Mulvey's Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema - Paper Example

Published: 2021-08-09
1939 words
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Wesleyan University
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Research paper
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Gender misrepresentation in the popular culture is a social concept that has drawn interest from various scholarly fields. It has been attributed, on the one hand, to the propagation of the mistreatment of women, and on the other, objectification of the female gender. The second idea is especially very sensitive to talk about in the presence of feminist advocates. From the television advertisements, to the magazine graphics, the woman has been portrayed as the center of eroticism and male perversion. In a patriarchal society, the objectification of women in the popular culture is arguably intentional, and it is perhaps devised to provide sexual gratification albeit through proxy. Different scholars have penned their arguments through modern history to discourse this matter. Their lengthy papers and articles published in popular social psychological journals are targeted towards the society that is already accustomed to an otherwise jerky misconception. They, in particular, tend to negate what has now become a norm. They want to show the world that it is not alright to portray womens skin flicks and half-dressed bodies. They also intend to criticize men who have already acquired a habit of fascinating with nude women in magazines and cinemas. Some also wish to protect innocent adolescents who are lured by the media misrepresentation if ideal women.

In the beginning of widespread marketing era, the perfect woman was idealized to have a lean body, moderate curves, smooth skin, and the other bodily features that could not come automatically without artificial manipulation. These women in the media were idolized by young girls who strived to ape them. In the process, feeding disorders like anorexia and binge eating emerged and skyrocketed in a previously healthy women population. The scholars who wrote articles in this era, however, capitalized on the apparent destruction of young girls. Soon, another crop of writers emerged and identified some social phenomena that long went unnoticed: the secret admiration of the ideal woman as represented in the media. On further, probe, some even realized that the minds behind provocative television and print advertisements were driven by sinister motives for themselves and the male audience. The eerie concept was also discovered in narrative film as Laura Mulvey and others describe using diverse arguments.

Laura Mulvey. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. - Screen 16.3 (1975) pp. 6-18

In this essay, Mulvey argues that the film industry is based on patriarchal unconscious where the audience is made to derive pleasure from the different sufferings women go through. In another angle view, Mulvey states that such films are designed to attract the male audience who without consent fall in love with such movies (6). Mulvey uses Freuds psychoanalytic theory to deconstruct the politics behind the erotic representation of the woman in the narrative file. The woman, she argues is a spectacle for the perverse male audience. She symbolically stands out in the film as an object of sexual fantasy for the man. Interestingly, Mulvey (9) cites that the image of the woman in the media is by a collaborative design by three subjects. The male audience is differentially attracted to the films showing nude women than those with an alternative imagery. Secondly, the movie directors are a silent audience that takes fascination in the scantily dressed woman. The cameraman, who is actively engaged in shooting images and videos for the narrative film, subtly enjoys the view of the woman in one way or the other. Mulvey posits men as scopophilic creatures who delight in gazing at the woman in the film (12). On the other hand, the female in the film is also scopopilic in another perspective, although in Mulveys view, she enjoys the attention that the male audience pays to her.

Dawson, Lesel. "Revenge and the family romance in Tarantino's Kill Bill." Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature 47.2 (2014): 121-134.

Dawson illustrates how romance can turn sour when it is precede by violence and inhumane acts (121). This paper is relevant for this discourse due its inclusion of the woman as the villain. The film features a woman in her wedding dress lying wounded in the chapel after a voracious attack by a Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. The woman tells the leader of the squad that she is carrying her baby. However, he shoots her in the head. For a considerably long period of time, womens, suffering has been a source of enjoyment among the audiences of films. Many film such as this inherently portrays some of the social evils that women face such as objection, battery, murder, bullying, and others. One interesting thing about such scenes inherent in the movie is the fact that it tends to create a sense of enjoyment and pleasure seeing the hurt woman suffer. Such artworks have taken an active part in dehumanizing and eliminating women characters. Often, the compositional features of the woman in the film have been destroyed by such films in the process of creating artistic nature in them. Dawson posits this moving as having sweet endings. It opens off with death but ends in familial reunion. However, the process of this reunion and the instances of revenge underscore the brutalization of women in the cinema. The Bride, for instance, is shot in the head by a ferocious leader after she discloses the she has his baby. The movie rekindles hope amidst the apparent ruin of the womans respect and stature in the society. The bride survives the brutal shooting and eventually launches retaliatory attack against her transgressors.

