The Male Gaze
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.
Both are critically acclaimed dramas directed by women documenting the coming-of-age of five teenage sisters under close scrutiny for their behavior — especially when it comes to their sexuality. And in both films, the girls’ response to this repression is to resort to desperate measures to regain control, resulting in tragedy that could have been averted if they were given the freedom for which they hungered.
We are truly in a moment of struggle over whose stories are being told. Do filmmakers believe that women are active protagonists worthy of their own tales, or passive objects to be used to further male narratives? It’s as big and infuriating and important as that — what is the story we want to tell about a woman’s place in the world?
While the happily ever after scenario in these 1950s B-movies comes with an expectation that women give up their careers in science to become wives and mothers once the appropriate suitor is identified, it seems there are women in B-movies who do have it all — they maintain the respect afforded to them as scientists and also win romantic partners, without having to sacrifice their professional interests to assume domestic roles instead.
Charlie Kaufman draws on an emotional darkness that is deeply human – something that every person can relate to in some way, big or small, regardless of gender or age. Which is why it’s frustrating to see in ‘Anomalisa’ – like in so many movies before it – the sense of hope come in the form of a woman, an object of romance for a man. … To put it bluntly, I’m sick of movies in which sad men think they can be saved by their idea of a woman.
The concept of the female gaze emerged in response to that of the male gaze, wherein the female viewer, and often the female creator, are the focus for a piece of media. However, finding instances of film or television that are truly representative of the female gaze is tricky. Just because something is about women doesn’t mean it is for women or even a realistic portrayal of how women see themselves.
I never believed the big film executives who, just six years ago, seemed to have unshakeable faith that 3-D technology would save blockbuster films from piracy and audience indifference. It didn’t, the same way 3-D in the 1950s didn’t save big films from losing a lot of their audience to television. But ‘Goodbye To Language’ is the third 3-D art film made by a master I’ve seen (the others are Werner Herzog’s exploration of prehistoric cave paintings, ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams,’ and Wim Wenders’ magnificent tribute to the work of modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch in ‘Pina’). The jury’s still out on whether this technology will “save” the art film, but great directors are doing creative and unexpected things with it.
Directed by the Soska sisters, ‘American Mary’ features a complicated female protagonist who starts out as a likable badass but ends up as an amoral psycho. The film celebrates the power of bodily autonomy and depicts the horror of taking it away.
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.
Slumber Party Massacre came up while I was searching for female directors in the exploitation genre. Although it came off as yet another sensationalistic and gory 80s slasher, it stuck out, mainly due to its ridiculous title or the fact that most of the characters were female. Upon viewing it, what shocked me was not so much the gore and violence, but I was surprised by the clever humor, the funny characters, and most of all the incredibly veiled feminist satire.
Orphan Black poster This is a guest post by Ms Misantropia. Last Saturday was the season finale of BBC America’s Orphan Black, a fast paced Canadian sci-fi series about human cloning. The show’s main protagonist, Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), is a street-wise orphan just returning to Toronto after having spent a year abroad. She barely […]
Lt. Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) in Star Trek Into Darkness Written by Megan Kearns | Warning: Spoilers ahead! Yes, I am a Trekkie. I’ve been a huge fan of Star Trek ever since I was a kid. The camaraderie of Star Trek: The Original Series, the intellectual and moral conundrums on Star Trek: The Next […]