Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: May 18, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971935 | Print ISBN: 9781412966702 | Online ISBN: 9781412971935| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Based on the tendency of boys to engage in so-called rough-and-tumble play, play fighting is a variation of fantasy fighting, in which young males imitate caricatures of aggressive, often antisocial and sometimes heroic male figures as part of learning the culture's socially prescribed macho or manly persona and role. Play fighting is unique, however, in using elements and models taken from forms of popular culture (such as professional wrestling entertainment, adventure drama, and video games) to both represent and parody the very image of Western masculinity with which boys are at the same time ambivalently identifying. Choreographed episodes of play fighting are enacted in front of an audience of other males, most of the time out of doors. While preserving the verisimilitude of violence, suffering and body damage, the feigned confrontations are set up in such a way that great care is taken to avoid actual injury to either of ...