Frank-n-Furter, Michel Dorsey/Dorothy Michels, and Dil: alternative masculinities in film from the 70's to the 90's

Frank-n-Furter, Michel Dorsey/Dorothy Michels, and Dil: alternative masculinities in film from the 70's to the 90's

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Frank-n-Furter, Michel Dorsey/Dorothy Michels, and Dil: alternative masculinities in film from the 70's to the 90's


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Tootsie (1982), and The Crying Game (1993) are united by their overt concern with sexuality and gender; particularly non-dominant gender and sexual identities. Dr. Frank-N-Furter, of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Michel Dorsey, of Tootsie, and Dil, of The Crying Game, challenge conventional masculinity, and, the latter two especially, expose gender roles as nothing more than performances or social constructs. In so doing, these protagonists propose alternative masculinities and male gender roles. The nature and the presentation of these alternative males has evolved from being alien, as in the early Rocky Horror Picture Show, to being an improvement on the masculine norm, as in Tootsie, to being a completely new form of masculinity within society, as in the recent Crying Game. This evolution demonstrates society’s gradual acceptance of the existence of alternative masculinities, from the seventies to the nineties.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is considered by many film scholars to be "the granddaddy" (Saunders 91) of cult films. As most cult movies appeal to our subversive instincts, our desire to see conventional morality trashed (Giannetti, Leach 252), the film provides an interesting point of departure for a study of the subversion of masculine norms. Throughout this film, Frank-n-Furter mercilessly assaults the straight world and its values, especially conventional masculinity, as represented by Brad, and finally seduces Brad into adopting his alternative masculinity. The opening scene foreshadows the fact that Brad’s conventional masculinity will be challenged late...


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... The Crying Game, all challenge conventional male gender roles, and propose alternative ones. The latter two characters also expose gender as a social construct, and, in so doing, illustrate that gender roles are malleable, and not predetermined and fixed. While The Rocky Horror Picture Show presents an alternative form of masculinity in an alien being, and Tootsie’s alternative male turns out to be a reworking of the conventional male, in The Crying Game, the alternative male is just that, a real alternative to normative masculinity. Dil is not an alien, or a heterosexual actor, but is an actual transvestite, living among more or less conventional masculine types. This evolution in the presentation of alternative masculinities in film, from the seventies to the nineties, demonstrates society’s gradual acceptance of the existence of alternative forms of masculinity.

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