Grant, Barry Keith, Ed. The dread of difference: Gender and the horror film. University of Texas Press, 2015.The author of this book argue that even as horror films have been poorly received by a section of the audience, their revival is a depiction of what many film lovers think about the position of women in cinema. This book divulges and takes a different angle view on this issue. It essentially portrays sexuality, patriarchy and gender differences on a horrific platform. The horror films featuring the woman as the villain, according to this book, symbolize the return of the repressed other (Grant 5). The psychoanalytic theory in this subgenre of horror films is evident in the female monster herself. She is represented as the desire that the male hero must overcome (Grant 5). The book also cites instances where scholars have placed horror films as the spectacle for the troubled adolescent mind. These particular movies depict the sexual transition of the adolescents- menstruation and masturbation as the central themes to fascinate the youthful audience (Grant 8). In some horror films, the gender differences are apparent in the plot. In most cases, the monster is a male while the victim is a female. A common example is where a girlfriend to a male protagonist is saved from the hands of a male monster. This aspect further misrepresents the weakness of the woman in contrast to the bravery of the male. Other than sexuality and gender differences, the horror movies produced in the era of Feminist advocacy still zoned the woman within the domestic arena. In some horror films that Grant cites, the woman is invaded by a monster in her kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or any other venue with close proximity to the house. Horror films, just like other genres of narrative cinema contain a sexual as well as a feminist undertone that requires an in-depth analysis to decipher.

Del Rio Elena, the Body of Voyeurism: Mapping the Discourse of Senses in Powell Michaels Peeping Tom, 2000

Del Rio Elena takes the reader through a discourse on the power of vision in characterizing viewership of gender biasness in narrative cinema. The film in question in his paper is Peeping Tom, directed by Michael Powell. This film features the leading actor, Mark Lewis, who takes pride in killing women. This movie was poorly received, and after immense criticism, the director of the film had his career ruined. This film was later re-evaluated, and people attested that it is the masterpiece work done by the veteran British director. Mark begins with exploring the body of a prostitute through a hidden camera, but later murders prostitutes in one of his serial killings. Because the main actor frenzies in luring women and then murdering them, such films play a critical role in asserting the part of female characters in cinema. Evidently, such artworks serve a function in dehumanizing them. The director gives the audience a perspective of the womanly form of the protagonists victims through the lens of the camera. It is this view that Del Rio appreciates when exploring the power of vision. He distinguishes between two classes of voyeurs in this article: the mere spectator that forms the audience in the cinema hall, and the voyeur cum murderer whose eyes fulfill the pervasion of the audience (Del Rio 124). Further, Del Rio seeks to discover the effect of the eye to the linguistic function of the voyeur and to express the mind-body split when vision and tactility dont work in tandem with each other. This article gives an important argument with reference to Mulveys Visual Pleasure. It supports her opinion of scopophilia, where the men in the audience and the actors in the cinema fantasize of the body of a woman. In as much as Mark in Peeping Tom is a serial killer, he first flatters with the victims before killing them. In fact he has a hidden camera through which he, and the voyeuristic spectator, gets an unlimited view of the womans body.

Smelik, Anneke. "Feminist film theory." The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies (2016).There is a very clear connection between the ideology of women in narrative cinema and the discourse taken by Mulvey on the same manner. The bulk of this article lies in the feminist criticism of women representation in the media. The article argues that the notion of a woman in the cinema is only relevant when a man is involved. As a result, there is no womanness that the narrative cinema depicts (56). Instead, the woman is represented as not a man. the woman in the narrative cinema, in the view of this article, carries a tag that identifies her as a sexual object. The author argues that a woman is the spectacle of a mans gaze. The feminist theory does not only criticize the female actor in the film. However, it analyzes the directors, crew, camerawomen and all other female figures involved in the production of cinema. Like the male spectator, the woman in the audience direly needs to be associated with the one on the screen. As a subject of desire, the woman in the audience feels connect with the mother in the screen. The view of the article is that Lacanian and Freudian psychoanalytic theories best explain the sexual differences in the narrative cinema. It, however, criticizes the psychoanalytic feminist theory in that it lacks clear importance for the female readership. Additionally, the paper shows that this theory deconstructs the woman image in the film without regard to sexual orientation (lesbian, bisexual), race, age, and social economic status. Therefore, the author takes significant concern in the apparent failure of this perspective in the analysis of misrepresentation of woman in the media.


Narrative and visual cinema are powerful tools for the depiction of a variety of social, political and economic issues. Indeed, an audience in one corner of the globe can learn about the events or the social mechanisms of people living in another corner. Both fictional and factual films have a role to play in the dissemination of knowledge. Science fiction films, for instance, actualize the humanly unachievable exploits that man wishes to undertake. The depiction of aliens, for example, fulfil...

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