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July 8, 2007

If You're Reading This Blog...

This blog is a course blog for GWSS 3307 - Feminist Film Studies in the Women's, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota, Summer 2007.

The course has ended.

Please feel free to browse the site, and remember blogs happen in reverse chronology, so if you want to start at the beginning, click HERE and scroll to the bottom, or browse the links on the right-hand sidebar.


July 7, 2007


This is another movie that I loved watching the most because of the depiction it shows for the widow’s women. It illustrates widows struggle to survive and shows the hidden rituals, which has been practices in India. Before, I did not know much about the Indian culture. Although, my roots are from India but I been brought up here in the States so seeing something like this was shocking and painful. It was shocking and painful because people in India, have been advanced and educated, but they still believe in such practices and discrimination toward widows which is not at all equal.

Film screened on Class: Piano

Reaction to the Piano by Jane Champion

I like the movie, Piano because I could reflect myself in the movie at times. I love playing Piano and like Ada, I can really express myself through Piano; so whether is an anger or frustration.
I loved the setting and the settle atmosphere around it. Furthermore, the use of water in the movies was amazing at times. The background music also played an important role in the movie. It demonstrates Ada’s character, her feelings and frustrations even more. Again, like Ada I could reflect myself at times being near by the water and not wanting to be disturbed by anyone and just be myself.
Overall, I love this movie compare to the rest of the movies I saw in the class, because this movie brings out everything that we learned in this class.


I thought Water by Deepa Mehta was an incredibly well-made movie.
The context of this movie is based on the discrimination against widowed women, no matter what age, in 1938
India, although this discrimination continues on even today. Water really does an amazing job exposing this situation to the audience without any dramatization in the lives of these women. It seems that Deepa Mehta made this movie, especially for educational purposes to bring about awareness, because she did not over-dramatize for entertainment purposes. As a viewer without any previous knowledge of the situation in India, I felt that I could trust Deepa Mehta and believe everything in this film.
The content of this movie shows a nine year old girl named Chuyia who is recently widowed and does not even remember getting married, which shows how poor her family must have been to have to marry her off at such a young age at that time; or maybe it was just the custom. Anyhow, with a shaven head marking her as a widow, she is forced to live in a house for widows to eventually die in, called an ashram. Here, the viewer is shown the oppressed lives of widows who are treated as half dead corpses, eating only one meal a day; and being treated unfairly: one woman says, "You've polluted me, now I have to bathe again," to Kalyani, a young widow, who falls in love with a man from the gentry class. By the end of the movie, Chuyia is forced into prostitution by her the head sister of the ashram, and then sent off on a train with Ghandi by another sister who wants to protect her and do something about the discrimination of widows.
The form of this movie was very well thought out. The color pallete was a blue, and green, and very dark. Light was used to show beauty and positivity in the depressing world of widows. An interesting part of this movie was the lack of words. There was barely any dialogue. However, I loved this part because whenever someone DID say something, it was to state something important. Every other sentence made a statement to illustrate the lives of widows in India and what some progressive Indians were doing to try to bring enlightenment to the situation. Also, music was a big part of this movie. For example, Kalyani's lover frequently played a flute, which symbolizes the blooming love between him and Kalyani. However, when Kalyani commits suicide at the end of the movie, the sound of the flute is played again, symbolizing that the love will continue on for widows like Kalyani.
I really like this movie. I liked everything about it from its content and especially its form. The colors and music used in this movie did a big part in provoking emotions from me. I think Deepa Mehta did an amazing job.

July 6, 2007

Born Into Brothels

We didn’t actually screen this film in class, but we were going to and I wanted to post about it because I have seen it before.

Born Into Brothels is an award winning documentary about the children of the red light district in Calcutta.
Zana Brisksi is a photographer who travels to this city and teaches the children the art of photography.
These kids mother’s are prostitutes and they will grow up to follow in these footsteps. What Zana does is puts a camera in each of their hands and allows them to find beauty in the world. They have an exibit and she tries to use the money to get these children out of the brothels and get them an education.
It was debated whether her attempts to get them out were really successful or not because many of the children who were enrolled in boarding schools returned home shortly after.
There are reports however that many of the children continued into high schools and universities and got jobs out of prostitution.

