zational communicationstudies. Western Journal of Communication, 62, 343-375. West, C., & Fenstermaker; S. (1995). Doing difference. Gender & Society, 9, 837. West, C., & Zimmerman, D. (1987). Doing gender. Gender & Society, I , 125151. Willis, P. (1977). Learning to labor: How working class kids get working class jobs. New York: Columbia University Press.

it is represented and defined in various media, genres, texts, or icons and the relationship between these sites and gender, the gender order, other cultural differences, identity and identification, the subject, experience, and reality in late capitalism. As has often been observed, the theoretico-political clusters of feminist and gay 0 1998 International Communicaton Assn. and lesbian studies have given particular impetus to the exploration of masculinity as a dominant cultural identity and invisible norm. At the same time, particular projects continue to be in dialogue with On Masculinity other theoretical work that has Theorizing Masculinity opened up mediated masculiniWitMn the Media ties to new questions. In media studies of the last decade, we have come to understand masculinity as “both a product and process of repreby Robert Hanke sentation” (de Lauretis, 1987, The relationship between mas- p. 5). Within a constructionist approach to representation and culinity and the media, which meaning, some scholars have first came into focus in the adopted a feminist poststruc1970s and gained increased turalist orientation to “mascuscholarly attention in the late 1980s, has continued to gener- linity as signs,” where masculinity is regarded as one of the ate work that theorizes, intersubjectivities (or subject-posiprets, and evaluates masculintions) that make up our social ity with/in the media. In the 5 identities (Saco, 1992). Within years since Fejes (1992)comthe growing body of work on pleted his review of empirical gender representation and dismass communication research course in the media, particular on masculinity, there has been a growing stream of books and attention has been paid to the representation of the male articles within media studies body, giving rise to debates that has shifted critical attenover its cultural significance, tion from what Fejes calls political valences, and its mate“masculinity as fact” to the riality. Today, as Hall (1996) facticity of masculinity. This work focuses on masculinity as observes, the “body serves to

Communication Theory

function as the signifier of the condensation of subjectivities in the individual” (p. 11). In this contribution, I want to briefly discuss some of the detours through theory, major concepts, strategies of media analysis, and issues that define the space within which media studies defines the problem of masculinity with a view to the possibilities that have been opened up as well as some of the limitations or problems that remain. Within the limited space of this forum, I am able only to offer a preliminary, no doubt overly simplifying and polemically unifying, mapping of the interdisciplinary border zone of “theorizing masculinity.” Although it is not a comprehensive survey, it should, I hope, be useful in taking our bearings. Different projects, of course, may be located in different research traditions, be informed by more than one theoretical position, and seek to set different priorities. An intradisciplinary dialogue concerning this topic is timely and important for several reasons. For starters, as Sedgwick (1995) has observed, “Sometimes masculinity has got nothing to do with it. Nothing to do with men” (p. 12). In other words, we should no longer presume a relationship between masculinity and men even if it is difficult not to. Second, recent writing on masculinity, gender, and patriarchy has begun to question their very utility as explanatory

concepts (Hearn, 1996; Hawkesworth, 1997; Ehrenreich, 1995). Finally, what is to be done if there is no definition of masculinity that is not already hegemonic (Rogoff & Van Leer, 1993), no gender trouble (whether as spectacle, masquerade, or parody) that “would push the masculine stereotype beyond its threshold of recuperation”? (Massumi, 1992, p. 89). I first discuss some strategies of media analysis that have been influenced by Gramsci, Foucault, and Butler. I then consider Berger, Wallis, and Watson’s Constructing Masculinity (1995)and Smith’s Boys: Masculinities in Contemporary Culture (1996),two recent collections that lay the basis for current debates even as they do not exhaust all the possibilities for research and analysis. Work by Bordo (1994),Brod (1995), Byers (1995, 1996), Coates (1998),Cohan & Hark (1993), Doty (1993), Dyson (1993), Farred (1996),Jeffords (1994), Mercer (1994),Nixon (1996), Pfeil(1996), Savran (1996), Shaviro (1993),Tasker (1993), and Walser (1993) attests to the range of projects and diversity of theoretical routes. My simple argument is that, whereas film studies continues to maintain a prominent place in the study of popular representations of masculinity, because of its own rich tradition of film theory and criticism and a fascination with spectacular Hollywood masculini184

