Masculinity And Film

As a response to my previous post about how men and women are subjectified and objectified in film, I’d like to further expand on my point of the male object.  Specifically, from how I had thought the use of male actors in film to become objects of fetishism were too far and few, it wasn’t until reading the UFT chapter on masculinity that I found a much broader pool of examples to pick from.  The use of Arnold Shwarzenegger  in Conan The Barbarian, for example, is what I had long thought was the ideal level of male appearance since the idea of appearance was incepted into my brain due to social norms.  The way in which the chapter discusses the use of males in film to represent masculinity reassured my own thoughts on masculinity because, as the chapter seemed to imply, being masculine can be anything from a brainless brute to a genteel fellow.  The way in which masculinity is defined is that basically a man can be anything he wants to be as long as there is confidence in the image, even if the image of that character is someone who is shy; the male character identifies with a trait and sticks with that trait, whatever it is.

Something that I thought was interesting that was highlighted in the chapter is the emphasis of the male gaze at the male object and how the film industry tries to avoid that situation by damaging the object to imply that any homosexual feelings should be abandoned and replaced with violent reactions.  It is with this notion though that the viewership is increased because, at first, the fetishism of the male object attracts the female viewership and the destruction of that object then attracts the male viewership due to the competitive nature of male anxiety.  Having a male character that any man could identify with would relate back the the idea that a male character’s essential trait is something of a jumping off point, where then the viewer explores how they and the character are similar and different.  It is with the narcissistic form of identification that I can see why women find themselves at odds with the film industry due to the portrayal of women in film; there is very little of women in film that explores all the different ways a woman can be, unlike a man.  The roles proposed by longstanding stereotypes seen in film don’t allow women the chance to identify with a broad spectrum of traits and thus don’t see themselves at all in film because of the narrow one or two representations used and recycled in many films.  If more female characters in film were able to be as flexible in terms of image as men have been (barbaric brute vs gentleman :: amazon princess vs lady), then the gender equality gap I think would be much smaller.

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