Visual Pleasure And Narrative Cinema Analysis

1412 Words 6 Pages
Laura Mulvey, in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975), reveals how traditional cinema is imbued with an active male gaze that communicates dominant and sexist ideologies. She argues that classical Hollywood movies reflect the patriarchal system in which they are produced, with women being “looked at and displayed” for the (assumed) male spectator’s pleasure. While the success of several recent female-led blockbusters seem to indicate a shift toward greater female representation, I argue that cinema as an art form remains fundamentally patriarchal. This can be attributed to three reasons: one, filmmakers, scriptwriters and producers remain overwhelmingly men; two, mainstream genres create a chicken-and-egg problem of both catering …show more content…
Woman’s films, despite their intended audience, hence ultimately reflected the values and ideological assumptions of men. Not only were films of this genre almost always set within the home, strong emphasis was also placed on love, marriage and motherhood. This was in stark contrast to action-packed films featuring male protagonists that with elements like adventures, fights and chases. By painting romance as the ultimate source of happiness for female characters, the woman’s film served "to reaffirm in the end the concept that a woman's true job is that of being a woman." As such, in spite of an attempt to cater to female viewers, classical Hollywood cinema was fundamentally …show more content…
In other words, depictions of female agency and power are contained within alternate universes where their subversiveness and threat to patriarchal authority is distanced. Films with female protagonists in real-world settings, on the other hand, tend to fall under the genres of “romantic comedy” and “chick flick”—both of which continue to propagate the notion that romance is (and should be) the main concern of women. Other genres like the gangster or war film exclude women from the onset, reflecting old assumptions and ideals of female docility and domesticity. Hollywood genre films, in promising and delivering familiar tropes and stories, form the cornerstone of profitable blockbusters. It is by catering to dominant norms and expectations that these films are able to appeal to a wide range of audiences. Yet, exposure to traditional gender roles in media “play a role in developing or strengthening explicit or implicit stereotypical attitudes, aspirations, and behaviors.” The presence of such fixed formulas and conventions in genre films thus not only entrench patriarchal thought in cinema, but also serve to create new generations of audiences predisposed to accepting existing patriarchal

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