Black Hypermasculinity in Film


“Affect is also studied through the lens of emotional labor and media work, in recognition that affect is both something that is worked on and something that constitutes a kind of work.” (Ouellette and Gray 13).

For this week’s blog post, I decided it would be a good idea to start relating our readings to my final project. I initially planned to look at representations of dark skinned women in television, but I am now going to examine Black hypermasculinity in film. In regards to affect, we discussed how in media, not only is the audience affected, but also those who are performing the labor for the audiences. In this case, it would be the actors. Hypermasculinity is extremely present in the Black community, especially in “Black” films. As I thought about the affect keyword, I wondered how the constant portrayal of Black actors portraying extremely hyper masculine characters, or playing in movies about hyper masculine characters, takes a toll on the actors’ mindsets and emotions towards Black masculinity. Many, if not the majority, of popular Black films are centered around Black, hyper masculine men, or in some way portray hypermasculinity as the norm. It is as if “we have now reached a critical limit in the capacity of liberal modernist approaches to representation” (Gray 773). One of the most common ways this hypermasculinity is portrayed in films is through its relationship to violence.

In my blog post, I used a scene from a very famous “Black” movie called Menace II Society, which came out in 1993. In the scene, the main character Caine can be seen arguing with his best friend O-Dog after O-Dog accuses Caine of “acting like a lil’ bitch” because Caine said he did not want to kill any elderly people or children when they did the drive-by shooting. I feel this scene captures not only Black, toxic hypermasculinity, but also its very common association with extreme violence typically seen in film. Also, I included still images from other famous movies that portray Black hypermasculinity and violence over the audio from some of the scene from Menace II Society. Many of the characters of the movies depicted in the images all share the same sentiments about the necessity to lack emotions and the importance of violence, in regards to hypermasculinity.