False Ideals: Masculinity and the Military Films of the 1980s and 1990s
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Looking at every popular masculine military film from the 1980s and 1990s would be an impossible task, so I chose four films representative of the prevailing attitudes found in their genre. Top Gun and Platoon from the 1980s, and Independence Day and Saving Private Ryan from the 1990s contain all the characteristics of a masculine military film. They are some of the highest grossing films of all time, let alone the decade in which they were produced. Top Gun and Independence Day have very different portrayals of war from the other two films. They are primarily action films, produced with the intent to thrill and entertain their audience. Platoon and Saving Private Ryan, on the other hand, are dramas concerned with accurate portrayals of war and telling the story of their characters. The genres must be divided in order to thoroughly examine the changes in the masculine image between the decades. By looking at these four films, Top Gun, Platoon, Independence Day and Saving Private Ryan, one can perceive not only the subtle but significant changes between the masculinity of the 1980s and the 1990s be perceived, but the eventual dismantling of this portrayal of masculinity in film, a false ideal that we, whether male or female, must begin to reject.