advertising. it expresses the general idea of assumptions and beliefs about masculinity that have become common sense. are also demonstrating the relevance of theoretical work that has pushed. . 1996. as Carole Spitzack has put it. 1997. but that are presumed to have an imperative character in shaping consciousness. or desire. feminist media studies. cultural producers such as journalists. M y Hegemonic Masculinity The concept of “hegemonic masculinity. including their takenfor-granted notions of masculinity and femininity. as well as popular music. that may be uncritically absorbed or spontaneously consented to.Moreover. 1997). affect. 172). television producers.1990) has been utilized in my own previous work as well as studies of mediated sports (Trujillo. a “hegemonic project . . television series and genres of the 1980s. 1997).Forum ties.p. Within civil society. which defined “femininity” as “a set of highly orchestrated representational practices which together produced this coherence of female gender as easy and naturalized” (McRobbie. 226). 1996).In other writings where the term appears. sex-role framework towards dialectical sociology. feminist media studies had moved toward an Althussarian sense of representation and ideology. and publicity.Condit.” introduced by Connell(1987. politicians. cultural studies.A neo-Gramscian-femi185 . our “existing visions and articulations” of masculinity.Cloud. it seemed to me that a neo-Gramscian perspective could be brought into a productive dialogue with feminist media studies in order to theorize and critique masculinity in fictional U.S. 1997. Thus.nor a process of incorporation. and historical contextualization. studies of masculinities in is worth recalling that a neoGramscian-feminist perspective served to guide inquiry out of a functionalist. norms of conduct.Cloud. mediated sports. the national popular culture is where various agents of hegemony (the New Right. does not demand the production of consensus . The turn to Gramsci was a significant move in Marxist strategies of media and cultural analysis because it represented a depar- ture from class essentialist and reductionist accounts of ideology and culture and opened up popular cultural analysis to struggles around gender and race (Bennett. It does operate through the production of a certain convergence of interests through which subordination and resistance are contained” (p. and filmmakers) give shape to the common sense of the people. 1994. 1991. By then. Davis. as Grossberg (1997) notes. In light of some of the debate over the theory of hegemony (Condit.. .

contradictory.” and in relation to My definition of hegemonic representations of gay men masculinity referred to the “so. tended to relation to women’s liberation map a stable gender binary and its image of the “new onto different male types.” as Tasker (1993) has view of manhood” defined in since pointed out. ” ing masculinities. representation of the body). which began this work suggested that hegethe debate over the representa. In follow-up and (5) “when heterosexually work.present-day outdoorsman. and subThrough an analysis of sports ordinate masculinities.Communication Theory nist perspective was also a way masculine subjectivity-the beof carrying out critical and em. action heroes of the 1980s). incoheran industrial. 1990). media culture: that one version may occupy a (1)“when power is defined in leading position in the media terms of physical force and mainstream (for instance. (1988) collection. conservative.S. so as masculinity reproduces itself in to produce a reformation of the context of mediated sports. These “polarized fig.that maintain a heteromascucial ascendancy of a particular line point of view. (2) “when it is defined through Because Gramscian common occupational achievement in sense is fragmentary.g.monic masculinity is not only tions of the idealized “New secured through the reassertion Man and Retributive Man” in of dominance-based masculinithe U. 186 . romantic frontierson) are among the representaman of yesteryear and of the tions that were also construct. ambiguous. This implies monic in U.ties. the U. the “soft” or (4) when it is “symbolized by New Man. ety. heterosexual. other in terms of familial patriarchy. capitalistic socient. monic. and so the daring. operating on the terpanded the definition of hegerain of ‘common sense’ and monic masculinity by identifyconventional morality.S. version or model of masculinTrujillo (1991) has exity that..K. 1992). woman. and grees and thus how hegemonic subordinated masculinity. the control” (particularly in the much discussed hard-bodied. however. gay men.” (3)when it is represented and multiform. defines ing five major features that de‘what it means to be a man”’ fine when masculinity is hege(Hanke. Taken together.coming conservative of White. versions (e. I adopted Connell’s defined” and centered on the (1987) categories of hegerepresentation of the phallus. context as a response professional-managerial men to Chapman and Rutherford’s (Hanke. pirical work on masculinity in middle-class. conservative. Trujillo anathat 1980s fictional television lyzes how this figure exhibits articulated the relation among these features to varying dedominant. but also through a “new ures. arguing hero Nolan Ryan.

relations. A critical method consisout. 225). He proposes in187 . account for changes in the gen1992) nor an analysis of their der system. such work reveals how are relationally defined. role iden.character” and what real men model. or metaphysical substance ences’ reception practices re(Butler. analysis informed by postThe difficulty has been how structuralism enabled me to to talk about hegemonic masread a television series like thirtysomething as a “text arculinity as a “historically mobile relation” (1995.studies (Morley. marginalizatiodauthorization on the other” (p. Steinman. Donaldson (1993)has also critiqued the ebb and flow of specifiable meanings of masculinity. 1992. Fiske & perman and the rise in popularity of Batman is part of the Dawson. 1996). duce and put into circulation Yet. critics have been quick to point 8 1). and sexuality encoded by concept. For example. However. articusports writing. nation. p 225). 1997. 1997. and lated to other differences.Forum psychological structures alone The limitation of this strategy (Middleton. mains invisible except in a few the decline in popularity of Su. masculinity and naturalize soQualitative. (con)textual cial and historical relations of power and privilege. genexplanatory utility of Connell’s a dimension of social auditity. and advertising work in concorlocated within a particular hisdance to construct hegemonic torical conjuncture. socialization theory ap. Neither a role. dominatiodsubordireal social practices. gap between the “culturally their partners. 1986. Connell ( 1995) suggests the need to consider “double articulation”-how two types of relationship: “he. p.o the “masculine” that these fantasy figure ensembles protive definition of manhood. In analyzing specific (Grossberg. television. and the villains idealized form of masculine they encounter. as one hand. men are missing as televitent with a neo-Gramscian sion viewers.are means that it is unable to proach to such figures (Pecora. masculinity ideal character type. 1992) is adequate is that any discussion of a unless the meanings and values single exalted male hero is f likely to tend toward a norma. Apart from the feminist perspective must be tradition of film study that has careful to avoid redescribing theorized the male gaze and hegemonic masculinity as an the male spectator. p. as well as the other side of masculinities. suggesting that the these hypermasculine heroes. and complicity on the and conditions” (Grossberg.“meanings are articulated to gemony. 1990). 77) and ticulates a specific signifier as to maintain a focus on both its part of common sense and the continuities and disconproduction of experience” tinuities.