What was the most moving for me was just how beautiful the photographs the children took were. Their artistic ability just blew me away. I found myself surprised because I had envisioned the children as poor, from bad backgrounds, and uneducated, not artistic. I would not have assumed that they would be talented, playful, and funny.
The film really opened up my eyes to the truth behind a stereotype I was believing.
I think that it was a great film, and I want to see it again now with a feminist lens.
I thought I would share because I think it would be worth finding and seeing since we didn’t get a chance to in class.

These are some of the children’s photographs:




Final Paper

For my final paper I looked at the relationship between true stories and cinematic representations of them.
I was pulled into that question because I was still very intrigued by the film Boys Don't Cry (which I wrote my mid-term about) and the fact that this was based on something that actually happened.

I examined 3 films, one documentary, one independent, and one Hollywood.
For the documentary I discussed Lourdes Portillo's Senorita Extraviada. I thought that this was a great example of women telling other women's stories and giving them a voice they didn't have.
She was ethically responsible to these women and had to go up against the government officials and big businesses that don't support the issue. I think that the film brought attention to the subject and achieved its goal of promoting change in Ciudad Juarez.

As I mentioned already my indie film was Boys Don't Cry. I examined the difference between telling the emotional truth and factual truth of a story with this film.
I found that Kimberly Peirce did research and knew the characters and story, but what really was important to her was to find the emotions and focus on that instead of getting every detail right. She met backlash for this with some of the real people involved, even the town, but I think that she achieved what she set out to do. As a filmmaker I think she has artistic license with the story and that in a lot of ways the audience should look into it further if they want to know exactly what really happened. (Like 3 people were actually murdered not only 2 as was depicted in the film).


The Hollywood film I included was Erin Brockovich. I thought this would be a good one because of its contrast to Boys Don’t Cry. For this film the main character is not only alive but very much involved in the making of the film. Because of this almost everything is extremely accurate (even copies of the certificates on the office walls). I felt as though this was an anomaly for Hollywood to be so factual but I attribute this to the story already being what they are looking for. It’s a “Cinderella? story that needed little altering to be marketable for mainstream audiences. Steven Soderberg therefore told it in a docudrama style way.


All three films were very different yet all claimed to tell “true stories?. That emphasizes the importance to investigate these things further, in any case, to really get the whole picture. The film will remain to be just one person’s view of the situation and then it’s in your hands.

July 5, 2007

Women in Magazine Advertisements

For those of you who are interested, here are the links to the ad "touch-ups":
* G!rlpower - Retouch
* Greg Apodaca's Digital Portfolio (I forgot to mention, there's a retouched image of a male in these -- but not nearly as much is done!)
* The Art of DeTouch

Here, also, is the list of "stereotypical criteria" -- although when you really think about it, this isn't a complete list ...

  1. Relative size. When both men and women are present, the man is taller and/or bigger than the women and takes up more space in the picture.
  2. Function ranking. When both men and women are present, the man serves as the instructor or performs an executive role.
  3. Feminine touch. The woman touches herself (e.g., hair, face, lips) or her clothes in an unnatural way or uses her fingers and hands to trace the outline of an object, cradle it, or caress its surface. This type of touching is to be distinguished from the utilitarian kind, which involves grasping, manipulating, or holding objects.
  4. Ritualization of subordination. The woman lowers herself physically in some form or other of prostration; canting postures are associated with acceptance of subordination. This includes lying or sitting on the ground, bed, or sofa—whether in the presence of another person or not, canting of the head or entire body. Also included in this category is a woman being embraced by a man, who inhibits her movement, or a woman leaning against a man’s shoulder or holding on to his arm for support, dependent on, and subordinate to the man present.
  5. Licensed withdrawal. The woman removes herself psychologically from the situation at large or is shown mentally drifting from the physical scene, leaving her disoriented and dependent on the protectiveness of others. This is indicated by an expansive smile or laughter, covering the face or mouth, or withdrawing her gaze from the scene at large. Being involved in a phone conversation also falls into this category.
  6. Body display. The woman is shown wearing revealing, hardly any, or no clothes at all, which is often associated with sexualized images of women.
  7. Movement. The woman is inhibited in her movement, by being wrapped in a blanket for example, which limits the amount of control she can exert on the environment.
  8. Location. The woman is shown in a domestic environment, such as the kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom. This also includes depicting the woman in a decontexualized, that is, unidentifiable, environment that does not allow for any purposeful activities.
  9. Objectification. The woman is portrayed in such a way as to suggest that being looked at is her major purpose or function in the advertisement.
--Lindner, Katharina. "Images of Women in General Interest and Fashion Magazine Advertisements from 1955 to 2002." Sex Roles 51 (2004): 409-421.

