Download Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in the Hollywood Cinema PDF

TitleScreening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in the Hollywood Cinema
ISBN 139780415077590
CategoryArts - Film
File Size1.5 MB
Total Pages283
Table of Contents
                            Book Cover
Notes on contributors
INTRODUCTION Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark
PROLOGUE: MASCULINITY AS SPECTACLE Reflections on men and mainstream cinema Steve Neale
'FEMINIZING' THE SONG-AND-DANCE MAN Fred Astaire and the spectacle of masculinity in the Hollywood musical Steven Cohan
MAMA'S BOY Filial hysteria in White Heat Lucy Fischer
'DON'T BLAME THIS ON A GIRL' Female rape-revenge films Peter Lehman
DARK DESIRES Male masochism in the horror film Barbara Creed
'MORE HUMAN THAN I AM ALONE' Womb envy in David Cronenberg's The Fly and Dead Ringers Helen W.Robbins
ANIMALS OR ROMANS Looking at masculinity in Spartacus Ina Rae Hark
MASCULINITY AS MULTIPLE MASQUERADE The 'mature' Stallone and the Stallone clone Chris Holmlund
DUMB MOVIES FOR DUMB PEOPLE Masculinity, the body, and the voice in contemporary action cinema Yvonne Tasker
Index of films
General index
Document Text Contents
Page 2


Screening the Male challenges the traditional understanding of the male’s
position in Hollywood cinema. Gathering together thirteen original essays
by scholars in the US, UK, and Australia, as well as Steve Neale’s
ground-breaking article on male spectacle, this collection looks beyond
the seemingly unassailable monolithic understanding of the ‘masculine’
which has previously dominated most film criticism.

Ranging from Valentino to Schwarzenegger, from the musical to the
horror film, from close readings to ‘queer’ readings, the essays all differ
in their critical method and historical focus. But whatever their specific
interest, each essay holds a strong concern with issues that film studies
has repeatedly linked to the feminine without considering how they relate
as well to the masculine: spectacle, masochism, passivity, masquerade
and, most of all, the body as it signifies gendered, racial, class, and
generational differences.

Demonstrating that Hollywood’s representation of the male and his
masculinity deserves the same kind of critical attention devoted to the
problem posed by the female and her femininity, Screening the Male will
interest scholars, students, and fans of cinema who want to understand the
textual complexity and cultural purchase of male imagery on the screen.

Page 141



woman he has previously brutalized and who has good reason to wish
him dead. Dressed in a long white robe, her hair tied regally in a bun, the
female avenger of I Spit on Your Grave looks like a pagan goddess
officiating over an ancient ritual. After she castrates the male, she locks
him in the bathroom and listens to his death cries rise up against a
background of classical music.

Man’s desire for sex and death is clearly brought out in Brian De
Palma’s Sisters (1973). Margot Kidder plays Siamese twins, Danielle and
Dominique; the former is sweet and gentle, the latter dangerous,
aggressive. During an operation to separate the twins, Dominique dies.
Unable to come to terms with her sister’s death, Danielle takes on her
sister’s identity. Emile (William Finley), the doctor who performed the
operation, is also Danielle’s husband. He knows that Danielle has become
a divided personality but is able to control ‘Dominique’ by keeping
Danielle sedated. This is only partly effective. Emile says to Danielle that
he knows whenever he makes love to her that Dominique is present. Yet
Emile chooses to arouse Danielle sexually even though she has just
castrated the last man with whom she made love. Predictably, Danielle/
Dominique also slashes Emile’s genitals, and as he dies he clasps her
hand over his bleeding wound. Emile’s wound parallels the one which
runs down Danielle’s side, a hideous reminder of her separation/
castration from her sister. The image of their two hands clasped together
and covered in Emile’s blood reminds us of the abject nature of desire.
Sisters presents an interesting study of male and female castration fears as
well as exploring a male sexual death wish. In her interesting discussion
of the male dread of woman, Karen Horney argues that perhaps the death
wish for man is more closely aligned with sex.

