‘Masculinity in thrall to itself is ruthless’: Jacqueline Rose on ‘Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi and the ugly face of patriarchal power’ in the Guardian, 20 December 2013.
1974: Lucan, ITV – two parts. 11 December 2013 and 18 December 2013.
1963: The Great Train Robbery, BBC – two parts. 18 December 2013 and 19 December 2013.
What is happening to masculinity on the television? These two dramas with (almost) entirely male casts, certainly male-orientated casts, following men in thrall to each other and their masculinities. Think of the most recent series of Sherlock… the gushing second episode of Watson’s wedding, where he was really accepting vows from Sherlock himself. And its finale, with the menage of Sherlock, Watson and Mycroft triangulated together. With massive television audiences, it is not just masculinity in thrall to itself, but us in thrall to masculinity, and a masculinity that acknowledges a necessity for homosocial bonding, that always already flirts with something more – an exclusive maleness.
Bruce Reynolds has it right in The Great Train Robbery: ‘”It’s the camaraderie – trusting other men with everything you know, with your life. You of all people should know what that feels like”‘ – he says this to DCS Tommy Butler of the equally masculine Flying Squad.
It is the bust of Lord Lucan, at the end of Lucan, that is perhaps the most hauntingly masculine though. The bust resides in John Aspinall’s casino, Aspinall who believes so fervently in an animal kingdom masculinity as a ‘perfect’ order. There were four busts of famous gamblers commissioned, but ‘Lucky Lucan’ is ultimately hidden, and thereby quarantined. The inscription – concerning his children – one of the most ruthless masculinity.