Sunday, 27 March 2011


Mulvey, L(2006) Death 24x a second: stillness and the Moving Image.London, Reaktion Books Ltd.

Doane,M A(1987) The Desire To Desire: The woman's Film of the 1940's. United States of America, Indiana University Press

Mulvey, L (1996) Fetishism and curiosity. United States of America, Indiana University Press.

Denzin.N.K (1995) The cinematic Society, The Voyeur's Gaze. London, SAGE Publications.

Williams.T(2000) Structures of Desire, British cinema, 1939-1955.United States of America, State University of New York Press.

Monaco. J(1977) How to Read a Film: Movies and Beyond. England, Oxford University Press

Rapaport. H(1994) Between the sign & the gaze. New York, Cornell University Press

Freedman. B (1991) Staging the gaze: postmodernism, psychoanalysis, and Shakespearean comedy. New York, Cornell University Press

Cassetti F(1996) Inside the gaze: the fiction film and its spectator. United States of America, Indiana University Press

Fischer- Lichte.E (1997) the show and the gaze of theatre: a european perspective. United States of America. University of Iowa Press.

Betts.D (2000)Breaking the gaze: a nonfiction chronicle of the 60's. United States of America, Mushroom ebooks.

Hirsch.M(1999)The familial gaze. Dartmouth College, University Press of New England, Hanover


