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Film Essay

2118 words - 9 pages

Feminism has been a huge challenger towards the film industry over the years.
Feminism is a movement that supports women equality within society. In relation to film, feminism is what pushes the equal representation of females in mainstream films. Laura Mulvey is a feminist theorist that is famous for touching on this particular issue of how men and women are represented in movies. Through her studies, she discovered that many films were portraying men and women very differently from reality. She came up with a theory that best described why there is such as huge misrepresentation of the social status quos of male and female characters. She believed that mainstream film is used to maintain the status quo and prevent the realization of gender equality. This is why films are continuously following the old tradition that males are dominant and females are submissive. This is the ideology that is always present when we watch a movie. This is evident in the films from the past but also currently. It is as if the film industry is still catering to the male viewers of each generation in the same way. Laura Mulvey points out that women are constantly being seen as sexual objects, whether it is the outfits they wear or do not wear or the way they behave, or secondary characters with no symbolic cause. She states that, “in traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote it-be-looked-at-ness.”(Mulvey pg. 715). Thus, women are nevertheless displayed as nothing more than passive objects for the viewing pleasure of the audience. Mulvey also points out through her research that in every mainstream movie, there is a set of common themes that are explored. First, it is the perspective of the male character on screen and how he perceives the female characters. Secondly, the perspective of the spectator as they see the female character on screen. The last common theme combines both the first and second themes together, as a result, the male audience member’s perspective of the male character in the film. This means that the male audiences are able to subconsciously become the male characters and feel like the female characters in the film are also in their possession. Though, Mulvey created these observations during the second wave feminism in the sixties, they are still apparent as of today. For example, one of the thesis films that have these three themes present is Happy Endings. Happy Endings has three dominant male characters, with the exception of one major female character, and five minor female characters. These female characters are nonetheless represented with a demeaning image, as they are only used as objects to cater to the male characters’ needs. Thus, Happy Endings is a film that proves that mainstream filmmaking is still presently incorporating the dominant ideologies on unequal representations of men and women.
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