Masculinity and Popular Culture Conference @ University of Southampton

10 Feb

Hey guys! I know this is totally outside the scope of my regular blog, but I thought of sharing another of my interests. So if you don’t have anything to do on the 5th of March, come to see our paper 😉

Solar

‘The Role of Lucha Libre in the Construction of Mexican Male Identity’

Javier Pereda and Patricia Murrieta-Flores

Lucha Libre has played an important role in Mexican culture since the late 1950s. At its early stage, wrestling from the United States and the French “Catch as Catch Can” blended within popular Mexican culture absorbing its social, political and mythical idiosyncrasy, evolving later into what it would be known as Lucha Libre. This sport has become famous mainly due to its masked wrestlers which embed their family traditions, beliefs and fears into the design of their masks, allowing them to transform a regular person into a fearless character.

After the introduction of the Monsters Cinema in the 1930s, the Mexican audience started to adopt several characters like Lugosi’s Dracula, Nostradamus, Frankenstein and The Werewolf. The success of Monster Cinema in Mexican culture is based on the integration of national legends and beliefs, placing them in local and very identifiable places for the Mexican populous.  Later, there was the introduction of La Llorona (The Crying Woman, 1933), La Mujer Sin Cabeza (The Headless Woman, 1944) and La Momia Azteca (The Aztec Mummy, 1957). The moment that Lucha Libre Cinema mixes with Monster Cinema, new heroes and myths were born.  These emergent heroes of the Mexican metropolis were setting the standards of how Mexicans wanted to be perceived along with the cultural and moral standards of that time.

Although the Lucha Libre cinema portrays a very dominant masculine figure, in its beginning it was contradictory to the image of the traditional male depicted in the conventional Mexican cinema, which used to present authoritative “macho” characters. By 1965 there was an interesting addition with the movie Las Luchadoras vs. La Momia (The Wrestling Women vs. The Mummy, 1964), in which women were empowered and overtake the super hero lead in the Lucha Libre Cinema and the sport.

Through this paper we will present the main social interaction of male wrestlers who perform as heroes inside the celluloid and outside of it. We will explore how masculinity and the male figure evolved in Lucha Libre Cinema, and the processes they have to undertake in order to be able to still portray as superheroes of an evolving and fast growing Mexico.

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