How has Film affected the Male Gaze in today’s society? 
By Elizabeth Ibbotson

This essay will be analysing and evaluating how films have affected the male gaze and in turn its effect on women on the screen and in today’s society. “Pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female.” (Mulvey, 1992,page 27) How these films influence men to look at women as an object of desire and how the films portray the women as a cinematic spectacle. We will be looking at two films in particular in which the male gaze is used. The first film is “Some like it hot” (1959) directed by Billy Wilder and starring screen siren Marilyn Monroe. From observing specific scenes in relation to how Marilyn Monroe is portrayed visually and erotically in both her appearance and behaviour we can analyse the way that she acts which has affected the male gaze. The second analysis will show the male gaze in films from one of cinemas ultimate fantasy womanisers.  Through looking at numerous scenes from the “James Bond” films, where the narrative is often controlled by his body language we can examine the male gaze through his reactions and expressions and how these in turn influence the women starring in these films to act in response to the male gaze.
The male gaze was first introduced by Jacques Lacan and is a psychoanalytical term. The Gaze was originally used in film theory in the 1970’s, however the term “gaze” is now more broadly used by media theorist. The gaze is about how the audience views the people presented and is categorised by who is doing the viewing. It is also about the viewer mirroring what is being seen. Laura Mulvey suggests the concept of the male gaze being a feature of power in her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative cinema”, she believes “The male is the mover of the narrative while the female’s association with space or matter deprives her of subjectivity.”(Doane, page 6). The male gaze is the relationship between the viewer and the viewed, and the gazer and the gazed. The male gaze is about “the image of a woman as (passive) raw material for the (active) gaze of man” (Mulvey page 17). Mulvey suggests two modes of gazing when viewing a film, “Voyeuristic and Fetishistic” the concepts of an empowered male gaze. In these two theories, the gaze is not associated with a unified subject or desire. Fetishistic is a response to Freud’s theory to evoke a consequence of castration anxiety. The Freudian scenario of fetishism “The traumatic moment of the look of the mother’s “castrated” body initiates a process of simultaneous affirmation and denial of possibility of the subjects own castration, and hence the manufacture of a substitute maternal phallus in the form of the fetish” (Doane, page 14). A fetish is described as sexual attraction to objects or body parts.
Voyeurism or Mulvey’s term “to-be-looked-at-ness” involves a controlling gaze, observing others for pleasure, engaged in their intimate behaviour. “Voyeurism according to Christian Metz is a perfect type of desire insofar as it presupposes and activates as its fundamental condition a spatial distance between subject and object”(page 12)
Another term used in cinema about the gaze is called “Scopophilia” which is where the male viewer objectifies women in to mere objects to be looked at. Mulvey describes it as “using another person for a sexual stimulation through sight”(page 10)
The use of the male gaze can be identified in the film “Some like it hot” which was seen as shocking when it premiered in 1959. There are scenes with cross dressers and Marilyn Monroe that were classed as very sexual at that time. Naming the character Sugar Cane can be classed as suggestive, whetting the appetite for the visual gaze to come.  The male gaze is utilised early on in the opening scene where Sugar walks past the two cross dressers as she is getting on to the train. The cross dressers are arguing when they suddenly stop as they see her, seductive music begins to play, the camera switches to her walking in an exaggeratedly feminine way, wearing a tight fitted skirt and high heals. Here she plays to the male gaze by behaving as if not realising she is being looked at by both them and the men in the audience illustrating both scopophilia and voyeurism. The two men talk about how she moves, “Jell-O on springs, a built in motor”. This scene supports Freud’s theory of  “the act of seeing is more erotic than the actual touch. The use of voyeurism with the two cross dressers make the viewer look at Sugar Cane in the same erotic way using the technique of mirroring.  Sugar walks past them and is made to jump by the trains’ engine roaring at her. This shows symbolism, it is as if the train was also aroused by her sexuality.
There are numerous scenes that seem surreal to women but are a fantasy for men. The women undress and get naked throughout the film with overly erotic mannerisms. Acting in a way that men perceive women to behave with glossy pouting lips, legs flexing and pointing while undressing as if men where watching them do so, even though there are no men around in the scenes they appear to enjoy eroticizing for the gazer. “The presence of women can threaten the flow of narrative, by freezing the action in moments of erotic contemplation”(Mulvey, page 63) Therefore the actresses are told to act in this sexual nature solely for the male viewer and what he wants to believe and desire, as John Berger writes in “ways of seeing” “Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at”. (Berger, 1972,page 45)
Throughout the film there are scenes where Monroe is a cinematic spectacle and is there to be gazed at giving the viewer control and power of the gaze.
Looking at the male gaze both from the male actors perspective and the male viewer is shown in dramatic form in the “James Bond” films. The big band music pulls us towards the screen where instantly we are lured by dancing silhouettes of naked women, a classic scene of women objectifying themselves. This gives pleasure to the viewer who is able to gaze freely, whether the women welcome the gaze or not, conforming to the hegemonic norm as described in feminist theory. The women in these films portray themselves as sexualised objects, their characters are transformed by the way they act to meet the male idea of women. As with “Some like it hot”, innuendo related names are given to the Bond girls, Honey Rider, Pussy Galore and Plenty O’Toole which immediately arouses the male viewers attention. The viewer does not only respond to how the women objectify themselves but at how Bond reacts to their presence through his gaze and expressions and how we view him viewing the women, “recognising or identifying with the image, a narcissistic pleasure to do with the constitution or maintenance of the ego”(Mulvey, page 62).
Analysis of the James Bond film, “Doctor No” (1962) starring Sean Connery and directed by Terence Young shows us an example of voyeurism where Bond is spying on the woman and again we can see “the act of seeing is more erotic than the actual touch”. We observe this through his facial expressions, making you feel what he see is pleasurable and taking pleasure yourself. There is a scene where the Bond girl, Ursula Andress is walking out of the sea on to the beach singing a song about a mango tree. Here the audience is viewing the beautiful woman emerge from the sea in a bikini, she is unaware she is being watched which instantly arouses the male viewers. Then they are also viewing Sean Connery’s reactions, he is stood half behind a tree, further back on the beach spying on her. As the scene goes on his expression is aroused with one eyebrow lifting and a pleasurable look and knowing smile appears on his face. Here Bond is controlling the narrative of the film with his gaze. This scene is an example of scopophilia, the pleasure of looking and taking others as objects of desire. “Scopophilia pleasure involves seeing others as sexual stimulation” (Mulvey page 62). It is also an example of voyeurism, Bond spying on a woman undressing. This leads the audience to mirror his actions and look at the Bond girl in the same way, as if peeping through the screen, taking pleasure in the secretive act of watching from a safe distance.
 “Die Another Day” (2002) directed by Lee Tamahori and staring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry is visually sensual allowing the viewer to experience the male fantasy. The main scene for this analysis is showing a beautiful paradise beach where Bond first sees the girl ‘Jinx’ emerge from the sea. The scene starts by zooming in to Bond looking through binoculars, the camera changes so that the viewer is looking through the binoculars to the sea as if they are Bond. After a second you see the water rise with a woman pushing her body upwards with her head to the sky, as she lowers her head her arms raise in to the sky and she gasps for air as water drips from her body. This scene is intended as a male fantasy, a woman would not normally be found doing this on a beach and is an example of fetishism, a man made object of desire that has power over others. The film has made the female body in to cinematic spectacle and an object to be looked at for male pleasure. This really targets the viewers as they objectify Jinx and control her with their own gaze, as the camera is set so that it is the viewer watching and not just Bond. The scene continues with Jinx walking towards James Bond shaking her hips and drying her self, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she is being watched. This is another example of voyeurism, which leads the audience to have control of the gaze, whether she wants it or not leads us to hegemonic ideologies within our society.
The films I have looked at “Some like it hot”, “Doctor No.” and “Die another day” have shown the regular usage of the male gaze in a cinematic style. This way of portraying women could influence how we as an audience perceive women and how women today may respond to that perception. I can see that they all use fetishism, scopophilia, symbolism and voyeurism in varying amounts. This could be seen as sexist but I feel that these films have a huge appeal to women too as they are blended with humour as in “Some Like it hot” and exotic destinations and power in “James Bond”.  The use of the gaze in films controls the male gazer, however, I also think that because we constantly see films of women acting for the male gaze it has become the norm and this could influence women to perceive themselves in this way in real life.  We can see the use of the male gaze everywhere in today’ society from music video’s, magazines, billboards and many aspects of the media showing us the true power of “The gaze”.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Task 6

