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The Representation of Masculinity in Die Hard 2 - Essay Example

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McLane and Masculinity. Drawing on your Mulvey and Neale readings, as well as Tasker’s discussion, analyze the representation of masculinity in one of the Die Hard films. How is the McClane character represented as a site of identification? As spectacle?…
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The Representation of Masculinity in Die Hard 2

Download file to see previous pages... In Renny Harlin’s film Die Hard 2 (1990), masculinity has both physical and mental power over femininity. According to Carroll (2003, p.54) John McLane, the Die Hard series’ principal character, is a prime example of masculine dominance, and ‘studies in the film field pay specific attention to the Herculean physical performances and spectacular body appearances of starring characters’. Although heroes play important roles in many successful films, most of these female characters are known only in relation to the films’ male heroes, which is partly due to male domination in society. This paper will analyze the representation of masculinity in Die Hard 2, and incorporate arguments from work by Mulvey (1975), Neale (1983) and Tasker (2004). Die Hard 2 tells the story of New York police officer, John McLane, played by Bruce Willis. The film’s opening scene takes place on Christmas Eve, when McLane visits his wife in Los Angeles (Gates 2006, p.35). McLane has what Rzepka and Horsley term ‘unresolved issues’ (2010, p.89); consequently, he is not in good terms with his wife. When McLane arrives in Los Angeles, he finds his wife at an office Christmas party, and supposed political terrorists then invade the building where the party is taking place. The film portrays McLane’s heroic attempts to save his wife from these terrorists. In Die Hard 2, as in many action films, masculine characters possess virile physical prowess and display social dominance. Social dominance, in this case, is a term used to refer to the position that the said characters hold in their spheres of influence as the main characters. This can be seen as in the case of John McLane, who is a police officer and his role in society qualifies to be dominant. Another important aspect of masculine heroes in action films is their excessive aggression. Prior studies of Hollywood’s films that primarily focus their attention on male characters characterize Die Hard 2 as a male-driven action film, with the ‘presentation of the lead hero as a macho man’ (Milestone and Meyer 2012, p. 50). This is due to McLane’s spectacular ability to wrestle his enemies, which is often a trait of the hero in male-driven films. This is due to the nature masochism in male characters in action films, where the characters are meant to be heroes with all the skill at making the evil characters come down to their knees. Carroll comments that the ‘physical masculinity of an action hero gives a preferential tone for the action narrative’, which refers to the progression of the masculine characters in film (2003, p.79). In Le Guin, (Goodwill 2009, p.13) it is found that audiences tend to accept male characters’ heroism in films, whereas they tend to find female heroism less acceptable. This is due to the social and cultural notion that males are physically and mentally stronger than females, thus making them heroes at the expense of female characters. Rzepka and Horsley define masculinity in film as ‘an opinion that a film-maker intends to deliver that involves physical prowess, sexual virility and aggression’ (2010, p. 61). Gates 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’ (2006, p. 58). Similarly, Bould states that literature on action heroes ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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