Mobile Media Technologies at the Intersection of the Virtual and the Real

This post is based on a paper I wrote for Dr. Paul Booth‘s New Media and Culture class, which took place during the Fall 2013 quarter at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. The purpose of this paper was to synthesize three articles on mobile media technologies, and the impact they have on the physical world. Please feel free to join the conversation on mobility by leaving a comment in the comments section.

The mobility of new media technologies – in particular smartphones – has allowed users to layer the virtual on top of the physical, and thus create a third space that represents a melding of the two. This mobility has transformed how individuals interact with the physical environment around them, and this has resulted in a physical environment that is far more interactive and immersive due to the increased melding of the virtual and the physical. Indeed, users no longer need to be seated in front of their desktop computers (or even lug around bulky laptops) in order to enter the virtual space; there is no need for them to login to a virtual space that can only be interfaced through a terminal that is hooked into a wall (or is simply impractical to carry around). With mobile media technology, users can access the virtual anywhere at any time. More importantly, however, this virtual space continues to exist regardless of whether or not individuals access it, but it can only be actualized and made “real” through the use of mobile media technologies (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Mobile media technologies such as smartphones have contributed to the creation of a "third space" that exists between the physical and the virtual.
Fig. 1: Mobile media technologies such as smartphones have contributed to the creation of a “third space” that exists between the physical and the virtual.

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Violent Masculinity in the films of Nicolas Winding Refn: Part IV

This is the final post in a series looking at how Nicolas Winding Refn engages with a recurring notion or approach to masculinity in his films. This series is based on the first draft of the second chapter of my Master’s thesis, titled Gangstas, Thugs, Vikings and Drivers: Global Hegemonic Masculinity and Cinematic Masculine Archetypes in the Films of Nicolas Winding Refn. This post serves as an examines how violence contributes to the construction of a recurring notion of masculinity in the films of Nicolas Winding Refn. As always, this is a work in progress, so if you are interested in quoting any of the information here, please contact me first for permission. Additionally, I welcome any and all feedback, so please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions about how the work could be improved or altered. Thank you.

VIOLENCE AND MASCULINITY

In interviews, Nicolas Winding Refn has stated that he believes cinema does not make people violent, but it does show them how to be violent. In particular, he points to classic gangster films such as Mean Streets (1973) and The Public Enemy (1931) as primers in how to be a violent man, and considers this to be a case of “life imitating art imitating life” (Refn, 2006). More importantly, however, Refn has stated that his films are often a response to “how the media repackages and glamorizes violence and crime and all these terrible things” that he considers immoral (Westcott, 2006, online). This might explain why masculinity is often depicted within Refn’s films as being both violent and aggressive; Refn is reflecting and reacting to a recurring notion of masculinity that is informed by the hegemonic masculine ideal, which often positions masculinity as violent and aggressive (Horrocks, 1994; Jhally, Earp, & Katz, 1999;Robinson, 2000; DeRosia, 2003; Nayak & Kehily, 2008; Rehling, 2009).

Continue reading “Violent Masculinity in the films of Nicolas Winding Refn: Part IV”

Violent Masculinity in the films of Nicolas Winding Refn: Part III

This is the third post in a series looking at how Nicolas Winding Refn engages with a recurring notion or approach to masculinity in his films. This series is based on the first draft of the second chapter of my Master’s thesis, titled Gangstas, Thugs, Vikings and Drivers: Global Hegemonic Masculinity and Cinematic Masculine Archetypes in the Films of Nicolas Winding Refn. In this post, I examine the concept of individualism as it relates to masculinity. As always, this is a work in progress, so if you are interested in quoting any of the information here, please contact me first for permission. Additionally, I welcome any and all feedback, so please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions about how the work could be improved or altered. Thank you.

