Adolescence and its psychological phases in Tom Cruise’s 1980s teen films

O'Neill, Patrick (2020) Adolescence and its psychological phases in Tom Cruise’s 1980s teen films. In: Redmond, Sean, (ed.) Starring Tom Cruise. Detroit, U.S. : Wayne State University Press. (In Press)

Abstract

This chapter investigates the Tom Cruise teenage screen persona with reference to three films which were part of the 1980s teen genre: Losin It’, Risky Business and All the Right Moves. Much of the existing scholarly work on Cruise focuses on textual issues such as performative masculinity, body image, the gaze and stardom. This research goes further by arguing that his persona can be examined by linking his characters’ behaviour to issues concerning adolescence and its psychology, for example: sexuality, virginity loss and rebellion. This shifts the focus away from the cinematic text and relies more on internal, psychological forces that motivate and shape his characters and their stories – all set against the changing sociopolitcal landscape of the Reagan era. Using a psychosocial approach will offer an alternative reading of the Cruise persona in these teen films, compared to the more orthodox perspectives.

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