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Male Trouble

Male Trouble

Constance Penley
Sharon Willis
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Male Trouble
    Book Description:

    The contributors provide a thought-provoking, comprehensive study of masculinity in American culture today. Contributors: Parveen Adams, Ian Balfour, Ray Barrie, Sabrina Barton, Steven Cohan, Rey Chow, Alexander Doty, Henry Jenkins III, Lynne Kirby, Constance Penley, Kaja Silverman, Sasha Torres, and Sharon Willis.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8476-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-1)
    Constance Penley and Sharon Willis

    Male Troubleis a very different volume from the special issue ofCamera Obscuraon which it is based. Not only has new material been added but the context in which it appears has changed dramatically. When the issue came out in 1988 the feminist debates about masculinity were already well under way and beginning to take specific shapes. Although some critics and theorists felt the study of masculinity was as crucial as that of femininity, others expressed consternation about what it meant for feminists to be giving so much attention to the complex, heterogeneous, and conflicted construction of masculinity...

  4. Per Os(cillation)
    (pp. 3-25)
    Parveen Adams

    “She pictured to herself a scene of sexual gratificationper osbetween the two people whose love affair occupied her mind so incessantly.” So writes Freud of the unconscious fantasy underlying Dora’s cough, a fantasy he describes as one of fellatio. The two people whose love affair occupied her mind so incessantly are Dora’s father and his lover Frau K. Through hysterical identification Dora takes up Frau K’s sexual position in the fantasy; thereby, the os of the fantasy is Dora’s mouth. Of course, if, as Lacan suggests, the fantasy is a fantasy of cunnilingus, the os of the fantasy...

  5. Forme fruste Introduction to Ray Barrie’s Fellowdrama
    (pp. 27-31)
    Mark Cousins

    Above all Charcot prided himself on looking.

    “He was, as he himself said, avisuel, a man who sees.”

    “He used to look again and again at the things he did not understand.”

    If he saw a certain chaos with his eye, gradually with his mind’s eye he reduced it to nosological pictures, “and he remarked again and again on the difficulty and value of this kind of ‘seeing’.”

    “... or else he would recall the myth of Adam, who when God brought the creatures of Paradise before him to be distinguished and named, may have experienced to the fullest...

  6. Masochism and Male Subjectivity
    (pp. 33-64)
    Kaja Silverman

    What is the “truth” or “right” from which perversion turns aside, and what does it improperly use? TheOEDgoes some way toward answering questions when it quotes, by way of illustration, part of a line from Bacon: “Women to govern men . . . slaves freemen. . . being total violations and perversions of the laws of nature and nations.” According to this grammatically “deviant” citation, perversion turns aside from both biology and the social order, and it does so through the improper deployment or negation of the binarisms upon which each regime depends—binarisms that reinforce each other...

  7. Male Hysteria and Early Cinema
    (pp. 67-85)
    Lynne Kirby

    Cinema as we know it, as an institution, as an entertainment based on the mass spectatorship of projected moving images, was born in 1895, in the Golden Age of railway travel. As the prehistory and beginnings of cinema strongly suggest, film finds an apt metaphor in the railroad. The train can be seen as providing the prototypical experience of looking at a framed, moving image, and as the mechanical double of the cinematic apparatus.¹ Both are a means of transporting passenger to a totally different place, both are highly charged vehicles of narrative events, stories, intersections of strangers, both are...

  8. Male Narcissism and National Culture: Subjectivity in Chen Kaige’s King of the children
    (pp. 87-117)
    Rey Chow

    Like living things, words and phrases undergo fates inconceivable at their moments of birth. In contemporary Chinese writings, especially of the kind that we encounter in the media—newspaper articles, reviews in non-academic journals, and popular political discourses—from time to time we run across this phrase, which is used to suggest the determinacy of hope:lu shi ren zou chu lai de(roads are made by men). Because of the phrase’s popularized nature, I have no need to cite specific examples. Those of you who read regularly in Chinese will recognize what I am saying immediately. The by now...

  9. The Cabinet of Dr. Pee–wee: Consumerism and Sexual Terror
    (pp. 121-141)
    Constance Penley

    Wake What goes on inPee-wee’s Playhouse?What goes on outsidePeewee’s Playhouse?On the inside we have the hi-tech, low-taste spectacle of sexually ambiguous adults, not exactly pretending to be kids, yet inhabiting this child’s fantasy-land with hyperactive glee. Outside and around the Playhouse we have the world of Saturday morning television and its efforts to deliver the children to the advertisers. What then does the outside of the Playhouse have to do with the inside?

    What goes oninthe Playhouse is that Pee-wee and his guests are are “playing house.” This is literally so in one episode...

