Iconic war images and the myth of the ‘good American Soldier’ | Media, War & Conflict

Published: 23 May 2023

May 23rd, 2023 | This article explores the ‘good American soldier’ as a gendered ideal type shaped by, and reproductive of, myths about American military success, romantic notions of small-town working and white America, notions of heterosexual virility, and ableist stereotypes about personal resilience. Drawing from an analysis of 10 years of media coverage of an iconic image dubbed the ‘Marlboro Marine’, the article outlines three specific myths linked to the ‘good American soldier’, in order to provide an insight into ideals of militarized masculinity and the gendered myths that shape American nationalism and identity. In developing this analysis, the article extends existing work on military masculinities by introducing the ‘good American soldier’ ideal type and explores the multiple myths associated with this ideal type. The article also demonstrates how a media narrative analysis that covers an extended period of time makes it possible to observe shifting narratives associated with the ‘good American soldier’.

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