8th February seminar-Benjamin Michael Litherland: ‘Hitman vs Fatton’s Tale of the Tape: Boxing, Binging and Masculinity’

This Tuesday 8th February, in SB317, from 1-2pm. All welcome.

Benjamin Michael Litherland (Media and Film, Sussex)

‘Hitman vs Fatton’s Tale of the Tape: Boxing, Binging and Masculinity’

Chair: Nick McGlynn

Abstract

The body of boxer Ricky Hatton has occupied two distinct but related discourses in the popular press: chiselled, muscular fighting machine, nicknamed ‘The Hitman’ in the sports pages, and flabby, binge-drinking, grotesque symbol of excess, affectionately if somewhat cruelly dubbed ‘Ricky Fatton’ by opponents and reporters alike. In both instances Hatton’s body was dissected and discussed with implicit and explicit detail and his anatomy analysed in a manner usually reserved for female celebrities; but where female bodies are almost exclusively described in overtly sexualised terms, Hatton’s body offered a seemingly more confused reading. If, as Dyer has suggested, stars serve to reconcile contradictions, the body of Hatton represents two contrary views of the working-class male body in late-capitalism: it is a site of production, discipline and action, all historically masculine traits; but it is also vulnerable to feminised hedonism and passive consumption in the unrelenting search for uncontrolled please. Where muscles connote self-discipline, strength and individualism, and soft bodies represent welfare dependency, weakness and deficiency, what are we to make of Ricky Hatton? The presentation, then, will analyse the ideology of Hatton’s body, paying particular attention to the hegemony of sport in general and boxing in particular, and its relationship to heterosexual masculinity, race and class; the competing commodification and subjugation of the male body; and the anxieties and pleasures elicited from the working-class male body in popular culture. In short, what do the tabloid’s reactions to Hatton tell us about our relationship to our own bodies?

Ben’s Research interests are: sociology of sport; sport and leisure history; popular culture history; the body and popular culture.

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