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ERIC Number: EJ931257
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 13
ISSN: ISSN-1740-2743
Terrorism, Violence, and the Collision of Masculinities in "Four Lions"
Labidi, Imed
Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, v9 n1 p375-390 May 2011
Many critics hailed the new film, "Four Lions," by director Chris Morris as "provocative, incendiary, audacious, and shocking" and "one of the funniest and boldest comedies of the year." As a satirist, Morris already established his wit signature with the production of the mockumentary series, "Brass Eye." Using the same absurdist approach, he presents a creative political comedy which escapes the conventional constraints of comedic productions by addressing the complex, sinister, frightening, and highly sensitive phenomenon of terrorism usually reserved to the genres of action and drama. This time, he carries this absurdist approach to the next level, insulating his characters with dark humor while making them appear simultaneously as villainous village idiots and unwitting denizens symbolically charged with multiple layers of meaning. This critique of "Four Lions" looks at hegemonic masculinity as a source of fear and lifelong indoctrination, which will provide insights into the radicalization of the many "Joes" turned jihadists. The author's thesis is grounded in the theories that consider masculinity a social, historical, and political concept performed by men and which has incorporated and normalized violence and sexual domination as core components of its "natural" essence. Hegemonic and dominant, in this sense, masculinity's power lies in its ability to operate in disguise. While seemingly invisible, its presence is constantly renewed through its capability to set itself up against women and other alternative masculinities (minorities, underclass males, homosexuals, foreigners, others). Since fear represents its central catalyst, its victims are not only women and non whites. They are also those who represent masculinity but cannot abide by all its demands. The failure to perform, the author further argues, can lead to a serious condition of alienation, violent behavior, and radicalization. For this purpose, the author mostly focuses on Barry, "the most bizarre of all the "lions"--a Caucasian Convert to Islam with a streak of ferocious invective and penchant for little hats." A self-centered narcissist, Barry fails to possess and perform the scripts of white masculinity. Beyond simple character analysis, the author's goal is to negotiate possible interpretations of his radicalism, violent personality, and identity crisis through the examination of masculine exigencies as seen deployed in Western society. Recognizing that cinematic story lines are reflections of reality, expressions of popular sentiments, and a site for contesting cultural conventions and shifting power dynamics, the author intends to connect his analysis of Barry's behavior to real life conflicts, policy practices, collisions of competing masculinities, and struggle over meaning between subordinates and those who dominate. (Contains 4 footnotes.)
Institute for Education Policy Studies. University of Northampton, School of Education, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 7AL, UK. Tel: +44-1273-270943; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A