Cowboys and Cameramen, Part 4: From Brokeback Mountain to the Final Frontier

06 Oct

Today, year three of university properly began. Yes, I’ve been back in Leicester for over a week, and yes, term began last Monday, but it was only today that I and others like myself really started getting on with work.

Although my timetable consists only of a film screening and seminar on Thursdays and a further seminar on Fridays, I realised my need to refocus, and spent a few hours in the library listening to pod-casts on American politics, whilst reading a book on American political development, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, I won’t do as shit this year as I have done the past four semesters.

Following that, I had a meeting with my dissertation supervisor, which only two of us showed up for. The others had notified the supervisor in advance, which meant our meeting was far shorter and much more to the point, which was appreciated. My other classmate was someone who had just returned from a year abroad, having lived in Washington D.C. for the duration of the 2013/14 academic year. Listening to him made me again wonder if staying behind was the right decision, especially when he informed us that he had already begun work the previous year on his chosen dissertation topic of Bob Dylan as a political figure. My supervisor was overjoyed to hear this, as he claimed to be a huge Dylan fan.

He also said that he thought my dissertation was interesting, but after hearing him rave about Bob Dylan, it definitely seemed a lot less heartfelt.

Nonetheless, he listened to my ideas, and suggested that I stray away from my initial plan of setting my dissertation out:

  1. Introduction
  2. First Chapter: Masculinity in the Old West
  3. Second Chapter: Masculinity in 20th Century Film, and How it has Drawn it’s Roots From the Old West
  4. Third Chapter: How Ideals of Masculinity Have Survived Throughout the 20th Century, and Live on in Contemporary Cinema
  5. Conclusion

Instead, he suggested that I stick to something more consistent, wherein each chapter remains based on contemporary film, and reflects back on the ideals of the Old West. He suggested I use topics revolving around masculinity for each chapter; topics such as ‘Violence’ and ‘Sexuality’. He’s right, obviously, being a lecturer and me just a student, and fortunately, my initial three choice films still fit quite nicely with this new lay-out; all I need to do now is perhaps select three new films to work alongside them.

Brokeback Mountain, obviously, would be my forerunner for the topic of ‘Sexuality’, perhaps teamed with Twilight, although I may have to instead move/share that to/with ‘Violence’ (due to Edward Cullen’s evolution into Bella’s protector, despite his desire not to harm others). I would explore Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger’s relationship, how it affect’s their characters female partners, how it is reflected in the views of their communities, and of course how they themselves view it.

For ‘Violence’, I still plan on sticking with Star Trek, as I will study the contrasts between Kirk and Spock; Kirk being the aggressive bravado fuelled ‘cowboy’, and Spock being the calm, collected and wizened ‘Native’, who is initially hesitant to use force to solve conflict. Similarly, their contrasts could also be used in a possible third topic of ‘Intelligence’.

For the topic of ‘Intelligence’, beyond the Spock/Kirk contrast, I’m not really sure what film to use at this moment in time. Sherlock Holmes comes to mind, as the titular character’s intellect is used to help him navigate most obstacles in life, something that in the Old West would have surely been frowned upon as an alternative to power and strength. I am, however, cautious about using a film partially created by the British, not that I have anything against us and our film making, but because as an American Studies student, I feel like it might be cheating writing about a Britain-set film, with British characters, predominantly British actors and a British director, but we’ll see.

On another note, just before all of this occurred, I saw a scared American girl take a tumble into the paternoster after I assured her it was perfectly safe. She was fine of course, so although I kept my cool at the time, when I told my house-mates upon arrival home, the three of us were nearly in tears.

She was unharmed! I’m not being mean!

Don’t judge me.

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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Film & TV, Life


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