John Alberti, a Northern Kentucky University English professor and the director of film studies, is asking a peculiar question in his new book, “Gender as Genre: The Obsolescence of Masculinity in Contemporary Popular Cinema.”
“Are men necessary anymore [in cinema]?”
Alberti explained that just like everything else in the world, gender roles are evolving. His book examines gender roles in different types of cinema including action-comic movies, neorealism films, bromances and film noir.
Two of the chapters in Alberti’s book explore the bromance genre. We’ve seen “bros” like Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in “I Love You, Man” and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen in “50/50.”
This genre became well known in the late ‘90s with Cameron Diaz in “There’s Something About Mary.” Alberti explained the “monumental qualities” found in the film.
“The men are aware of their issues,” Alberti said. “The film portrays a traditional romantic story, but it is more realistic.”
Alberti describes Ben Stiller’s character as being “stalkerish” when trying to snag a date with Mary. The base behind the film’s success was a simple question: “Do we like Mary, or the idea of Mary?”
“It is not so much that relationships have changed, but how we articulate relationships that has changed,” said Jimmie Manning, a gender studies professor at NKU. “Bromances have been around for a thousand years … we’ve been able to perceive bromances in our culture.”
A different genre Alberti covers in his book is film noir. Alberti calls film noir a “great example of obsolescence of masculinity.” The femme fatale is a powerful character in the film noir genre. These strong, often dangerous, women broke gender stereotypes in ways that mainstream films often didn’t explore.
“Movies are symbolic,” Alberti said.
Films reinforce our stigmas. Alberti described a comedy from the ‘60s called “Kisses from My President.” The film follows the first female US president and her husband. The woman eventually steps down because she becomes pregnant. Today this isn’t comical, but reality.
“It took Hollywood a while to catch up with reality,” Alberti explained. “This symbolic media preserves our myths.”
A publisher is still considering Alberti’s book. The release date is unknown.