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April 1995, Week 5


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Ronald Tuch <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 30 Apr 1995 11:00:38 CDT
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Thanks for your response, Henry, but these feminist ideas have been around
for quite a few years and seem to be legitimate descriptions of film
narrative, primarily because the woman is seen as the object of male
contention rather than a subject. Case in point: I recently saw the
Otto Preminger film "Daisy Kenyon," a story about a woman torn between
two men, Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews. There is a scene in which Fonda
has just left her apartment and meets Andrews outside. Daisy (Joan
Crawford) is watching this encounter from her second story apartment
window. It is a very charged moment, psychologically charged because
it shows both men in Daisy's life facing each other. One would think
that the directort would provide a point of view shot from Daisy's
persepctive through the window--that the men would be rendered at
this critically charged moment--from her point of view, as objects of
her gaze; but, the contrary occurs. We see the two men facing each other
at street level while Daisy is seen from the distace. Pictorially,
it is almost as if she has come between the two men, rather than one
man coming between her and another man.  The scene continues with
a friendly conversation between the two men at street level while the
scene seems to have excluded Daisy completely, mafrginalized her, so to
speak. She has already been "blinded" by thee exclusion of a point of
view shot, and now she is silenced, seen as a mere object in the
marginal distance. Watching this film, it all seems so "natural" since
these codes have been entrenched in American cinema for so many
years--the very naturalness of the excluded point of view shot heightens
further narrative elements, that Crawford, for example, even though
she carries the eponymous title, has been erased as the real object
of contention between the two men and that the real conflict here is
between the two men trying to prove each other in this apparent oedipal
triangle where the weak son (Fonda) tries to usurp the strong powerful
rich father (Andrews) for a woman who in her strength and maternal care
for the wounded Fonda (the war hero) becomes the mother,Jocasta--and
what a great Jocasta Crawford would have made!
   Anyway, the problem with point of view shots is that they do have
a very distinct gender, and the history of film narrative seems to prove
over and over that the masculine perspective has become an entrenched
"natural" element of film form. Thanks for reading this long message.Ron
On Mon, 24 Apr 1995, Henry Taylor wrote:
> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> On Thu, 20 Apr 1995, Ronald Tuch wrote:
> >  Some feminist critics have made the convincing argument that
> > in traditional film narrative the spectator has been
> > conditioned to view the narrative from a masculine perspective.
> > Thus the male gaze has been regarded as the dominant author/ity
> > while the woman has been generally relegated to the one being-
> > looked-at. . .
> A neat note Ronald. I've been looking at this construction recently
> myself. Do you suppose that the absolute gender binarism of this
> construction is accurate? That "gaze" is somehow the property of a
> specific genetic/hormonal configuration? Have you seen any other
> constructions of the phenomena that are so fixedly "genderist"?
> I think that perhaps a more viable perspective might be gained by looking
> at "Gaze" as an individual behavior rather than generalizing it to any
> specific set or class of stereotypical "gazers"
> -henry