Will Smith inI Am Legend. Leonardo DiCaprio inTitanic. Charlton Heston in just about everything.
Viewers of Hollywood action films are no doubt familiar with the sacrificial victim-hero, the male protagonist who nobly gives up his life so that others may be saved.Washed in Bloodargues that such sacrificial films are especially prominent in eras when the nation-and American manhood-is thought to be in crisis. The sacrificial victim-hero, continually imperiled and frequently exhibiting classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, thus bears the trauma of the nation.
Claire Sisco King offers an in-depth study of three prominent cycles of Hollywood films that follow the sacrificial narrative: the early-to-mid 1970s, the mid-to-late 1990s, and the mid-to-late 2000s. From Vietnam-era disaster movies to post-9/11 apocalyptic thrillers, she examines how each film represents traumatized American masculinity and national identity. What she uncovers is a cinematic tendency to position straight white men as America's most valuable citizens-and its noblest victims.
Subjects: Film Studies, Sociology
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