He sums up the state of theorizing hegemonic masculinity as follows: On the one hand. “hegemony is likely to be established only if there is some correspondence between a cultural ideal and institutional power”(p. style. 77). even though few men may embody culturally exalted forms of masculinity.” but marks the formation of new subject-position for men in relation to practices of fashion. sites). Nixon translates these concepts into a strategy for analyzing groups of statements (texts. as Connell (1995) has attempted to do. this move returns us to a Marxist perspective on social class relations and reintroduces the very problems that the turn to Gramsci sought to resolve. their “regularity or underlying unity. and race). as recent work in cultural criticism and cultural studies has begun to do. subjectivization. and consumption. the subject was produced in discourse and subjectivization was a material rather than ideological process whereby power relations invested and materialized subjects. Sam Walton. Although the articulation of masculinity and class is important. large numbers of men benefit from cultural definitions that legitimate claims to leadership. and issues relevant to studying mediated masculinities. Based on a reading of three versions of the “new man” (articulated with generation. Nixon’s (1997) examination of “exhibiting masculinity” draws upon Foucaultian concepts of discourse. Nixon rejects Foucault’s notion of “subjectivization” in favor of Foucault’s later notion of “technologies (or practices) of the self” (as read through Butler) to conceptualize “the articulation of concrete individuals to particular representations as a performance based upon the citing and reiteration 188 . media studies also needs to consider how hegemonic masculinity articulates to structures and lived forms of patriarchy within everyday life. the exalted ruling-class heroes of capitalist entrepreneurship (Bill Gates. although he neglects the media. Ted Turner. However. and technologies of the self. In Foucault’s archaeological writings. on the other hand.Communication Theory stead that we limit the concept to “really real” men. in addition to institutional life and “technocratic” variants of hegemonic masculinity. claims. The relationship between hegemonic masculinity and social change can be addressed only historically. he argues that visual codes of fashion photography not only work to produce a “spectatorial look. the place of the subject.” and the place of the subject as it is produced in media discourse through specific codes and conventions of representing the male body. Deviations from Foucault Besides offering a useful over- view of central concepts. and the like). ethnicity.

323). 144). historical forces. 1995). this was also evident in advertising’s image of the new man (Barthel. are contextualized as part of the historical construction of new modes of “spectatorial consumer subjectivity” (first analyzed by Walter Benjamin). In a Foucaultian framework of discourse and powerknowledge. Clarke and Henson (1996)argue that “gay identity formation and valorization have become directly complicit in capital formation and valorization” (p. where consumption and mass culture is no longer figured as “feminine” as it was within modernity. In sum. gender. In their study of the gayification of action hero Claude Van Damme as fan object and publicity subject in heteronormative publications. among other techniques in the care of the self. Mediated masculinities construct figures to identify with and places to occupy within the gender order. both neo-Gramscian theory of hegemony and Foucaultian theory of discourse.Forum of discursive norms. For the former. specifiable “masculinities” are understood as the effect of specific regimes of visibility.who argued that film was a technology for representing the male body in a way that circumvents eroticization. and such representations are overdetermined by discursive formations and the interplay of signifying practices. “new man” imagery is “operationalized or performed as a historical identity” (p. 323). 328). The “new man” is a rearticulation of the relationship among masculinity. and the business of late capitalism. In the US. 1988) and also more recently in the “gayification” of advertising (Clarke. are located across various representational sites. Contrary to Neale (1993). social processes. Codes of looking. in dialogue with feminist media studies or theory. Gay-oriented publicity or advertising complicates the very logic of visibility and affirmation that has been central to gay and lesbian politics of representation. and economics. are tool kits for understanding power as a determinant of masculinities. in turn. and these codes. In this formulation. opening up the possibility of an ambivalent masculine sexual identity” (p. from this. The increased visibility of “gayness” in these media produces them as new economic subjects whose gayness is increasingly defined in relation to marketing and consuming practices and the generation of corporate profits rather than the extension of civil rights. Nixon concludes that advertising and fashion photography are a technique for “sanctioning the display of masculine sensuality and. the emphasis is 189 . a performance in which the formal positions of subjectivity are inha bited through specific practices or techniques” (p.context.

