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Thatcher’s Sons?

1980s Boyhood in British Cinema, 2005–2010

Andy Pope

ABSTRACT

The 1980s have been mediated constantly since their end, with British cinema in particular engaging with the decade’s political, social, and cultural landscape through a masculine perspective. Seventeen British films set in the 1980s were produced from 2005 to 2010, with many presenting a personal response to the boyhood of their screenwriters during the Thatcher decade. This article considers the determinants of this phenomenon, the meaning for contemporary men of 1980s cultural nostalgia, and the role of the father in these films. Two films in particular, Son of Rambow and This is England, center boyhood and patriarchal absence within their personal narratives. Although these films indicate that the 1980s are a difficult period for the male characters in these narratives, I argue that for a number of their screenwriters and directors, revisiting their boyhood through these cultural texts indicates a nostalgic reluctance to move on from the 1980s. How this contradiction defines contemporary masculinity in Britain will be a key consideration in this article.

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When Jackie Coogan Had His Hair Cut

Masculinity, Maturity, and the Movies in the 1920s

Peter W. Lee

ABSTRACT

This article uses details of the personal and professional life of American screen actor Jackie Coogan to examine the social transition from boyhood into manhood during the 1920s. As Hollywood’s first child superstar, Coogan was given a haircut to make visual his maturation from his famed persona as an orphaned waif into a leading man. The haircut was also linked to larger concerns about the so-called flaming youth of the Lost Generation; what was known as Americanism; and identity construction for both child and parental roles. Unfortunately for Coogan, fans refused to accept his makeover; his screen persona in public memory contributed to the decline of his career while concurrently protecting the Kid from a vilified mother.

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Hannah Mueller

The representation of adolescent same-sex love in Daniel Ribeiro’s Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (2014) and Aluizio Abranches’s Do Começo ao Fim (2009) stands out from other treatments of adolescence and homosexuality in Brazilian/LatinAmerican cinema. The movies’ setting within an urban upper-class environment allows for a conception of adolescence as a prolonged period of carefree exploration. By intertwining the experience of adolescence with the discovery of emergent sexuality, the movies develop a model of sensual, gentle masculinity and a reciprocal concept of homosexual love, thus undermining the paradigmatic juxtaposition of active masculinity and passive femininity that has dominated cinematic representations of homosexual characters and same sex-encounters in Latin-American cinema.

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The Boy Is Not a Well-Behaved Henry

Images and Goals of Education in Dutch Educational Literature about Boys (1882-2005)

Angela J.M. Crott and Fabian Schurgers

Representations of the boy in Dutch educational literature shift considerably during the twentieth century while educational goals remain importantly unchanged. Optimism in education seen before the Second World War diminishes after the war as a result of social changes. While representations of boys take on increasingly negative tones, boys themselves may be changing little. This is suggested by the goals of education that remain constant during the entire century, goals which aim to free the boy as much as possible from troublesome behavior as mischief. Pedagogical aims to have boys adopt desired behavior, like courteousness, change during the 1970s and stress those of care and emotional strength. However, boys’ adoption of caring behaviors progresses so slowly the boy, often embraced as the hope of the fatherland in the first half of the twentieth century, is increasingly seen as a problem at the end of it.

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Angela J.M. Crott and Fabian Schurgers

Christina Hoff Sommers. 2013. The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men. New and revised ed. New York: Simon & Schuster. 288 pp. ISBN: 9781451644180 (hb), 9781501125423 (pb, published 2015) 9781439126585 (e-bk)

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Jonathan Anuik

Melissa Bingmann. 2015. Prep School Cowboys: Ranch Schools in the American West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 256 pp. ISBN 978-0826355430

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Introduction

Cinemas of Boyhood, Part I

Timothy Shary

These are ripe times to study boyhood in cinema. Even though male characters have undoubtedly dominated cinema roles from the start, boys’ stories have not been consistently produced or appreciated. Since the publication of Where the Boys Are: Cinemas of Masculinity and Youth, a collection edited by Murray Pomerance and Frances Gateward in 2005, there has been increasing academic interest in boyhood representation through movies, as demonstrated by the articles collected here. This interest follows the expansive concerns of pop psychology texts at the turn of the century that took up the political and emotional consequences of boys’ behavior, such as Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood by William Pollack (1999), Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson (2000), and The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers (2001).As is evident in their titles, this research joined the chorus of a prevailing masculinity in crisis theme that has permeated gender studies in recent years: boys have been troubled by the pressures of patriarchy, the demands of feminism, and the culture of capitalism, and thus are in need of rescue and protection from these influences.

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Judy Y. Chu

Julia Grant. 2014. The Boy Problem: Educating Boys in Urban America, 1870-1970. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. 240 pp. $45.00 (hb) ISBN: 9781421412597 (hb) 9781421412603 (e-bk)

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Looking Toward the Future

A Comprehensive Perspective of African American Male Youth

Jamal A. Cooks

Kirkland C. Vaughans and Warren Spielberg, eds. 2014. The Psychology of Black Boys and Adolescents. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. 2 Volumes. 615 pp. ISBN 978-0-313-38198-0 (hb) 978-0-313-38199-7 (e-bk)

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The Once and Future King

Negotiating the Survival of Boys in 1990s Cinema

Katie Barnett

On the cinema screen, boyhood has often been depicted as a period of freedom, rebellion, and energy, a pre-cursor to manhood in which young boys are able to negotiate their identity and place within the world. In 1990s Hollywood, however, a wave of films turn to depicting the death of young boys on screen. As a result, boyhood becomes a site of vulnerability and weakness. This article seeks to examine the implications of these deaths, framing them within the context of a wider negotiation of masculinity and fatherhood politics. In addition, it questions the extent to which the deaths of these young boys can be read queerly, subverting the drive towards the future inherent in the figure of the child.