Affirmative Reaction explores the cultural politics of hetero-normative white masculine privilege in the United States. Through close readings of texts ranging from the popular television drama 24 to the Marvel Comics miniseries The Call of Duty, ...
and from the reality show American Chopper to the movie Million Dollar Baby, Hamilton Carroll argues that the true privilege of white masculinityoand its defining strategyois not to be unmarked, universal, or invisible, but to be mobile and mutable. He describes how, in response to the perceived erosions of privilege produced by post-civil rights era identity politics, white masculinity has come to rely on the very discourses of difference that unsettled its claims on the universal; it has redefined itself as a marginalized identity. Throughout Affirmative Reaction, Carroll examines the kinds of difference white masculinity claims for itself as it attempts to hold onto or maintain majority privilege. Whether these are traditional sites of minority differenceosuch as Irishness, white trash, or domestic melodramaoor reworked sites of masculinist investmentoincluding labouring bodies, public-sphere politics, and vigilantismothe outcome is the same: the foregrounding of white masculinity over and against women, people of colour, and the non-hetero-normative. By revealing the strategies through which white masculinity is produced as a formal difference, Carroll sheds new light on the ways that privilege is accrued and maintained.