Feminist Film..

For me the definition of feminist film has changed tremendous because before taking this I never thought about a feminist filmmaker. My previous thinking about feminist film was that it is a society of women; although, I have totally been mistaken all long with the terminology but after this class and learning through the process has taught me what it really mean. It means feminist film can include either men or women. It means someone who believes in being treated with equality or vise versa, believing in humanitarian and trading fairness among all regardless of gender difference. This class has taught me that discriminating women based of their gender role is not going to solve the gender issues rather we all have to work together to created a stable, global and social economy.
Some of the people who I think are feminist filmmaker includes Gurinder Chadha, Jane Champion, Laura Mulvey, and Sally Potter. I chose them because their work illustrate the fairness and equality in movies or documantarey and they portray the stories of reality.I also chose them because they believe in being humanatarian.
link: http://www.britmovie.co.uk/biog/c/014.html



Is Hollywood Racist?

"In recent years, with A list actors such as Denzel Washington and Halle Berry achieving widespread acclaim and success at the Oscars, there has been a sense that Hollywood is embracing black artists more than ever before."
-Anna Park, a regional attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission

Really? She could only think of two? Out of hundreds of actors? She is saying this as a good thing, but i think otherwise.

I recently came across this article. An assistant was fired and believe the studio fired him because he was black. The assistant stated, "I have not done another movie and I was threatened that I was going to be blackballed by going forward and pressing these charges. Universal has sought out to selectively destroy my career," In responce Universal put out a statement saying, "There is absolutely no basis to these allegations, Universal is committed to equal employment opportunity in all aspects of its business, and we are confident many witnesses will testify that Mr Davis' firing had nothing to do with his race but was solely due to his poor performance as a first assistant director."

I think it is not only the film industry, but all American industries that discriminate. But it may be the film industry that has the largest impact on American Society. Not all of us are exposed to what goes other settings, but in film, we are able to look directly at it. We may not be seeing the directors or crew, but we are able to see the characters. Who plays the lead? Who is the bad character? Who is the single mom? Who just graduated from college? Hollywood sends us messeges, often untrue ones based on stereotypes. When looking at these films through a feminist perspective, one is easily able to see this, but I believe that this may be harmful to some. If a "type" of person is always the bad guy viewers may believe that this is "real" and develop a fear and this fear may transfer over into real life.

Women in Prison Flms - “Women so hot with desire they melt the chains that enslave them?


I became interested on this genre wile doing research for my midterm paper.
These films are and will continue to be popular throughout the
years. These films have the ability to make real life issues worse, or help
improve them. When filmmakers continue to base the content of a film off of
inaccurate sterotypes of race, class, gender and sexuality, these
stereotypes will continue to be reinforced and stay in circulation. If a
filmmaker chooses to, they could have a very profound effect on our
judicial system, prison conditions, and chances for rehabilitation after
prison. As feminist filmmakers are concerned with the rights of all people
it is most likely them who will be able to raise awareness about areas of
injustice and inspire people to get involved in creating not only a just
prison system, but help transform our country into a place that treats all
people equally regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality.

Hero & House Of Flying Daggers

A blurb on Director Yimou Zhang and his films Hero and House of Flying Daggers

My paper was analytical of Yimou Zhang's body of work in Asian foreign films, two of which I analyzed in-depth, Hero and House of Flying Daggers, released in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

Both films were set in China and cover a great deal of historical content concerning the history of China which serves as a background to the movies and why the events are taking place. For those that have seen these films, you already know that they both deal with assassins, a common theme in Zhang's work, the idea of social tension between state and citizens and how the citizens (assassins) want this change to come about (killing officials). Zhang executes his films by including extensive fight scenes that are interpreted not only as a battle, but as a dance of sorts, something to be marveled at and admired. The director points to scenes that need special attention by slowing time, amplifying sound and changing color schemes, for example, in Hero, the story goes through several revisions each of which take on a different color to help the audience differentiate between one story and the next. Zhang also includes a variety of gazes in his film, as a film would be difficult if it did not have any gazes whatsoever. In his film House of Flying Daggers, however, one character is a blind girl, Mei, who has a displaced gaze for the majority of the film and to show her 'alternate gaze' Zhang has chosen to have the camera follow her hands and listen to sounds to make up for what vision Mei does not have, the audience is able to construct her gaze through what they also feel and hear.

