Masculinity: Movie Ideas, Myths, Themes, Changes

Research in Progress: updated June 3, 2021.

What can you do when you have to be a man? Jim Stark (James Dean): Rebel Without a Cause

Leslie Fiedler, the distinguished literary scholar, has observed the prevalent trend of a stoic masculine individualism, living by its own wits and avoiding social, economic, and sexual entanglements.

Sometimes this masculinity is evident in misogynistic and homophobic hostility toward bourgeois marriage.

There have been many latently homosexual narratives about male bonding, especially in the Western genre.

The scholar Corber has noted that the identification of various modes of consumption with masculinity and femininity and with heterosexuality and homosexuality has been responsible for  bringing the desire of male and female consumers into alignment.

The dominant gaze of male spectators remains fixated  on masculine activities and camaraderie.

The phallic values and aggression in the subculture of military life.

There has been monolithic  masculinity of western archetypes.

The trend of condescension and arrogance toward women in many post WWII American movies.

The hero tends to be an impatient sexy war vet loathing of femininity, insistence on male prerogatives, reinforced by memories of military experience mask, swollen egos and deep insecurities.

The psychologist Lynne Segal reads the strict separation of male and female roles and characters in the 1950s against men’s common experience of the war.

Army training relies upon mystifying the opposition between male and female, with “women” used  as a term of abuse for incompetent performance, thereby cementing the prevalent cultural links between virility, sexuality, and aggressiveness.

Such practices serve not only to discipline men, but to raise “masculine” morale in the face of a more typically “feminine” reality–the enforced servility and conformity characteristic of army life.

Over the past decades, there have been more intellectual and self-reflexive discussions of masculinity and its relationship to femininity and feminism.

A dissection or deconstruction of masculinity in myth, theory and practice.

The socio-economic pressures  on both genders have become less definable, less monolithic.