Cross-dressing comedies: performativity of gender(s) in Tootsie and Mrs Doubtfire

Palmieri, Antonella (2006) Cross-dressing comedies: performativity of gender(s) in Tootsie and Mrs Doubtfire. Other thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Item Type:Thesis (Other)
Item Status:Live Archive


Through an analysis of Tootsie (Sidney Pollack, 1982, USA) and Mrs Doubtfire (Chris Columbus, 1993, USA), this dissertation will attempt to explore the cultural notions of gender(s) representation within the framework of male cross-dressing in mainstream cinema. In Chapter 1, after a brief overview of the notion of gender, attention will be given to the functions and characteristics of transvestism in popular cinema and to the reasons why, for being potentially threatening of ideological fixity, cross-dressing has been contained within the safe borders of the comedy genre. The issue of male heterosexuality as never completely repressed in mainstream male cross-dressing cinema will be also addressed. Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 will be devoted to an analysis of the film texts on which the argument of this dissertation is located. It will be argued that a reading of the films’ (sub)text reveals the endurance of ideologically informed notions of gender(s) in that they propose stereotypical representations of femininity and masculinity. In Chapter 2, an investigation of Tootsie will help illustrate the extent to which Hollywood imitated feminist models with mockery and derision at a time when women were seeking self-definition outside the traditional contexts of marriage and family. In Chapter 3, it will be suggested that in Mrs. Doubtfire a notion of gendered family roles comes to be constructed that reifies traditionalist discourses of femininity and masculinity in order to reassert patriarchal conceptualisation of genders. To conclude, it will be argued that popular cinema as a cultural product is a major site for articulating cultural fantasies of a society in a specific time and place. It will be proposed that in this respect, successful male-to-female cross-dressing comedies Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire can be regarded as exemplary texts, in that they exemplify the1980s and the1990s culture’s fascination for genders and gender roles.

Keywords:Hollywood cinema, Male-to-female cross-dressing, Gendered family roles
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:16847
Deposited On:01 Mar 2015 19:18

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