Zhang's use of gender takes an interesting standpoint because all of his soldiers are male while dancers and musicians tend to be of the female gender. One can argue that Zhang has taken a sexist standpoint, but must also realize that, given the historical background in the introduction of the movie, to make soldiers and guards only male and dancers and musicians only female would only be historically accurate--a creative choice on Zhang's behalf to create a 'real' film. Hero sends the audience in an imperialistic direction when the emperor claims he is going to unite the 6 kingdoms and suppress all other rebellious states, later unifying the land through one language and law--thus the reasoning for the assassins to kill the emperor.

Both extremely interesting and beautiful films to watch, I would argue that, though Zhang tries to keep both films historically accurate, there are many decisions besides these that would show the director's creative choices and express his ideas and opinions otherwise.


I decided to do my final paper on how feminist filmmakers seek “real? stories to make their films about such as Kimberly Pierce and Lourdes Portillo.

I brought in examples of how a director will say the film is based on a true story, but just like the Chainsaw Massacre, only a few details were true while the rest was due to the directors’ imagination.
I also noted how some directors make films for education rather then for money. They use reality rather then fiction to make their movies. Thus, they are not always blockbusters at the theaters. People rather escape from reality and watch something totally fictitious in order to escape their all too realistic life.

Femme Fatale Filmmakers

What is it that makes a feminist filmmaker a feminist filmmaker?

As was stated in one of our previous readings, not every female is a feminist writer and not every feminist writer is female. This same outline applies to filmmaking/media making. Not every female is a feminist filmmaker and not every feminist filmmaker is feminist.

The film does not need to say outright "I am a feminist film" because viewing the film and paying attention to enough details, the audience should know if the filmmaker, despite gender, race, orientation (and so forth) is feminist or not.

A film or filmmaker is considered 'feminist' if they think about their film through the feminist lens: gender, race, class, sexual orientation, biological sex, masculinity, femininity so forth and so on. If the film or filmmaker takes these genres into account during the film and is able to make a statement with them that is not oppressive to any of these groups, rather, shows them in fair judgment or makes the film to show why they are not shown in fair judgment, then, my friends, that is a feminist film.

I suppose, for a grand finale, my example of a feminist filmmaker is based on Amy Tan's novel:

Joy Luck Club

The Roles and Representations of Women in Trois Couleurs

A feminist analysis of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s films can reveal that despite his appreciation of women’s creativity, beauty and complexity (as each one of his heroine are well rounded characters), the Three Colors trilogy retell and enforce the existing order of patriarchy. In each one of these films a woman challenges patriarchy as she chooses to live without a man (in Blue), engage in unauthorized sexual activity (White) or just live far away from the man in her life (Red), but each one of these films concludes with the heroine surrendering her power to men or being forcibly surrender by it.

Each of the three films begins with a challenge to masculinity or patriarchy: in Blue this challenge comes from the fact Julie, who lost her husband, refuse to tie herself to another man, in White the challenge is of Dominique, who humiliates, abuse and chase her husband out of France, and in Red it is the mere fact Valentine lives far away from her boyfriend and from the betrayal and humiliation of August by his girlfriend,, Karin. Kieslowski male heroes do not respond with physical violence to the challenge to their authority/patriarchy but find themselves either actively or passively restoring the patriarchal order by the end of the movies. Oliver tricks Julie into cooperating with him in completing the concerto and she ends up sleeping with him (presumably adopting him as a replacement of her husband), Karol “gets even? with his wife, punishes her for her unauthorized sexuality and thus regain her love, and August (the most passive of the male leading characters) ends up with Valentine as his cheating girlfriend dies in the ferry accident the seals the Three Colors trilogy.

Kieslowski saw his Three Colors trilogy as three stories that deals with the human condition as it reflects in the life of people in Europe of the early 1990’s, but whether he intended to do so or not, his trilogy also carry messages about gender, sexuality and class.

