One Man: The Eternal Subject of Hollywood? (Video)

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About Ross Steinborn

Ross recently graduated from Harvard Divinity School, where he studied Christian theology and gender studies, with a focus on masculinity studies. From central IL, he now lives with his partner in South Boston.


  1. How do you think the movie industry and our escapism fantasy has changed?
    I think the “one man” fantasy has changed if no other reason than the way he is depicted. Most people will lament over how he’s still a straight white guy but take a closer look. For example he used to have the reputation of being a loner (like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon) but now we sometimes see a family man (like Liam Nesson in the Taken movies).

    How has it remained the same?
    I would say that with the way men are depicted they still haven’t access their full range of what possibilities we could see in a movie star largely because of old tropes like the “one man”.

  2. Mike from MA says:

    Same: I think movies go back to classic archetypes in anxious times—when their society experiences a real loss of power or status. The antihero seems to come in when the crisis has either passed or ended in disaster. That’s a time of bitter revaluation. The old verities and myths get chewed up then. If things end well, there seems to be a tendency to rubbish the whole hero fixation a bit, possibly out of embarrassment at our earlier cravenness.

    Different: The solitary men of our wish-fictions are so much more one-dimensional. Compare the conflicts and complexities of a hero in full like Achilles with the antics and swagger of Iron Man. The best bad guys are also solitary men of action (or at least isolated in their self-interest) and much more complex and interesting (then: Michael Corleone, Darth Vader; now: Don Draper, Walter White, Loki; and I’d put Daniel Craig’s grim, flinty Bond nearer this end of the spectrum).

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