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Is It a Problem When a Movie About a Woman’s Rape Is Made by Men?

Similar observations can be made for Leap Year or The Matchmaker. In all movies the American women are presented as eccentric, almost neurotic, while the Irish men appear pragmatic and reasonable. Behavioral patterns and character traits that might be attributed to their gender are convincingly projected onto their differing ethnicities.

This is mainly achieved through constant labeling and categorizing as Irish or American and not as male or female. Casting the underlying gender discourse in an ethnic guise glosses over the fact that the movies do after all espouse traditional gender roles as they present a dramatic change of strong-willed, independent women to devoted partners in a heterosexual relationship.

The evolving love plot leaves the women as idealistic and romantic partners, focused on a heterosexual relationship rather than on their career and individual well-being. It is also no coincidence that all three couples get to know each other as guide and tourist.

Initially, the Irish men literally show the American women the way, but eventually they become spiritual and emotional guides while the women opt for the relationships and seem to have lost sight of their ambitious goals. The movies present an affirmation of traditional gender roles and heterosexual romance as the focal point of female happiness. The identity crisis of the woman is resolved by discovering a more social, and implicitly more traditional, role for herself in an organic community, a role which seems defunct in the US but still fairly intact in Ireland.

Irish identity, in this context, is reduced to tradition, compulsory heterosexuality, patriarchy and a close-knit community. The movies hereby illustrate that Irishness is associated with socially conservative attitudes and that it serves as an antithesis to the allegedly libertarian and hedonistic lifestyle of parts of US society. The ethnic framework glosses over the improbable and highly problematic conversion of the women. It legitimizes a patriarchal and postfeminist gender discourse by using the re- discovery of ethnicity as an explanation for the abandonment of a modern gender role and the embracing of conservative values.

Another subgenre within the movies representing the homeland is the genealogical quest.


The theme of searching for an identity in an ethnic rootedness is developed more consciously in the movies that fall into this category. The protagonists of these quests come to Ireland because of a perceived fundamental link between their own identity and the emigration of their ancestors. The preoccupation with family and roots is the driving force in the plot and severed roots constitute the main conflicts in the movies. The Irish-Canadian movie This is My Father is a good example of the subgenre and one of the more challenging approaches to Ireland and ethnic identity. The film depicts an Ireland that does not fit idealized notions of a pastoral idyll or a harmonious retreat from postmodern alienation.

The story revolves around Kieran Johnston, a history teacher from Illinois, who tries to find out about his father. The movie evidently shares the theme of lost fathers with the tourist romances. His solitude is carefully staged in shots that dwell on him in his dull daily routine. Again, the social dynamics and the individualizing tendencies of US culture seem to trigger the profound identity crisis of the protagonist.

This stands in stark contrast to other movies like Leap Year or Titanic James Cameron, in which dancing scenes mark the initiation into a welcoming community and thus foreshadow the happy conclusion. The subplot demythologizes life in rural Ireland and shows how a restrictive Irish community led many Irish to leave and pursue their goals elsewhere. Contemporary Ireland is no more welcoming to Kieran and his nephew. The generally unsentimental depiction of the country is reinforced by the conspicuous lack of scenery shots which are a stock feature of the genre.

Neither does the landscape offer itself as an alternative to the grayness of urban America nor do the locals welcome the newcomers into an amicable community which is unaffected by postmodern anxiety. Movies and popular culture help her sustain her dream. Eddie embodies the American promise that visits them like an apparition from a Hollywood movie.

Eddie and American popular culture serve as facilitators that enable a relationship that would be impossible within the tight social constraints of the Irish countryside. Eddie also takes the picture of Kieran and Fiona which their son later finds and which sets his search for his father in motion.

Irish language and identity

The function of America and American popular culture in the subplot symbolizes the mutual dependence between Ireland and America in the creation of redemptive cultural myths as it depicts the inversion of their roles through the course of the twentieth century. While the US once served as a land of dreams for generations of Irish emigrants, Ireland now functions as an imaginary space and retreat from the anxiety and alienation of postmodern life in the US.

In spite of the relationship between the visitors and Ireland being ambivalent, both Kieran and Jack eventually draw from the visit spiritually and emotionally. He has grown from a selfish and oppositional child to a responsible and even-tempered young man. The last scene shows his students listening attentively as they pass around the photograph of his parents.

The importance of this pedagogical framework and the effect of the journey on his identity and on his relationship to his multi-ethnic students should not be underestimated. The newfound familiarity stands in stark contrast to the beginning of the movie when the classroom atmosphere was filled with mutual frustration. Rains concludes:. Not only, the film implies, has Johnston [Kieran] acquired a more secure sense of personal identity from the knowledge of his family history, but his factual and emotional knowledge has also allowed for a bridging of the social barriers of alienation between himself and his pupils, even those whose family and ethnic backgrounds are apparently very different from his own.

The movie thus also implicitly affirms that a trip to Ireland can resolve identity crises based in the social, economic, and sexual dynamics of US-American society.

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Even if Ireland does not offer immediate solutions and alternatives to perceived problems, as suggested in the recent tourist romances, it does supply the Irish-American visitor with a deeper knowledge about him- or herself. This knowledge and sense of belonging imparts much needed security, stability, and confidence in a postfeminist, multiethnic, postmodern America. The article has illustrated the continuing importance of Ireland and Irish stereotypes to Irish-American popular culture.

