Race

April 20th, 2010

Hooks discusses what it was like growing up as a black female (or I am assuming because Bell Hooks is an ambiguous name). It is interesting that she discusses that in her segregated town, if you did not work in a white area, you only knew about the white dress, acts, thoughts and ideology from the television screen. However, if we look at how that is being perceived nowadays, we mostly see white males perceived as the bread-winners, and black males perceived as tough gangsters. Even though people do not live in segregated areas, what subliminal messages are we sending to people? In the film Crash, which is all about the issues of race, it finally brings up the fact that in films, we judge people by their race because we are so used to doing so, while it is not normally the case. And society still has a stereotype issue, which I think comes from the media that has the most influence on people, film and television.

One the other hand, Dyer discusses that although whiteness is always perceived as the dominant race, if we take a better look, it is really about emptiness and denial. Take a classic ‘perfect family’ that is often portrayed on films: dad, mom, brother and sister, all white, of course. Dad is the bread-winner, Mom is a stay-at-home-mom and the children act as any child would. However, it looks good from the outside, but there are always problems; children rebel, affairs, bankruptcy… And we see this is almost every film that has a family in it. I am sitting here and I can not think of a film where there is no emptiness involved in the family. Anybody come up with any?

In Diawara’s article, he discusses that the idea of the ‘black spectator’ is equal to that of the ‘resisting spectator’. He says that the black character is there to remind the audience that the white characters are higher and of more importance. In the example he brings with 48HRS, Eddie Murphy is there to make Nick Nolte look more educated and a better character. But what about Pulp Fiction, specifically the story line of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta. Jackson and Travolta play partners out on a mission. While they are very similar to a cop partnership, instead they go around killing people. Nevertheless, while in most cases when partners of different races are paired together on a scene, the white person is the dominant. But in Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson is the one with his head on his shoulders and quoting the Bible, seemingly being the more educated and dominant one. Travolta even ¬†follows what Jackson tells him to do.

While reading Fanon’s excerpt from Black Skin, White Masks, I did not understand why we were reading this in a Film Theory class. He states that in every film he watches, he sees himself. He connects himself to the black man on the screen. But I dont get what this has to do with Film Theory.

Any answers?

Psychoanalysis/Spectatorship/Sexual Difference

April 13th, 2010

In Metz’s ‘From The imaginary Signifier’ he discusses how cinema differs from other forms of art. As opposed to pictures and sculptures and literature, they only have use one sense, visual. However, cinema uses two senses, visual and auditory. Since these two senses make the audience believe that this is real, like looking in a clear glass mirror. the audience has a passion while watching the film because of our desire to see and desire to hear. I see this being true when I watch films. Yesterday, I watched Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. In this film, Humbart, our protagonist, is in love with Lolita, and in the beginning of the film, he stands from a safe distance and watches her. Watching this scene I thought to myself how uncomfortable he made me feel since he was watching/stalking from afar. Then I thought to myself that how can I think Humbart is weird when I am doing the same, watching Humbart from afar. Watching films is very voyeuristic.

Mulvey discusses visual pleasures and how people love to watch others just as much as they love to be watched. Aside from the male gaze, which comes up in many films, she also discusses three other looks that go into film. The gaze of the camera as it is being filmed, the look at the audience as they are watching it and the look of the characters towards one another within the scene. As the audience, we are aware of the gazes that go between characters, but we forget our gaze of watching the film.

Doane discusses female spectatorship. Usually it is the male that gaze towards the female. However, Doane is suggesting a reverse idea; that the female gaze towards the male to receive enjoyment. She discusses things like male strip-tease but I cant take it to maybe a more realistic approach. Maybe women dont need men stripping in front of their faces, but women are much more romantic creatures. I know when I am with my girlfriends and we are watching a film, we gaze at the men when they are romantic and sweep the female character off her feet. Everyone wants their knight in shining armor. I think that is what women gaze over more than male stripping.

Ideology

April 2nd, 2010

In Jean-Louis Baudry’s ‘The Apparatus”, he goes back to the story of the men in the cave. He brings in Plato and how he made the apparatus like a sound cinema. However, there is no sound with these shadows on the wall in the cave. Without sound, there is a sense of ambiguity, which closely relates it to reality. I agree that without sound there is a sense of ambiguity because everyone watching the silent cinema can interpret it a different way since there is nothing being stated as fact. However, I don’t know if ambiguity makes seem like reality, since there is sound in the real world. Additionally, when a film ends on a note when it is ambiguous and the audience must figure out what happens in the end, I do not think that is real life. Life goes on and things are resolved and figured out.

Mary Ann Doane makes a bold statement in her first paragraph saying, ‘The silent film is certainly understood, at least retrospectively and even in its time, as incomplete, as lacking speech.” Although I agree to this statement, it is a powerful statement. I agree that sound adds a lot to a film. Dialougue and music can alter the audiences views on a specific character, and bring out emotions that just movement cannot. There is a scene in the film Moulin Rouge by Baz Luhrmann where a song is playing in the background of what would seem like an ordinary scene. However, when listening to the lyrics, the audience is able to understand a deeper meaning to the scene, making it more emotional for the viewer.

In Robin Wood article, he brings all the theories together in stating that while there are many theories with different outlooks on cinema, an audience member can not choose just one theory to be correct, but can take a little from each one. Although this statement may cause controversy since many of the theories contradict each other. He then brings in different components for the audience to be aware of while understand cinema. Some components are capitalism, marriage and family and success and wealth. These are some ideologies that many cinemas use. However, I was wondering if there are any films that don’t use these ideologies, but find a new idea to show to audiences. Would that film do well, since it is the only one of its kind, or will it be a flop since it is not like the other films out and people like to see what they know they will like.

In ‘Cinema/Ideology/Criticism’, it states that a film for the most part will give off a certain ideology that belonged to the makers of the film, without even knowing it. I agree to this statement because the creators of the film, director, producer…, these people are the ones creating the film so it is their ideology and choices that make the film what it is. Even if the filmmakers try to make the film completely unbiased, the film is a product of them so there will be a little of their ideology in the film. Yes, I’m sure there are examples of films that do not give off any ideology, but that is in the minority.

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