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In the last unit you read about representations of race and ethnicity in Hollywood films. This unit you are reading about how the South has been represented in film.
I’d like you to put all of this information to work in analyzing the film Black Snake Moan or any contemporary film of your choice that came out after 2000 and prominently represents the South.Constructing a vision of life in the South, Black Snake Moan gives us a chance to explore representations of the South as a fictional space, Southern femininity, sexuality, race/ethnicity, mental disorders, and more. Use this discussion board to take concepts from the readings to analyze race, gender, and more in this film. For example, does this film challenge the virgin-whore complex and traditional gender roles, or reinforce them. Does this film turn the stereotype of the “Black buck” on its head, or reinforce images of African American men as hypersexual? Does this movie help us empathize with people who have mental disorders or encourage stereotypes? …… As you do this, please be very careful not to state your opinions as fact, and to back up your factual claims with citations. Try to reference at least three things from this module or previous class modules
In the last unit you read about representations of race and ethnicity in Hollywood films. This unit you are reading about how the South has been represented in film. I’d like you to put all of this
America on Film Chapter Information/Outline Introduction to Part IV: What is Gender? I. Hollywood films provide images of what it means to be a man versus a woman II. Gender and the classical Hollywood narrative form Privileges men as active and as heroes Tends to represent women as more passive and waiting for rescue III. The Industry Sex discrimination has existed in the film industry Although women have gained more power and privilege over time in America, discrimination based on sex still exists to some degree in contemporary America, including the film industry IV. Defining Terms Sex: “biological aspects of being male or female (such as chromosomes or physical characteristics), as opposed to gender, the social roles assigned to male or female beings” (p. 00) Gender: “social role assigned to males or females in any given historical culture.” (p. 389) best to use the terms masculinity and femininity when discussing gender gender is socially constructed (*although note that some theorists argue even sex is socially constructed) we learn what our culture sees as appropriate behaviors for men and women from various agents of socialization, such as the family, education, the media, etc. such learning may happen consciously or unconsciously agents of socialization do not simply and unproblematically determine how we act, and some people may not “conform to expected gender roles” (p. 221) sanctions help reinforce certain constructions of gender; sanctions are “positive or negative reactions to the ways that people follow or disobey norms, including rewards for conformity and punishments for norm violations” (Ferris and Stein The Real World 2nd Edition. P. G11) a boy who exhibits some “feminine” traits may be sanctioned more strongly than a girl exhibiting some “masculine” traits, because masculinity is valued more in contemporary American society when masculinity and femininity are defined in strictly binary and mutually exclusive ways and internalized by individuals, sometimes negative consequences follow (i.e. a person’s health may be affected negatively) “gender roles and expectations permeate our culture, language, and media in ways both subtle and obvious” (p. 222) Chapter 10: Women in Classical Hollywood Filmmaking I. Images of Women Representations of women in film have changed over time. Constructions of femininity have varied over time, which makes sense as gender is socially constructed. Images of women in early cinema Influenced by understandings of femininity in the Victorian era where: Young women were seen as innocent and to be protected As women got older they got married and became mothers and wives Marriages were often arranged by the family A middle-class woman’s life was directed by men Women were not supposed to gain pleasure from sex In film as well as in Victorian culture, a dichotomy was set up between “good” girls and “bad” girls, the virgin-whore complex “Good” girls, the “virgins” often Were virginal (a status that sometimes needed protecting) Did not work except to cook, sew, etc. Were rarely active in the narrative Were devoted to men Were “childlike” (p. 218) Blond and blue-eyed “Bad” girls, the “whores” were generally Sexualized Considered tragic Considered immoral Were stigmatized Racialized as “dark” “exotic” “predatory” and “conniving” in the vamp stereotype (p. 226) This reinforced the idea that sex outside of marriage generally leads to “ruin” (p. 224) The Industrial Revolution, feminism, and changes in women’s rights “White slavery” films The flapper stereotype Images of women in 1930s classical Hollywood In general, throughout this period Men were the focus of films Films reinforced traditional gender roles The previous dichotomy between “good” and “bad” was still in operation Strong female characters were not completely absent Pre-Code: Great Depression and need for industry to get people to the movies and make money Appearance of “strong, forward, and sexualized heroines” in the early 1930s (p. 231) Moral crusaders, Production Code, and industry