WGSST 2230 Lecture 3: Week 3 - The Gaze
SchoolOhio State University
DepartmentWomen's, Gender&Sexuality Sts
Course CodeWGSST 2230
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"Visual Pleasure in narrative cinema" her article, is one of the most cited and anthologized
articles in all of contemporary film theory
Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck, U of London
garde filmmaker in 70s and 80s
Men project themselves onto the male leads and live through them
Uses psychoanalytic theory to argue male domination shapes film
Ideal audience is men, main character is usually a man, a man is responsible for
Not inaccurate since most directors and main characters are men
3 gazes: ideal spectator, male character in the film, man behind the camera
Explains importance of what women look like in cinema: woman are more sexualized and
supposed to be looked at
Influences how women are framed and shot
Regulated to prize, obstacle, sidekick
Women are 3rd parties
Men drive narratives
Psychoanalytic Analysis of Film: Mulvey's Theory of the Male Gaze (1978)
surveillance and object of male gaze
"Men act and women appear"
Men embody what they can do to other people, women embody what can be done to them
Still with us today
Power relations evident in European nudes
In cinema: female spectacle
woman's looks more important than men's
ups on body parts, makeover, romantic framing, sexualization
Film conventions objectify the female body
Berger doesn't argue against Mulvey's premise but rather believes that the male gaze and
the focus on women's beauty and sexuality is created by cultural and historical factors, not
the function of psychology
Cultural View on the Male Gaze: Berger, "Ways of Seeing"
Why and how do women enjoy movies?
How can a film "position" all spectators the same way?
Cannot consider intersectional identities of characters and spectators: many social factors
influence identity and spectatorship
What about gay/lesbian gazes, desires, characters, innuendoes?
For instance, a black man might not identify with a main character who is a white
man, but may instead see himself more aligned with a black woman
How does race, nationality, class complicate spectatorship and identification?
That is not to say, however, that the critique is invalid. Women are shot differently than
men. Men are more likely to be shown as active, even while partially clothed, while
women's bodies are often portrayed as more passive.
Limitations of "Male Gaze" Theory:
Usually, but not always, we are supposed to like the main character
Texts are meant to be read in a certain way
We, as the audience, are supposed to read the text the way the creators intended us to
When race, nationality, class, sexuality, religious, etc differences come into play, there's a
Where does Oppositional Gaze Come In
What We See, What We Want, and Why We Should Care
Thursday, September 8, 2016 10:42
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