Representation of Masculinity in Die Hard 2 Name of of Instructor Name of Course Date Topic 4: Drawing on your Mulvey and Neale readings, as well as Tasker’s discussion, analyse the representation of masculinity in one of the Die Hard films…
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As evident in the film, masculinity has both physical and mental power over femininity. According to Carroll, John McLane in the Die Hard series is a prime example of this: ‘studies in the film field pay specific attention to the Herculean physical performances and spectacular body appearances of starring characters’ (Carroll, 2003, p. 54). Although heroines play important roles in many successful films, most of these female characters are known only in relation to the male hero. This is in part due to male domination in our society. This paper will analyse the representation of masculinity in Die Hard 2. This analysis will incorporate a survey from the works of Mulvey (1975), Neale (1983) and Tasker (2004). Die Hard 2 focuses on the story of a New York police officer, John McLane. The opening scene is set on Christmas Eve, when McLane visits his distant wife, who lives in Los Angeles (Gates 2006, p. 35). McLane has what Rzepka and Horsley (2010, p. 89) term as ‘unresolved issues’. It is because of these issues that McLane is not on good terms with his wife. Upon McLane’s arrival, he finds his separated wife at an office Christmas party; however, supposed political terrorists invade the building. The film then portrays the heroic acts of John McLane so that he can save his wife from the terrorists. In Die Hard 2, as in many action movies, masculine characters are portrayed with virile physical prowess and social dominance. Another important aspect of masculine heroes is their excessive aggression. Prior studies concerning Hollywood’s presentation of male genres have characterised Die Hard 2 as a male-driven action movie, with the ‘presentation of the lead hero as a macho man’ (Milestone & Meyer 2012, p. 50). This is due to McLane’s spectacular ability to wrestle his enemies, which is a trait of the hero in male-driven films. In fact, Carroll (2003, p. 79) comments that the ‘physical masculinity of an action hero gives a preferential tone for the action narrative’. It should be noted that the audience accepts heroism fron male characters in filmst whil, female heroism is less acceptable to movie audiences (Le Guin, 1993, p. 5). This is because of the notion that males are physically and mentally stronger than females. Rzepka and Horsley (2010, p. 61) define masculinity in film as ‘an opinion that a film-maker intends to deliver that involves physical prowess, sexual virility and aggression’. Gates (2006), Bould (2005) and Berg (2002) all support this idea in some form or another. Gates (2006, p. 58) argues that Die Hard 2 focuses on physicality; the way that McLane is displayed as a hero ‘forms a vital ingredient of a film’s visual effects’. On the other hand, Bould (2005, p. 59) states that literature on action heroes discusses the body above sexuality, race, class and nationality. In a different manner, Berg (2002, p. 80) believes that critics largely applauded the Die Hard series due to ‘John McLane’s ability to withstand physical assaults despite his age’. Thus, the physical appearance of the hero plays an important role in attracting audiences to action-oriented films such as Die Hard 2. To prove this point, imagine if Rowan Atkinson were to play the hero role in the film. While he is widely accepted among the public as a comedian, he has never been shown as a serious action or romantic hero. This is probably due to the weaker physique of Atkinson compared to that of typical action heroes. One thing that cannot be argued against is
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