Monday, April 4, 2016

Core Post #4

In Susan Jeffords article, she talks about Hard Bodies and masculinity in the late 80s early 90s specifically white male masculinity. She discussed that the masculine heroes of the early 1990s turned away from the militarism of the Regan area and turned to familial themes: “But whereas Regan was able to balance the disparate and potentially contradictory interests of a hard-bodied militarism and a warm-familialism, largely through the force of his personal image, George Bush could not manage the same feat” (141). Furthermore, male characters were literally turning away from a violent or militaristic past to focus on their families (Jeffords points to films like Kindergarten Cop). However, the violence they were previously performing was not their fault, but instead was the fault of an outside force, like the government (146). She further explains that everyone’s happiness depends on the white man’s bliss and release from traditional masculinity. The concept of the hard-bodied man reminded me of two men today who would be the Arnold Schwarzenegger: Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Both of these men are consistently in masculine action flicks, Vin Diesel with the Fast and Furious franchise (and picking the stage name Vin Diesel) and Dwayne’s background in WWE. However, while these two men are the hyper masculine action heroes of contemporary Hollywood, they both come from non-white backgrounds, which is a shift in the politics between the 90s and now.  But while these two are huge action film stars, they also have made these family based films.

Vin Diesel made the film Pacifier (2005), where he plays a navy seal that has to protect 5 children after their father’s sudden death.  While these children were not his and was turned towards fatherhood because of the military, the opposite of the film of the early 90s, this man is still taught how to love and care for others through the children.  While a woman or wife, like in Beauty and the Beast, does not teach him the children teach him collectively.  Because he spent time with his children and learned their bedtime story, which was made by the father, he is able save the day. The children’s bedtime story, the ridiculous, silly bedtime story was a secret passcode to what was being protected. He also improves the children’s lives. The film ends with him getting in a relationship with the school’s principle and settling down. While the film was not about him turning towards his family, it was about him turning towards fatherhood and the family structure.

Dwayne Johnson has more frequently been in the tough-man-turned-softy films. In The Game Plan he turned from the “toughest man in football” to a loving father of a girly little girl, who puts tutus and sparkles everywhere. He is surprised with having a daughter and turns from hard-bodied athlete to the family man.

Another film of his is Tooth Fairy where stars as a hockey player (alongside Julie Andrews, Billy Crystal, and Stephen Merchant) who, because he doesn’t believe in magic and wants to ruin his daughter’s childhood, he gets turned into a fairy. He turns away from the masculine, no nonsense character to the loving father who gives his daughter hope and magic. He turns away from the traditional masculinity that is against frills and magic into a literal fairy. 

This film’s concept of masculinity, while still prescribing to the same masculinity and format as those that Jeffords discusses, instead of a turn toward realizing emotions and families are important, Dwayne Johnson is turned into a tooth fairy to discover the emotional journey.  He is also going to be a voice in the new Disney princess movie Moana. So while some politics of masculinity and hard-bodied males have changed, the theme of males turning back towards their families and towards feelings is still employed in today’s films, especially "family friendly" entertainment made by mostly Disney.

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