Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Film Studies

First Advisor

Melinda Barlow


Gun violence and mass shootings are talked about a lot in today’s media. Guns are also used frequently in many films. America has an undeniable problem with the frequency of mass shootings, and gun control has been at the forefront to try and solve this problem. However, this thesis examines how masculinity plays a role in these shootings and gun violence in general. This study aims to look at how guns are represented in film and media and how this is tied to masculinity, specifically by closely analyzing three films: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962), Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003), and Loves Her Gun (Geoff Marslett, 2013). Guns play a central role in the classic western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and masculinity is put into question and regained by the use of the gun. One of the most infamous mass shootings in American history is recreated and explored in Elephant, which also has masculine implications. Loves Her Gun looks at how masculine power is attained by a woman who has been attacked on the streets of New York. This thesis aims to explore and argue that America’s gun violence problem has more to do with masculinity, but first-and-foremost needs to be looked at in a different light and discussed more thoroughly.