Laura Mulvey

Post-Feminist Rom-Coms and the Existing Female in ‘Trainwreck’ and ‘Legally Blonde’

Legally Blonde and Trainwreck

In the post-feminist romantic comedy, female characters transition from being non-existent objects, into existing, as subjects, in the course of love. … In ‘Trainwreck,’ Amy begins the film as a subject, but ends as an object. Amy’s opposition becomes submission to male desires, for a man, which erases her. In ‘Legally Blonde,’ Elle begins as object, but ends the film as subject. Initially, the gaze of the camera and the characters objectify Elle’s body. But eventually, Elle demonstrates her worth and success outside of male desires and ultimately finds love.

Dead Woman Walking: ‘Phoenix’ and the Resurrected Femme Fatale


The femme fatale, then, embodies noir’s obsession with death – not only its inevitability but also its allure. Unlike the male hero, who strives to defy fate at every turn, the femme fatale is acutely aware of her vulnerability. As scholar Elisabeth Bronfen posits, she “accepts her death as the logical consequence of her insistence on a radical pursuit of personal freedom,” embracing ruin rather than wallowing in denial. It isn’t passivity so much as cynicism; as a woman in a patriarchal society, she’s familiar with the limits of autonomy and has no illusions of grandeur or righteousness.

The Male Gaze, LOL: How Comedies Are Changing the Way We Look


The body is no longer a Lacanian reflected ideal, it is a biological mess that often exists beyond anyone’s control. The effect of this convention is two-fold–a bait and switch of expectations but also the creation of a sense of biological sameness: man or woman, everybody poops. By placing the body in a biological space instead of a symbolic one, physical comedy is questioning the visual tendencies of subconscious desire.

‘Thelma and Louise’: Redefining the Female Gaze


The violence may decrease as the movie progresses, but Thelma, Louise – and we – become comfortable about their actions as the film winds down, because they were now tapped into our veins, nourishing our battered spirits with acts that said, “See? We recognize your anger, cause we’re angry – and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

Please Look Now: The Female Gaze in ‘Magic Mike XXL’

The poster for 'Magic Mike XXL'. It's hard not to look...

The trailer offers a kind of meta-advertisement, recognising the very marketing strategies that attracted people, including women, to the previous film. Cutting between clips of the men performing various routines, the trailer includes the line, “We didn’t want to show the best parts of the movie in this trailer but it was very very hard to resist,” before inviting the audience to #comeagain this summer.

When the Girl Looks: The Girl’s Gaze in Teen TV


In this moment, then, Elena is completely relieved of the conventional position of girl-as-object, and is therefore able to occupy a different position as a desiring subject. By purposefully making herself invisible, Elena momentarily evades and perhaps refuses to be defined by the adult male gaze that governs girlhood.

‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’: Looking at Kim Kardashian’s Naked Body


Kardashian quite literally embodies the complex construction of the female body as something to be looked at. And with her body being so readily, excessively, and continually put on show, can we help but do anything but look?

Direct from Hell: ‘Paranormal Activity’ and the Demonic Gaze


Micah’s patriarchal control through the first half of the film is omnipresent as he mocks, coerces and films his girlfriend’s descent into possession. The second half of the film deals with the demon taking control of the film. Micah and Katie are too weak to properly deal with the situation and they lose sight of their safety. The audience see what the demon wants them to see; it is in control of not only Katie’s mind and body, but also what the audience is exposed to, creating an unstable and terrifying experience.

The Allure of the Female Ghost in ‘Ringu’

Reiko and Ryuji mean business

Horror. It’s a genre that ignites different reactions: excitement, disgust, fear or indifference. Who would have thought that an inanimate object – and the female ghost that comes with it (free of charge) – could be so frightening? The enigma of the monstrous female can be found throughout history in literature, movies, and contemporary pop-culture. An array of female monsters are waddling around in our hazy pop-culture memories. Think of the witch, vampire, psychopath, and the scorned ghost. The term “ghost girl” has now even levitated itself to our cultural lexicon.