By M. Gallagher
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Additional resources for Action Figures: Men, Action Films, and Contemporary Adventure Narratives
The Perfect Storm, Into Thin Air, and Black Hawk Down all recount events principally involving men, and they all locate their subjects within historical pantheons of notable male enterprises. The books thus participate in the privileging of male experience, though they also raise questions about the practicality of that experience. Nonfiction narratives of male adventure act as a key site for the circulation of models of exceptional or heroic masculinity. Historical narratives of explorers and adventurers—Columbus, Magellan, Lewis and Clark, Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Edmund Hillary—delineate an overwhelming male realm of experience, socially and geographically removed from female lovers, spouses, children, and patrons.
Action films provide fantasies of heroic omnipotence and escape from, or transcendence of, cultural pressures. These escapes do not represent real solutions to the problems faced by members of capitalist societies, since action-film narratives necessarily displace the present-day contradictions of male identity into visual space, into spectacle. While violent spectacle has been a prominent feature of the genre since its inception, action films in the 1990s increasingly constructed stories around threats to domesticity, marriage, and the nuclear family.
Presidency. Into Thin Air’s Crucibles of Manhood Outdoor activity’s efficacy as a public relations tool depends upon the reception of images or narratives of such activity. The most successful result is the production of a satisfying, vicarious experience for readers or viewers. As with the Gore campaign commercial, numerous contemporary nonfiction texts use events occurring in remote locations as signifiers of bravery and determination. Simply by offering their exceptional images and events to the public, these texts grant conditional but still vivid access to situations far removed from everyday experiences.
Action Figures: Men, Action Films, and Contemporary Adventure Narratives by M. Gallagher