Millsboro author reviews changing role of men in the movies

Essays discuss on-screen male relationships, sexuality and bromance
March 4, 2013
'Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema' editor Timothy Shary has written and edited four books examining cinema and pop-culture in America. BY MOLLY MACMILLAN

From the arrested development of characters like Billy Madison to the contemporary Oedipus complex or the rise of the bromance, Millsboro resident Timothy Shary says the role of male characters in American cinema is changing.

In his fourth book, “Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema,” the film and pop-culture professor examines what he sees as a shift in the roles played by men since the end of the 20th century.

The book, collection of essays, resonates with a lot of people, Shary said. "Even though only half the population is men, the other half has to deal with them," he said.

Since the rise of feminism, he said, a generation of men has matured and a generation of males has come of age post-feminism, Shary's book examines the new aspects of male relationships that have been portrayed in millennial cinema.

"The book tries to move beyond the assumption that men are challenged by feminism," he said. "Now more movies are considering men's actions in a more holistic way."

Contributor Maria San Filippo contributed an essay on the rise of the bromance, or loving male-male friendships in post-millennial cinema.

San Filippo, a visiting lecturer on gender studies at Wellesley and Harvard, wrote in an email that she wanted to address changing male relationships in cinema and gender studies.

She said gender studies has long focused on women, so a collection centered on masculinity provides a valuable voice in the conversation.

Her essay on the bromance, she said, reveals insights into the modern-day processes of policing male gender roles, male relationships with one another, metrosexuality and marriage equality.

At the start of the collection, scholar and essayist Aaron Taylor examines Adam Sandler’s onscreen arrested adolescence and a broader spectrum of options and socially acceptable personality attributes that now exist for men confronted by the question, “What kind of man are you?”

“Popular cinema remains a vibrant and important means by which viewers can consider the possibilities, roles, choices and values available to them.” Taylor wrote in an email. Among other issues, the essays also address alternative sexuality and race for contemporary men.

"Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema" is available at, Barnes and and other online book sellers.