Masculinity In 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 …show more content…

They are expected to be strong, to objectify women, and keep their emotions in check. Young boys are evaluated for their masculinity by his father and eventually by peers, bosses and other males; seeking approval from other men, afraid for being exposed as vulnerable, weak, or soft. As an adult, males continue to try to dominate his world, which excludes other groups such as women, non-white men, and homosexuals. “Our fear is “not fear of women but of being ashamed or humiliated in front of other men, or being dominated by stronger men” (Kimmel, 86). American men spend their entire life proving and demonstrating their manhood in order to prove their masculinity of not being like a woman (Kimmel, 86-87). Films in this essay portray the process of becoming a man through war service and the conflicts it poses with society’s subscribed gender roles of masculinity. Throughout history, military service and war have served as rites of passage for young men and often defined American manhood itself. According to Brenda Boyle in Masculinity in Vietnam War Narrative: A Critical Study of Fiction Films and Nonfiction

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