Theory Into Practice
The task.
Look at the CTS blog that Garry Barker has been writing to complement the lecture programme this year. Write a short response to one of the posts on the blog. Use the ideas that Garry is discussing to mount a short critical evaluation of one piece of Graphic design that you have produced on Level 5.

I have decided to choose Garys blog post about graphic design as a communication. I created this piece of work in an images class about type as images, by taking a work from a piece of writing and turning the word in to what it is, "batteries".

Task 5

Sustainability and capitalism
The task
Read the text- Balser, E (2008) 'Capital Accumulation, Sustainability & Hamilton Ontario'.

Write a 500 word critical summary of the text which explicitly adresses the following questions

  1. How is sustainability defined in the text?
  2. What are the main characteristics or tendencies of Capitalism
  3. Define a 'crisis of Capitalism'. Offer an example.
  4. What solutions have been offered to the sustainability question? Are these successful or realistic? - If not why are they flawed?
  5. Is the concept of sustainability compatible with Capitalism?
1.Sustainability is defined as inter- generational equity in the social, environmental, economic, moral and political society (Meadows). It is a communication concept. Through technology and individual the attempt to engage in sustainable lifestyle and make environmentally conscious decisions has fallen. Sustainability as as an environmental buzzword is relatively new. The most common definition of sustainability is from Brundtland commission's Our common future: " sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs".

2. Capitalism is an economic system which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit. karl Marx developed the idea of capital accumulation in his work Capital. Originating in both trade and expropriation, it arises from the constant need to realise surplus value.  Capitalism is constantly looking for new things to commodify. Capitalism thrives on creating , then subsuming the other. Marx states "a precondition of production based on capital is therefore the production of a constantly widening sphere of circulation, whether the sphere is directly expanded or whether more points within it are created as points of production"

3 "crisis indicates a passage, which is the turning point in every systematic cycle of accumulation, from a first phase of material expansion (investment in production) to a second phase of financial expansion (including speculation)". The environmental orgins is a crisis for capitalism.


Task 4

The Shannon- Weaver Mathematical Model 1949

Redundancy- repetition of messages to reduce the probability of errors in transmission
Entropy- information: (communication theory) a numerical measure of the uncertainty of an outcome
noise- source of interference 
 The shannon weaver model is about an information source transmitting itself to the receiver , it must first pass through noise and then the receiver must convey the message to it's destination. If noise is not transmitted, communication can be lost or  misunderstood. Semantic noise is ‘any distortion of meaning not intended by source’ (Fiske. R, 2002)

For this task I have decided to look at a perfume advert by Gucci and will use the Shannon Weaver model to explain communication. The Gucci Guilty advert campaign was art directed by Riccardo Ruini which is the information source.
In this advert you can see a golden man and woman arm in arm, the man is lower than the woman and he has his eyes closed smelling her neck in pleasure. The woman is holding the back of his head pushing her body in to his while lifting her head up so that he can smell her neck with ease. The woman is looking at us, knowing that she is being looked at and seems to be enjoying the male attention. The advert is sexual and exciting. The perfume bottle is place at the front of the advert and is in the same gold as the bodies. I think the advert is trying to make the viewer want to be irritable . This is how I interpret the image which will be received differently by each individual which is the destination. The channel is where it will be seen and how this would effect the target audience, it needs to be seen where women of  late teens to mid 30s will view it because they can associate with the woman's age and make you want to be like her too.

lecture 6

Globalisation, sustainability & the media

Definition of Globalisation

  • Socialist- The process of transformation of local regional phenomena in to global ones. It can be described as a process by which the people of the world are unified into a single society and function together. This process is a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural and political forces.
  • Capitalist- The elimination of state-enforced restrictions on exchanges across borders and the increasingly intergated and complex global system of production and exchange that has emerged as a result.