and social relations of privilege and power. theories of sexual difference. and their interlocking effectivity.her theorization of gender as a “corporeal style. the polysemy and multiaccentuality of signs of masculinity become open to analysis and the very facticity of masculinity is put into question. it is opened up to a modernist temporalizing logic that enables us to describe the changing codings of the masculine. how the meanings of White masculinity have shifted. is that gender is a performance that maintains the retroactive illusion of a core feminine. 1993. the self. where ‘performative’ suggests a dramatic and contingent construction of meaning” (p. Second. once masculinity is understood as a historically specific cultural construction without fixed meanings or attributes. 1994. 1995. there are two that I would like to mention here. cross-dressing. In terms of feminist analysis and critique of patriarchy. Reciting Judith Butler Since the publication of Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990). Wallace. First. 1995). 1996). which is both intentional and performative. Mercer. and how they have produced our experience. the emphasis is on masculine subject-positions (places) as an effect of discursive formations and how these positions are taken up or inhabited (practices of everyday life). and race (Dyson. For the latter. hooks. so that hegemonic masculinity is won not only through coercion but through consent.’ as it were. or masculine. The challenge now is to conceptualize and describe more than one difference at a time. even though there is never a complete consensus. Burnham. an ‘act. Her thesis. 1992. Fejes & Petrich. Gender impersonation. it also means that the universal equation between men and patriarchy is put into question. for not all men have the same relationship to discourses and institutions of power. and deconstruction. based on rereadings of feminist and psychoanalytic theory and an analysis of the cultural practices of drag. their intersection. 1993. disarticulates gender signification from the poli190 . at the level of psychic processes. Farred. once masculinities are opened up to poststructuralist theories of language. 1995. and the stylization of butch or femme identities. 1996). class (Aronowitz.Communication Theory on popular representations (figures) producing and circulating common-sense notions. she argues. 139) has been influential in rethinking gender and sexuality in antiessentialist terms. Masculine identity becomes impossible to define apart from its relationship to femininity and its articulation to sexualities (Doty. Among the many implications of this work. self.

forthcoming). are not. Coates (1998). Nonetheless. p. my presumption that men-in-drag sitcoms would be more subversive than mock-macho sitcoms needs to be reconsidered. In Bodies That Mutter (1993). “taken not as commands to be obeyed. 191 . gave gender trouble to the coherence of masculine as it is normally reiterated within the rock formation. a male-dominated academic discussion list on the Internet. 1990.’ twisted. queered. for that reason. brought into relief as heterosexual imperatives. However. but that it destabilizes the relationship between gender and representation. Butler has revised her views of gender parody and gone on to argue that denaturalization is not necessarily subversive. 1990. In light of this. has described how a self-conscious performance of the feminine within Rocklist. p. the analysis of masculine masquerade “brings to the foreground of popular representation the epistemological problems” (p. 139). 138). 46). so that masculinity (like femininity) is “an ongoing and potentially discontinuous performative masquerade” (p. drawing on de Lauretis’s notion of gender technologies and Butler’s (1993) notion of femininity as the abject of masculinity. she now claims drag is “hyperbolic conformity” to gender norms.I have attempted to argue that “mock-macho” sitcoms invite parodic laughter by parodying the mechanisms of the construction of some “original” domestic patriarch or macho stereotype (Hanke. Cohan reveals how ideologically conflicted the film is. polarized female or male identity. Following Butler (1990). the light parody of mock-macho sitcoms is less likely than menin-drag sitcoms to constitute the kind of gender performance “that will compel a reconsideration of the place and stability of the masculine and the feminine” (Butler. He also suggests that be- cause of Hollywood’s institutionalization of stardom. These performances temporarily deprive the hegemonic norm of “its claim to a naturalized or essentialized gender identity” (Butler. Cohan (1995) has brought feminist film studies of femininity as a masquerade into dialogue with the theatrical rather than phallocentric implications of Butler’s work to read Cary Grant’s masculine masquerade in North by Northwest (1959). necessarily subverted in the process” (p. However.Forum tics of truth and falsity that makes for an essential. 58) that Butler describes even though Cary Grant’s performance does not subvert gender or trouble heterosexuality. 237). and that its portrayal of a masculine identity crisis is not only symptomatic of new class anxieties. In his historicizing reading of this performance ethic. but as imperatives to be ‘cited.