By accentuating ethnic differences, the tourist romances gloss over the strikingly reactionary gender subtext that informs the plot. The genealogical quest, in contrast, debunks cultural myths of both Ireland as a contemporary retreat for afflicted Americans and the US as a land of opportunity for the immigrating Irish of the past. The movie focuses on the individual drama that arises from social conflicts and on the importance of familial ties in an increasingly complex and taxing world. Instead of finding solace in cultural myths, the protagonist re-connects to his parents and their story.

Hence, the narrative outcomes of both the tourist romances and the genealogical quest suggest that a visit to Ireland can help to solve an identity crisis that could not be resolved in the US. While the tourist romances refrain to popular stereotypes about Ireland and its traditionalist society to achieve their happy conclusion, the genealogical quest emphasizes the individual search for meaning and identity that entails a more serious approach to Irish culture.

The characters undergo drastic changes in Ireland and leave the country with a new outlook on their lives. The dominant motif of connecting to family, community and past thus continues a tradition of spiritual homecoming that has been deeply ingrained in American popular culture since The Quiet Man. Hofmann, A roots or genealogical narrative portrays a journey of an ethnic American to the homeland to find out about ancestors and their country Rains, Irish American Ambitious middle-class men cannot be ethnic and ethnic men are still almost exclusively presented as belonging to the working class.

Upward mobility involves opportunistic choices and the renunciation of family and loyal interpersonal relationships. For further information on postfeminist discourse in contemporary media see Diane Negra, What A Girl. Diner, Hasia R. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, McLoone, Martin. London: British Film Institute, Meaney, Gerardine. Basingstoke, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, , 3— Monahan, Barry. Ruth Barton. Dublin: Irish Academic, Negra, Diane, ed. Durham: Duke UP, What a Girl Wants?

The circulation of popular culture between Ireland and the USA (18th-21st centuries)

Fantasizing the Reclamation of Self in Postfemininism. Negra, The Irish Matthew Tinkcom and Amy Villarejo. London: Routledge , Rains, Stephanie. The Irish-American in Popular Culture, Walter, Bronwen. Outsiders inside: Whiteness, Place and Irish Women.

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Print this article. Email this article Login required. Email the author Login required. Tourist Romances The most recent movies about Irish-Americans traveling to Ireland have varied the established tourist romance theme of movies like The Quiet Man by presenting their audiences with female protagonists. Negra argues that the movies negotiate American identity problems by staging the European destination as a viable alternative to the confining mechanisms of contemporary life in the US: Yet, the tourist romances are bound together by their muted critique of a number of dominant features of contemporary US experience—social isolation, gender disempowerment, class difference, body anxiety, and conditions of environmental oppression.

Monahan points to the self-referentiality of such images and argues: There is a sense from the comedy of the film that Irish culture has become, at a moment of late capitalism, a commodified end in itself. Gendering Ethnicity The Irish men that become the partners of the American women are all part of the thriving Irish community.

Negra remarks: In this category of film, European men are distinguished by their willingness to take life at a slower pace, and by a strong sense of identity linked to their environment. Searching for Roots Another subgenre within the movies representing the homeland is the genealogical quest.

Rains concludes: Not only, the film implies, has Johnston [Kieran] acquired a more secure sense of personal identity from the knowledge of his family history, but his factual and emotional knowledge has also allowed for a bridging of the social barriers of alienation between himself and his pupils, even those whose family and ethnic backgrounds are apparently very different from his own. Conclusion The article has illustrated the continuing importance of Ireland and Irish stereotypes to Irish-American popular culture. Leap Year. Anand Tucker. Universal Pictures, Richard LaGravenese.

It also looks at the cities where all this is happening right now and gives the reader a mini city-guide to where the hottest spots are to be found and where to eat sleep shop drink and check out the freshest art, design and fashion. This is the first time there has been an in-depth look at street culture by a major publisher. Literally too much going on within the pages of this unique book to do justice in one paragraph Focusing on a diverse range of media forms, including film, TV, advertising and journalism, Diane Negra holds up a mirror to the contemporary female subject who finds herself centralized in commodity culture to a largely unprecedented degree at a time when Hollywood romantic comedies, chick-lit, and female-centred primetime TV dramas all compete for her attention and spending power.

While fostering new ways of thinking about film history, A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema illuminates the many questions that the concept of "early cinema" itself raises about the relation of gender to modernism, representation, and technologies of the body. The contributors bring a number of disciplinary frameworks to bear, including not only film studies but also postcolonial studies, dance scholarship, literary analysis, philosophies of the body, and theories regarding modernism and postmodernism. Recurring throughout the volume is the protean figure of the New Woman, alternately garbed as childish tomboy, athletic star, enigmatic vamp, languid diva, working girl, kinetic flapper, and primitive exotic.

Constance Balides, Jennifer M. Account Options Sign in. Top charts. New arrivals. Over the past decade or so, Irishness has emerged as an idealized ethnicity, one with which large numbers of people around the world, and particularly in the United States, choose to identify. Seeking to explain the widespread appeal of all things Irish, the contributors to this collection show that for Americans, Irishness is rapidly becoming the white ethnicity of choice, a means of claiming an ethnic identity while maintaining the benefits of whiteness.

At the same time, the essayists challenge essentialized representations of Irishness, bringing attention to the complexities of Irish history and culture that are glossed over in Irish-themed weddings and shamrock tattoos. Reviews Review Policy.

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Published on. Original pages. Best For. Web, Tablet. Content Protection. Learn More. Flag as inappropriate. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders. More related to the popular culture. See more. Falling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination.

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