  10. The Playhouse of the Signifier: Reading Pee-wee Herman
    (pp. 143-155)
    Ian Balfour

    I want to begin with a phrase fromPee-wee’s Playhouse,the epithet for the character named Reba, who is called the “mail-lady,” because her job is to deliver the mail. At first, the “mail-lady” seems to take her place as one among others in the system of socially-enlightened and enlightening figures in the playhouse: Cowboy Curtis (the black cowboy), Dixie (the woman taxidriver), and so on. In this simple but not too simple way,Pee-wee’s Playhouseis one of the most progressive shows on network television. A stereotypical mailman is usually just that: a man. And to underscore the relation...

  11. “Going Bonkers!”: Children, Play and Pee-wee
    (pp. 157-180)
    Henry Jenkins III

    Ronald Dahl’sCharlie and the Chocolate Factory,a Dantesque vision of the faults and foibles of contemporary children, reserves special ire for the young television addict, Mike Teavee. When we first encounter Mike, he is so preoccupied with a television gunfight, “his eyes glued to the screen,” eighteen cap guns assembled at his side, that he refuses to be distracted even by the news that he is the recipient of one of the much coveted Golden Tickets: “Didn’t I tell you not to interrupt! This show’s an absolute Whiz-banger! It’s terrific! I watch it every day! I watch all of...

  12. The Sissy Boy, The Fat Ladies, and The Dykes: Queerness and/as Gender in Pee-wee’s World
    (pp. 183-201)
    Alexander Doty

    In all the things I’ve read or heard about Pee-wee Herman, his shows, and his films, only two commentators even begin to consider the specifically queer gender dynamics centered around Pee-wee/Paul Reubens.¹ Bryan Bruce, in “Pee Wee Herman: The Homosexual Subtext,” is right on the money when he says “The most exciting aspect of Pee Wee Herman, so far, remains his role as vindicator of the sissies,” adding elsewhere that Pee-wee tends to “undercut masculinity . . . by it.”² “The Mail-Lady,” the first section of Ian Balfour’s “The Playhouse of the Signifier: Reading Pee-wee Herman” toys with, but never...

  13. Masquerading As the American Male in the Fifties: Picnic, William Holden and the Spectacle of Masculinity in Hollywood Flim
    (pp. 203-232)
    Steven Cohan

    This opening paragraph ofLifemagazine’s pictorial survey of popular male movie stars in 1954 is significant for a number of reasons. In stating that “almost all men” see the same thing in Monroe, the article that masculine desire is universal and uncomplicated; but in going on to comment that, in contrast, “there is no male star who universally sends the girls,”Lifeopenly acknowledges that women go to films to look at men too and, what’s more, that the male image, no less a marketable commodity than the female image, is marked to be looked at in multiple and...

  14. “Crisscross”: paranoia and projection in Strangers on a Train
    (pp. 235-260)
    Sabrina Barton

    Like the hero, the camera, and the spectator, feminist film theory has fixed its gaze on Hitchcock’s blonde: we can’t take our eyes off her. And with good reason. Hollywood’s dream machine thrives on her fetishized surfaces. It is precisely because she is the object of the “male” gaze that she must also be taken as an object of feminist study. Singled out for theoretical scrutiny by Laura Mulvey and Raymond Bellour in the mid-seventies, the Hitchcock blonde has since come to stand for the “to-be-looked-at-ness” of cinematic femininity in general.¹ Investigations of cinematic subjectivity and spectatorship regularly return to...

  15. Disputed Territories: Masculinity and Social Space
    (pp. 263-281)
    Sharon Willis

    A cop stealthily enters the tract house bedroom of his occasional lover, a young blond woman whose parole he oversees. Her observance of parole consists in passing him information and sleeping with him upon demand. This familiar pornographic formula (where seduction is tinged with sadism in the imposed authority of the police, and linked to the forced prostitution of an innocent looking wide-eyed victim) is enacted in a scene that renders the male body as spectacle. While the woman remains in the bed where she has just awakened, the cop, backlit by dawn light through the window which frames him,...

  16. Melodrama, Masculinity and the Family: thirtysomething as Therapy
    (pp. 283-304)
    Sasha Torres

    In an interview withThe New York Times,Edward Zwick, one of the producers and creators of ABC’sthirtysomething,contrasts the show’s “mandate of smallness, worlds of incremental change” with the “galloping narrative” of traditional prime-time: “The idea is ‘to try to look more closely to home for episodic drama rather than looking at the more melodramatic,’ said Mr. Zwick. ‘There’s a lot to be mined.’ ”¹

    The explicit aim of Zwick’s remark is to demonstratethirtysomething’sdifference from other prime-time programming, and in many respectsthirtysomethingis different. It is stylistically innovative, beautifully shot, and unusually and explicitly playful...

  17. Contributors
    (pp. 305-308)
  18. Index
    (pp. 309-316)