Mulvey Theory

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After Mulveys theory was published, during the 1980’s many feminists who began to look for the meaning of female spectatorship raised many debates about the male gaze. (Stacey,1994, p24) As Rosemary Betterton enquires, “what kinds of pleasure are offered to women spectators within the forms of representation…which have been mainly by men, for men?” (Betterton, 1985 p4). Similarly, David Rodowick stated, “Mulvey discusses the male star as an object of look but denies him the function of an erotic object” and asks “So where is the place of the feminine subject in this scenario?” (Rodowick, 1982 p8) Many feminist film theories have attempted to study Mulveys theory further. One way would be to look at the way film text produces different gendered spectator positions which goes against Mulveys and masculine models of spectatorship (Stacey 1994, p 25). On the other hand accepting the masculinisation of the female spectator but arguing that due to sexual difference the spectator therefore will get different visual pleasures from the text. I will look at three main theorists who argue against the Mulvey male gaze theory of the 1970’s. Firstly, Raymond Bellours work, as written in ‘Psychosis, neurosis, perversion’, from Camera Obscura, has taken a physiological understanding of sexual difference in Hollywood cinema claiming a space for female desire. (Stacey,1994, p24) By investigating the dialogue of Hitchcock films, Bellour discovered an analysis of the way the gaze is created. Bellour stated “The mechanisms for eliminating the threat of sexual difference represented by the figure of a woman, are built into the apparatus of the cinema” (Bellour, 1979, p97) Although, his version is a very pessimistic ideology for the female desire, Bell... ... middle of paper ... ...tic pleasure.” (Stacey 1994 p29) The female spectator therefore “takes on a specific meaning in cultures where women are so constituently defined as both subject and object of the gaze. Thus’ wanting to be liked does not necessarily exclude an erotic component.(Stacey 1992, p30) Therefore, unlike Mulveys theory that all women are put in the masochists position in order to enjoy films where the woman is objectified, she states that there is potential homo-eroticism for all female spectators, whilst identifying with the “woman-as-spectacle” at the same time.(Stacey 1994 p 29) Using the theories I have discussed regarding feminist film theories , I will apply it to two of the most commercially popular Hollywood Romantic comedies, Pretty Woman and Bridesmaids. Since they both fall under this genre, I will be able to apply these theories and compare them accordingly.

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