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Masculine Interests

In the first close look at how Hollywood has reflected and helped shaped masculinity, Robert Lang considers how Hollywood articulates the eroticism that is intrinsic to identification between men. He considers masculinity in social and psychoanalytic terms, arguing that it is an ideological-generic construction and that a major function of the movies is to define different types of masculinity, and to either valorize or criticize these forms. Focusing on nine films (The Lion King, The Most Dangerous Game, The Outlaw, Kiss Me Deadly, Midnight Cowboy, Innerspace, Batman and Robin, My Own Private Idaho, and Jerry Maguire), Lang questions the way in which American culture distinguishes between homosexual and nonhomosexual forms of male bonding and, in arguing for a much more complex notion of a homosocial continuum, reveals that queer sexuality is far more present in American cinema than is usually acknowledged.
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Table of Contents

Preface 1. Masculine Interests 2. Oedipus in Africa: The Lion King 3. To "Have Known Ecstasy": Hunting Men in The Most Dangerous Game 4, Friendship and Its Discontents: The Outlaw 5. Looking for the "Great Whatsit": Kiss Me Deadly and Film Noir 6. Midnight Cowboy's Backstory 7. Innerspace: A Spectacular Voyage to the Heart of Identity 8. Batman and Robin: A Family Romance 9. My Own Private Idaho and the New Queer Road Movies 10. "The Things We Think and Do Not Say": Jerry Maguire and the Business of Personal Relationships Concerning Happiness: An Afterword Notes Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

Until Masculine Interests not much had been written about men "as men" in the cinema. Using nine Hollywood genre films from 1932 to the late 1990s, Lang shows how Hollywood's chief function to define, codify, valorize and critique varieties of masculinity reveals contradictions with its surface norms of heterosexual masculinity, particularly in those films that cover the troubled terrain of male-male relationships. Despite Hollywood's normative narrative conventions, these films involve a spectrum of primary bonds among men, sexual and nonsexual, conscious and unconscious. Lang questions the way our culture distinguishes between homosexuality and non-homosexual forms of male bonding, and argues for a more complex notion of a homosocial continuum.

About the Author

Robert Lang is associate professor of cinema at the University of Hartford. He is the author of American Film Melodrama: Griffith, Vidor, Minnelli, and editor of The Birth of a Nation. He is currently a Fulbright scholar at the University of Tunis.


Articulates the big screen's dedication to eroticism between men, especially in movies that now belong to the film canon. Gay & Lesbian Review

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