Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Key Scenes)

Through the gothic image she creates for herself, it can be viewed as a removal of the traits that make her conform with the stereotypical female, appearing feminine with a delicate persona, as opposed to harsh black colours.

In this scene she is attacked by a group of men, which can be seen from the Female Gaze, as she manages to fight off the men under the persona that conveys her as more masculine. Due to the nature of the attack, it may also reinforce oppression of men against women, seen as a running theme throughout the film.

In these scenes, we see how her guardian abuses his power over her and keeps her in a position in which she can not retaliate, so he believes he can get away with these evils against her, without having to face any consequences. The first screen capture demonstrates how her psychological state of mind is so shot from the ordeal of having to carryout such as action, she physically has to wash her mouth out with soap. From this scene you would also be able to draw a strong emotional response, feeling uncomfortable and having the camera fixed on the rape, unable to escape from the situation like her.

In this scene she achieves retribution, through inserting a phallic object inside her guardian, making her experience the pain she felt. Here the audience receives satisfaction, feeling that our desires for revenge have been fulfilled. At the same time, we receive a feeling of uncomfortableness and negative emotions, being able to imagine the situation he is in and how horrible that would feel.  

It is apparent in these scenes that although her photographic memory has scarred her and it is hard for her to escape her memories, she feels that this is a man she can trust and is the first man to treat her with respect and kindness.

This shows the relationship between the journalist and the baby sitter, how he may feel he needs to find Harriet as a duty, feeling that she looked after him as a child, appearing to him as a motherly figure.

This scene can be used to reinforce the extent of the evil captured within the collection of photographs showing the killers victims. From a feminist reading, this can communicate the oppression of women.

This is the final scene, where she feels she can escape her past and recreate who she is; by adopting a new persona and stealing enough money to allow her to do this. This can be seen as a return to feminine characteristics now that the oppression against her, demonstrated through the guardian and misogynistic killer, have be conquered.

Selected Fandom (Terminator)

One film franchise that has acquired a large fan base is that of the Terminator films, starting in 1984. As a result of this, three Terminator movies and a Terminator television series followed. To demonstrate how the fan base for these films have remained strong since the first film, the franchise has continued with the latest film being released in 2009. Due to the popularity of the films and the guaranteed fan base there are another two Terminator films that are rumoured to be released.

Rumoured T5 & T6 films:

Terminator Salvation Trailer:

The films resulted in fans being involved in the franchise in a whole manner of ways, such as using costumes to mimic the Terminator and even constructing theories on the future and what will happen with technological developments. In addition to these, involvement and references to the films are not exclusive to the fans, but the famous quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger "I'll be back" is used universally.

Due to the following the films have, there is also the creation of a whole database online of features such as characters, locations and the narrative of the films. Due to the success of the films, there was also a large amount of fans that created their own stories, based around the narrative and the Terminator universe. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

How has Fandom shaped Spectatorship?

Fandom has shaped spectatorship in several ways. It is no longer seen as exclusively for men, but also incorporates varying ages and gender. A reason for this being that it is now excepted and integrated into mainstream society, helped through movies such as Lord of the Rings; which acted as a transition from Fandom being considered sad or obsessive, to an element of mainstream society. Specifically in relation to shaping spectatorship, having a Fandom allows the audience to get on board with the franchise and buy into all the other elements such as services like forums or merchandise. The audience can feel a part of the films and relate with favourite characters and express their views; becoming something that has its very own community of followers or dedicated fans. In having a Fandom for a series of films however, the segment of the audience that remains dedicated to the franchise and immerse themselves in the films, can often be enthusiastic to the point where they are uncritical.    

Friday, 9 May 2014

Flipped Classroom - Outcome 4

What has the following got to do with gender - why significant?

1) psychoanalysis 
2) mirror stage
3) Black Swan & Clockwork Orange

These three aspects are key to answering one of the questions in the exam. An example of a question that could come up reads: 

“How far does a spectator’s gender affect their viewing experience in contemporary cinema?”

This question is orientated around gender, yet the question may have a focus on other factors such as the spectator’s ethnicity and age.

It is important to link these three aspects however, on the basis the argument we formulate can still discuss gender as being less or more significant. This allows us formulate an argument, but adapt it to the question we are presented.

Another key feature is how the factor affects the spectator’s viewing experience in Contemporary cinema, so when discussing gender, this must be discussed in relation to our case studies Black Swan and Clockwork Orange. Black Swan is our contemporary text (last ten years), Clockwork Orange is our historical text.

In addition to Black Swan, we must reference contemporary films that demonstrate other gazes that link to the argument we have formulated. For example:

Female Gaze = True Grit, Magic Mike, Hunger Games, Brave. 
Black Gaze = Django.
Queer Gaze = Brokeback Mountain. 

