Masculinity In Film

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Basic training scenes show changes of the male body into a disciplined, strong fighting machine, constructing one of the most common ways that masculinity is characterized in these films: as pertaining only to a male body able to be described as muscular, strong, and physically fit. Films show the importance of the physical body in terms of proving masculinity through the exhibition of discipline and the ability to push through pain. For example, in Platoon, soldier Gardner is ridiculed for his physical shape. During the film’s first ambush scene, Gardner is shot in the chest and dies before he can be medically evacuated. Barnes callously uses the new guy as an example, “You all take a good look at this lump of shit. Remember what it looks…show more content…
In particular, the films engage in defining masculinity by way of comparing and in opposition to the enemy, racial minorities, homosexuals, and most significantly, women is common. This phenomenon is portrayed with the deconstruction of men in basic training and interactions with fellow soldiers once in combat. For example, the film Full Metal Jacket explicitly portrays this occurrence in the first part of the film. Recruits are routinely called “faggot,” “ladies,” and many other names as punishment for not performing to standard. “Films required the production of soldiers inculcated with conceptions of national and racial superiority … with a warrior-like conception of masculine misogyny committed to rooting out the other -directed - that is “female - aspects of their personality” (Klein, 30). The unstated message is to train the men specifically to not be any of those other things. Central to masculinity is homophobia because of a fear of being exposed as feminine thus weak where “the fear-sometimes conscious, sometimes not, that others might perceive us as homosexual propels men to enact all manner of exaggerated masculine behaviors and attitudes to make sure that no one could possibly get the wrong idea about us” (Kimmel, 88). Accusations of homosexuality, with its perceived connection to femininity, are a particularly common way to deconstruct the recruits and control men’s actions in combat. The drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket attacks the men with a barrage of accusations about their sexuality. The drill instructor asks one recruit, “Do you suck dicks?” The recruit replies “no.”. The drill instructor responds, “Bullshit. I bet you could suck a golf ball through a garden hose.” He then goes on to criticize the recruit’s first name, “Lawrence.” He claims, “Only faggots and sailors are called Lawrence. From now on you’re Private Gomer
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