Film Paper Essays Example
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Crime, Men, Army, Armed Forces, Cinema, Movies, Women, Sexual Abuse
The General’s Daughter, a movie adaption of Nelson DeMille’s novel of the same name is a movie that showcases typical and sometimes stereotypical masculine behaviors. It is also a movie where the three tenements of bro-code can be found shown more or less throughout the movie. The movie follows the murder investigation of an Army captain, Elizabeth Campbell. The crime scene where her body lays spread eagled with her limbs tied to ropes makes the crime different from other murders. The murder is investigated by two army cops who in the process of finding the killer reveal some very ugly truths about the Army base and the men who form a majority there.
Although the movie is not an authentic portrayal of Army life with some incidents blown out of proportion for the film medium, it does bring out some ugly truths about the idea of masculinity and accepted manly behavior in the Army as well as the media. One of the most important of the bro-codes is the code of supremacy, a theory in which the fraternal order is the highest communal area and on in which all men must show support and fealty to each other. The Army is a much more rigid space than a normal society where men are expected to play certain roles. A soldier has to vow allegiance not only to his country but he is also expected to be extremely loyal to his colleagues, his superiors, his contingent and the Army as a whole.
The movie brings out this aspect of the bro-code brilliantly. The father of the murdered captain is willing to let the daughter suffer in silence after she is raped and not bring the rapists to justice because talking about it or taking action on it would mean that the image of his base and Army would take a beating. His reasoning is that filing a rape case against soldiers who are in a boot camp would mean that it would reverse the strides made by women in the army and that it would scare women from joining the Army. Although there is a bit of truth in his rationalization, the actual truth is that he is loyal to the Army and that loyalty to the institution and his fellow soldiers (men) is what makes him put them over the interests of his daughter. He would rather let his daughter live with the trauma of the rape and also live with seeing her rapists go scot-free rather than initiate an investigation. It is not just the father of the victim who is colluding with others to keep the matter silent but most of the characters in the movie who would not give up their comrade in arms. The investigators are with a lot of stonewalling when they try to interview possible suspects or people who knew anything about the rape or the murder. The men in the Army station try to cover for one another in spite of knowing that withholding evidence is a crime. Their personal feelings towards a fellow officer and moral obligation to bring her killer to justice are put aside to prevent other soldiers who might get into trouble. They either do not answer the questions or try to be evasive as much as possible. Their support and fealty to their fellow officers and soldiers tide over their moral obligation to someone from the other gender.
Going along with the code of supremacy is the code of silence, one of the other important bro-codes. It is a theory in which it is suggested that the universal male fraternity or mind is constantly keeping itself in check to uphold the illusion of the supremacy they adhere. A rape has less to do with lustful feelings and sexuality and is a lot about exercising control over someone else’s body and mind. There are portions in the movie where it is suggested that the rape could have taken place because of the insecurity of the soldiers over having a female who was as strong as them and more intelligent. It was one way the rapists could exert their power over a woman officer. Worse than the rape was the act of covering it up. The men all come together trying to cover up what had happened. There is an attitude among them that this is an act that was bound to happen when you put a lot of men together and a few women without giving them a break to otherwise satisfy their desires. The rape is then seen as something that was inevitable and that raping a woman in these circumstances was not premeditated but a result of the circumstances the men were put in. Rape here is justified. The men’s actions are upheld by other men. They keep it a secret partly out of loyalty and partly because they can understand the feelings of the fellow officers. Violence, sexual or otherwise then becomes an accepted trait of men and is seen as a masculine behavior. The men who do not take part in the violence also believe that it is a status quo that must be kept up as they understand why it happens.
The Code of the Homo-Social Panic is a theory in which men fear to be perceived as homo-sexual or effeminate. To be seen as nothing other than a normative male, would expel them from the fraternal order. Anything to take away the manhood of a man. The shrink in the movie played by James Wood is a homosexual. Rather than come out as gay, he is willing to take the blame for the rape and murder of the captain who also happens to be his friend. The fact that he cannot come out openly as gay tells a lot about the society and the Army environment that he is a part of. An army officer or a soldier needs is looked upon as the epitome of masculinity-courageous, brave, brash and strong. Being gay is seen as effeminate behavior (even though it is not true) by people at large and to be found out as gay in the army is catastrophic for any soldier. A gay man then not only hides his sexuality as Woods does in the movie but takes pain to look more masculine just to fit in and not be ridiculed or hurt.
The movie is a not a classic or even a great movie to watch but is one of the movies where stereotypical characterizations of men are brought out intentionally or unintentionally. Nowhere but in a military setting would bro-code would be enforced with zeal and this movie is a good example where bro-codes could be seen. Subscribing to bro-codes says a lot not only about the men but also the society on the whole. It is due to active encouragement and passive acceptance of these behaviors that violence and aggressive masculinity continues.