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Neal M. King

Neal M. King, Professor

Neal M. King, Professor
Neal M. King, Professor

Department of Sociology
642 McBryde Hall
225 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-8174 |

I study gender in popular culture, focusing on two fields: men’s accounts of their aging, and Hollywood storytelling about violent heroism. Most of the research has focused on cop movies and television shows focused on male heroes, and then interview research with middle-aged men as they figure out how to grow old in a world that sells anti-aging products to them.

My first two books focused on violent heroism in Hollywood movies. My third focused on controversies over the release of The Passion of the Christ in 2004, and my latest, co-authored with doctoral students at Virginia Tech, looks at current trends in gender inequality on popular screens. Most of my journal articles and chapters look either at slices of popular cinema and television, or at men’s accounts of their aging process.

My journal articles include smaller studies of cinema and television, and then my cooperative work in feminist gerontology on aging men, an international collaboration with Toni Calasanti, Virginia Tech; Ilkka Pietilä, University of Helsinki; and Hanna Ojala, Tampere University, Finland.

Current work is focused on mean girl movies from Hollywood and the production of a century of cop cinema and television.

  • Gender and age inequality
  • Production of Hollywood cinema and television
  • Sexual violence
  • Media violence
  • Masculinity
  • Ph.D. in Sociology, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1996
  • M.S. in Sociology, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1990
  • B.S. in Sociology, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1987
  • Department Graduate Committee (chair)
  • IT Committee, GSA (past chair)


King, Neal, Rayanne Streeter, Jess Herling, and Talitha Rose. 2018. Gender in Film and Video. Routledge.

King, Neal. 2011. The Passion of the Christ. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

McCaughey, Martha and Neal King, editors. 2001. Reel knockouts: Violent women in the movies. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.

King, Neal. 1999. Heroes in hard times: Cop action movies in the U.S. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Journal Articles

  • Calasanti, Toni and Neal King. 2018. “The Dynamic Nature of Gender and Aging Bodies.” Journal of Aging Studies 45:11-17.
  • Calasanti, Toni, Neal King, Ilkka Pietilä and Hanna Ojala. 2018. “Rationales for Anti-Aging Activities in Middle Age: Aging, Health, or Appearance?” The Gerontologist 58(2):233-41.
  • Pietilä, Ilkka, Toni Calasanti, Ojala Hanna, and Neal King. 2017. “Is Retirement a Crisis for Men? Class and Adjustment to Retirement.” Men and Masculinities.
  • Ojala, Hanna, Calasanti, Toni, King, Neal, Pietilä, Ilkka. 2016. “Natural(ly) Men: Masculinity and gendered anti-aging practices in Finland and the USA.” Ageing & Society 36:356-75
  • King, Neal and Toni Calasanti. 2013. “Men’s aging amidst intersecting relations of inequality.” Sociology Compass 7:699-710.
  • King, Neal. 2013. “Calling Dirty Harry a liar: A critique of displacement theories of popular criminology.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 11:171-190.
  • Pietilä, Ilkka, Hanna Ojala, Neal King, and Toni Calasanti. 2013. “Ageing male bodies, health, and the reproduction of age relations.” Journal of Aging Studies 27:243-251.
  • Calasanti, Toni, Ilkka Pietilä, Hanna Ojala, and Neal King. 2013. “Men, bodily control, and health behaviors: The importance of age.” Health Psychology 32:15-23.
  • King, Neal and Toni M. Calasanti. 2009. “Ageing agents: Social gerontologists’ imputations to old people.” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 29:38-48.
  • King, Neal. 2008. “Generic womanhood: Gendered depictions in cop action cinema.” Gender & Society 22:238-260.
  • King, Neal. 2008. “Secret agency in mainstream postmodern cinema.” Postmodern Culture 18 (online).
  • King, Neal. 2007. “Mediated ritual on academic ground.” Fast Capitalism 3 (online).
  • reprinted as King, Neal. 2008. “Mediated Ritual on Academic Ground.” Pp. 55-64 in ‘There Is a Gunman on Campus’, edited by B. Agger. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Calasanti, Toni and Neal King. 2007. ““Beware of the estrogen assault”: Ideals of old manhood in anti-aging advertisements.” Journal of Aging Studies 21:357-368.
  • Calasanti, Toni and Neal King. 2007. “Taking ‘women’s work’ ‘like a man’: Husbands’ experiences of care work.” The Gerontologist 47:516-527.
  • Calasanti, Toni M., Kathleen F. Slevin, and Neal King. 2006. “Ageism and feminism: From ‘et cetera’ to center.” NWSA Journal 18:13-30.
  • Calasanti, Toni and Neal King. 2005. “Firming the floppy penis: Age, class, and gender relations in the lives of old men.” Men and Masculinities 8:3-23.
  • King, Neal. 2004. “Dead-end days: The sacrifice of displaced workers on film.” Journal of Film and Video 56:32-44.
  • King, Neal. 2003. “Knowing women: Straight men and sexual certainty.” Gender & Society 17:861-877.
  • McCaughey, Martha and Neal King. 1995. “Rape Education Videos: Presenting Mean Women Instead of Dangerous Men.” Teaching Sociology 23:374-388.

