Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window Essay

Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window Essay

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As the credits roll we see the blinds of a three-pane window slowly being lifted up, after they finish the camera moves forward revealing to our gaze the reality on the other side of the open window. It faces the back of many other buildings, the courtyard they enclose, and a sliver view of the backstreet. More importantly, it faces many other windows just like it. Behind each one of those there are people, going about their day, doing mundane tasks, unaware of being observed. In his 1954 movie “Rear Window” Alfred Hitchcock invites us to engage in the guilt free observation of the lives of others. The main character, photographer L. B. Jefferies, is home stuck with a broken leg encased in a cast that goes all the way to his hip, providing the perfect excuse for him to amuse himself in this hot Manhattan summer by engaging in the seemly harmless act of looking into the many windows he can see from his back apartment. Casual, harmless, voyeurism has been part of the human behavior for ages but in the sixty years since the movie was released it has gained increasing traction. Reality television, Movies, TV shows, YouTube, blogging, Instagram and Facebook are examples of modern tools that allow us to engage in the observation of others while remaining protectively hidden from their returning gaze. In its essence the casual voyeuristic actions we engage in while observing others when using these new media tools follows the same pattern of behavior described in the movie, with the same positive and negative consequences. Casual voyeurism distinguishes itself from pathological voyeurism, which is characterized by a preference in obtaining sexual gratification only from spying others, by the removal of the sexual component from the equat...


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