Chapter

Science fiction and fantasy television: challenging dominant gender roles

Rebecca Feasey

in Masculinity and Popular Television

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748627974
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651184 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627974.003.0006
Science fiction and fantasy television: challenging dominant gender roles

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Telefantasy covers a wide range of science fiction and fantasy texts such as interplanetary travel, encounters with aliens, advanced technology and visions of the future. Moreover, it routinely draws on different times and distant planets in order to reflect contemporary social, cultural and political concerns. Because telefantasy is not confined and limited to naturalistic and realistic conventions, this genre provides an excellent platform for alternative representations of sexuality and gender on television. This chapter looks at the history of telefantasy before examining the ways in which contemporary American texts such as Firefly and Farscape can be seen to both challenge and conform common sense assumptions about hegemonic masculinity and the male role in society. It also discusses the ways in which these contemporary texts seek to present an alternative action hero who can combine the supposedly feminine traits of emotionality, sensitivity and connectedness with those traditional masculine qualities of bravery, strength and dominance. Therefore, telefantasy can be seen to explore the possibilities of social change and examine the very real notion of a culture beyond gender differentiation and sex-role stereotyping.

Keywords: telefantasy; science fiction; sexuality; gender; Firefly; Farscape; alternative action hero; social change; gender differentiation; sex-role stereotyping

Chapter.  5707 words. 

Subjects: Television

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