggressive. The epitome films of the 80s that embodied this ultra-masculine type were films such as: Rambo, The Terminator and Die Hard.
The males depicted in these action films, flocked society with pictures that were considered to have the right attributed possessed by a man. Because of the backlash to the feminisation of society, films wanted to break away from the romantic and fashion conscious representation of a somewhat feminized form of masculinity. To do this, the action films depended on the snappy catch phrases that came with the authoritative male as opposed to the lengthy monologues of 70s Woody Allen films. The most memorable quotes of the blockbuster action films were Bruce Willis’s “Yippie Kayee Motherfucker” and Schwarzenegger’s, “I’ll be back.” To counteract the somewhat dense statements from the hero’s the films depended heavily on physical action and of course the macho man that was almost “god-like”. 

1980s films also stressed the hero’s relationship to other man and therefore the genre often crossed over into the “buddy” film genre. Whilst the majority of Hollywood films reinforced the relationship between hero and a love interest, the cop action film reinstated the woman with another man for a deliberation of male bonding at the face of danger. The notion of romance was practically dropped from films and masculine worries underlined. As buddy narratives, these films absorbed the relationship between two men and the exciting contrast of their often differing types of masculinity. 

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