Vietnam War Film Analysis

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Films and the myth of military war reveal the conflict American soldiers experience with society’s subscribed roles of masculinity during the Vietnam War era. Vietnam War films made during 1986 and 1989 tell stories not only about the war experience, but narratives that reveal societal perceptions of masculinity relevant to the eighties. According to Michael Klein in Hanoi to Hollywood, “Liberal and radical Vietnam-era-coming-home films provide a range of sympathetic portraits of the problem of rehabilitation that challenge mainstream American constructions of masculinity….” (Klein, 22). Representations of masculinity in films serve a dual purpose: they reveal forms of masculinity present in culture while simultaneously playing a part in the construction of the masculinity that they portray. (Reeser, 25).This essay will attempt to show how constructions of masculinity of American soldiers portrayed in Vietnam films articulate an anxiety regarding the status of masculinity in America among those who construct cultural memory. The films portray many of the narratives of becoming a soldier as elaborate narrative trials for the formation of acceptable traits of masculinity: they thereby both use the war to form masculinity and expose holes within conceptions of gender. As socially constructed identities, boys and men learn “appropriate” gender roles according to masculine expectations of their given society. Boys are given “boy toys” such as trucks, sports equipment,

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