Lecture 4 18-13

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Lecture 4 18-13

  1. 1. The  Male  Gaze,  The  Opposi0onal   Gaze,  and  Mildred  Pierce   Intro  to  Screen  Studies   April  18,  2013   Guest  Lecture  by  Carrie  Polansky  
  2. 2. Background   •  Jacques  Lacan   –  Psychoanaly0c  theorist  and  philosopher   –  Developed  the  concept  of  “the  mirror  stage,”  a  psychoanaly0c  theory   about  the  point  in  a  child’s  life  when  the  Ego  is  developed  and  the   child  begins  to  iden0fy  with  his  or  her  own  image   –  Lacan  understood  the  filmic  gaze,  then,  as  the  moment  when  the   viewer  iden0fies  with  and  invests  oneself  in  the  filmic  image   •  John  Berger   –  Adapted  this  concept  to  apply  it  to  looking  at  fine  art;  wrote  about  this   in  his  1972  book,  Ways  of  Seeing   –  “…men  act  and  women  appear.  Men  look  at  women.  Women  watch   themselves  being  looked  at.”  (47)  
  3. 3. “Visual  Pleasure  and  Narra0ve   Cinema”   •  Essay  wri^en  by  Laura  Mulvey,  published  in  1975   •  Uses  scopophilia  (pleasure  derived  from  looking)  and  the  mirror  stage   (iden0fica0on  with  the  image  seen)  to  explore  the  dominance  of  the  male   perspec0ve  in  film   •  The  “ac0ve/passive  heterosexual  division  of  labour”  (720)  structures  the   narra0ve  so  that  the  man  is  always  the  “bearer  of  the  look”  while  the   woman  is  the  image   •  The  woman  must  be  fe0shized  by  the  male  spectator  so  that  she  does  not   represent  castra0on  anxiety   •  Three  gazes  happening  simultaneously:  the  gaze  of  the  camera,  the  gaze   of  the  audience,  and  the  gaze  of  the  characters     –  The  first  two  gazes  are  in  service  to  the  third,  which  takes  priority  due   to  the  conven0ons  of  narra0ve  cinema    
  4. 4. “Visual  Pleasure  and  Narra0ve   Cinema”   •  “In  a  world  ordered  by  sexual  imbalance,   pleasure  in  looking  has  been  split  between   ac0ve/male  and  passive/female.  The  determining   male  gaze  projects  its  phantasy  on  to  the  female   figure  which  is  styled  accordingly.  In  their   tradi0onal  exhibi0onist  role  women  are   simultaneously  looked  at  and  displayed,  with   their  appearance  coded  for  strong  visual  and   ero0c  impact  so  that  they  can  be  said  to  connote   to-­‐be-­‐looked-­‐at-­‐ness.”  (719)  
  5. 5. “Visual  Pleasure  and  Narra0ve   Cinema”   •  Ques0ons  for  discussion:   – What  are  some  examples  of  Mulvey’s  theory  in   ac0on?   – How  relevant  is  Mulvey’s  theory  today?   – What  holes/problems  exist  in  Mulvey’s  theory?   •  Film  clips:  Ver;go,  Peeping  Tom  
  6. 6. “The  Opposi0onal  Gaze:  Black  Female   Spectators”   •  Essay  wri^en  by  bell  hooks,  published  in  1992  (as  part  of  her  book  Black   Looks:  Race  and  Representa;on)   •  hooks  discusses  slavery  and  says  that  the  control  that  white  people  had   over  the  gaze  “had  produced  in  us  an  overwhelming  longing  to  look,  a   rebellious  desire,  an  opposi0onal  gaze.  By  courageously  looking,  we   defiantly  declared:  ‘Not  only  will  I  stare.  I  want  my  look  to  change   reality.’”  (116)   •  The  opposi0onal  gaze  is  about  not  iden0fying  “with  either  the  vic0m  or   the  perpetrator”  (122),  which  allows  viewers  to  reclaim  agency   •  “Looking  and  looking  back,  black  women  involve  ourselves  in  a  process   whereby  we  see  our  history  as  counter-­‐memory,  using  it  as  a  way  to  know   the  present  and  invent  the  future.”  (131)  
  7. 7. “The  Opposi0onal  Gaze”   •  Today,  hooks’  theory  has  broadened  beyond   issues  of  race  and  is  used  to  discuss  a  variety  of   films  in  which  the  white/straight/male  gaze  is   challenged  or  disrupted   •  Ques0ons  for  discussion:   –  What  are  some  examples  of  hooks’  theory  in  ac0on?   –  Is  hooks’  theory  more,  less,  or  equally  applicable   today  as  Mulvey’s  theory?   •  Film  clips:  Thelma  &  Louise,  Madonna’s  Open   Your  Heart  music  video  
  8. 8. Mildred  Pierce   •  1945  film  directed  by  Michael  Cur0z  and   starring  Joan  Crawford   •  Though  there  are  male  characters  in  the  film,   the  narra0ve  is  really  about  the  rela0onship   between  a  mother  and  daughter,  Mildred  and   Veda.   •  Discussion:  Is  Mildred  Pierce  an  example  of   the  male  gaze  or  the  opposi0onal  gaze?  Both?   Neither?  

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