cover image Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era

Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era

Susan Jeffords. Rutgers University Press, $42 (212pp) ISBN 978-0-8135-2002-5

Offering close and intriguing readings of movies like Rambo and Robocop , Jeffords ( The Remasculinization of America ) entertainingly argues that action films with white male heroes ``portrayed many of the same narratives . . . that made the Reagan Revolution possible.'' While Jeffords acknowledges that many films--like E.T. and Blade Runner --countered the dominant ideology, she defensibly chooses to focus on some of the biggest hits. Thus, she finds links between the ``hard body,'' or macho, militarism of Rambo and Reagan's attacks on Libya and Grenada and suggests that Rambo's wounding implies the possibility of repair and regeneration--i.e., the nation can recover from the wounds of the Carter years. In the late 1980s, she observes, masculine sensitivity replaced machismo; films like Casualties of War suggest that white men can still lead us to justice without the wimpishness of the Carter era. She concludes that Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven signals the current masculine model, an action-oriented idealism that invokes the family to justify foreign intervention. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)