78). “accomplishments. but very much in evidence in late 18th.” as Silverman (1992) has argued. 1995).Communication Theory Scattered Hegemonic Masculinities The combined influence of Butler and Foucault is evident in the introduction to Berger. that willy-nilly. as fluid and temporal. gender dualisms or binary opposites are put into question by an emphasis on gender discontinuities. 1995). Solomon-Godeau (1999. 1995. Although some contributors wrestle with the question. Not only does the male pro- 192 . and a “prefixing of the rules of gender and sexuality. culture. puts the contemporary range of mediated masculinities into a historical perspective by arguing that the “feminized” masculinity is not merely the product of a contemporary “crisis. and political practice. an appendix or addition. refurbish. and resurrect themselves for the next historical turn” (p. and enactment. Wallis. p. even Clint Eastwood. Other contributors explore “the ways representations of men and maleness in the media and in the arts are negotiated and circulated. 1995). “What is masculinity?. the issue becomes how heroic masculinities “manage to restructure. but rather of gender “thresholds” and a “dynamic self-recognition” (Sedgwick. and how such images can produce and ultimately reshape notions of the masculine” (Berger. For Smith (1999. & Watson. signifies “troubled presentations or investigations of the kind of (or. 80). of the image of) masculinity that they popularly stand for” (p. 70). Within this framework. supplements and suspends a ‘lack-in-being”’ (Bhabba. It is no longer a question of being. Constructing Masculinity (1995). Wallis. If heroic masculinity is always in crisis.” such as philosophy. Smith’s thesis is that the “narrative disposition of particular tropes of masculinity does not ultimately control or delimit them” (p. and Watson’s collection.” and (dis)avowals (Butler.” it is clear that this does not entail any straightforward description of what maleness is. Their “conceptual bias” is toward Butler’s theorization of gender as “always a doing” and Foucault’s theorization of power (as power/ knowledge applied to the regulation of conduct). one of the most popular contemporary representations of masculinity. for example. The editors have organized contributions according to Foucault’s notion of “disciplinary systems””processes and institutions through which power is replicated and enforced. science. These contributions offer different strategies for reading modernizing hegemonic masculinities.” or postSecond World War “historical trauma. law.and early 19th-century French art. 6-7).

edited by Paul Smith. At the same time. renegotiated. takes up the topic of masculinities within a cultural studies rubric. Taken together. is abandoned 193 . “hysterical” representation is “designed to lead the male subject through a proving ground toward an empowered position” (Smith). presumes the giveness of masculinity as a cultural category. “What is masculinity. 92).Forum tagonist display an inability to act as the ”solution to narrative and social contradictions” (p. Steven Segal has morphed into “Eco-Man.” for Smith. to regain the pleasure of reinforcing the norm. and black male desire for white approval” (p.” which. Thus a major issue is how hegemonic masculinities are refurbished. envy. at some level. or to articulate the new racism. “marks the return of the male body out from under the narrative process. and reproduces. black masculinity continues to be represented as unrequited longing for white male love” (hooks). Boys: Masculinities in Contemporary Culture (1996). . there is a clear commonality running through their conclusions: “Feminized.” that is. she argues that within White cultural productions. defective body figures male subjectivity as “hysterical.” “eroticized. Whereas none of these contributors share a conceptual vocabulary. Black masculinity is reenvisioned. hooks (1995) examines representations of Black men in the context of “White-supremacist capitalist patriarchy. one theme that emerges is that neither masculine representation nor subjectivity is monolithic. one that is continuous with. this work suggests that patriarchy reforms masculinity to meet the next historical turn. The “hysterical moment. and Segal’s White male rage and “kick-ass conscience” may be just “another ruse of patriarchy” (Ross). the question. Finally. excessive. and reenvisioned. 79). Ross (1995)foregrounds how hegemonic White masculinities seeking to maintain their profile of dominance are updated. but only to produce a new stereotype. the narrative of colonialism.” a heroic figure Ross reads as modernizing the imagery of the frontiersman and outdoorsman by articulating White male rage to the ecology movement. but. Alongside other reformed violent. 99).” or “androgynous” representations may affirm patriarchal privileges (Solomon-Godeau). so as to express what is unsayable in male-embodied experience. to fit the social climate. hard-body. he-men. images of Blackness are overdetermined by a structure of “competition. .” In her reading of films featuring Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes.Eastwood’s changeable.” (p. In this collection. outside of phallic organization. reempowered.

and repelled by. outsiders. middle-class masculinity is played out within and across the splittings of the masculine subject. Thus. a film that represents multiple differences in a narrative structured around the secret of heterosexual difference. For Ramsay. For Willis. Ramsay (1996)explores Canadian horror and fantasy filmmaker David Cronenberg’s films as a “minority discourse” (p. Ramsay and Burnham suggest that some filmic representations of maleness can be non.or counterhegemonic. and Burnham are all engaged in film study. others. conscious or unconscious) until they collapse and dissolve. and his male heroes are “passive and lacking. male or female. rational or irrational. Her basic argument is that the spectacle of Dil’s body and the visibility of her penis is correlated with a “structural displacement” of Jody’s Blackness and his homosexuality. One of the major issues that emerges in the film studies is whether particular bodies of work or even particular films are subversive of conventional or idealized notions of masculinity or femininity. Contrary to Bordo (1994). heterosexual. this logic of excessive visibility and displacement works to “secure both Fergus’s heterosexuality and the film’s own address to a heterosexual viewer” (p. Ramsay. For Ramsay. and Willis advances the domestication of difference argument.who reads 194 . Willis (1996)examines the role of “fetishism” in The Crying Game. Willis. the cultural significance of the violence of these characters signifies the ambivalence of men who are simultaneously attracted to. and losers” who carry the burden of the “abject” truth of masculinity. Fuchs. 2). she argues. exiles. 81). and Michael demonstrates. Cronenberg’s films deliberately blur and cross the very boundaries that define the masculine subject (mind and body.Communication Theory in favor of what Smith calls “indefinite masculinity” and the “specificities and dispersals of masculinity and maleness” (p. 2).” “derelicts. This work proceeds from the point of view of hegemonic masculinity’s others“minorities of masculinity”and attempts to maintain a dual focus on the “construction and the heterogeneity of subjects presumed to be male” (P. Following Cohan and Hark‘s (1993) anthology. but this does not exhaust the analysis of popular representation. which focuses on the “disturbances” and “slippages” in idealized Hollywood masculinities that are not easily effaced. Cronenberg’s male heroes are “manifestations of the forces of idealized masculinities ‘other”’ that is in sharp contrast to Hollywood’s rehearsal of hegemonic masculinities. as work by Clarke and Henson. 104). Farred. the crisis of White.

