Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Communications (M.S.)

Degree Program

School of Communications

First Advisor

Richard Besel

Academic Year



Various forms of toxic rhetoric have been the subject of academic study for decades. Despite some advancements toward a more progressive society, toxic rhetorics have continued to persist within the United States, especially within entertainment media. Toxic rhetorics within film, in particular, have remained steadily prevalent and continue to strongly impact audiences and constructions of identity. This thesis utilizes primarily close reading and feminist rhetorical criticism to examine rhetorics of toxicity within three popular film franchises: (1) toxic masculinity in Coming to America (1988) and Coming 2 America (2021); (2) toxic femininity in Bad Moms; and (3) straightwashing as a more toxic form of heteronormativity in Wonder Woman (2017) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020). The definitions and primary characteristics of these concepts are discussed, including brief histories of their foundations and usage. Some of the main topics addressed in this thesis include concerns regarding representation, visibility, and erasure of marginalized groups within film, as well as the problematic treatment of consent.