Where the Boys Are
Cinemas of Masculinity and Youth
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Most people who read and cherish anthologies have little idea of the strange and taxing difficulties that beset those who edit them. This is a book we are particularly happy to see completed, since although it was conceived a long time ago...
It is remarkable how infrequently one finds an actual definition of “boys” in the literature of boyhood. To be sure, “boys” are males who have not yet reached adulthood, but what exactly, in our society and our world, is meant by this word? It is as though nothing...
Part 1: Archetypes and Façades
1. Bad Boys and Hollywood Hype: Gendered Conflict in Juvenile Delinquency Films
Over the course of Hollywood history, movie studios have reveled in a crafty fascination with juvenile delinquency, which has been traditionally founded on a certain masculine mythology. There has recently been new attention...
2. Boys Won’t Be Boys: Cross-Gender Masquerade and Queer Agency in Ma Vie en rose
As a mass medium, the silver screen is likely one of the most productive cultural sites on which identities are performed and incorporated through representation and reception into an elaborate, albeit fictional, system of sociopolitical, economic, and kinship...
3. Survival of the Fattest: Contending with the Fat Boy in Children’s Ensemble Films
These quotations—one from a classic of children’s literature, the other from a widely imitated children’s ensemble film—span more than a century, but they share a common purpose: to explain the causes of a boy’s obesity. Because the fat body is such a visible...
4. Crazy from the Heat: Southern Boys and Coming of Age
The South that is a “magnolia-scented memory piece” (Travers 1991), in which no tree is without its garland of Spanish moss, is a landscape every moviegoer finds hauntingly familiar in a way that has no necessary connection to lived experience...
5. “Perfect Childhoods”: Larry Clark Puts Boys Onscreen
Larry Clark has made three feature films that have been released commercially, Kids (1995), Another Day in Paradise (1998), and Bully (2001). Since Bully, he has directed a made-for-cable remake of one of Samuel Z. Arkoff’s B-movie monster flicks...
6. The Beautiful English Boy: Mark Lester and Oliver!
Oliver! (1968) was more popular in the United States than in Britain, despite its English cast, English director, English subject matter, English setting, and original author Charles Dickens. In this sense it may be linked, tenuously...
7. The Man-Boys of Steven Spielberg
In any modern society, especially in the context of advanced global capitalism, it is difficult to draw the clear distinctions between adulthood and childhood that seemed to characterize those preindustrial social arrangements...
Part 2: Bonds and Beatifications
8. In Love and Trouble: Teenage Boys and Interracial Romance
Twice in the last two decades director Amy Heckerling reintroduced American audiences to what has become commonly known as the teenpic. The huge critical and commercial successes of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and Clueless (1995) reminded an...
9. The “Wee Men” of Glasgow Grow Up: Boyhood and Urban Space in Small Faces
In Gillies and Billy MacKinnon’s Small Faces (1996), thirteen-year-old Glaswegian Lex MacLean (Iain Robertson) undergoes a catalogue of masculine coming-of-age experiences: boozing, fighting, choosing role models...
10. The Boys’ Price in Martinique: Visions of the Bildungsroman in Sugar Cane Alley
It has been the literary definition of the bildungsroman to articulate the coming of age of the male child, a process necessarily fraught with exodus and death as the child is divested of the things and people that connected...
11. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boy: François Truffaut, Antoine Doinel, and the Wild Child
To speak about the autobiographical nature of much of François Truffaut’s work has long been a critical commonplace. Certainly the series of films focusing on the character of Antoine Doinel, played by Jean-Pierre Léaud beginning with...
12. Out West: Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho and the Lost Mother
In “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay,” in her book Tendencies, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick offers a thoroughgoing critique of the complicity of contemporary therapeutic and psychoanalytic practice in the pathologization and stigma...
13. Mamma’s Boy: Counting on Ghosts, Sending Smoke Signals, and Finding Surrogate Fathers in Contemporary Film
Mothers and daughters/fathers and sons—these dyads seem fixed in our cultural patterns of binary formation. Yet the complementary pairs (mothers/sons and fathers/daughters) also offer profound opportunities for discovery...
14. Slack, Slacker, Slackest: Homosocial Bonding Practices in Contemporary Dude Cinema
Etymologically, the dude has no origin, but is a transitive figure peculiar to American Modernity. Webster’s has him as “fastidious in dress,” especially as in the case of an adventurous urban dandy out of place in the filthy American West...
Part 3: Struggles and Redefinitions
15. Pursuits of Hapa-ness: Kip Fulbeck’s Boyhood among Ghosts
Looking at memoirs focusing on boyhood entails teasing out the intertwined stories of the boy and the man looking back on the boy. No boyhood essence can be distilled from memory; rather, boyhood becomes a photo album of moments...
16. Cinematic Solutions to the Truancy Trend among Japanese Boys
Boyhood truancy is not a new theme in Japanese films. When two brothers in elementary school cut class in Ozu Yasujiro’s silent film Umaretewa mita keredo (I Was Born But . . .) (1932), their parents scolded them. Nearly seven decades...
17. L.I.E., The Believer, and the Sexuality of the Jewish Boy
When one looks at a Jewish boy, one traditionally looks away. Abraham looks away from Isaac before he is about to slit his own son’s throat, an averted glance that saves the boy’s life...
18. The Feminization and Victimization of the African American Athlete in Boyz N the Hood, Cooley High, and Cornbread, Earl and Me
Cinematic representations of black male camaraderie have occupied the center of discourse on black life over a period of nearly twenty years, in part because of mass appeal, in part because of the ability of these representations to generate...
19. Bombay Boys: Dissolving the Male Child in Popular Hindi Cinema
Although India’s art and popular cinemas are conventionally opposed in terms of realism and fantasy, commercial films have not shied away from depicting the poverty and suffering of Indian children, though they commonly treat childhood problems as familial...
20. Jerkus Interruptus: The Terrible Trials of Masturbating Boys in Recent Hollywood Cinema
That teenage boys masturbate is of course a truism, albeit one that remains—in real life as well as in popular Hollywood film—a source of great embarrassment, even shame, for those young men who (all too) frequently partake...