By Philippa Gates
Looks at how detective motion pictures have mirrored and formed our principles approximately masculinity, heroism, legislations and order, and nationwide identity.
Read or Download Detecting Men: Masculinity And the Hollywood Detective Film (Suny Series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video) PDF
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Additional info for Detecting Men: Masculinity And the Hollywood Detective Film (Suny Series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video)
The male body has traditionally been seen as one of action in opposition to that of passive femininity; masculinity in motion, therefore, has a different meaning from masculinity shown at rest or in a state of passivity. However, the male body, whether in motion or at rest, is problematic because of the contradiction between the vulnerable passivity implied by being in a position to be looked at as the site of spectacle on the screen and the dominance that the male is expected to exhibit. Feminist critics and critics of masculinity in the early 1980s argued that the male body deflects the gaze while the female body is presented for the male gaze.
The tradition of toughness is exhibited through the body, but more importantly it is seen as possible to acquire toughness—an internal quality—through the remodeling of the body—an external one. According to Wilkinson, this attempt to acquire toughness was evident in the exercise and dieting boom of recent decades, but in the 1940s and 1950s toughness was more pronounced and demonstrated through styles of walking (such as strutting) and through acts like cigar-chomping, jaw-working, and squinting while smoking (11).
As Studlar argues in relation to the popularity of Tom Cruise, we might assume that mainstream cinema must “delimit or disavow the dangerous multiplicity of desire (across genders and sexualities) set into circulation by an attention to masculinity as an erotically marked object of attention” and, yet, we cannot ignore the commercial need for mainstream cinema to exploit the star’s appeal to the broadest audience base possible, which includes an appeal to both genders (“Cruise-ing” 173). The exposure of the bodies of action stars like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Gibson, and Willis offers a multiplicity of pleasures to different members of the audience—an appeal that can be an erotic one to desire or an ideal to imitate.