Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Amy Rust

Keywords

Bromance, Dystopia, Neoliberalism, Slasher, Zombie

Abstract

Emerging out of a tradition of dystopic and apocalyptic cinema, the survivalist film has arisen as a new subgenre owing to a collision of several divergent modes of cinema. While the scholarly discourse has been preoccupied largely with the task of setting up the parameters of this new cinematic line little attention has been paid to unraveling what the new modes of masculine performance within the films mean in the post-9/11 moment in which they have emerged. This paper looks at the ways in which the gendered heroics on the screen are indebted to the slasher and zombie subgenres in offering alternatives to performing and reclaiming masculinity in the modern survivalist film. Looking towards the collapse of society within these films and the historical preoccupation with these film's ancestral sources at moments when masculinity is threatened in new ways, I argue that when society collapses on the screen so too collapses the character's understanding of "proper" gender performance as well as the audiences expectations of appropriate response to this subversion. I find that survivalist films offer a new mode for exploring gender through the ways in which masculinity is performed, received, and reclaimed. Owing largely to the meeting of horror subgenres within these films masculinity can be encountered by the audience in a way that has until now not been possible for the spectator, presenting an opportunity to reevaluate how we recognize and regulate expectations of gender both on and off screen.

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