A feminist analysis of the Three Colors discovers this under-layer of meaning, and what it has to say about the relationships between man and woman. The over-arching and repeating theme of each one of the movies separately and all of the movies together is the triumph of white heterosexual patriarchy. Almost every time a non-authorized sexuality appears it is greatly punished, whether it is when the bad woman dies (Red) or locked up in jail (White), when a lower class prostitute sees her father among the audience in a sex show where she performs (Blue) or when extramarital affairs are bringing (or about to bring) death or destruction on families ideal (in multiple examples mentioned above in Red).

What Makes Media Feminist?

The answer to this question is very completed on one level and very simple on another: the more simple answer is that any movie (or other form of media) that deliver or present feminist values and critiques racist, sexist, patriarchal and oppressive ways of thinking or practices. This relatively simple answer becomes more complex since there are many disagreement on what is “the feminist thing to do? in many cases, or what different feminism say on the same issue.

One such example can be the sex industry: Julia Query’s film Live Nude Girls Unite can be seen by a second wave feminists as a documentary that shows how oppressed women internalized their sexual oppression so much they are fighting for the right to continue be treated like sex-objects rather than whole and full human beings who deserve to maintain their physical and emotional dignity. A third-waver, on the other hand, may see this film as a documentary about women power and empowerment, and therefore a feminist film. Both of these views are feminist, and both have some valid point that are worthy of consideration. So is Live Nude Girls Unite a feminist film?

The answer has, like with any other media form (including written materials), three parts: what the author thinks or declare his intentions to be, what spectators (or the general public and scholars) think the media to be, and what a feminist analysis of the piece itself can reveal.

Some of the feminist filmmakers we encountered this semester include Katja Van Garner (Iron Jawed Angel), Faith Hubley (W.O.W), Grace Lee (Barrier Device), Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman), Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry), Julia Query (Live Nude Girls Unite),
Aishah Simmons (No!), Lourdes Portillo (Senorita Extraviada) and Deepa Mehta (Fire, Earth, Water).

Of those media makers, Cheryl Dunye’s Hollywood career shows a feminist filmmaker can make non-feminist (and even crude and oppressive) films, while Deepa Mehta’s example show that a feminist filmmaker may refuse to call himself/herself a feminist but still produce feminist’ films or media.

The only website I am familiar with that has links to feminist media (besides being feminist in its own right) is http://www.feministing.com . This excellent site has daily commentaries on news around the world, contribution from many feminist-bloggers and Video-bloggers, and feminist flicker-films and merchandise.

I am sure there are many more feminist-media resources out there, and even in my notes from the various GWSS courses I took in the past years, but since I am using feministing.com almost daily that was the first (and unfortunately, only) source that jumped out to mind.

final paper

My paper discusses the relationship between true stories and the cinematic representations of them that filmmakers create without first-hand experience of the story they are trying to retell.
Read on....

I decided to focus on the movie The Accused, directed by Johnathon Kaplan in 1988. The film features Jodie Foster as the main character, Sarah Tobias, who walks into a bar and gets gang-raped by three men with other men surrounding the act and encouraging the attackers. While this film was given great reviews, it must come to the attention of viewers that this film was based on the true story of Portuguese woman, Cheryl Araujo. Does the director have the right to alter a significant details such as the race and name of the main character? And why? Why would the director do that? To ensure good reviews and profits? This paper discusses the possible motivations of filmmakers to change and distort the truth of factual-based movies and whether filmmakers, especially Hollywood directors, have the right to do this. Moreover, I discuss whether the practice of changing and distorting truths, reinforcing stereotypes, or heightening of drama in particular scenes by the choice of the director is what is a major component in the continuation of steroetypes, marginalization, oppression, discrimination, and ojectification of gender, race, class, and sexuality.

Feminist Filmmaking

Through the duration of this course, I have gathered what I feel to be the definition of feminist film. It is one that contains themes of feminist aspects (gender, race, class, etc) but shifts the majority of its thematic focus to that of gender. As we have learned, feminism has many facets, but ultimately within the word itself is the issue itself. I feel the other categories were initially shoved in with straight feminism because there was no legit humanism movement, which I feel better encompasses issues such as race and class. Not to say I wish to strip away those aspects from feminism, but now there are other fields in which they can be round up into. Like atheism and humanism, humanism gives a more-accepted term to similar issues, and this where I choose feminism over humanism. In order to break down the stereotypes about feminists and atheists, one shouldn't run to the protection of another term, but rather attempt to repair the damage done. Feminism is a complex field that has finally at least in my eyes found equilibrium, and I hope this balance equates to a more accepting public opinion of the theory and the films that come with it.

