Sunday, May 23, 2010

Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Laura Mulvey’s article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” is a study on our fascination for cinema. From the individual’s social molding, a preexisting fascination of film is created. Mulvey believes that women are the bearer of meaning rather than maker of meaning. Phallocentric theory has reduced the position of the woman to the point of observational interest, rather than creator of their projected image. Mulvey uses castration complex to examine woman’s image as bearer of a bleeding wound. If there is pleasure in looking, what visual interest does this have for women? Mulvey’s interest is to break from pleasure expectations, to conceive new ones.

Scopophilia is the pleasure to look, as well as being looked at. With cinema, we take people as objects, and subject them to a form of control through a curious gaze. Mulvey believes that in the extreme, we become voyeurs, whose sexual gratification comes from looking and controlling the “objectified other.”

“Woman as image and man as bearer of the look” has created a sexual imbalance in cinematic form. Males’ projected fantasy on women, has been problematic for harmonious interpretation of the sexes. The female has been “coded” as an erotic spectacle, which “freezes” the narrative for sexual consideration. Hetero-normative visualization seems to colonize the cinematic gaze.

There are three cinematic looks associated with cinema:
(1.) camera, (2.) audience, and (3.) character. Mulvey’s article believes that the neurotic needs of the male ego has created a one dimensional fetish of women presented as an image of castration threat.

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