Running Scared: Masculinity and the Representation of the Male Body

Running Scared: Masculinity and the Representation of the Male Body

Running Scared: Masculinity and the Representation of the Male Body

Running Scared: Masculinity and the Representation of the Male Body

Excerpt

Work on this book began long before I realized it. Its origins lie in many of my experiences growing up in the United States after World War II. Some of those experiences, such as having to swim naked in junior and senior high school gym classes at a time when adolescents are particularly self-conscious about their bodies, seemed somewhat bizarre to me then and still do. No doubt someone, or perhaps everyone, thought I and all the other boys would be better men for it. Those were also the years, however, when I took a special solace in listening to the music of Roy Orbison. That has not changed, and the title of this book is intended as a memorial tribute to a pop singer whose work has already lasted and grown in significance over a period of nearly forty years.

The direct origins of this book can be traced back to 1986 when I devoted a seminar at the University of Arizona to the male body in the cinema and when I was invited to organize and chair a special plenary session of the Florida State University Literature and Film Conference related to the conference theme of gender. Someone suggested a panel on Victor/Victoria and Tootsie, and while such a panel would no doubt have been productive, I wanted to do something different. I chose the topic of the representation of the male body in American Gigolo, and Patricia Mellencamp, Robert Eberwein, William Luhr, and Danae Clark all agreed to it. As far as I know, that was the first panel at any conference in the film field devoted exclusively to discussing the male body. There were two such panels at the 1990 Society for Cinema Studies Conference, and they have become a regular feature of conferences during the time I have been researching and writing this book. Some of the material in this book, in fact, grew out of other conference papers I presented. Although work on the sexual representation of the male body is now a fast-growing field, this book is for me a true beginning. Much work remains to be done before we can fully understand the rationale for and consequences of many of the ways in which we and other cultures have sexually represented the male body. And, for that matter, before we can understand why the Janesville, Wisconsin, public schools had the swimming rituals they once did.

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