Mixed up men and poor boys: the crisis of American masculinity in Sunset Boulevard and The Graduate.

Austin, Gem (2009) Mixed up men and poor boys: the crisis of American masculinity in Sunset Boulevard and The Graduate. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The body of the American male is increasingly subjected to more scrutiny as an ever wider array of images of the male form permeates the culture. These multifaceted conceptions of manhood help to lift the veil from white masculinity exposing the normalized dominance and unquestioned privilege of this category. White men are subject to interpretations of their motives, their powers and their identities. The idea that dominant masculinity is "in crisis" is evidenced in widely divergent discursive registers, from scholarly histories of American masculinity to popular news magazine coverage. The representation of frailty in the cinematic male is a personal interest of mine and this dissertation is concerned with exploring the dichotomy between male crisis and historical contexts. Both chapters are dedicated to an individual film and its analysis, chapter one centres on Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950) outlining the historical background of the film and enquiring into the effects of post-war women's advancement on the traditional, patriarchal male role. Chapter two covers The Graduate (Nichols, 1969) and aims to suggest the ways in which the geographical landscape of America, in the case of this film suburbia, is a cultural force emasculating the male. In both chapters I will investigate the moral issues surrounding both Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard and Ben Braddock in The Graduate with an intention to deduce the differences and similarities between the 1950s and the 1960s crises in masculinity. The analysis of each protagonist will feature comprehensive textual analysis of scenes key to the evolution and development of the character and crucial to the narrative's representation of his crisis in masculinity. A trait unifying both the films is their representation of a young male's relationship with an older woman. The Oedipal ideology of both texts is significant to the register of masculinity in crisis and connotes the detrimental encroachment of femininity on the male and his masculine identity.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/691

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