For the reading today, Dyer in Stars discusses the way in which stars and specifically stars bodies can embody culture. He discusses Jamie Lee Cutis’s hyper-fit, Olympian body in Perfect as a symbol for the time period’s fitness obsessed culture. Similarly, I think you can see a similar epidemic in the 1990s where bodies – female bodies – moved away from being “fit-looking” or curvaceous and moved to more slim, rail looking bodies. Think Calista Flockhart in Ally McBeal. Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox in the early seasons of Friends. And of course, supermodels, who were at the height of their cultural impact in the 1990s and early 2000s. At this time, Kate Moss in particular became the epitope for the hyper-slender, “heroin chic” look, coining the phrase, “Nothing tastes as skinny feels.” Today, I’m not sure if I can give a definitive example of star bodies that represent culture. We see more options in the star bodies portrayed in media, which allows more a range of culture and examples. There’s Kim Kardashian’s body, which represents the kind of brand, obsessed, celebrity obsessed culture of today. You have the Hemsworths’s that represent that old school “hard bodies” action hero type. You also have some alternatives like the Dadbod, the nerdy Michael Cera type, Amy Schumer, etc. Not a complete picture of culture but something with a wider range.
In terms of masculinity and male bodies – in the reading today, “Terminal Masculinity: Men in the Early 1990s,” Jeffords explores the shift in white male heroes from the physical, all action man of the 1980s to the sensitive, tortured family man of the 1990s. Both kinds of male heroes in the 80s and 90s have muscular, "hard bodies." However, in the 80s these heroes are physical and driven purely by external obstacles. They break down doors, punch bad guys, blow up buildings. In the 90s, these heroes also face internal obstacles. They must change into a better person by solving their familial and emotional issues. Jeffords describes this as the white man’s “burden” to not only save the day but save himself from being “unloved.” As Jeffords notes, I think you can really see this in Die Hard, (a film I recently watched and I was subsequently bored by). Bruce Willis plays John Mclane, a troubled ex-cop who goes to meet his wife, Holly, at her office building in order to try and save their marriage. In the beginning of this film, Mclane feels unloved. He’s unhappy that he isn’t a priority for her. She cares about her job too much. And in response, he isn’t going to be emotional available for her. You know all the issues that misunderstood white guys feel about their successful career driven wives. Unfortunately for them, the office building gets taken hostage by German terrorists. Massive bummer for John and Holly. And while for the bulk of the film, Willis doesn’t have to talk very much to his wife – he’s too busy trying to save her and co-workers of Alan Rickman – he does discover that he is in love with his wife and he needs to try harder to make her happy. He realizes it's him and not who has had the problem all this time. Thus making his transformation from hard body to sensitive family man complete.
Here is Die Hard's John Mclane apologizing to his wife for "what a jerk he's been."