On a screen darkly: Outback Noir, Erasure and Toxic Masculinity

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Australian cinema's depiction of male-on-male rape offers a lens for understanding homosociality, erasure and justice within Australia and other jurisdictions. Male rape is an assault that objectifies the victim and valorises the perpetrator as both powerful and outside the rules. It is a feature of the Australian screen in four iconic works: Wake in Fright, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Mad Max and Ghosts ... of the Civil Dead. They involve brutality in an environment in which legal authority is absent, weak or indifferent. It is a homosocial environment in which 'mates', men whose deepest emotional relationships are with each other, are complicit bystanders. They are contemptuous or even amused by the 'unmanning' of a victim through force or intoxication, placed outside their brotherhood and without a redemptive ending. The films offer a dark view of complicity and violence within a land where bystanders valorise force and perform homosocial solidarity through silence about harms. More broadly, they tell us something interesting about anxieties at the heart of toxic masculinity and about the efficacy of law where victimisation excludes men from justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-98
Number of pages20
JournalCanberra Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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