Campbell, you have some issues

A paper I wrote on bruce campbell for film class.
November 18, 2011

Men have been defined many ways in society and in many ways have taken part in male identities that were passed down through the generations. Masculinity has been tarnished and undermined by these male identities such as inflated egos, chauvinist qualities and anti-feminist ideals. Though it has been a struggle, men have been maturing and growing out of these more primitive social roles. Bruce Campbell's persona seemly seeks to bring back that primitive immaturity and to support and to revive these male stereotypes back into modern culture. Campbell's persona, however, seeks mock those forms of male identities. According to Campbell's persona, traditional masculinity is seen as powerful but also immature and primitive.

In Battleground: Women, Gender, and Sexuality, (2008). Describing Jackson Katz's research on gender, Lori Girshick states, "Beginning at early age, boys are socialized to discount the opinions of girls and women and to objectify them sexually" (173). Campbell's characters tend to carry an idea of women as sexual objects. In Evil Dead 2 (1987), Ash, takes a girl out to the woods to have sex with her. In Army of Darkness (1992), Ash treats Sheila in a secondhand matter. He mocks her blanket that she made for him by calling it a "horse blanket", used her for sex and called the words they exchanged together "pillow talk" and nothing more than that. At the end he is seen talking to a co-worker and telling her about his experiences to likely get her sympathy and seduce her. Another interesting idea that comes up was his encounters batting many undead women without the film, even including the character of Sheila, herself, which could be seen as man handling women, which according to the viewer is ok because they are monsters. In Serving Sara (2002), his character Gordon, was portrayed as a Texan that juggles relationships with multiple women and in My Name is Bruce (2007), his character continually tries to seduce Kelly in the film. This characteristic sets up an idea that it is natural for men to be dominant in the relationship of males and females. This idea can also be shown with the movie posters for the evil dead films. The posters give an idea that women need a man to fight their battles for them giving the idea that they are inferior to the man and whatever he says goes.

This idea was also supported by the fact that according to Campbell's written Autobiography titled If chins could kill: Confessions of a B movie actor (2001), he said that "Evil Dead 2 required my character, Ash, to grow from "cowardly wimp" to "Leader of men""(173). This idea of being a leader of men shows that he is making an effort to make an impression on other men and at the same time, that men are leaders. In which he calls him "the king" in Army of Darkness, Serving Sara, and he plays the "the king" Elvis in Bubba Ho-Tep (2002).

There is also an idea that he has a form of comical ways of seducing women. He is often turned down many times because of his approaches toward them. Campbell's characters are known to include racy and pathetic come ons to women. In this idea of Campbell's persona it seeks to tare away at the stereotypical male identity, in an attempt to fix society by exposing its weak points. In the case of this characteristic, it shows that men who treat women poorly will get a poor response back from them, which leads to correct that inappropriate behavior. In My Name is Bruce, he called a waitress "baby cakes" to which she replied "wait your turn, jerk". In another scene, when he first came to the town of Goldlick he called Kelly "sweet cakes" and said "if you're lucky a little later you can play with my boomstick" to which Kelly was appalled. In Evil Dead 2, Ashes character states "why don't you say we have some champagne hey, baby" after all I'm a man and you're a woman, at least the last time I checked" to which Linda notes in a tired and bored voice ok... That gives an idea that his cheesy remarks don't work, however before this moment when Ash was treating her normally, Linda was seemly more interested in Ash. In Serving Sara, Gordon was seen being successful with women. However, these women are cheap and displayed as unintelligent giving the idea that brighter women would have clearly seen through Gordon's cheap personality. In The Love Bug (1997), in the beginning of the film, Hank's charm does not work on broken relationship of him and Alex.

