Rituals of Hegemonic Masculinity: Cinema, Torture, and the Middle East

Viola Shafik

in Speaking about Torture

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242245
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242283 | DOI:
Rituals of Hegemonic Masculinity: Cinema, Torture, and the Middle East

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This chapter relates mass-mediated abuses against Arabs and Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo to relevant U.S.-American films since the 1980s and to Middle Eastern films in order to show how such cultural representations are tied to the international power structure and what ideological premises underpin them. It argues that while depictions of physical abuse in U.S. and Middle Eastern films are interdependent and cross-referential, the two sets of film differ substantially in their choice of genres and modes of representation. Moreover, while characterizations of ethnic difference vary according to the particular political and racialized agenda being espoused, those relating to sexual difference follow a more uniform set of codifications. Emphasis on physical traits, such as weakness, passivity, and penetrability, are crucial to delivering a gendered political message that links recourse to torture to a drive for absolute power and gender domination.

Keywords: Hegemonic masculinity; Sadomasochism; American action film; Arab nationalism; Orientalism; Racism; Arab citizens; Mimesis

Chapter.  9285 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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