By M. Gallagher
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Additional info for Action Figures: Men, Action Films, and Contemporary Adventure Narratives
Action films and from the literal visibility of its films’ protagonists, usually solitary (or highly individualized), athletic, white men. As contemporary capitalist society severely limits and codifies the bourgeois male’s ability to establish his identity through physical activity, action cinema offers particular appeals to male filmgoers. Action films provide fantasies of heroic omnipotence and escape from, or transcendence of, cultural pressures. These escapes do not represent real solutions to the problems faced by members of capitalist societies, since action-film narratives necessarily displace the present-day contradictions of male identity into visual space, into spectacle.
The textual forms differ principally in their claims to realism. Popular nonfiction narratives construct the real in ways indebted both to realist literature and to documentary media. ”3 Nonfiction adventure texts shape historical events into coherent, linear narratives. They legitimate their discourse with evidence, just as they transmit their evidence as discourse. Their authors necessarily intervene into the historical world, through interviews with people involved in the events the books recount and, sometimes, through participation in the events themselves.
7 Adventure-nonfiction texts tend to frame their subjects in terms of men and masculinity, and relatedly, to link contemporary men’s exploits to venerable historical accounts. The Perfect Storm, Into Thin Air, and Black Hawk Down all recount events principally involving men, and they all locate their subjects within historical pantheons of notable male enterprises. The books thus participate in the privileging of male experience, though they also raise questions about the practicality of that experience.
Action Figures: Men, Action Films, and Contemporary Adventure Narratives by M. Gallagher