Girshick notes that "Men" are seen as acting more in their own self-interest rather than altruistically (Folbre 1994) (176). and Campbell's persona also focuses on male self-centeredness. In which Campbell's characters display a higher than since of importance on themselves then on other people. In Army of Darkness, when he was found to be a hero after destroying the creatures in the pit, they treated Ash like a king and had servants feed him food when it lounged in a royal chair and burped. Also later on in the film when he reclaimed necronomicon, he did not recite the words properly, which caused the army of the dead to rise from the grave. But to Ash this was not his problem. He clearly stated it on the way back by saying "I am through being their garbage boy; I did my part now I want back." He also told the people that "we had a deal, you wanted the damn book, I got it for you, I did my part, now you send me back." In My Name is Bruce, while he was relaxing on a movie set he had people waiting on him hand and foot. When Jeff came to him to ask him for his help with the monster Guan-Di and Bruce said "I need my sleep" and told him to "f*** off." When Bruce came into town in of Goldlick he tells Jeff that he does not care about the mayor's welcome Saying "I don't give a s***, if he is the king of kiss my a**. I just spend the last six hours in a truck and I want some answers." In Cloudy with a chance of meatballs (2009), Campbell's character as the mayor of town of chew and shallow only had his own agenda in mind. He sets up a sardine amusement park in order to attract more consumerism, with the motive of what the consumers will provide him. The biggest need in the film however, was food provided by flint's machine and the mayor will do anything to get it, even with flints warning that bad events are likely to happen because of it. This idea sets up the stereotype that men are lazy and that's just what they are. It gives the idea that men can't help it, their born with it in their hormones. Basically, this idea of the couch and the remote can be seen with famous TV dad's Al Bundy and Homer Simpson. It also gives an idea of stubbornness. Basically, in which men say 'if I'm going to do it, then I'm going to do it and no one is going to change my mind about it', which can be seen with men and driving directions.

But this also gives an idea of satire against it. In Army of Darkness, after ash proclaimed his desire to go home he was treated poorly by all of the town's people and as they were all walking away he said "so when do you think we can start with all the ceremony and..Uh..." In My name is Bruce, the character Kelly conveys to Bruce that his selfishness was immature and that if he wants to woo her he better start growing up. This humor has a more serious side to it, that helps to enforce the idea that selfishness is a sign of male immaturity. In The Love Bug, Roddy goes with Hank to the contest and notices that every one keeps walking past the love bug car and says "This is like when you were a kid and they were picking sides for kickball, I was always picked last. I always hated that." Hank takes an altruistic stand and volunteers to work on the love bug, which he told Roddy was a "piece of junk", in the contest, while everybody laughed at him. In Tornado (1996), Jake was seen as an altruistic character in that his quest was to see that the tornado predictor P.A.T.T.I. was proven successful, which in turn would save many lives upon its success.

Lastly, there is an idea that Girshick states, again commenting on Katz, where men define themselves "in terms of power, control, dominance, and entitlement" (173) and Girshick, herself, notes the idea that men have to be rational (176). This can be seen through Bruce Campbell's characteristic of being a "bad a**", which gives an idea that men are not meant to be feminine or show signs of affection toward other men and that males should have claim to their territories with other men. In this is shown in a since with Campbell's sarcasm which he uses to establish his male boundaries and show that he is no one to mess around with. In the Spiderman films (2002, 2004, 2007), Campbell's characters use their sarcasm to control Peter Parker and show peter that Campbell was the alpha male. In Evil Dead 2, with a threat to shallow his soul he says "shallow this". In Army of Darkness, Ash played around with Lord Arthur by playing the "your shoe laces are untied" joke and scared the town's people with his shotgun saying "this is my boomstick!" Ash also is asked who he was by Henry the red and he replied by asking who he was first and then responding "well hello Mr. Fancy pants". "You have two things left right now, jack and s***, and jack left town." Ash by saying that prevents having to open up to another male while also showing he was the more dominant male. More ideas of emotion come into play at the end when he is talking with a co-worker telling her his story and she state's "that's kind of cute', to which Campbell just awkwardly smiles in way that could imply uncomfortably. In Spiderman 2 (2004) when Campbell played a theater usher, he put up a front when peter tried to tell him how important it was that he was able to see Mary Jane's performance. Bruce also uses swearing to increase territorial like personas in movies such as Army of Darkness, My Name is Bruce and Serving Sara. This characteristic can be also shown in fan based materials with jokes such as "If Bruce Campbell was Gay his name would be Chuck Norris.", "Behind every successful man is a woman and behind her is Bruce Campbell", and "Clint Eastwood stopped doing Dirty Harry movies after Bruce came along." as shown on These ideas set up a social boundary that men should keep distance from each other and should avoid showing emotion.

