Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hollywood Classical Style As A Product Of a Sexist Culture

Classical Hollywood filmmaking style is considered by analysts to be that of a male's gaze. For example, the framing of shots as well as the editing style seem to be executed with a male (gendered) characteristics, hence excluding or marginalizing the female characteristics. And example of a male gaze shot would be a tracking shot of a woman's body, which mimics the (typical, heterosexual) male's eye movement. Movies with central female protagonists of course explore the female gaze, such as Humoresque (Negulesco, 1946) starring Joan Crawford. The film revolves around her relationship to a younger violinist, and the film is filled with concert scenes, where Crawford 'gazes' at the handsome talented violinist. While this movie acknowledges the female gaze, the filmmaking style has to contain and negate this gaze, which could also hint at desire. Crawford's gaze at the violinist is almost always undermined or nullified, and that is done using several different techniques, most obvious is the Crawford's character's near sightedness. She always has to wear her glasses when she's looking at the violinist:
Another technique is the framing, in which Crawford’s gaze is obstructed by framing her between two men. This is a negating technique, in which the men’s gaze at Crawford is supposed to nullify her gaze at the violinist:
This classical style is a product of a global culture, a sexist one, in which a male’s gaze is justified and allowed, whereas a female’s gaze is suppressed and unacknowledged. In the early Hollywood movies, especially those that follow the Hays code, the female characters are punished for now following the norm and what’s expected of them, such as being virtuous and respected. In Humoresque, Crawford’s character is punished by death, and what validates that death is that it was a suicide, hence self-inflected. Again, this suicide undermines the female psyche in the film discourse.

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