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  • Titill er á ensku The Privilege of Pain: "Manpain" and the Suffering Hero in the Supernatural Series
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    Throughout history, the figure of the hero has occupied a central position in the narratives of Western cultures. Although the ways in which this figure is viewed and written/performed change over time, he remains the representative of his society’s privileged groups, incarnated overwhelmingly as a heterosexual, Caucasian male.
    The present-day hero can, for example, be observed in the U.S. TV series Supernatural (2005–). The series stars two quintessential heroes, and its overarching story takes the form of a hero’s quest. It has acquired a reputation for using many narrative devices associated with the hero, especially its use of a trope recently dubbed manpain.
    When the traditional hero experiences a trauma, he often suffers from manpain. This is the narrative voice—the set of values and beliefs embedded in the narrative—that privileges the experience of the straight, white, male hero over those of any other character. The narrative is coded as belonging exclusively to the manpained hero, and the portrayal of suffering becomes a means of establishing his intrinsic worth. However, while he enjoys supreme subjectivity, pain is also used to objectify him. In highly aesthetic images of blood, tears and brooding, the manpained hero becomes both meaning-maker and fetish object.
    Making use of Laura Mulvey’s and Steve Neale’s writings on the cinematic gaze, as well as various works on narrative structure and masculinities, I attempt to clarify and analyze the concept of manpain. I demonstrate how it manifests in the Supernatural series and what purpose it serves within the series’ overarching story.

  • 16.1.2014

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