There is also the idea that this territorial and anti-emotion characteristic is second rated and becoming a true man is to own up to your true feelings for each other. In My Name is Bruce, Bruce says to Kelly "it's not easy for me to express my true feelings" as he is advantaging toward her to kiss her and even says "I'm a little shy that's why I come on so strong," In Serving Sara, even though Gordon wants Sara to be served he still does not want her hurt. In Army of Darkness, Ash is responsible for getting Henry the Red and Lord Arthur to reunite and even hug. These ideas are more serious in his films even humor does still appear in them. In The Love Bug, Chuck is arguing with Campbell's character Hank and tells him how he's been messing up at work, while telling him that one of his trusted employees recommended him. Chuck tells Hank that his last chance is to enter a mechanics contest otherwise he's fired. When Hank hears this news he says "come on Chuck you can't be serious, this must be one of those tough love things." In this scene, Hank was more upset with Chuck's emotions than angry, almost like he has let down a father figure. In Tornado, Jake was seen having a rough relationship with Samantha, in which one of the main causes for that was his sarcasm. However, when Jake takes Samantha to the airport he begins to open up to her telling her his grandmother died. After Jake was finished talking, Samantha said "for two people who not supposed to like each other we sure do talk a lot." What this showed was that even though Campbell's character was in a way fighting the connection between him and the female character, he eventually gave way into opening up, supporting the idea that real and mature men tell people and women how they really feel.

Bruce Campbell's persona seems to have a struggle between the support of traditional male identities and a satirical stance against them. This seems to be a struggle where the satire is more so, forcing a non- traditional male view, that is more liberating in nature. Campbell's persona seems to introduce these traditional male identities, while at the same dismissing them as humorous and childlike. Curiously, what Campbell's persona portrays is the opposite of what it sets up to represent, a healthy, emotional, mature and sophisticated male identity.

Work Cited
~*~ Bruce Campbell Facts ~*~. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. .
Army of Darkness. Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz and Marcus Gilbert. Universal Pictures, 1992.
Bubba Ho-Tep. Dir.Don Coscarelli. Perf. Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, and Ella Joyce. Sliver Sphere Corporation, 2002.
Campbell, Bruce. If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor : an Autobiography. New York: LA Weekly Book for Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2001. Print.
Cloudy with a chance of meatballs, Dir Phil Lord and Chris miller. Perf. Bill Hader, Anna faris and James Caan. Columbia Pictures, 2009.
Digital image. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. .
Digital image. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. .
Digital image. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. .
Evil Dead 2, Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf.Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, and Dan hicks. Rosebud Communications Releasing, 1987.
Girshick, Lori. “Femininities and Masculinities.” Battleground: Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Lind, Amy, and Stephanie Brzuzy, 2008. 173-176. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.
The Love Bug. Dir. Peyton Reed. Perf Bruce Campbell, John Hannah and Alexandra Wentworth. Buena Vista Television, 1997.
My Name is Bruce. Dir. Bruce Campbell. Perf. Bruce Campbell, Grace Thorsen, and Taylor Sharpe. Image Entertainment, 2007.
Serving Sara. Dir. Reginald Hudlin. Perf Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, and Bruce Campbell. Paramount Pictures, 2002.
Spider-Man. Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, and Kirsten Dunst. Columbia Pictures, 2002.
Spider-Man 2. Dir Sam Raimi. Perf Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. Columbia Pictures, 2004.
Spider-Man 3. Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. Columbia Pictures, 2007.
Tornado!. Dir. Noel Nosseck. Perf. Bruce Campbell, Shannon Sturges and Ernie Hudson. Hallmark entertainment, 1996.
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