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Masculinity and Popular Television$
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Rebecca Feasey

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748627974

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627974.001.0001

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Science fiction and fantasy television: challenging dominant gender roles

Science fiction and fantasy television: challenging dominant gender roles

Chapter:
(p.56) 6. Science fiction and fantasy television: challenging dominant gender roles
Source:
Masculinity and Popular Television
Author(s):

Rebecca Feasey

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627974.003.0006

Telefantasy covers a wide range of science fiction and fantasy texts such as interplanetary travel, encounters with aliens, advanced technology and visions of the future. Moreover, it routinely draws on different times and distant planets in order to reflect contemporary social, cultural and political concerns. Because telefantasy is not confined and limited to naturalistic and realistic conventions, this genre provides an excellent platform for alternative representations of sexuality and gender on television. This chapter looks at the history of telefantasy before examining the ways in which contemporary American texts such as Firefly and Farscape can be seen to both challenge and conform common sense assumptions about hegemonic masculinity and the male role in society. It also discusses the ways in which these contemporary texts seek to present an alternative action hero who can combine the supposedly feminine traits of emotionality, sensitivity and connectedness with those traditional masculine qualities of bravery, strength and dominance. Therefore, telefantasy can be seen to explore the possibilities of social change and examine the very real notion of a culture beyond gender differentiation and sex-role stereotyping.

Keywords:   telefantasy, science fiction, sexuality, gender, Firefly, Farscape, alternative action hero, social change, gender differentiation, sex-role stereotyping

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