Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ways of Seeing/Viewing

The male gaze is the males eye's looking or glancing upon women as an object. And by not viewing the woman for herself and as an object to be looked at, the male gaze consents the man to fantasize about the object he is viewing. Most Paintings, photos, film, and just about every kind of media up to date is created with the male viewer/spectator in mind. Media aims to feed the male ego and fantasy. In "Ways of Seeing" John Berger said "Men look at women, women watch themselves being looked at" and "A woman is a sight to be looked at". His theory is proven through the anaylsis of nude paintings and relevant advertisement today.
In popular culture the male is still the viewer in which media is aiming to please. Men are the watchers and women are the watched. Take this ad for a Show called 'Girl Racers' about Female Nascar racers, Why would showing a womans breast in a nascar bathsuit top convince woman to watch this show? It wouldn't convince them and it doesnt matter that it wouldnt convince them because women are not the viewers this ad is aim for. Perhaps it should be, seeing as how it is woman who are racing and this show is a very cool milestone for women in Nascar. The woman in this photo is nameless, faceless and powerless. Her chest is a sight. A sight inviting men to look, to fantasize about her breats and perhaps watch the show to fantasize a bit more.
Berger also mentions in 'Ways of Seeing' that in many nudes the objects(women) in the paintings held mirrors or had mirror near them. This was done to take the blaim away from the male viewer. If the female is looking at herself then the male is looking at a women looking at herself. But in fact it is not so. The woman is not just looking at herself but looking at herself being looked at. In film today film makers are prodominantly male. And since it is the male that is the possessor of the gaze females are constantly objectified on screen. The male film maker controls the perspective(the gaze) and very often wants you to identify with the male protagonist. Wanting you identify with him is wanting the men to want to be him and have what he has, which is usually a girl . Mulveys explains, "The man controls the film the bearer of the look of the spectator...structuring the film around a main controlling figure with whom the spectator can identify...the character in the story can make things happen." Film makers construct film this way to make the men want to be this character and the women want to be with this character. But some of us can see through this facade.
I can honestly say I have not watched a film, show, video, saw an advertisement or listened to a song without questioning how women were being objectified in it or by it since I've read the articles assigned in MEDP384. The sexism and volgarity surrounding women in all types of media is astonishing. The female body is shown casually in so many films today. One example I mentioned in class was the movie in theaters right now, "The mechanic" In the sex scene between Jason Statham and Mini Anden, Mini is shown completely naked and Jason is hardly shown at all. Except for the close up's of his hands constandly groping Mini Andens body and his face. There is a link to a few still shots of the scene below. Throughout the whole scene I kept asking myself is this necessary? And if it's completely necessary that her breast and backside be shown several times, why is it not necessary to show Stathams? Our class discussions helped me find the answer, which is that since men do not want to see Jason Statham naked it is not shown and that the scene is only for the male viewers.
The oppositional gaze is the gaze to counteract the male gaze. It is the gaze of those who have the rebellious desire to look at those who gaze at them with defiance. Hook writes that the gaze goes back to enslaved black people being denied the right to look and what an extraordinary example of the power of looking this is. The oppositional gaze had become "a site of resistance for colonized black people globally" says hook. The female black spectator obtained this oppositional gaze for additional reasons. The female black spectator could not identify with their on scene portrayals nor with white female portrayals. Being detached from a film this way allowed for the female black spectator to question more and resist what they did not see as truth.

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