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The Male Gaze - Koopaul - 07-16-2011

First of all I apologize in advance for my controversial opinions. Second of all I have done my research on the subject, maybe not enough, but I have done it.

This topic is the result of the arguments made on the tSR Lounge. It is about the Male Gaze and sexism. For those of you who don't know the Male Gaze is a term made by Laura Mulvey that occurs when the audience is put into the perspective of a heterosexual man. Basically shots that focus on the female's body whether or not they are the subject of that scene.

However this goes on to the idea that this objectifies women. That women are merely objects of man's desire. On top of that it forces women to see themselves through the eyes of men, and become what they see. What's more it reassures men of their sexual power and at the same moment deny any sexuality of women other than the male construction.

This is the discussion. Talk about your opinions on the subject and try not to get umm too aggressive.

RE: The Male Gaze - Cshad - 07-16-2011

There's nothing to discuss

Male Gaze is not a Good Thing. The end.

RE: The Male Gaze - Sengir - 07-16-2011

It's called "Selective Marketing", choosing a prime audience and purposefully pushing away another.

Which is kinda dumb considering you'd most likely want a bigger audience.

RE: The Male Gaze - Koopaul - 07-16-2011

So you are saying it is never good to have a shot focusing on a women's body?

There are many characters in media that are objects of amusement. The character whose sole purpose is to be the chew toy of life, the universal butt monkey that we laugh when they get hurt. We don't see them as a person, we see them as an object of ridicule. When a woman is designed to be the object of man's sexual desire does this cross into reality?

Is it wrong for someone to be an object of our entertainment?

The real problem is when the audience is expected to respect this woman as a role model. When she is sexualized while being a role model this is when it is a bad thing

A woman cannot be a strong character while being the object of a man's desire.

Despite this I believe a woman can still be strong character while having a few shots focusing on her body parts. The difference is if the film or game or whatever focuses more on a developed character than ass shots. A few shots of her body is not enough to objectify her.

This is what I believe.

RE: The Male Gaze - Sengir - 07-16-2011

I was actually referring to the earlier debate on a game dedicated to male gaze.

A couple "male gaze" shots in a game could be way different; a character is ogling over her, trying to get the message across that the character's a stripper (though that can be done in dialogue), stuff like that.

RE: The Male Gaze - Koopaul - 07-16-2011

Indeed Bayonetta is a bad offender.

But what I'm talking about is different. Let's take a look at Alien. Throughout the movie Ripley is portrayed as a strong reasonable female. However at the end of the film we get a shot of her naked butt.

Does that one shot throw away all the respect we have of her?

RE: The Male Gaze - PrettyNier - 07-16-2011

havent seen the movie in a long time, give context.

RE: The Male Gaze - DavidCaruso - 07-16-2011

If the shot focuses on the woman's body and she's not even the main subject of the scene then it's obviously bad, but not mainly for reasons of objectifying women or anything (it's because it breaks basic cinematography principles and leaves the viewer confused).

Quote:A woman cannot be a strong character while being the object of a man's desire.

Wait what? There are plenty of good female characters in movies that also happen to look pretty, or have a relationship with another character in the movie.

Quote:Is it wrong for someone to be an object of our entertainment?

Every person acting in a movie is an object of our entertainment. These aren't real people, these are idealized fictional characters whose personalities can be described at any given time in a sentence, and they're played by idealized actors (people which look much more attractive than the ones we normally see in everyday life). Same goes for videogames, where we play as idealized characters (though in the best case there would be no need for a disconnect between us and our "character" ingame) and interact with other characters. The reason for this is that both videogames and movies are forms of escapism and people would naturally rather escape and identify with more attractive people than less attractive people, hence why movie/videogame heroes are usually more attractive than movie/videogame villains. None of this is "wrong."

Quote:Does that one shot throw away all the respect we have of her?

Why would a shot of a character being naked throw away my respect for the character? That isn't an action, it's a state.

Quote:However this goes on to the idea that this objectifies women. That women are merely objects of man's desire. On top of that it forces women to see themselves through the eyes of men, and become what they see. What's more it reassures men of their sexual power and at the same moment deny any sexuality of women other than the male construction.

