Mama Mia! Feminism, and Motherhood

While I have heard the soundtrack on several occasions before this week I had never seen Mama Mia! and I enjoyed it. I usually do not enjoy musicals but I thought this was a good film.

First, I’d like to connect the film to the Williams article. Williams writes that women are often viewed as the mother, and that their roles involve joy in pain, of pleasure and sacrifice.  This sacrifice often comes from the difficult decision of “letting their daughter go” like in the film Stella Dallas. I noticed that this happens in Mama Mia! as well. Donna and her daughter argue over the wedding and Donna’s discontent with it happening. Donna does seem like she may be upset to see her daughter go. However, Donna is not only a mother, like the article discusses how Stella was shown as primarily a mother. Donna is also shown to have her own interests, including her friends, work (not as much an interest but another way she is shown not only as a mother) and Sam.

The film is in many ways feminist. It has strong, independent women as the protagonists, and effectively minimizes the objectification of women. I do still believe there was objectification of women in the film however. On the beach Tanya is surrounded by younger men and is pursued by Pepper, with a lot of suggestive dancing. But for the most part Tanya is controlling the situation. In addition to this, when other scenes may have been considered objectifying in other films, they were done in a way that did not. In many scenes men are not around to cast a gaze, leaving only the camera and the audience, and without a male character to follow in the gaze, it is somewhat forgotten and the scene is simply seen for what it is. The three main male protagonists in the film cast almost no gaze in my opinion. One being gay, and the other two having  respect for Donna. Except for the scene where they first meet again, and the camera angle shows the men framed between her legs.

As for the Genre and Narrative of the film, I believe it is a romantic/comedy/musical.  The narrative is primarily from the perspective of Donna and Sophie. But we do not only see what they see, making it effective.

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