Book Chapters

  • Calasanti, Toni, and Neal King. 2020. “Toward an intersectional approach to health in later life: Incorporating age relations.” Pp. 143-54 in Susan Pickard & Jude Robinson, (Eds.) Ageing, the Body and the Gender Regime: Health, illness and disease across the life course. Routledge.
  • Calasanti, Toni, and Neal King. 2017. “Successful aging and the maintenance of age and gender relations.” Pp. 27-40 in Sarah Lamb, (Ed.) Successful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession. Rutgers University Press.
  • King, Neal. 2016. “Business as Usual: Retirement on The Wire.” Pp. 49-70 in Anita Wohlmann and Maricel Oró Piqueras (Ed.), Serializing Age: Aging and Old Age in TV Series. Bielefeld, Germany: transcript press.
  • Calasanti, Toni and Neal King. 2015. “Intersectionality and Cultural Gerontology.” Pp. 193-200 in Handbook of Cultural Gerontology, edited by J. Twigg and W. Martin. London: Routledge.
  • King, Neal. 2013. “Battles and balloons: Old manhood in film.” Pp. 286-98 in Cinematic sociology: Social life in film, edited by J.-A. Sutherland and K. Feltey. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications.
  • King, Neal. 2012. “Feelings and fire fights: Gendered performance in cop action climaxes.” Pp. 66-82 in Millennial Masculinity, edited by T. Shary. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.
  • Calasanti, Toni, Amy Sorensen, and Neal King. 2012. “Anti-aging Advertisements and Perceptions of aging.” Pp. 19-35 in Representing ageing: Images and identities, edited by V. Ylänne. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Calasanti, Toni and Neal King. 2011. “A feminist lens on the Third Age: Refining the framework.” Pp. 67-85 in Gerontology in the era of the Third Age: Implications and next steps, edited by D. C. Carr and K. Komp. New York, NY: Springer Pub. Co.
  • King, Neal. 2010. “Old Cops: Occupational aging in a film genre.” Pp. 57-81 in Staging Age: The Performance of Age in Theatre, Dance, and Film, edited by V. B. Lipscomb and L. Marshall. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • King, Neal. 2006. “The lengthening list: Age relations and the feminist study of inequality.” Pp. 47-74 in Age matters: Realigning feminist thinking, edited by T. M. Calasanti and K. F. Slevin. New York: Routledge.
  • King, Neal and Toni M. Calasanti. 2006. “Empowering the old: Critical gerontology and anti-aging in a global context.” Pp. 139-57 in Aging, globalization and inequality: The new critical gerontology, edited by J. Baars, D. Dannefer, C. Phillipson, and A. Walker. New York: Baywood.
  • King, Neal. 2004. “Truth at last: Evangelical communities embrace The Passion of the Christ.” Pp. 151-62 in Re-viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s film and its critics, edited by S. B. Plate. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • King, Neal. 2004. “Popular culture.” Pp. 67-72 in An introduction to interdisciplinary studies, edited by M. K. Herndon. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing.
  • King, Neal. 2003. “Brownskirts: Fascism, Christianity, and the eternal demon.” Pp. 197-211 in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy, edited by J. South. New York: Open Court Press.

Other Creative Works

  • King Neal, Rayanne Streeter, and Talitha Rose. 2016. “Cultural Studies Approaches to the Study of Crime in Film and on Television.” In Nicole Rafter, ed., Oxford Encyclopedia of Crime, Media, and Popular Culture. Oxford University Press.
  • King, Neal. 2004. “Gangster Films, Contemporary.” In Michael Kimmel & Amy Aronson, ed., Men & Masculinities: A Social, Cultural, and Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1, A-J, 333-34. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO Press.
  • King, Neal. 2000. “Date Rape.” In Clifton Bryant, ed., Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior, 289-91.  New York: Taylor and Francis Ltd.
  • King, Neal & Martha McCaughey. 1993. Mean Women. (Independently distributed videotape) 1993, 22 minutes.

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