self-censorship Decline of “strong female roles” (p. 232) More specifically, with regards to genres Horror and Action Adventure movies Women victims of monsters and madmen, needing saving by heroic men Musical and Romantic Comedy Heterosexual courtship Women given relatively more screentime Traditional gender roles reinforced Women objectified as chorus girls Women’s films Made by men Presented “conventional, patriarchal ideas of what it supposedly means to be a woman” (p. 233) Recent film critics say may contain some subversive elements which challenge patriarchy World War II and After WWII and changes in gender roles Women shown working at jobs and exhibiting some traits previously considered “masculine” After the War Women shown as housewives and mothers Tensions Film noir and femme fatales 1950s Women yearning for heterosexual domesticity Blond bombshell Suburban housewife Melodramas Reveal tensions over changing gender roles II. The Industry Early female filmmakers In film’s early days, some women were filmmakers Existed in a “male-dominated” environment (p. 228) Often White women Often upper to middle-class women Even in 1912, there were multiple independent film companies run by women Researchers estimate half all of U.S. films made during the 1910s and 1920s were written by women Women argued they could be filmmakers because of their “natural” creative and motherly abilities As the studio system developed, women had less opportunities in the industry and some issues that were previously discussed in films were banned Women played some roles in the industry, however, such as secretaries, seamstresses, film editors, and screenwriters As the industry became more of a business enterprise, opportunities for women further decreased The classical era The classical Hollywood studio system “afforded special privileges to men” (p. 223) Men held the more prominent roles in financing, directing, and producing The classical Hollywood narrative form gave men “active and central roles” (p. 223) Before and during the classical era, it was often assumed that women “were unsuited” for certain “professional positions” in the industry because of assumptions about the “nature” of women [implying there are essential differences between the sexes] (p. 223) However, despite these challenges, some women were successful in producing, in directing, and in other seemingly “masculine” roles in the industry ***Chapter 11: Exploring the Visual Parameters of Women in Film This chapter focuses on film form. I. Rise of feminism Considerations of form in Hollywood films Understandings of the objectification of women The male gaze Women’s complicity Mulvey’s arguments Narcissistic pleasure of identifying with male characters Voyeurism and the male gaze Objective shots versus subjective shots “The three gazes that comprise cinema in the first place…are all inherently male, even when the actual spectator is a woman.” (p. 247-248) “Women in the audience are forced either to identify with the objectified female or else inhabit the male character’s point of view.” (p. 248) Women’s sexualized bodies Use of lighting to make women “alluring” (p. 248) Men as active and women whose power comes from their “ability” to use their “sexual allure to arrest the narrative action” (p. 249) Attempts to contain female sexuality “Mysterious” women who transform into “good” girls “Bad” girls who are punished by men Fetishization II. Contrasting the objectification of men and women The male body on display in our society is often seen as feminizing Men not objectified as much as women (perhaps because it seems homoerotic) Makeup used differently by men Men’s bodies displayed in action sequences III. Critiques of Mulvey’s Arguments Chapter 12: Masculinity in Classical Hollywood Filmmaking I. Studying Men It is important to study how masculinity is constructed and not just femininity Gender studies “denaturalize the hegemonic superiority of males, and show that masculinity and femininity” are often set up in opposition to each other (p. 259) In American society certain behaviors are thought of as masculine, e.g. “Aggression” (p. 259) “Strength” (p. 259) “Leadership” (p. 259) “Lack of emotion” (p. 259) Privilege works to keep men blind to the opportunities afforded to them in American society However, masculinity can be hard for some men to embody, and taking on stereotypically masculine traits can lead to some problems for men (e.g. negative health effects) Some agents of socialization into gender roles Homosocial groups Mass media and sports Spectator sports which encourage men to imitate or measure themselves by “male athletic superiority” (p. 260) Advertisements which suggest consuming certain products will help men become like men shown in the ads T.V. shows and movies which represent men as “powerful active agents sexually desired by women,” and which “eradicate or denigrate any possible homoerotic or feminized aspects of masculinity” (p. 260) II. Men in the Hollywood Film Industry Historically founded and dominated by men Many of the roles in the industry were considered masculine and better held by men (such as producing and directing) As the industry developed, specialization through apprenticeships and guilds worked to exclude women Unions sometimes did not allow women to be members Male actors since early 1900s have managed how they present themselves, working to make sure that they are not too “feminine” III. Images of Men in Hollywood Films Although the way genres are labeled