Reel Men at War


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As they transition into adulthood, many American boys and young men spend a considerable amount of time engaging in physical sports, playing violent video games, and watching action movies, including war films. In many cases, boys spend more time exposed to media models than they do with their fathers. If, as social learning theorists say, masculinity is learned directly through a system of positive and negative reinforcement, what manly behaviors do war films clearly define and reinforce? And what un-manly behaviors do war films clearly prohibit?

In Reel Men at War: Masculinity and the American War Film, authors Ralph Donald and Karen MacDonald consider the influence that war films bring to bear on the socialization of young boys in America. Analyzing nearly 150 American war films and television programs, this book considers such issues as major male stereotypes—both positive and negative—in film, the influence of sports as an alternate to mortal combat, why men admire war and value winning so highly, and how war films define manly courage.

Throughout the book the authors comment on the depiction of post-traumatic stress disorder, the stages of grief, and suicide in war films, as well as applying Jungian and Freudian theories to war and soldiering. Reel Men at War will be of interest not only to professors and students of cinema and mass communications but also to scholars of history, gender studies, and sociology.

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