Is any light shed upon it by the state of lethargy—even the death —
after mating, which occurs frequently in male animals? Are love and
death more closely bound up with one another for the male than the
female, in whom sexual union potentially produces a new life? Does
man feel, side by side with his desire to conquer, a secret longing
for extinction in the act of reunion with the woman (mother)? Is it
perhaps this longing that underlies the ‘death-instinct’?

(Horney 1967:138–9)

The conventional interpretation is to argue that the male monster of the
classic horror film (ape, werewolf, vampire) represents the repressed
bestial desires of civilized man and that woman is almost always the
object of this aggression.2 ‘Women are invariably the victims of the acts
of terror unleashed by the werewolf/vampire/alien/‘thing’ (Mercer 1986:
39). What this interpretation ignores is the extent to which the beast is
also feminized through the processes of transformation. It is this aspect of
male monstrousness that Linda Williams addresses in ‘When the Woman

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Looks’ (1984). Here she discusses the relationship between the classic
monster (werewolf, ape, vampire) and the heroine. Williams argues that
there is ‘a surprising (and at times subversive) affinity’ (85) between
monster and woman in that, like woman, he is represented as ‘a
biological freak with impossible and threatening appetites’ (87). Whereas
Williams ties the monster’s freakishness to its phallic status (either
symbolically castrated or overly endowed), I would argue that the affinity
between the monster and woman resides in the way in which all
monstrous figures are constructed in terms of Kristeva’s ‘non-symbolic’
body: the body that gives birth, secretes, changes shape, or is marked in
some way. This is also Freud’s masochistic, feminized body.

Williams argues that while the male spectator’s look at the monster
‘expresses conventional fear’ (Williams 1984:87) because the monster is
different, the female spectator is punished for looking because she
recognizes the monster’s freakishness as similar to her own. ‘The
woman’s gaze is punished, in other words, by narrative processes that
transform curiosity and desire into masochistic fantasy’ (85). In my view,
the gaze of both male and female spectators is constructed as masochistic
by the signifying practices of the horror text. Although the male monster
is placed in a feminine position in terms of the workings of abjection and
masochistic desire, he is still male and as such elicits identification from
male spectators. Furthermore, the monster is frequently represented as a
sympathetic figure with whom all spectators are encouraged to identify
(King Kong, 1933, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, 1954, Psycho,
1960, An American Werewolf in London). For similar reasons I would
argue that female monsters (Carrie, 1976, The Exorcist, 1973, The
Hunger, 1983, Repulsion, 1965) also elicit identification from both male
and female spectators.

In my view, a crucial reason why the monster—regardless of its gender
—draws on the masochistic aspects of looking lies with the origins of
monstrosity as a form of abjection. Abjection constitutes a process by
which we define the ‘clean and proper body’ as well as the rational,
coherent, unified subject. Insofar as abjection speaks to the perverse and
irrational aspects of desire it speaks to all spectators regardless of gender.
It also addresses most clearly the masochistic desires of the spectator. As
a consequence, the male spectator is punished, as he looks at the abject
body of the other—his monstrous, feminized gender counterpart. In this
way, the horror film makes a feminine position available to the male
spectator—although this position is not necessarily identical to that
offered to the female spectator. The problem does not lie with the horror
film’s appeal to the spectator’s masochistic desires but rather with the fact
that the abject body is identified with the feminine, which is socially
denigrated, and the symbolic body with the masculine, which is socially
valorized. If the horror film exists to explore our darker desires, it does

Page 282



Redford, Robert 195
Redgrove, Peter 123
Reed, Ishmael 182
Reeves, Steve 12
Reid, Wallace 37
Richard, Cliff 66n
Richards, Renee 70
Rickman, Alan 239
Riviere, Joan 213–14, 216–17, 219,

225, 226n
Roberts, Ben 76
Robeson, Paul 191n
Robinson, Edward G. 75
Rock, Chris 207
Rodowick, D.N. 13
Rogers, Ginger 56–8, 64–5, 67n
Rogin, Michael 196–7, 202, 246
Romano, Larry 220
Roosevelt, Theodore 25, 40n
Roshanara 23
Ross, Diana 226n
Russell, Kurt 220–1, 230, 235

