White - The White Man's Muscles Summary & Analysis

Richard Dyer
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Summary

In this chapter, Dyer examines adventure films in colonial settings which feature white actors with a “champion o build” (146) body. The emphasis in the investigation falls on the exposure of white male bodies and their muscle, for to Dyer “bodybuilding in popular culture articulates white masculinity. The body shapes it cultivates and the way it presents them draw on a number of white traditions” (148). Figures such as Tarzan, Hercules, and Rambo carry “connotations of whiteness: [their bodies are] ideal, hard, achieved, wealthy, hairless, and tanned” (150). Yet, the whiteness inherent to actors’ bodies in such films is also linked to Greek and Roman ideals – to empire, expansion, strength, but also suffering and sacrifice.

In films rooted in colonialism featuring hero figures, such as Tarzan, Dyer says that there is often a literal journey of white people into colonized areas, often represented through...

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This section contains 1,090 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the White Study Guide
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