sometimes suggests films are focused on men’s issues or women’s issues, all films arguably are about both “masculinity and femininity in some way” (p. 261) The existence of a women’s film genre and absence of a men’s genre suggests most films are implicitly men’s films Overall, men are represented as active in contrast to more passive women in Hollywood films over the decades….with men and masculinity privileged More specific representations of the masculine ideal have changed over time Early Cinema In this period, societal changes were taking place where men were taking on “less masculine positions” (p. 262) Resurgent masculinity associated “pure brute strength and heavy manual labor” (p. 262) Narrative films encouraged men to identify with images on screen, such as urban action oriented roles, or rugged outdoor heroes As role of the movie star developed, studios worked to make sure stars embodied certain masculine and feminine ideals, and that male stars did not become “feminized objects of an erotic gaze” (p. 264) Classical Era “Emasculation” of men off-screen as the result of the Great Depression seemed to “necessitate an even stronger image of masculine prowess on American movie screens” (p. 265) Some male actors spoke more “gruffly and tersely” (p. 265) Increased violence towards women on screen Difficulties demonstrating masculinity in certain genres like musicals Screwball comedies with verbal and physical battles between men and women, and where male dominance and patriarchal norms not as clearly demonstrated as in previous era (some suggest the Production Code may have “helped to construct a public notion of sexuality tinged with violence and brutality”) (p. 267) World War II and Film Noir Images of tough American soldiers in movies but who could work in teams Images of male bonding Suppression of emotional scars and stress of war during wartime but explored in some postwar social problem films Film noir expressions of “postwar gender relations” (p. 271) where hegemonic patriarchy less certain Men express a “masculinity in crisis” (p. 271) and femme fatales represent “the threat that women in postwar society seemed to represent to men” (p. 272) 1950s Continuance of strong masculinity as well as: Images of a softer type of masculinity Images where men struggle to uphold masculine ideal Patriarchy still reinforced by end of film albeit a more “sensitive” version (p. 276) Chapter 13: Gender in American Film Since the 1960s Although there are more women in the film industry since the second wave of the feminist movement, “most Hollywood films still center on men…and still tend to objectify the image of women as sexualized spectacles. …Masculinity and femininity are still constructed by the movies…[to] promote the separate and unequal status of men and women in America” (p. 278). Further, movies with these constructions of gender continue to generate money. I. The Industry The industry did not fundamentally provide more opportunities to women filmmakers in the 1960s as a result of second wave feminism More women have come to participate in the film industry in the past 20 years Institutionalized sexism still exists in the Hollywood film industry Even with more women working in the film industry, the content of films has not necessarily changed as a result To be successful, women “often find themselves forced to abide by Hollywood’s ideological formulas” (p. 290) There are more opportunities to create films that address “feminist concerns” in independent and avant-garde filmmaking (p. 290) In new millennium, women have gained more access to roles in the film industry as writers, directors, producers, executives but there are still barriers II. Images in Film Second Wave Feminism Understand what first and second wave feminism were about in general Hollywood generally produced “standardized genre films” (p. 280) in response to second wave feminism rather than films with fundamentally changed content and roles for women Hollywood’s treatment of women’s liberation as a sexual movement Sexploitation cinema Pessimistic male buddy films where women functioned to emphasize men are still heterosexual despite homosocial bonds MPAA Ratings System More violence allowed More sexuality allowed Increasing violence against women shown in films 1960s and 1970s begin to address women’s issues 1970s use of the sensitive man image Into the 1980s Understand the kinds of backlash against second wave feminism that existed in society 1980s Hollywood films Popular nostalgic Hollywood blockbusters which often reinforced traditional gender roles Some representations of women in the workplace but these sometimes minimized issues important to second wave feminism like institutional sexism Slasher films (subgenre of horror) Debates over whether these films represent sexism and misogyny and reinforce the virgin-whore complex Neo-noir Gender at the Turn of the Century Females with leading roles in formerly male dominated genres, i.e. female action heroes Chick flicks, post-feminism and third wave feminism Dumb White guy comedies Question of whether they reinforce traditional masculine ideals 9/11 and reassertion of American masculine strength through superhero films, but included smaller and smarter male heroes Celebration of geek-culture Traditional buddy films with arrested development Merger of chick flicks and dumb white guy comedies into female-friendship comedies Backlash for women in some prominent roles
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