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Mutating masculinity: re-visions of gender and violence in the cinema of David Cronenberg.


Loren, Scott (2011). Mutating masculinity: re-visions of gender and violence in the cinema of David Cronenberg. In: Läubli, Martina; Sahli, Sabrina. Männlichkeiten denken : aktuelle Perspektiven der kulturwissenschaftlichen Masculinity Studies. Bielefeld: Transkript, 151-170.

Abstract

Though the films of David Cronenberg might not always be concerned with gender from a social constructivist or performative perspective, I think one readily agrees with Linda Ruth Williams’ claim that “for Cronenberg, anatomy is anything but destiny”3. For decades, his characteristic mutations of gendered bodies have repeatedly accompanied the destabilization of fixed notions about gender. It seems that the most fixed notion of gender to be found in his work is that gender is mutable. Like the physical boarders to bodies in his films, gender is repeatedly undone, constantly shifting, threatening to become something else. For Cronenberg, a perpetual undoing and rearticulation of gender raises the question of when a man becomes a man in a rather unconventional manner. His films initially encourage us to ask other questions, like: “When does a man become a walking, speaking anus?” (Naked Lunch); “when does a man become an insect?” (The Fly); “when does a man become a machine?” (Videodrome, The Fly, Crash, eXistenZ). Of course one would also have to ask: “When does a man become a woman?” (Crimes of the Future, M. Butterfly) “When is a man completely unable to enter manhood?” (Spider) “When is a man a monster?” and “Is a man ever ‘simply’ a man?” (most of his films). It seems that with the release of each new film, one must rearticulate inquiries into the staging of gender in Cronenberg’s work, which is precisely what I wish to do here. Cronenberg’s recent films once again require viewers to reconsider the questions of when a man is a man and what a man might become, and to address these questions as earnest social reflections.

Abstract

Though the films of David Cronenberg might not always be concerned with gender from a social constructivist or performative perspective, I think one readily agrees with Linda Ruth Williams’ claim that “for Cronenberg, anatomy is anything but destiny”3. For decades, his characteristic mutations of gendered bodies have repeatedly accompanied the destabilization of fixed notions about gender. It seems that the most fixed notion of gender to be found in his work is that gender is mutable. Like the physical boarders to bodies in his films, gender is repeatedly undone, constantly shifting, threatening to become something else. For Cronenberg, a perpetual undoing and rearticulation of gender raises the question of when a man becomes a man in a rather unconventional manner. His films initially encourage us to ask other questions, like: “When does a man become a walking, speaking anus?” (Naked Lunch); “when does a man become an insect?” (The Fly); “when does a man become a machine?” (Videodrome, The Fly, Crash, eXistenZ). Of course one would also have to ask: “When does a man become a woman?” (Crimes of the Future, M. Butterfly) “When is a man completely unable to enter manhood?” (Spider) “When is a man a monster?” and “Is a man ever ‘simply’ a man?” (most of his films). It seems that with the release of each new film, one must rearticulate inquiries into the staging of gender in Cronenberg’s work, which is precisely what I wish to do here. Cronenberg’s recent films once again require viewers to reconsider the questions of when a man is a man and what a man might become, and to address these questions as earnest social reflections.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:cinema, Cronenberg, gender studies, masculinity, violence
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:10 Sep 2018 09:55
Last Modified:10 Sep 2018 09:55
Publisher:Transkript
Series Name:Gender Studies
ISBN:978-3-8376-1720-7
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.14361/transcript.9783839417201.151
Related URLs:https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/207264/ (Organisation)
https://www.transcript-verlag.de/978-3-8376-1720-7/maennlichkeiten-denken/ (Publisher)
https://www.recherche-portal.ch/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=ebi01_prod006541024&context=L&vid=ZAD&search_scope=default_scope&isFrbr=true&tab=default_tab&lang=de_DE (Library Catalogue)
https://www.recherche-portal.ch/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=ebi01_prod010440943&context=L&vid=ZAD&search_scope=default_scope&isFrbr=true&tab=default_tab&lang=de_DE (Library Catalogue)

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