The monstrous masculine: constructions of masculinity in the discourses of extreme cinema

Cronin, Theresa (2011) The monstrous masculine: constructions of masculinity in the discourses of extreme cinema. In: The Monster Inside Us, The Monsters Around Us: Monstrosity and Humanity, November 2011, De Montford University. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


Drawing on my wider research into screen violence and the regulation of contemporary cinema, this paper will specifically explore the gendered nature of debates over screen violence. In particular, I will seek to demonstrate that both the texts of extreme cinema and the media discourses that surround them construct masculinity as 'violent', 'dangerous' and otherwise 'monstrous'. This vision of 'The Monstrous Masculine' that pervades extreme cinema, I will argue, is also central to regulatory policies within the UK. Indeed, as Karen Boyle points out in her book Media and Violence (London: Sage, 2005), investigations into the effects of viewing violence are overwhelmingly concerned with the effects on 18-25 year old men. And where women are included in media effects studies, they are often treated very differently. What I will seek to show is that within the media effects debates, the male viewer of violence is often equated with actual or potential deviancy, and further even where ‘normal’ men are under discussion, masculinity is frequently constructed as a problem. The corollary of course, is that when women do appear within media effects debates, they are constructed as ‘vulnerable’, or more specifically as the actual or potential victims of male violence. Perhaps more surprising though, is that in an era where the regulation of images within the cinema is becoming increasingly liberal, viewers are being prompted into reflecting on their relationship with images on screen, and enduring a process of what Nikolas Rose calls 'responsibilisation'. As a result, contributors to internet based forums and film review sites, can be seen not only to perpetuate notions of ‘The Monstrous Masculine’, but viewers can be seen to interrogate their own responses and affective relations to such films, and reflect on their own ‘pathological’ pleasure in these films. As a result, this paper will argue that within the discourses of extreme cinema there is no easy separation between the human and the monster, rather ‘The Monstrous Masculine’ haunts contemporary film texts, UK regulatory policy and censorship practices, as well as viewers’ own self-perceptions in face of these films. These discourses as a whole represent, what Foucault might term, a body of knowledge wherein monstrosity is construed as being at the heart of masculine subjectivity.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Media
Item ID: 10029
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Theresa Cronin
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2013 13:30
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2018 10:39

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item