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  1. 1. Laura Mulvey’s ‘Male Gaze’ theory
  2. 2. Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory • Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema - Laura Mulvey. • This essay coined the term “Male Gaze”. • In film, the male gaze occurs when the audience is assumed to be filtering content through the ‘lens’ of a heterosexual man. For example, a scene may focus on the curves of a woman’s body, inviting you, the viewer, to examine the scene through the eyes of a male. • Specific cinematic conventions such as slow motion, deliberate camera movements and cutaways are deployed to this effect.
  3. 3. L • The Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory • ‘The male gaze’ denies women their own autonomy and identify, relegating them to the status of objects, of interest only for their physical appearance. • The theory suggests women can more often than not only watch a film from a secondary perspective, as onlookers who are defined exclusively by the male perspective. The Masculinisation of the viewer
  4. 4. L • The Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory • Though the presence of a woman in mainstream film is vital, she is only decorative, an ornament who is not central to the narrative. Her character is relegated to the incidental. • Often a female character has no real importance herself, it is how she makes the male feel or act that gives her relevance. • The female therefore only exists in relation to the male. • She is there only as a foil to the dominant male characters.
  5. 5. L • The Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory • The male gaze reflects and contributes to hegemonic ideologies within our society • (Hegemonic = ruling or dominant ideas in a political or social context, reflecting the interests of dominant social groups.) • Mulvey argues that as a result of being consistently framed within the perspective of men, women also find themselves, at times, utilising the male gaze. • Women then gaze at other women in the same way as a man would, and thus end up objectifying other women. • Thus, many women end up unwittingly reproducing hegemonic patriarchal behaviours.
  6. 6. L • The Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory • Mulvey states that the role of a female character therefore has two functions: 1. As an erotic object for characters within the narrative to view. 2. As an erotic object for spectators of the media (us, the audience) to view.
  7. 7. L • The Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory – Gender Roles The characters who assert their ‘gaze,’ (from the vantage point of the camera) occupy the active role (male) The characters that are to be regarded are passive (female).They are under the control of the male gaze and only exist for pleasure, and only at all for as long as they can maintain the male gaze’s interest. Females often slow the story down, they act as narrative triggers for the men to act. Males on the other hand push the narrative forward , they make things happen and are seen as active participants and creators of the story .
  8. 8. Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory – Female Objectification Objectification is related to the gaze. The persons gazed at are objectified, treated as an object to be enjoyed or possessed by the onlooker/voyeur. Objectified characters are devalued and their humanity and autonomy removed. They exist only for the pleasure of the onlooker.
  9. 9. L • The Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory • Patriarchal society = Men dictate the rules • Mulvey argued we live in a patriarchal society in which men set the majority of the rules, constructing social roles, conventions and norms to reflect their interests, thereby ensuring the reproduction of male dominance over women. • The concern is that a passive audience may be influenced by this representation of reality and seek to copy, reproducing these images and assumptions in reality.
  10. 10. L • The Traditional Media Representation of Reality • The mass media were once thought of as holding up a mirror to, and thereby reflecting a wider social reality to what you, the individual, would see in your local environment.
  11. 11. LPost Modernism Version of Reality • Now reality is only definable in terms of the reflections of that mirror. • It is not a question of distortion, since that implies reality still exists outside of the influence of the media. • Now we are copying copies of reality, representing hyper reality as reality and thus being influenced by a fake constructed representation of reality. • The actual reality seems to have been lost, successive generations drift further and further from the original templates upon which the media commented. • Pure reality is thus replaced by the hyperreal where any boundary between the real and imaginary is eroded. What we see on television we see as real and thus copy it within our lives. The real is being lost unconsciously.
  12. 12. L • The Are We Being Influenced by a Hyper Reality? • Has Hyper reality become reality? • Does the Male gaze influence and contribute to the suppression of females? • Is there any evidence of female objectification via male the conventions of the media?
  13. 13. Consider the contemporary examples of the male gaze reproduced in our lived realities provided in the following: _sex_offenders_and_lads_mags_using_the_same_language.h tm? difference-between-a-mens-magazine-and-a- rapist.html And what might this be doing to young brains? •
  14. 14. L • The James Bond and the Male Gaze • The Male Gaze can easily be illustrated by considering James Bond films •
  15. 15. List 3 elements from the scene that you think prove the statement below is correct: • The James Bond franchise is a clear example of film objectifying females and obliging the audience to view females via the male gaze. The scene within “Die Anther Day” when James Bond meets the character Jinx demonstrates …
  16. 16. List 3 elements from the scene that you think prove the statement below is correct: Suggestion • …female objectification. When the character Jinx enters the story she has been swimming in the sea and is coming onto the shore. Bond picks up binoculars to watch Jinx swim ashore from a beach bar. As Bond picks up the binoculars and looks through them, the camera assumes the binocular’s perspective, obliging the audience to regard the female through Bond’s Gaze. Male or female , the audience has been compelled to objectify the character via a masculine and voyeuristic viewpoint. 1. The female character is created to have a strong visual and erotic impact, with full figure, flawless skin, tiny waist and in full make-up, even when swimming. This draws the viewer into the shot then shows Jinx walking to the bar on the beach dripping wet in a bikini. The film is edited to show Jinx walking almost in slow motion. 2. Her body movements are sexualised and amplified, her hips sway side to side and her facial expression is suggestive. This slow motion edit represents the intense scrutiny and examination Bond is giving the female form. We at this point could argue that this racy and suggestive body language is not how she is actually moving , it is how Bond sees her move in his mind. The character of jinx has been objectified before we even know her name or her role. 3. The objectification is not discreet and is confirmed with Bond’s first words when meeting Jinx: “Magnificent view”, ‘playfully’ making fun of the female character, misleading her into believing he is referring to the landscape. Having been invited to regard Jinx through the lens of the male gaze, the audience are in on the joke. Bond is ridiculing her intelligence, reproducing patriarchal assumptions about the relative intelligence levels of male and female.
  17. 17. The Post Modern ‘Joke’ In fact, this very modern Bond is both simultaneously satirizing male chauvinism, and having his cake and eating it by indulging in the same old sexist routines. The scene is a pastiche of, or homage to Dr. No, the first James Bond movie where Ursula Andress and Sean Connery ‘share’ an almost identical scene. •
  18. 18. Revision Exercise 1. Define the key features of Mulvey’s theory. 2. What effect could this theory have upon woman viewers? 3. What effect could this theory have on male viewers? 4. Do you believe the male gaze is present in films/adverts and T.V. today? Provide reasons for your response. 5. What effect could the suggested objectification of women have upon society?
  19. 19. "Dekh Le" • • If you're a woman and have been in a public place, chances are you've been the recipient of an unwanted leer or stare from a guy. Sometimes the staring turns into more. One year after Nirbhaya, a young girl in Delhi, was brutally raped on a bus, this Mumbai film school released a video highlighting the harassment and unwanted attention women face while just trying to go about their day. It's meant to start a conversation about what empowerment for women looks like. • This problem isn't unique to India, but it's definitely a place to start the conversation. • The lyrics to the Hindi song in the background mean "This is what it looks like when you're looking at me."