“You Weren’t There”: The Representation of Women in Vietnam Veteran Melodramas
Madden, Caroline Elizabeth
Savannah, Georgia: Savannah College of Art and Design
Thesis (M.A.) -- Cinema Studies
Savannah College of Art and Design -- Department of Cinema Studies
*Winner, Thesis Document Award
Bibliographical references: pages 60-62
"Scholars typically examine America’s cinematic response to the Vietnam War in regards to the portrayal of masculinity. While I do not want to ignore the questions of masculinity inherent in a Vietnam era study, I instead shift my focus onto an overlooked aspect of Vietnam films: the female characters. I argue that 'In Country' (1989) transcends Susan Jeffords’s idea of 'feminine exclusion' and the patriarchal values of typical Vietnam homefront melodramas such as Born on the 'Fourth of July' (1989) and 'Jacknife' (1989) due to its female character who dictates the narrative, refuses to be confined to an exclusionary role and questions how society views Vietnam veterans. The narratives of the other films work to restore the conservative ideals of pre-Vietnam America, returning to the nuclear family and home as Linda Williams’s 'space of innocence.' The female characters become 'ideological victims' when they are subsumed back within a household role and become dependent on a man in order to regain the veteran’s lost masculinity. This thesis applies genre and feminist theoretical frameworks to examine the images of women found within Vietnam melodramas and their role in reshaping the post-Vietnam vision of America after second-wave feminism and the rise of 1980s conservative politics."
*Keywords: masculinity, Vietnam War, melodrama, nuclear family, feminism, 1980s, Born on the Fourth of July, Jacknife, In Country
CHAIR: Newsom, Charles (Chad)
PDF : 62 pages, illustrations (chiefly color)
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