Black Swan & Clockwork Orange can be associated most strongly with the Male Gaze. Clockwork Orange arguably more so, on the basis it is easier to interpret other Gazes such as Female and Queer.


This can link with gender, on the grounds it ties in with characters trying to establish their identity, such as Nina in Black Swan. It explores ideas of the theorist Freud, who highlights how your gender could change your mentality. He discusses this in relation to sexual desire, how women would seek someone like there father, whilst men seek someone like their mother. Due to this exploration of sexuality as explaining heterosexual relationships only, it can be seen as a clear reflection of the Male Gaze.

Mirror Stage

One way the Mirror Stage links to gender is through viewers feeling omniscient when watching the film, being able to follow different situations and have knowledge of information other characters may not know. With this in mind, these films have historically been created mainly by male directors, which could mean that female viewers are made to take on the perspective of the stereotypical white heterosexual males that have made the film. This is apparent is scenes that are seen as voyeuristic and solely for the visual pleasure of men.  

Black Swan

This is our case study which is used to demonstrate that in contemporary cinema the Male Gaze is still present, but it is not the only Gaze to be communicated, taking into account the perspectives of the Female and Queer Gaze. For example, a scene that demonstrates this is when Nina has a sexual encounter with Lily. This can be seen as visual pleasure for the male viewers but may also be seen as her establishing her sexual identity.   

Clockwork Orange

This is our historical case study, which we will use to demonstrate the progression of change in the experiences of the spectator. It draws parallels with Black Swan in the way that both films can be seen to incorporate the Male Gaze. A point of contrast is how Clockwork Orange focuses only on the Male Gaze, and the use of the women are merely for sexual gratification of Alex and to provide visual pleasure for the audience.

Activity 1

Complete the following Venn diagram with additional films that either incorporate the Male Gaze, Oppositional Gazes or both. 

Activity 2

With the films you have found that fall under the Male Gaze and those under both, reference some key scenes from the films and explain how it is they incorporate the Male Gaze. Link it to the question, highlighting how the spectators gender would affect their experiences when watching that film.  

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fanculture - Lord of the Rings

Q1. Who are these people (demographics: age, gender, subculture [geeks], sexuality?)

The Lord of the Rings franchise is seen now to appeal to groups of varying age and gender. It can be argued that there may be more elements of the film that are associated with men, such as the violence or increased amount of men over women in the film. Another aspects that makes the films appealing is the fantasy genre, providing the audience with the ability to escape from their everyday lives into a whole other fantasy world in its entirety, created by J. R. R. Tolkien. One of the largest fan base for Lord of the Rings however, came from those who has affiliation with the books in one way or another. They may have read the books before the films, segregating themselves from the mainstream hype of solely the movies alone. The fans may have been enticed into reading the other books after having seen the first film, therefore fuelling their desire to watch the next films that followed. In addition to this is the fans that just watched the films without reading the books, but still became part of the fanculture in support of the films.


Q2. What evidence can you find (forums etc) to show they affect the Production & Marketing of these films?
The fan base for the Lord of the Rings films is so large that it became one of the highest grossing film trilogies of all time; in addition to winning seventeen out of the thirty academy awards it was nominated for. These points reinforce the successful marketing and distribution of the films. In order to make the films more appealing, there is the incorporation of inaccurate adaptations from the books. For example, as a means to market the films more effectively, Frodo is portrayed as the youngest and youthful hobbit, approximately around the age of eighteen, whilst in the books he is a fifty year old middle aged hobbit, the oldest of the fellowship. This can be viewed as a marketing ploy on the grounds youthful actors are seen as more popular with modern audiences; in addition to closing the age gap with the other hobbits to establish a greater bonding between characters. The success was a culmination of the novels, the film techniques and the solid marketing strategy implemented by New Line Cinema. This started with film posters and trailers; later progressing to a range of products such as action figures and video games. 

Film adaptations that are different from the books:   

Q3. Comicon - how is this linked to Marketing & Distribution?

Comicon is an event that occurs approximately every year, taking place all around the world, the most famous being the Comicon in San Diego. In London, Comicon is set to take place at the Excel between the 23rd and 25th of May. This is a great way of promoting Lord of the Rings, along side some of the other well known fanculture films such as Starwars, Harry Potter and Marvel. Comicon can be seen as an event that fuels the popularity of the franchises in addition to allowing already existing fans to express their enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion for the films. At the event it is common practice to dress up as favourite characters and engage in activities and stands that relate to the films you enjoy. It can act as a social hub to those that enjoy the Lord of the Rings trilogy and share feelings towards new developments in the franchise such as the new Hobbit films that are being made; also an effective marketing strategy, increasing audience numbers from already existing Lord of the Rings fans.        

Q4. What type of pleasures are offered (subcultural identity, spectacle, ideologies/values, mirror stage fantasy?

