Straw Dogs: Sam Peckinpah’s Cultural meditation on Violence and Masculinity

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Authors
Louie, Thomas
Advisor
Hansen, Alan
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Date of Issue
2024
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Title
Straw Dogs: Sam Peckinpah’s Cultural meditation on Violence and Masculinity
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Abstract
The removal of the Hollywood Film Production Code in 1968 spawned a new era of filmmakers that challenged many American social norms. Among these filmmakers was Sam Peckinpah, who’s revolutionary film Straw Dogs explored masculinity, clashing cultures, and gender dynamics in all its dark, violent nature. Following a mild-mannered mathematician who slowly falls into a cycle of violence, Straw Dogs captures the long held notion that to be a man requires violent rites of passage, and that love, family, and home are sacrificed in these brutal tests of manhood. Still a very controversial film to this day for its portrayal of violence, misogyny, and depravity, Straw Dogs provides a unique case study for aggression theory, and whether these masculine behaviors are intrinsic or learned. In a film that holds a mirror up to society, condemning it as crude, violent, and uncivilized, Sam Peckinpah displays the harsh nature of masculinity and violence, but leaves it up to the viewer as to how it needs to be addressed.
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Communication