What makes a film feminist?

Before taking this class, I would never have associated myself with feminism. I thought that a feminist was only a female who is an extremely radical, angry, and loud individual who hate men. Now I realize that my perception on feminism was completely wrong. The feminist theory is all about intersectionality- considering all categories of identities from race, gender, class, age, money and education. And either man or woman can be a feminist. In some ways, I think the word "feminist" should be changed because of all the negative connotation that are associated with the term.

I think what makes a film a feminist film is any film, directed by man or woman, that displays resistant images that can decolonize peoples' minds and fight to end oppression, marginalization, objectification, and discrimination. Any movie that displays images that resist stereotypes and promote justice, I think, are feminist films as well. Although many directors do not associate themselves with feminists or describe their work as a feminist film, but rather a humanitarian film, some movies can definitely be classified as feminist. For instance, movies we watched in class such as The Piano, Missing Young Women, and Water were all feminist films, although Deepa Mehta denied her's as feminist.
Other movies I would consider feminist are

Frida frida.jpg
The Scarlet LetterDownload file

Feminist Film

This class has taught me a great deal about feminism. I have never had any sort of women's study course so the feminism 101 that we kind of went through along with the film aspect was really beneficial.
I never really thought about what I thought I feminist was before, and had an image in my head of the stereotype at the start of the class. I never would have considered myself a feminist.
Now I feel like my definition has changed and it would make little sense to say that I'm not.

A feminist is a humanitarian. They believe in equality and fairness despite your gender, class, race, or sexuality.
They are against a capitalist patriarchy that objectifies, discriminates, and oppresses.
I definitely don’t think you have to call yourself a feminist to create feminist work, just as feminists can be male and females can not be feminists.
I really think that many people feel like they cannot proclaim that they are feminist because of the many negative connotations associated with the term (as we discussed… the “f? word). I however, would now proudly state that I am a feminist, because I think they promote one of the most important viewpoints towards acceptance and equal rights that every person deserves.
As for feminist media, along with everything we viewed in class (including Water despite Deepa’s claim against being feminist), I think that any film that gives women a voice is feminist. Films like Erin Brockovich, which shows the struggles women of a certain class can face and overcome, or Iron Jawed Angels, that depicts women fighting for equal rights are strong examples of this topic. There are many works that were made feminist and also many that without that explicit intention are as well.

I feel like I have become a little less desensitized to the way women (and other races, and classes) are presented in media. I actually may start to enjoy many films I used to like a little less now looking at them with this lens. I think that’s a good thing though.
It is an important topic and deserves to be considered. I will definitely be on the look out for feminism is films from now on!

The Ideal Minority: Resisting Stereotypes with the Gaze

Oh my god, I've written that title so many times within the past week because of this project, I hope I never have to write it again.

Anyway, I did a film project about the Asian stereotype "the ideal minority". I remember the first time I heard someone refer to Asian people as the ideal minority and was both intrigued and grossed out by the term. I wanted to try and get a better idea of why Asian people would be labeled this.

photo 22.jpg

(This is a picture of my sister, Megan, that I use in the film, I also incorporate other images of Asian people-models, actors, and even a Korean politician's wife who's name I could not find-that are empowering images in their own way, without being too stereotypical.)

My friends and I came up with the idea that a bunch of individual stereotypes is what creates this massive, dense stereotype, that isn't either outwardly offensive or "flattering". I interviewed my Dad to see how people reacted to the addition of children of color to a white family. I use my sister's and my experience being adopted Korean females and my friend Michael's experience as an adopted Korean male to contrast our American/Western minds with our Asian bodies. Through a sort of "flashback", I also take two instances in my life, that I used the oppositional gaze (bell hooks uses this to read texts, I decided to use the word as an action in day to day life and not just in texts) to resist and educate ignorant people's idea of me as a passive Asian person. The "feminist lens" that I used in making my project was based on how class, race and gender interact with the idea of "Asianness". I decided to include the male point of view in the film, not just women, because Asian men are a part of the "exoticization"/marginalization or orientalist stereotyping as much as women.