Uhh this kind of seems like a stretch to me. So because Michael Bay gave us some overly long shots of Megan Fox on a sleek looking car in Transformers 2 women watching the movie see themselves as Megan Fox and are denied of their sexuality because Megan Fox only looks pretty to men [with bad taste]?

RE: The Male Gaze - GrooveMan.exe - 07-16-2011

Of the character? No. Male Gaze as a concept is not a 'character trope', but a factor of media design, and is the fault of the writer/director/artist/etc.

To clarify and elaborate on my discussion of Bayonetta in the General Discussion thread, I like Bayonetta as a game, and to an extent, as a character. But what bugs me are the decisions behind her character. She was designed by a director who has really deep-seated sexist beliefs, and these beliefs were acted out through Bayonetta. She is the puppet for the director's sexual fantasies. And that's creepy! It's unlikeable in the same way that Mary Sues in fiction exist to satisfy the author's fantasies, but even worse because it has negative connotations for a minority.

The other factor is how "othering" it can be. I'm not really happy about bringing factors of myself into a conversation like this, but in media (and Advertising, holy fuck advertising is really bad at this), it will make an assumption that the consumer is a straight, white male - and consequently pander to this 'ideal' average with sexual attractiveness. When you don't fit that demographic, and when that demographic is being pushed heavily as the important normal that SHOULD be consuming this media... it's not a great feeling.

I was able to sit through Bayonetta and enjoyed the large majority of it. But then there were key scenes that were not gameplay or plot-driving that were SPECIFICALLY about the Male Gaze pandering. And it's not great. And knowing the reason behind its inclusion:
is even worse.

RE: The Male Gaze - Chris2Balls [:B] - 07-16-2011

Ripley is in the escape pod, relieved, and decides to undress into her underwear, to prepare to go into her cryogenic bed thing.
I guess this is the first scene of privacy in Alien, which becomes intimacy in a way with our presence as spectators: it's the first time we see a relaxed Ripley, who isn't acting tough in the presence of men, it's the real her. It is of course consequently voyeuristic.
There is quite a blatant ass shot at 0:53. 1:12 onwards it's definitely got her sex in clear view.
Now, why is it filmed like this? Why is Ripley in a skimpy outfit?
I think, first of all, it's to highlight a fragility. A sensuous fragility, because her underwear reveals her body, and it emphasises on how vulnerable she is in opposition to the covered, stern, tough and unreachable Ripley of before. She's now within reach of the Alien, she is now very near us in the shots. The Alien is a very phallic character, an aggressor. Ripley is female. Putting forth shots of her sex and backside to me reminisces the implied rape/torture/mutilation carried out on the other woman by the Alien, and just how little there is between her and it.
I guess you could say at this point in the film there really is a relation that's built between us and her. We're in that closet with her, feeling the stress, the adrenaline, the tension.

She then gets into a spacesuit, and becomes the bold, confident and strong Ripley again.

As a side note, I think Alien is mostly about male libido.

RE: The Male Gaze - GrooveMan.exe - 07-16-2011

Double posting because I'M A FUCKIN ADMIN DEAL W/ IT

Let's look at this example you cite about Alien. I've not actually seen all of that movie, so this is gonna be a bit hypothetical.
Let's imagine Film X. It stars a woman who uses her sexuality as a plot point. To demonstrate this, there is a scene where the character is posing sexily for another character. This has a context that works with the narrative. It makes sense, and is 'aimed' at the circumstance within the media; but the audience gets to see it too. I don't feel there's much wrong with this. Other factor CAN turn it into sexist bullshit, or other unfortunate implications, but that's not soley caused by the presence of sexuality.

Let's imagine Film Y. It stars a woman. She's sexy, but it's not a plot point, insomuch as the male protagonist needs a female lead. To demonstrate this, there's a scene where the character is posing sexily. Other characters may or may not be present, it doesn't seemed to be aimed at them much. It has no context within the narrative. With no real in-narrative aim, it's there soley for the audience's benefit. That's pretty damn bullshit, and you'd be surprised how often it happens.

Is that Alien example Film X or Film Y? Honest question.

