Saturday, 18 April 2009

Robert Bly's mytho-poetic masculinity

Tyler Durden: We're a generation of men raised by women. I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.” Fight Club

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.... A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of manhood....
It appears as if men had deliberately chosen the common mode of living because they preferred it to any other. Yet they honestly think there is no choice left."
(Thoreau, 1854/1971, p.8)

Like femininity, masculinity operates politically at different levels. At one level, it is a form of identity, a means of self-understanding that structures personal attitudes and behaviors. At another, distinct but related level, masculinity can be seen as a form of ideology, in that it presents a set of cultural ideals that define appropriate roles, values and expectations for and of men.

What does it mean to be a man in today’s culture? Susan Faludi, feminist theorist and Al Gore consultant, argues in Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man that modern men are suffering from an identity crisis of epic proportion. If feminism has redefined what it means to be a woman in contemporary society, so it has also redefined what it means to be a man. But how? For better, or worse? The films we have studied, all deal with 'The American Dream' and central to this ideological framework is the notion of masculinity in crisis. We are going to be comparing American Beauty; Fight club and in part 'Pursuit of Happyness' to explore this idea. Here are some resources to support our comparative study:

A super article on the resurrgence of 90's representations of masculinity in crisis in film:

A useful 'reader' with some excellent quotes on masculinity:

These two links are from 'Media-ed' and support their programme 'Tough Guise'. The first is a study guide and the second a transcript of the programme. Brilliant insightful reading. 

Masculinity in crisis Links :

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