By foregrounding minorities of masculinity. 113). exhausts all the pos195 . sexuality. Burnham’s (1996) essay takes the recovery of minorities of masculinity right into the core of hegemonic masculinity represented by U. figured as “white. (perhaps) ethnic (Italian).S. 121). For Burnham. these essays beg the question of their cultural significance and political valence. Over the course of Keitel’s career. but of a breakdown of the masculine order and the masculine subject’s dissolution from male mythology rooted in imperial experience or fantasies. male action-adventure or law-and-order films. For Burnham. Keitel’s character’s “lack” is not a signifier of femininity. For Willis.Forum Fergus as an emotionally responsive. including the traditional White. Harvey Keitel’s on. “is neither classically muscular nor lithe. nonphallic hero without “masquerade”-a revisioning that is an indictment of modern masculine subjectivity-Willis argues that spectacle of heterosexual difference displaces questions of racial identity. his face imitates the subaltern and his body is revealed in full frontal nudity. . male subject. his performances are postmodernized. and heterosexual” (p. 109). so that in The Piano.” (p.” The Crying Game’s spectacle of difference is a recuperation of “absolute otherness into a domesticated diversity” (p. Newly Hegemonic Masculinities Neither Constructing Masculinities nor Boys: Masculinities in Contemporary Culture. and politics so that the “embodied materiality of black homosexual masculinity gets reduced to a picture” (p. 1992) is an option for all subjects of late capitalism. Willis’s thesis is in tension with the thesis of dissolving or ambivalent masculine subjects at the core of Ramsay’s and Burnham’s essays. raising the issue of whether “becoming minoritarian” (Massumi.” Burnham continues. He thus concludes that Keitel’s work “presents the possibilities of a white. working-class ethnic subjectivity that admits the Other-women. but his gestures reveal a certain Real.. within the context of the global culture of capitalism and its marketing of “difference. queers. Willis seems certain that The Crying Game demonstrates that “there can no telling the story of masculinity that is neither heterosexual or white.and offscreen representations call into question hegemonic American masculinity. which lay the basis for current debate. working-class. “Keitel’s body. 109). heterosexual subject persists through its spectacular indefinite appearances in contemporary film. 124).” thus positing that a definite White. people of color” as a “nonhegemonic subjectivity” (p. Thus.

patriarchy. Byers (1995. I want to return to Hall’s observation about the body as a signifier of subjectivity. . These terminators are signifiers of traditional masculine subjectivity and a postmodern one.This recuperation is accomplished through the domestic subplot in which Sarah Connor represents a “masculinization” of the female body that is delegitimated. social. activate defensive psychic processes such as paranoia and narcissistic regression. in order to single out work that attempts to put the embodied struggles of hegemonic masculinities and its various others into the context of the postmodern condition. who suggests that the film’s ending signals a transition from an “outward”directed to “inward”-directed masculinity.” (p. has precipitated a profound. 8). in turn. particularly for masculine identity. Byers argues instead that the future “New M a n . In closing. . whereas the T-100 is positioned as the legitimate “Uberdad” of the Connor family.As a nomadic rather than monadic subject. in turn. Contrary to Jeffords (1 994). in spite of discernible differences between the T101 (father)and the New Man 196 . the T-1000 represents the forces that threaten to dissolve the self. and cultural shifts and developments since the 1970s. between a production-based industrial and a consumptionbased informational economy. while the T-101 is “aligned with “hypermasculinity. which. must be both more sensitive and more successfully violent than ever” (p. Although this analysis is phrased as “both/and. in Byers’s neo-Freudian reading. the T-1000 is a paradigm of paranoia and homophobia.Communication Theory sible strategies of media analysis. over and against all threats . between paranoia and schizophrenia” (p. 10). neo-Freudian analysis of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. In contrast to the domesticated T-101. The postmodern condition. Byers’s strategy is to read the Terminator model T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the newer T-1000 as embodying the oppositions between “classical and late capitalism. and the recuperation and preservation of the family.” Byers’s evaluation is that. . between modern and postmodern culture. 17).1996). In his neo-Marxian. .Savran (1996) and Pfeil (1996)all read Hollywood rnasculinities as a cultural response to the historical trauma and identity crises wrought by the transition to late capitalism or postFordism. feminism and homosexuality become “tropes” of a range of economic. Thus. 25). the liquid metal T-1000 “embodies the schizophrenic flows that Deleuze and Guattari identify with capital as a force and capitalism as a social formation” (p. unprecedented identity crisis. For Byers (1999.