Oh, oh! Concerning male sexuality in media, have you noticed how sexy males are in a dominant, confident, controlling position, and often aren't /trying/ to be sexy? Jake Gyllenhaal was shirtless through a lot of Prince of Persia, but he doesn't at any point pose for the camera, and is doing so while being all heroic 'n shit.

Edit: oh, fuck you C2B you ruined my double post. Also thanks for posting the clip.

It wasn't so bad until holy fucking damn that slow pan-down was incredibly blatant.

RE: The Male Gaze - Chris2Balls [:B] - 07-16-2011

I don't think Alien is Film X or Y, to be honest with you.

RE: The Male Gaze - GrooveMan.exe - 07-16-2011

Which is fair enough. They're two hypothetical extremes that you could categorise films into; but most well-rounded films aren't either. From that scene, there was context to her being in her underwear, and she wasn't particularly acting sexily for no reason, that's good! And then there's that slow body-pan with the camera, and that wasn't quite as above board; but since it's (assumedly) not a common ocurrence in the film, it's something I could overlook.

RE: The Male Gaze - Chutzpar - 07-16-2011

A scantily clad woman isn't always a bad thing, the problem is if it's their biggest defining characteristic (and no, Action Girls are not somehow exempt from this; women kicking ass because it's an extension of their sexuality is one- fucking creepy and two- still part of the male gaze).

RE: The Male Gaze - DavidCaruso - 07-16-2011

Sadly I haven't played much of Bayonetta yet, but looking up more interviews on it Kamiya did say that they weren't trying to pander (though who knows, he could be lying):

Quote:It's more like "we're making the best game we know how to make." And for a game like Bayonetta, because there's so much blood splattering on screen when you're in battle and stuff ... if it weren't for that, it probably would be alright for kids to be playing, on just the level that it's a game, an action game, and it doesn't really matter how old you are when you're playing it. You should be able to appreciate it and enjoy it. So the idea that we're targeting a specific demographic, or specific age rather, when making a game doesn't really enter in too much. Once the game comes in reaches this level of development, and reaches this stage of concept, it naturally gravitates in a certain direction.

More after-release interview quotes:

Quote:I believe that the essential element to express sexiness is high quality design, not the exposed skin. So I always directed designers not to expose her body without having good reason to for the game design. In addition, I also attached importance to the fashionable sense, as we did in Dante, in order not to make a "battle suit". Regarding the fashion, I attached greater importance to it than before because our protagonist was a woman. I appointed Shimazaki, the female designer for that reason. Bayonetta's costumes were born from her feminine and sensitive point of view.

Quote:I want characters to fight whilst showing their principles in addition to just beating the enemies. For example, Dante, the pretentious tough guy, shows arrogance and stylishness in the way of fighting. Joe innocently plays the role of a fun hero because he is still a teenager. Then, I strongly felt that what I wanted to depict next was a feminine, beautiful and elegant fighter and the project of Bayonetta began.

The supple and fascinating motion of women is a really attractive element to take to an action game. In addition, the contrast between a very beautiful woman and violent actions that she can commit also is an interesting prospect when creating a game.

Quote:Along with her actions, Bayonetta has a lot of elements which have unique tastes specific to women; she always walks like Marilyn Monroe. Her lock-on cursor shapes like a lipstick mark. The magical power which assists her when she makes double jump is expressed as butterfly wings. Blood flying off her when she's attacked changes into rose petals. So you can see we've gone to great lengths to express Bayonetta's femininity throughout every aspect of the game.

(the last one sounds "sexist" but come on, you can't tell me you don't associate rose petals and lipstick with women)

I really just can't reconcile that Kamiya, a great Japanese game designer who seems to do everything but pander to the masses or create mediocre things because it's popular (Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe were some of the most revolutionary games of their time), would just create a character for the sole purpose of getting his rocks off Mary-Sue style. That quote Groove linked is slightly disturbing but I think it was just kind of intended as an offhand joke-ish remark that got overblown; he says "Women are scary" and then goes on to talk about how beautiful and graceful they are, and how he wants to convey this in Bayonetta's character. Doesn't sound like a misogynist to me (that's someone who literally hates all women) at all! Though, to be honest even if it was true it wouldn't reduce my enjoyment of the game much, since I don't particularly care about political correctness or morality in videogames/art in general, but I can see why it might bother other people.