Conflict and Crisis: Masculinity and Noir
Noir is often claimed to be a means of understanding masculinity, specifically male identity in ‘crisis’, yet the way these ideas have been elaborated on screen is far from straightforward. Although a resurgent machismo is evidenced in some narratives, more nuanced representations have also appeared, foregrounding the contradictory demands placed on men, as well as providing alternative modes of behaviour. Challenging simplistic ‘backlash’ arguments, the problems faced by male characters are shown to be more complex than a sense of resentment towards feminism. Indeed, the degree to which masculinity is suggested to be a performative, rather than innate, identity signals some responsiveness to feminist criticism, while more interrogative and diverse characterisations demand that we rethink assumptions about male identity and expectation.
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