through a double process of forgetting and “remembering. If the New Man has functioned as a symptomatic figure and sign of the times. In the process of forgetting of the other’s cultural history and social struggles.Forum (son). class. but also as a subject of contemporary. not outside. race. 4). consolidate. Unlike the alien T-1000. he is not the only contender for a leading position within the social imaginary. At the same time. If one response to the historical trauma of postmodernity is for hegemonic American masculinity to imagine its own patriarchal future as “the only 996) sane choice. and other work can argue that dominant fictions preserve. sexuality. the father’s dominion” (p.” thus combining an “apparent accommodation of feminism with a deep-seated misogyny” (p. he lives up to “fantasies of traditional masculinity. 439).” writes the past in order to control the popular memory of this historical trauma. Hegemonic identities need the other as a “constitutive outside” to constitute itself in the first place and its unity (internal homogeneity) is constantly destabilized. For Byers. conservative historical consciousness. nonphallic. and in touch with his ‘feminine side”’ (p. Forrest is the new man who. Hall’s theorization of identity accounts for the fact that some work posits an indefinite. and generation. “in his relations to (and appro- priations of) femininity and Blackness.)of the boomer as the ‘new man. difference” for without the Other.’ egalitarian. however. sympathetic to the marginalized. p. signifies the “new. white masculine fantasmatic that coalesced in the mid1970s in order to facilitate an 197 . 431). but are recuperative of. which must be destroyed for future New Man John Connor to live (and lead). 26). and retell this imaginary identity (foregrounding the necessity of identities).” Byers (1 demonstrates how Forrest Gump. nonhegemonic masculinities (foregrounding the impossibility of identity). “these differences are not only easily recuperated by. Within global postmodern cultural productions. 1996. has united with the identities of those whose otherness threatens the white male” (p. 432). Forrest “represents a liberal myth (in Barthes’s sense. for example. dispersed. recreate. there would be no Same (Hall. 437). . Byers’s strategy is to show how this film’s treatment of history as pastiche dumps countercultural (re)constructions of the gender and race down the memory hole and figures the “dominant subject” not only in terms of gender. . “the patriarch is all that is remembered” (p. In Savran’s ( 1996) analysis. the “white male backlash” that surfaced in the media in the mid-l990s. hegemonic masculinities are “constructed through.

and temporary poverty. 128). The Game. Conspiracy Theory.” Second. and D-Fens (Michael Douglas) in Falling Down (1993). Air Force One.Communication Theory adjustment to changed material circumstances by encouraging the white male subject’s simultaneous embrace and disavowal of the role of victim” (p. however. for example. suddenly demonized-variation” of the White male as victim and victimizer. In his rereading. Savran locates it in what he calls “The Right Stuff” complex. and The Edge have expanded the array of its preferred icons.Recent films such as Face/Off. White masculinity in relation to both femininity and liberal feminism.”’ Finally.” Rather than grounding the fantasies and desires that this figure embodies in the Oedipal complex. Third. For Savran. malignant-and since Oklahoma City. the prototypes for a new type of male protagonist were Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff. Pfeil’s White Guys: Studies in Postmodern Domination and Difference goes further than any other text I know of in analyzing straight. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) in Rambo. powerlessness. in The Game. is to offer a critique of neo-Freudian film theory and its dematerializing and universalizing tenden~ies.~ First. because these films feature male protagonists who perform their own contradictions. he analyzes the rhetoric of Robert Bly. whose Iron John theorized the “deep masculine” and hailed readers into a men’s movement based on “imperialistic fantasies” and the “racialization of the ‘Wild Man. in a way that underlines the political limitations of any (essentialist) left-feminist position that posits White. straight masculinity as “a single. absolute evil against which an interminable struggle for turf and power must be 198 . struggle with themselves as much as with evil or nature. Savran’s major contribution. monolithic. even Rambo fails to represent “pure phallic masculinity. Savran concludes that this “newly hegemonic masculinity” has given impetus to the “patriot movement” and that Timothy McVeigh is an “enterprising. invasion of privacy. Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a wealthy corporate potentate who experiences rejection. or undergo ordeals that prove they can take pain and punishment like a man. he historicizes the paradigm of “reflexive sadomasochism” by specifying the social and economic changes of the last 30 years that gave rise to the cultural figure of the “White male as victim. So. he rereads one of the most phallic representatives of national-political phallic masculinity of the 1980s (Rambo) as a spectacle embodying “opposed positiona1ities”-h ypermasculinity and femininity. he suggests the most emblematic victim-as-hero is Michael Douglas.