INDIVIDUALISM AND MASCULINITY

In addition to stoicism, Nicolas Winding Refn is also using his films to explore the concept of individualism, which is another important component of the hegemonic masculine ideal that is perpetuated by mass culture (Cowen, 2004; Connell, 2005; Nestingen, 2008). Indeed, many of the films that Refn claims he is drawing upon when making his own films feature lone heroes, such as in the Leone Westerns, or protagonists who consider themselves tough individualists, such as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) or Popeye Doyle in William Friedkin’s The French Connection (1971). Furthermore, stoic heroes are often portrayed as rugged individuals who possess an excess of physical toughness and a personal set of skills (Robinson, 2013). Thus, stoicism and individuality appear to be two hegemonic masculine traits that often go hand in hand. The protagonists in nearly all of Refn’s films are (or consider themselves to be) rugged individuals who are determined to make it on their own, whether they directly embody the hegemonic masculine ideal, or are simply engaged in an act of complicit masculinity in order to gain the benefits of hegemony (Kahn, 2009). Therefore, Refn’s exploration of individuality indicates that he is once again drawing from this mythical masculinity that represents a stable notion or approach to masculinity that has been created and reinforced by mass culture.

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Violent Masculinity in the Films of Nicolas Winding Refn: Part II

This is the second post in a series looking at how Nicolas Winding Refn engages with a recurring notion or approach to violent masculinity in his films. This series is based on the first draft of the second chapter of my Master’s thesis, titled Gangstas, Thugs, Vikings and Drivers: Cinematic Masculine Archetypes and Violent Masculinity in the Films of Nicolas Winding Refn. In this post, I examine the concept of stoic masculinity, which is a vital component of the hegemonic masculine ideal. As always, this is a work in progress, so if you are interested in quoting any of the information here, please contact me first for permission. Additionally, I welcome any and all feedback, so please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions about how the work could be improved or altered. Thank you.

STOICISM AND MASCULINITY

In addition to violence, aggression, and emotional constipation, one of the defining traits of dominant hegemonic masculinity is stoicism. Whereas men are often positioned as existing outside of language, and their silence is used as a way of emphasizing their lack of power, men who exist outside of language are often positioned as having an excess of power, and they are depicted as not needing language because they instead let their actions speak for them (Lehman, 1993). Indeed, the muscular tough guy characters that embody dominant hegemonic masculinity in Hollywood films (particularly action movies) are traditionally depicted as men of few words who are quick to act (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: In the film Commando (1985), John Matrix (as embodied by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a prime example of the strong, silent type. Image credit: http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/tracing/tracing.htm
Fig. 1: In the film Commando (1985), John Matrix (as embodied by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a prime example of the strong, silent type who lets his actions speak louder than his words. Image credit: http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/tracing/tracing.htm

Continue reading “Violent Masculinity in the Films of Nicolas Winding Refn: Part II”

Violent Masculinity in the films of Nicolas Winding Refn: Part I

This is the first post in a series looking at how Nicolas Winding Refn engages with a recurring notion or approach to violent masculinity in his own films. This series is based on the first draft of the second chapter of my Master’s thesis, titled Gangstas, Thugs, Vikings and Drivers: Global Hegemonic Masculinity and Cinematic Masculine Archetypes in the Films of Nicolas Winding Refn. This post serves as an introduction to the concept, and features a brief introduction to Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, as well as a brief look at the four films I am focusing on in my research. As always, this is a work in progress, so if you are interested in quoting any of the information here, please contact me first for permission. Additionally, I welcome any and all feedback, so please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions about how the work could be improved or altered. Thank you.

INTRODUCTION

In this post, I will examine how Nicolas Winding Refn’s films Pusher, Bronson, Valhalla Rising and Drive engage with a recurring notion of contemporary masculinity and violence. The question of what type of masculinity Refn draws upon in the construction of his own characters is vital to the discussion of his films. In order to determine whether or not this is the case, I will begin by conducting an examination of Refn’s own discussion of his body of work through interviews and DVD commentaries. Along with this discussion, I conduct a textual analysis of the four films I have chosen to look at for the purposes of this study to determine whether or not the depictions of masculinity in each film conform to the recurring notion of masculinity Refn has described. I believe that this analysis will provide insight into how transnational and transcultural media images – particularly those associated with cinematic masculine archetypes – are contributing to the construction of a gender order that includes a conception of globalized hegemonic masculinity. More importantly, this analysis will allow me to situate Refn’s films within the larger discourses surrounding the notion that masculinity is in crisis during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and will contribute to my discussion of how Refn’s films visually and textually project the troubled state of masculinity at the turn of the millennium.

Continue reading “Violent Masculinity in the films of Nicolas Winding Refn: Part I”