Aquatic Heterosexual Love and Wondrous Cliché Stereotypes: Amphibian Masculinity, the Beast Bridegroom Motif and ‘the Other’ in The Shape of Water

Olle Jilkén, Lina Johansson


This paper addresses the representation of masculinities in the award-winning romantic fantasy film The Shape of Water (2017). The study examines how The Shape of Water communicates with other texts and myths portraying aquatic entities such as Gill Man from The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and how the movie is tied to the folkloric tradition of monstrous love interest. Further, the text investigates how otherness is portrayed and constructed through the different representations in the movie. The paper concludes that the film’s diverse characters create a superficial appearance of an understanding for marginalised subjects. The Shape of Water is a classic beast bridegroom fairy tale with stagnated representations of feminine and masculine ideals that turn ‘the other’ into an instrument of self-realisation for a white subject. Moreover, the Amphibian Man is differentiated from his aquatic female counterparts through traditional masculine attributes such as a muscular body type, a reptilian appearance and being two-legged instead of having a fishtail.


The Shape of Water film); Masculinity; Media Studies

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