whereas Jeffords argues that the ending of films like Terminator 2 offer only the appearance of masculinity’s own negation while the narrative supplies a ‘“new’ direction for masculinity” that works to resolve anxieties about the end of masculinity. So. and to films that position their White male heroes as agents of justice on behalf of African Americans and women. 2). In contrast to Jeffords’s (1994) narrative analysis. such films express a “thematics of post-patriarchal male ‘wildness’-a breakdown and rejigging of the oedipal patterns of classical emplotment” (p. and contradictions sawing away at one another within the constructs and discourses of straight white masculinity” (p. xii). Pfeil claims the combination of male bodies and buildings “literally in-corporate Fordist old and postFordist new” (p. White masculine hard bodies and their makeovers are read as historical signs of the Reagan revolution. and the 1991 cycle of sensitive-guy films. as well as the complex pleasures and satisfactions these films offer as subjects living through the shift from Fordism to post-Fordism. from postFordist modes of production. His Gramscian-feminist textual analysis demonstrates the value of close reading and is an implicit critique of more “horizontal” types of cultural interpretation. In his “close reading” of male rampage films of the late 1980s and early 1990s. where straight.Forum waged” (p. 29). violent. which gloss over the complexities of texts and the specificities of cultural and political conjunctures.and gender-based resistance to the 199 . 27). covertly taken in” (p. in the first instance. Jeffords (1994) argues that there has been a shift from the 1980s hard body to the late-1980s “fathering” films (where “fathering” is the vehicle for transcending racial and class difference). mortified white male body’’ at the center of male rampage filmswhose fantasies of class. that is inseparable. In particular. the Other “is not only resisted but partially. Pfeil concludes that the “wild. there is an underlying symmetry between hard bodies that define strength either externally or internally and presidential rhetoric. codes and correspondences in order to emphasize the “irresolutions. Pfeil(l996) gives greater attention to their postmodern formal elements rather than formulaic ones. for Jeffords. Pfeil also sees gender as a coded projection that is also fundamentally present in the most popular Hollywood films. Pfeil reads Hollywood “white guys” as a network of contrasts. which she takes as evidence of the continuity of the Reagan revolution into the post-Cold War era. but he argues that goodbad guy dualities are often disturbed. anxieties. Yet. 10)and. at level of rhythm and mise-tn-scene.

is likely to be advanced. these studies in postmodernizing hegemonic masculinities offer varying models for analysis and critical practice that close the gap between the discursive and the material and take account of psychic processes. hegemonic paradigm for the critical and theoretical discussion of film.Communication Theory post-Fordist. New York: Routledge. In L. and make. however. (1992).” (p. Pfeil’s work thus urges us to be aware when White. The theoriza- tion of mediated masculinities. For further discussion of these positions in the context of television studies.). for this means that they are open to redefinition and rearticulation. but also of “those ‘morbid symptoms’ that occur when. read across disciplinary borders. destinies. exposures (pp. T. postfeminist world are typically turned into accommodations-may “nonetheless suggest anew and vertiginous psycho-social mobility. social movements (pp. 32). the self. see Hanke (1997).whose work draws f o rm Deleuze and Guattari’s postpsychoanalytic theory of the subject in order to break from Freud and Lacan. no “psycho-social body is ever finally closed. culture.” Author Robert Hanke is on the faculty of the University of Louisville. (1988). working men’s (screen) bodies are mutating. Mercer.Reading the male body. xi-xix). D. S. 265- 200 . and social relations in the present conjuncture. 193-209). 32). in which case even some male rampage or sensitive-guy films may offer not only evidence of ideological recuperation. The politics of identity: Class. Bordo. Pfeil’s strategy is to focus on popular films’ symptomatic irresolution. Taken together. as Gramsci said. & J. The foregoing discussion has not produced a definitive map of the zone of theorizing masculinity witldin the media. References Aronowitz. Goldstein (Ed. but it does indicate how the agenda for media studies work on the topic has been evolving. (1994). film theory’s “continued maintenance of an all-encompassing. For Pfeil. no imaginary ever complete or fully resolved. a moment of flux” (p. Notes As Conell (1995)notes.Introduction: Popular culture and the ‘turn to Gramsci.Putting on appearances: Gender and advertising. including the straight. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. C. For a powerful and fascinating critique of. a “commitment to the destabilization of singularity in perspective. as Carole Spitzack has proposed. Barthel.Working-classculture in the electronic age. and alternative to. (1986). Bennett. ‘the old is dying and the new cannot be born”’ (P. Aronowitz. Woollacott (Eds. White male imaginary. only when we begin to take seriously the relevance of theory for media studies work. functionalist “complementary” sex-role theory was itself a form of normalizing gender politics. The male body: Features. S. 5 5 ) .’ In T. Philadelphia: Open University Press. in the final analysis. In S . Popular culture and social relations (pp. an argument that is to be continued. Bennett.” see Shaviro (1993).).

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