Manhood in Hollywood from Bush to Bush

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A struggle between narcissistic and masochistic modes of manhood defined Hollywood masculinity in the period between the presidencies of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. David Greven's contention is that a profound shift in representation occurred during the early 1990s when Hollywood was transformed by an explosion of films that foregrounded non-normative gendered identity and sexualities. In the years that have followed, popular cinema has either emulated or evaded the representational strategies of this era, especially in terms of gender and sexuality.
One major focus of this study is that, in a great deal of the criticism in both the fields of film theory and queer theory, masochism has been positively cast as a form of male sexuality that resists the structures of normative power, while narcissism has been negatively cast as either a regressive sexuality or the bastion of white male privilege. Greven argues that narcissism is a potentially radical mode of male sexuality that can defy normative codes and categories of gender, whereas masochism, far from being radical, has emerged as the default mode of a traditional normative masculinity. This study combines approaches from a variety of disciplines--psychoanalysis, queer theory, American studies, men's studies, and film theory--as it offers fresh readings of several important films of the past twenty years, including Casualties of War, The Silence of the Lambs, Fight Club, The Passion of the Christ, Auto Focus, and Brokeback Mountain.
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Editorial Reviews

A challenging book...that turns a great deal of theory on masochism and masculinity on its head. In a complex yet intriguing manner, Greven manages to weave together classical mythology, psychoanalytic theory, Mulveyan gaze theory, and textual analysis of several key films of the era...The author delivers thought-provoking readings of these films.
Subtly radical...Greven takes to task the perverse academic gymnastics of theorists who valorize self-destructive and often self-hating displays of masculinity--and especially queerness--as somehow empowering, and offers as a corrective a sensible and cogent critique of the masochistic portrayals of the male body in Hollywood films of the last two decades.
Sacramento Book Review
When he explores the movies themselves, analyzing text and subtext, directorial choices and scores, lighting and framing, symbolism and defamiliarization, David Greven's postulations are fascinating and often revelatory.... it’s a gift to read his insights and interpretations and then revisit these films after reading such a well-considered exploration of them.
College Literature
Greven has put a very useful perspective on the notion of queer sexualities with this study. Moreover his work provides an excellent rebuttal of the position of several prominent film critiques who deny the usefulness of theory in analyzing cinem...a. Greven vigorously discards the injunction to reject a psychoanalytic basis for examining spectator’s identification with screen images. The readings here are nuanced and powerful and they are admirably supported by psychoanalytic theory.
Journal of American Studies - Helen Oakley
David Greven has produced a stimulating and wide-ranging study which focuses on a range of films which span the Bush-to-Bush era…One of the strengths of Greven’s book is its close focus on aesthetic aspects of film which are effectively linked to psychoanalytical concepts and wider debates concerning the representation of masculinity in the Bush-to-Bush era…Greven’s study succeeds in providing a thought-provoking analysis which should be very helpful to scholars of queer theory and Hollywood film.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292719873
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 12/7/2009
  • Pages: 309
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID GREVEN is Associate Professor of English at Connecticut College.
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Table of Contents

Introduction When Hollywood Masculinity Became Self-Aware

Chapter One Manhood in Hollywood from Bush to Bush

Chapter Two An Ill-Fated Bacchanal: Casualties of War and the Horror of the Homosocial

Chapter Three Male Medusas and Female Heroes: Fetishism and Ambivalence in The Silence of the Lambs

Chapter Four The Hollywood Man Date: Split Masculinity and the Double-Protagonist Film

Chapter Five Destroying Something Beautiful: Narcissism, Male Violence, and the Homosocial in Fight Club

Chapter Six
"Am I Blue?" Vin Diesel and Multiracial Male Sexuality

Chapter Seven The Devil Wears Abjection: The Passion of the Christ

Chapter Eight Narcissus Transfigured: Brokeback Mountain

Epilogue The Reign of Masochism

Notes Bibliography Index

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