Feminism Onscreen

In class on Monday, we were able to see two different clips from films that portrayed, framed, decorated and filmed women in two different ways.

In the first clip, the camera is stationary and records long takes of a woman who is a sex worker. The woman in front of the camera is observed by the camera and the viewers doing ordinary chores and routines. We witness her dull actions of turning on/off the lights, dismissing her customer, placing money in her vase, cooking potatoes, showering, closing/opening windows, closing/opening curtains, cleaning the bathroom and adjusting her bed. All the things she is doing are observed for long periods of time that resulted in uncomfortable feelings. I felt like I was intruding her personal space by watching her doing simple things. The role of women as sexual objects was eliminated completely which is a contradiction considering her job and role in the film.

As opposed to the first clip, the woman is automatically sexualized the second she appears on screen. She is dressed in feathers and appears in silhouette on cue with the weird music in the background. Her costume, makeup and music add more to her than we would ever think because they hint at the ways we are suppose to feel about her and look at her. She then interacts with the man who is perfectly lit as she remains in the shadows. The element of dialogue and mise-en-scene in this clip was central to the understanding of what was happening as opposed to the first clip we watched. Feminism is seen in two very different ways using these two clips because they show how we can break away from the male gaze and use it in some ways to hint at other ideas.

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