The audience can use this fantasy world to escape to and determine what elements they prefer; finding solace in the variety of different character types in the films. This is on the basis that they may be able to relate to the vary character profiles such as men, dwarves, elves, wizards and so on. In selecting a favourite group and the characters we prefer, it helps in establishing a subcultural identity. Not only this, but the idea of being able to relate to characters can be found in the same way as other films, as it still captures the choices and experiences of the main characters, allowing us to draw parallels with ourselves, linking to the idea of alignment. Stemmed from this is the Mirror Stage, which is highly applicable to The Lord of the Rings World of Middle-Earth, granting the audience the ability to be all omniscient; switching between characters and scenarios that are occurring in many different areas of Middle Earth. At one moment we could be following the battle at Helms Deep, then shortly after being transported across the map, back to following the journey of Frodo and Sam.

A Swede constructed by fans :             

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Mock Exam Question

Mock Exam Question: How far does a spectator’s gender affect their 
viewing experience in contemporary cinema?


When it comes to exploring how significant gender is to a spectators experience, it can be argued that it may only effect the viewing experience to an extent. This is on the grounds it does not change the viewing experience entirely; gender being only one of many contributing factors. To understand how significant gender is, serval aspects must be looked at such as psychoanalysis, the mirror stage, the male gaze and spectatorship. For a greater insight into how these theories can be applied to determining the significance of the spectator’s gender, these aspects can be applied to the case studies Black Swan, Clockwork Orange and True Grit.  

Para 1

The first element which comes into play when examining the significance of the spectator’s gender, is the use of psychoanalysis of the characters and the viewers. This therefore provides us with the ability to understand the mindset of the spectator and how their desires or thoughts align with those found in the characters. The most relevant theorist when referring to psychoanalysis is Sigmund Freud, presenting the idea that we develop our personalities through early childhood experiences. He goes on to discuss how children could grow to have an attraction to their mothers or fathers, dependent upon being male or female; boys being attracted to their mothers, girls to their fathers. From the application of this freudian theory, this raises reasoning for supporting gender as a significant role to the spectator’s experience. Stereotypically it is known that men are more drawn to violence whilst women are seen to focus on narratives that revolve around love. 
In reference to the parental influence, this can be found in the film Black Swan. The mother of the protagonist is conveyed as very protective of her daughter. This is demonstrated through her constant observations and paranoia to her daughters previous issues regarding self harm. Nina’s responses to her mother are that of a childlike nature, possibly a result of how she was socialised by her. A scene which reinforces the impact her mother has on her and how big an influence she is in her life, is the scene where she receives the part for the black and the white swan. This is on the basis, the first thing she does is goes to the toilets in order to phone her mum. She wishes to tell her of her success, in order to make her proud and be as good as her, bearing in mind her mother used to be a dancer.  Due to the lack of a father figure, it can be seen that Nina tries to look for one in the dancing instructor, made clear to the audience when he uses phrases such as “my little princess”. Although this phrase is spoken to the older dancer, she draws a lot of parallels with her, which can therefore be seen as foreshadowing to an extent. The overwhelming protective nature of her mother reaches the point where Nina leaves the hose with her friend Lily for drinks, in order to get a breather from the pressure she is under. This is reinforced when Lily convinces Nina to stay longer by mentioning the reasoning for her wanting to go, is to get home to her mother.           

para 2

Another aspect which contributes in determining the significance of gender to the spectator’s experience is the application of the mirror stage. This is the idea that the spectator can identify themselves as a coherent and omnipotent ego within the film. The spectator can view various sections of the narrative, not needing to have the perspective of one person. This provides the spectator with a feeling of power. This idea links heavily with themes of struggling identity as seen clearly in Black Swan. This refers to how Nina’s multiple personalities are portrayed and the struggles for identity in which she is undertaking. One of the problems she faces in way of her identity can be the idea she is trying to establish herself and find out who she really is, even if she may attempt to do this through taking on board the desires and actions of others. A scene which demonstrates this, alongside the scenes which contain mirrors, is when she sees herself in the face of a passer by. In addition to this, it also conveys the idea that her personality is splintering into multiple ones, the white swan reflecting her innocence, the black swan illustrating her darker hidden side. There is also the dark side and more outgoing element of her personality which comes across when she is with the dance instructor in his office, biting his lip and standing up for herself. She also comes to the office made up with make up, changing her image to achieve her desires within the ballet. The other dancers could arguably be responsible for her struggle for identity, treating her as hostile and therefore isolating her due to the competitive nature that is portrayed in the film. 
A micro aspect that is more strongly identified alongside Nina’s struggle for identity, is conveyed through the mirrors in each scene, and how she begins to construct who she is through the experiences and exchanges with those around her. Due to this area of macro analysis being more of a focus on the hardships and problems that are faced by Nina, this has more of a closer connection to that of the female gaze. In way of establishing her sexual identity, we can relate this to the quere gaze. By exploring how her personalities are fragmenting, it becomes cloudy in what is the true Nina. It can be an idea that because she feels so split and unsure of who she is, all these aspects we see are in fact her, but just the different parts, or even at least glimpses of what she wants and does not want to be like.         

