The Wild Man and the Shepherd - Definitions of trauma in The Hurt Locker (2008) and American Sniper (2014)
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
La vulnérabilité / Vulnerability
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
Although one could not escape the ubiquitous comparisons to Kathryn Bigelow?s The Hurt Locker while reading reviews for Clint Eastwood?s latest movie (American Sniper), the impressions both film left were quite different. Despite the apparent similarities regarding their protagonists, settings and narrative structure (we follow a special unit soldier / marine making (several) tour(s) in Iraq while coping with PTSD), the differences regarding box office results (The Hurt Locker did okay, but American Sniper was a major hit) and the film?s interpretations are undeniably. And nowhere is this more evident than in the conception of trauma. While even real-life Chris Kyle was a public, though polarizing figure (one is inclined to say ?poster boy?) of PTSD and how to deal and conquer (!) one?s own trauma to regain a ?normal? life according to hegemonic ideals of US-masculinity, his counterpart in The Hurt Locker (William James) was not just perceived to be an adrenaline junkie, but was actually blamed to produce a disrespectful image of professional soldiers and their masculinities. In the few cases James? trauma is accepted, his PTSD is reduced to a small number of scenes (e. g. the supermarket-scene) while ignoring his traumatic disposition (death drive, latency, compulsive repetition) or interpreting it as an addiction to adrenaline, thereby constructing a narrative of ?cool / cold masculinity? around him. In sharp contrast, Eastwood links Kyle?s trauma to positive attributes (especially the (fatal) wish to protect his family (represented by his comrades)) and constructs his narrative in the vein of a (successful) revenge story, thereby establishing a legitimized form of trauma and a gender appropriate reaction to it. Thus I propose a culturally and historically contextualized reading of both movies to break down concepts of legitimate and illegitimate trauma in contemporary America, their narrative construction and their interconnection with hegemonic male identities.