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The Contemporary Male - the New Masculinity in Film

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Filmmakers manipulate both symbolic and technical codes to create, control and model representations. These representations have been evident throughout the history of film and other texts, be they written, spoken or showed. Stereotypes and representations are most commonly constructed through racial, ethnic, social, religious, cultural and gender based groups in modern society. Though extremely narrow, magnified and rarely based on fact, representations and stereotypes are widely recognised internationally eg. The exaggeratedly masculine, heavily tanned Australian, dressed in khaki for life in the outback or in Western films, the villain typically wore black clothes, with a waxed moustache, whilst the hero dressed in white. Unlike their predecessors Hollywood filmmakers are finding it difficult to find a single typical contemporary male. A menagerie of male representations have emerged in film and texts most notably, the gay man, the family man, the action man and the family man. Many of these representations and stereotypes are evident in Ð''Will and Grace' (PG). The comedy TV series was created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick in 1988 and stars Eric McCormack as Will Truman a gay lawyer and Debra Messing as Grace Adler a straight interior designer who live together in an apartment in New York.

The way a subject is perceived by the audience of a text can be altered without changing the subject itself, but rather by manipulating film languages to alter the way it appears. Technical codes have been manipulated in Ð''Will and Grace', and intricate aspects of camera angle, lighting, camera movements, shot length, shot composition, soundtrack and the overall mise-en-scene have been directed to enhance the intended representations. Minor changes in the technical codes can change the perception of the subject eg. The most basic way of changing the representation a subject is portraying is to alter the camera angle, H.A. shots denote that the subject is inferior or weak, whereas L.A. Shots portray the subject as strong, heroic and powerful. In my example, Ð''Will and Grace', there is limited use of camera angles to influence the representations of Will and Jack when they're at the gym, rather shot composition, camera movements and shot distance have been utilised as tools in which the representation can be controlled and manipulated. Jack, Will's flamboyantly gay friend, is often placed on the extreme left and extreme right to communicate and foreground his odd and Ð''colourful' behaviour, whilst Will is placed more centrally in the frame. Varying and contrasting shot distances are used when the subject changes from Will to Jack, Jack is most often shown from longer distances than Will to show



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