para 3

Another defining feature which determines genders significance to the spectator’s experience is the Male Gaze. This is the idea that film takes a voyeuristic stance towards woman, due to the fact the majority of directors are male, meaning the camera adopts the persona of a man. As a result of this, woman may feel that when watching a film they need to take on the perspective of a man to interpret meaning. The Male Gaze can be found in Black Swan through allowing the audience to access the dressing rooms of the dancers. This is an area normally only accessible to women, so providing an insight into what the dressing room is like, grants us the ability to see women in an area where they would not expect to be observed by the male gender. It is arguable whether this conveys the women in a environment where they are vulnerable, linking to the idea of the scene being voyeuristic. A scene which links to having a voyeuristic nature and reflection of the male gaze is the sequence where Nina makes out with another woman. Arguably for the entertainment of male viewers, although it promotes relevant points in relation to her trying to establish her identity through adopting an alternative means of sexual stimulation; which is not the primary value consensus in society, regarding sexuality. Quite a lot of the voyeuristic shots and scenes captured by the camera also go hand in hand with having the mirrors present. In scenes such as the dressing rooms, or even private moments with Nina when she is looking over her body in the shower. The camera is also used to focus on areas which promote arousal in sequences when she begins to pleasure her self and make out with the other woman. Capturing facial expressions and shots of the body. Similarly as stated before, this demonstrates both the female and quere gaze, but still conveys a large element of the film being orientated around the male gaze. This can be argued, on the grounds that each of the scenes that are said to reinforce the male gaze may also have an alternative reading into reinforcing the oppositional gazes, such as the scene where Nina engages in sexual acts with another woman; being voyeuristic but also a key features into demonstrating how she does not know what it is she wants, still trying to establish who she is.                 

para 4

A key aspect of spectatorship is the emotional response we have from a film which can be established partially by the spectator’s gender. This ties in with reception theory, in the way we can determine the success of the experience, from the meaning we assign to it. Reception theory deems the “assigning of meaning” to be impossible without the spectator, due to the fact it is how they interpret the film. The three processes of spectatorship where gender and other factors can be integrated are recognition, alignment and allegiance. We begin by identifying a character, which we then align with; either producing an emotional response or the ability to relate our own lives with that of the characters. The last stage is allegiance in which we find ourselves on the same side as the character, following them on their journey. It can be argued however that it is not just someones gender that constructs the experience of the spectator, but various other factors also. This could include factors such as our experiences, sexuality, age or even ethnicity. 
Quite a lot of these other factors are addressed in Black Swan, yet gender remains one of the key factors in relation to determining the experience of the spectator. Although it incorporates the outlook on world from the view of Nina, our female protagonist, it is still arguably viewed as voyeuristic for males having sexual scenes of two women and scenes that captures Nina in scenarios where she is vulnerable. This as a contemporary film is seen to have evolved since movies such as Clockwork Oranges which depicts woman more so as objects and expendable in the eyes of the male protagonist Alex. In this film the woman are used mainly to please the male audience, having them naked a certain points, or merely there to act as sexual gratification for Alex. A film where woman would most likely take a different stance than that of men. It is my belief that gender is still significant in films, but not as much as it used to be, on the basis the other factors that contribute play an equally as important role to comply with that of a postmodern audience.       

para 5

A contemporary film that relates strongly to gender, but with the incorporation of the Female Gaze, as opposed to the Male Gaze, is True Grit. The film True Grit promotes woman as having the potential to be equally as influential and powerful as men; whether this is through the art of negotiation, remaining composed or even displaying physical dominance. We are able to draw these conclusion due to several reasons, the first being the protagonist, Mattie, is also a child as well as being female, which puts an even larger emphasis on her abilities as a woman. Another reason is her role in the western genre, where men are stereotypically promoted as the masculine fighters that engage in conflict. By breaking this mould of the protagonist normally being a man, we are brought into a whole new way on how this character is perceived.    


In conclusion, I believe gender to play a significant role in generating the experience for the spectator, however it is not the only factor that comes into play when determining someones experience of a film. I would say that our individual experiences as people are equally if not more important than that of gender. This is on the basis it is my personal belief that we can relate more easily through the things that have happened to us, than the gender in which we are born with. It very much links to the philosophical quote “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Only can we determine a spectators experience, once we have taken into account all the factors that apply to the individual. 

True Grit & The Female Gaze


Key Scene Links