Sacco and Vanzetti, 25
Sacks, Oliver 71
sadism see masochism
St Denis, Ruth 23
St John, Adela Rogers 27, 41n, 42n
Sawyer, Joan 25
Schatz, Thomas 61, 76
Schwarzenegger, Arnold 7, 8, 232,

237, 240–1, 243, 248
science-fiction film 12, 241, 129,

134–47, 151
Scott, Randolph 14
Sebald, Hans 80, 82
Sebastian, Carlo 25
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky 171n, 190n,

Shawn, Ted 26, 34, 41n, 42n
Sheen, Charlie 203
Shepherd, Cybill 239
Showalter, Elaine 82, 147n
Shuttle, Penelope 123
Siegel, Don 92
Silver, Alain 123
Silverman, Kaja 145–6
Simmons, Jean 155, 157, 166, 171n
Simon, William 83n
Sinatra, Frank 62
Singleton, John 182, 186, 190n
Sirk, Douglas 18

Skerritt, Tom 203
Smith, Dwight C., Jr. 71
Smith, Paul 70, 87, 101n, 141, 227n
Snipes, Wesley 206
Spaeth, Sigmund 23
spectacle 2–4, 7, 9–19 passim, 33,

46–8, 68, 106, 151–9, 160–1, 165,
167–8, 176, 196, 198–9, 202,
207–8, 213, 216, 220, 222, 224–5,
230–1, 233, 237, 239, 245–6,
255–6, 259

spectatorship 2–5, 18, 24–5, 31–2,
35–6, 46–7, 52, 59, 61, 65, 104–6,
109, 116, 131, 144, 151, 155,
158–61, 178, 213, 224, 225

Spillane, Mickey 65
Spillers, Hortense 175
Stallone, Sylvester 7, 214–27, 230,

232, 234–9, 245
Stewart, James 15
Stoller, Robert 217
Stowitts, Hubert 37
Strauss, Richard 23
Strecker, Edward 80, 82
Strode, Woody 154
Studlar, Gaylyn 113
subjectivity 1–2, 6, 136, 142, 144,

153–4, 156–7, 161–3, 167, 169,
174, 176–7, 213

Sutherland, Donald 220–1, 236

Takakura, Ken 206
Tasker, Yvonne 222, 227n
Terry, Alice 29
Thomas, Clarence 196
Thurston, Carol 30
Travolta, John 18, 66n
Trumbo, Dalton 159, 168, 170n
Tudor, Andrew 123
Twitchell, J.B. 125
Tyler, Carole-Anne 70

Ursini, James 123
Ustinov, Peter 153, 168

Valentino, Rudolph 4, 23–43
voice, the 5, 7, 92, 95–8, 155, 164,

188, 234, 238–41
von Sacher-Masoch, Leopold 113
von Sternberg, Josef 17–18, 113

Walker, Alexander 37

Page 283



Walkerdine, Valerie 227n, 239
Waller, Willard 77–8
Walsh, Raoul 76, 83n
Walter, Jessica 88
Washington, Denzel 194, 206
Wayne, John 8, 15, 234, 239
Webb, Chloe 194
Wecter, Dixon 79
Welch, Raquel 103, 107
western film 3, 5, 8, 12, 14–15,

17–18, 151, 239–40
Wiegman, Robyn 169n, 200
Willemen, Paul 13–14, 16–18, 19n,

219, 221, 225, 227n
Williams, Esther 66n
Williams, Linda 55, 104, 121, 130–1,


Willis, Bruce 239, 245
Winship, Mary 42n
Wolf, Christa 258–9
Wollen, Peter 33–4
Wood, Michael 170n
Wood, Robin 114, 140
Wright, Richard 181, 191n
Wycherly, Margaret 73, 83n
Wylie, Philip 80–2

X, Malcolm 182

Young, Robert 219
Young, William Allen 223

Zavitzianos, G. 242
Ziegeld, Florenz 46

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