Film Theory 341W Blog Journal (Week 11)

Laura Mulvey’s essay on visual pleasure discusses how cinema objectifies women. That’s basically her main argument, or understanding, regarding the male viewers spectator-ship. Mulvey speaks about man’s desire to objectify women on screen. Voyeurism can define what “men” are taking part in when looking at women on screen. She discusses how the male sexual drive increases when a woman is on screen. Psychologically analyzing the male mind, as a woman, can be a difficult task.

She refers to the male viewer as the active spectator, and the female as the passive. This meaning that cinema has evolved into a looking glass (at women) for men. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho acts as a prime example in agreeing with Mulvey’s theories. Marion Crane, the leading lady of the film played by Janet Leigh, is objectified from the films start until her demise. We see her in the bedroom with her boyfriend at the films start, and from then on Marion’s more of a play toy for our eyes and minds, then a character in the film. She then steals a large some of money, and escapes for greener pastures. Some may view Crane as a self sustained independent woman, who doesn’t need a man to run her life. Is that what Hitchcock thought? I know for certain that’s not what Mulvey believes. Janet Leigh is a beautiful actress. Her looks most definitely drive the male audiences to think various things throughout the duration of the film. Cranes objective beauty made it easy for her to get away with all of the “bad things” she had committed throughout the film.

We, the viewer, weren’t the only ones who were sucked in by Leigh’s seemingly “objective” beauty. Her boss, her “boyfriend,” and the man who entrusted her with thousands of dollars, were blinded by her beauty. They, like the viewer, objectified Leigh, not giving her a fair chance to prove herself differently. She may of gotten away with a few things solely thanks to her beauty, but it was her beauty that led to her death. Norman Bates killed her because she was a sight like no other. Hitchcock was well aware of this when making the film. He was a man who adored women, but I can certainly see how some may construe his on screen antics as sexist.

There is certainly a voyeuristic aspect in looking at film, but to single out men as the primary beneficiaries can be quite misleading. Women objectify male actors on screen equally as much as men do. I cant will myself to succumb to Freudian theory regarding narcissism, penis envy, etc.. It’s at the point where I find it quite difficult to differentiate between psychobabble and reality. Mulvey articulates her points nicely, but as an avid cinema lover,  I “cant” agree with her points regarding male and female viewers.

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