The Male Gaze and Postcolonialism


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The Male Gaze and Postcolonialism

  1. 1. THEORIST & KEY POINTS HOW TO APPLY TO CASE STUDYTHEORY TITLE TEXTSLaura Mulvey • Camera is “white, straight, affluent male” therefore the - Beyonce: Videophone“The male gaze” representations on screen are those that are appealing to this group. - Rihannah: Rude Boy/ S&M • White male controls majority of mass media and use their media outlets to broadcast consistent messages, - 50 Cent: Off and On/Candy Shop thus maintaining the status quo (cultural hegemony) • Women are seen as objects or “empty”, to be adapted to - Nelly: Tip Drill the fantasy of the male viewer • The women are portrayed based on their appearance and the ‘ugly’ ones aren’t as successful (e.g. Michelle from Destiny’s Child...) • 10-15 years ago music videos and films concentrated on the women’s faces, whereas the modern day music videos focus on the female’s body. Audiences become desensitised to women’s bodies so music videos etc become more extreme • Male audience gets pleasure from seeing the females in the videos, and they also feel a sense of power towards
  2. 2. the females, as the women are seen as objects.• Mulvey discussed how females are viewed by male audiences ‘The male gaze’ – interpreted as sexual objects – aren’t seen as people anymore, seen as objects.• In male songs the lyrics refer to women in derogatory ways e.g. words such as ‘ho’, ‘bitch’ are used.• Present negative portrayals of women, however the record sales are extremely high so this kind of music continues to be made (hegemony).• The music videos are degrading of women; some say that the women in the videos are ‘given a chance to shine’. Is this true or are these women brainwashed into thinking they are empowering themselves? (hegemony)• The men’s videos are using women’s bodies to sell records.• “Ugly women don’t sell records”. (Snoop Dogg, 2008) women-dont-sell-records/
  3. 3. • Women are shown in seductive and sexual ways and men portrayed are portrayed as strong & egotistic individuals. • People now think that the women behave like they do in real life as they do in the music videos. • Women on screen are seen as objects of desire. • Mulvey suggests that there were two distinct modes of the male gaze – ‘Voyeuristic’ (i.e. Seeing women as ‘whores’) and ‘fetishistic’ (ie. Seeing women as ‘Madonna’s/pure).POSTCOLONIALISM • Colonialism is the invasion and exploitation of one country/culture over another. The dominant powerEdward Said extends control over weaker peoples or areas. An example would be the British Empire- England sailed to many different parts of the world (like Asia, Australia and the Caribbean) and enforced their own rules, culture and interests on the native population.
  4. 4. • Post- colonialism is the theory used to study whether Western perspectives alter when colonies gain independence, and how The West still try to exert power over other cultures and peoples by insisting on viewing foreign cultures through a very narrow mindset.• Categories for post-colonialist theory:• HOMOGENISATION OF “THE OTHER”: homogenise= • HOMOGENISATION OF THE OTHER: to make everything the same. The West is accused of In terms of African American representation, the American media perceiving non-Western cultures as one single group, tend to portray the majority of black where every individual is the same. men as “gangstas” and the majority of black women as “hos” until these• “CORRECTNESS” OF WESTERN VALUES: Western views become mainstream and media outlets and populations find it very hard to independent, unfiltered representations become very hard comprehend that ideologies other than their own to find. are valid. Beliefs that we consider “normal” are given • CORRECTNESS OF WESTERN VALUES: Western cultures enforce strict a stronger voice and become socially dominant, ideals for female beauty, which non- forcing others to subscribe to them. European, non- white cultures cannot meet. This leads to a giant beauty industry built on helping
  5. 5. black women achieve these ideals. • In terms of “Good Hair”, we need to look at the word “Good”. “Good”=straight, smooth, pale, moves when you shake your head. This is defined by the West and is taken to mean “correct”, so if you have “good hair” you have the right kind of hair according to Western values. Case study example: Ahkia (Tyra Show) “straight hair looks better and more American”• THE EXOTICISATION OF NON- WESTERN CULTURES (also known as Orientalism): “exotic” = foreign, not • EXOTICISATION OF NON- WESTERN CULTURES native. Something that is strikingly unusual or • Black women in music videos are strange in appearance. treated as exotic- body shape in particular is different to Western• “exoticise” to treat something as glamorous and body shapes and is focused on. strange because it is different to what is considered • “normal”, or to treat something as more attractive because it is foreign
  6. 6. • To use something foreign in a cathartic manner- we enjoy things that are different to us, knowing we can leave them behind. (White reception of rap music and the culture of deprivation it stems from is a great example of this)Essay question:Do you agree that the representation of black American women in these music videos supportMulvey’s theory of the male gaze?Postcolonialism task:Find and send me two examples of black culture being treated as exotic (e.g. Beyonce in amusic video- treated as glamorous and attractive because she is not “normal”)