Globalisation- distinct political, economic, and cultural trends.

Mcdonaldization- fast food restaurants are coming to dominate more and more sectors of american society as well as the rest of the world.

internet- we live mythically and intergrally

Three problems of globaization
sovereignty- challenges to the idea of the nation-state
Accountability- transnationl forces and organisation
Identity- who are we? nation, group, community

Cultural imperialism
  • if the global village is run with a certain set of values then it would not be so much an integrated community as an assimilated one.
  • key thinkers- schiller -chomsky
Rigging the free market
  • media conglomerates operate as oligopolies
us media power can be thought of as a new form of imperialism
  • local cultures destroyed in this process and new forms of cultural dependency shaped, mirroring old school colonialism.
  • schiller- dominance of us driven commercial media forces US model of broadcasting on to the rest of the world but also inculates US style consumerism in societies that can ill afford it.
Chomsky & Herman (1998)
propaganda model- 5basic filters

  • ownership
  • funding
  • sourcing
  • flak
  • anti communist ideology
  • sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs
  • needs (particularly of the worlds poor)
  • limitations of technology


"most things are not designed for the needs of the people but for the needs of the manufacturers to sell to people"
Papanek.V 1983

Monday, 17 January 2011

the gaze

SLIH clip from r pieto on Vimeo.

from the website

This short clip from Billy Wilder’s film Some Like It Hot (1959) illustrates some of the contradictions that exist within the male gaze in Classic Hollywood Cinema. We see the introduction of Marilyn Monroe’s character, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, as Joe/Josephine (Tony Curtis) and Jerry/Geraldine/Daphne (Jack Lemmon) watch her entrance.

On one level this clip can be read as articulating the male gaze. The film’s mise-en-scène constructs Sugar’s image in a highly erotic way; she wears tight fitting clothes accented with feathers and fur, which among other things, signify sensuality. Monroe’s performance accents her walk and facial expressions, thus heightening her sexuality. The corresponding music is a kind of Dixieland/stripper motif that aurally corroborates her image. Sugar’s eroticism even affects inanimate objects, as evidenced by the train in the scene which appears to be aroused, in a sense, by Sugar’s intense sexuality. The train’s brakes shoot out a burst of steam as if to grab her as she passes by.

The sequence also follows Mulvey’s assertion that the gaze works through three channels: the male characters in the film; the camera; and the male viewers. First, the Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon characters gaze at Sugar as she walks by. The editing in the scene reproduces the gaze in their eyeline match as they watch Sugar walk by. Secondly the camera frames Sugar in a precise and specific way. We see Sugar’s face in medium close-up, then a cut to Joe and Jerry, then a cut to a medium close-up of Sugar’s derrière. Here the camera and the male characters are in perfect harmony to reproduce Sugar as an object to be looked at by men. And thirdly, from all this we can assume that the film’s construction of the male gaze is situating male viewers within the audience to take up this viewing position.

Here with this discussion of camerawork we can plainly see one of the strengths of Mulvey’s thinking on the male gaze. We could write off this particular style of camera work used with Sugar as just standard Hollywood cinematic practice. Indeed, it is standard film practice in Classic Hollywood; however, this specific camerawork is almost exclusively reserved for female characters. If we do a little thought experiment and try to imagine John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart or Clark Gable shot in this manner, we can see Mulvey’s insight. Male actors were seldom, if ever, shot with this set up. Imagine John Wayne entering a scene shot like Sugar’s entrance; first with a medium close up of his face and then cut to a medium close up of his derrière? According to Mulvey, this is because the male characters can seldom be eroticized in the same way as female characters. Male characters can be handsome and dashing, but the camera can seldom frame them to be erotic objects of the male gaze as the above scene does with Marilyn Monroe.

key points

  • articulating the male gaze
  • what she is wearing, tight fitted clothing\
  • her walk and facial expressions, heightening her sexuality
  • the train being an object and recognising her sexuality and shooting out steam
  • Mulvey's 3 channels
  1. the male characters in the film
  2. the camera
  3. the male viewers
  • how the camera views sugar
This is only part of the information on the site
need to look more in to the clip