This project took SO long, but I enjoyed doing it. If I had more time, I would've taken my time writing sequences in between interviews and also, in my own story at the end. I was quite rushed, and am unsure whether I got across what I meant to say or if all the material comes out to the spectator the way I want it to. It's my first "film" so I'm sure there are mistakes as far as the elaboration of content goes, but overall, I think it's alright. I have to say that the"i" corporation (iMovie, iDVD, etc.) is a rather unique phenomenon all its own: I got to be at the center of production, exhibition and distribution...all in one week!

Feminist Film

I've learned that feminist film doesn't have to be about women. It deals with issues of social class, race, and gender. Feminist film can be a film that inspires a woman's intuition or a film that portrays woman in a meaniful way. It can also be films that address issues on social class, race, and gender. For example the film Senorita Extraviada. It was an issue that needed to be told to the public. Young women are being raped and murder and because they're poor their deaths are meaningless. This film helps inform the public about a real tragedy thats happening in our world. Men and women can create feminist films as long as they deal with the issues of social class, race, and gender, they have to be humanistic and understand the human life.

Link: Feminist Films

The Treatmen of Men in Drag in Cinema

Hollywood has a history of suppressing subcultures, and drag queens are no exception. When gays were beginning to be given more positive representations, drag queens came along for the ride. This subculture, however positively portrayed, was still ultimately marginalized by mainstream cinema. In the film Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar , drag queens are shown as positive, but still as others through a process of deification. In Connie and Carla , drag queens are still portrayed as okay, but even more marginalized, since the title characters have the power, as women, to inherently outdo them at their own game of cabaret.
Both of these films subvert the subversiveness that originally ran thick through drag acts. In order to oppose this appropriation, drag needs to take a new path in subverting common ideals, specifically gender. The film Hairspray does take drag in a different direction. While the casting of men in women's roles is not new, it is uncommon in modern cinema, but the casting in Hairspray not only subverts gender roles in cinema, it also subverts stereotypes of drag queens. Instead of hyper-glamorous, hyper-effeminate, and hyper-catty, the drag queen in Hairspray is ugly, motherly, and as much an actual woman as she needs to be.
Drag is in danger of complete appropriation in the cinema, but if future films take the same tack as Hairspray, there may yet be hope for the subversive ideals that drag is founded upon.

Feminism and Film

Whenever I mention this class to a particular friend of mine, she shudders and says "I hate those feminists!" Before I took this class, I would have agreed with her. The general perception of feminists are those radical, ofttimes lesbian, women who anger over the slightest detail. I now know better. I know feminism isn't just those loudmouths; feminism is also the women who become great successes by their own means, the women who stand up for any social change, and even the women who exercise their right to vote. I know feminism takes gender, race, class, sexuality, and the such in mind when analyzing works.

When it comes to film and feminism, there are many works that fulfill one aspect of feminism while betraying another. The Piano is inspiring for a woman who has power by taking away her voice, but she is still subservient to men, and thus not entirely feminist.
I personally think that the film Resident Evil is a feminist film. Three of the most powerful characters in the film are women, and even the villainous computer has a female representation. There are at least two non-white characters in the films central group, of whom the dispensable ones are primarily white. Since the film concerns itself with a crisis, the rules of class are shattered for the sake of survival, even though all of the characters held roughly the same standing. The main character's sexuality does betray her, but she denounces it in order not only for survival but also for dignity. This film, like many other modern monster movies and women leads, owes a lot to Alien , most definitely in the tough yet still motherly lead character. I believe that Resident Evil was a good way for modern horror to go. Unfortunately, the films hideous sequel subverts everything it stood for, but even so, Resident Evil should stand as a good step for Hollywood to take with feminism in mind.

Deepa Mehta's films Fire and Water

I decided to look at the way these two movies employ an oppositional gaze, and the ways in which they are feminist films. Fire is a challenge to the politics of sexuality, but it shows that patriarchy is at the root of the problem of control over one's sexuality. Some people may challenge the naming of one root cause, but this movie, and some of the critiques written about it make a good play in showing that some things can boil down to one cause, even if they affect people in very different ways. Water is a challenge to the politics of religion, this is also linked to patriarchal heritage, where-in the church is the largest patriarchal institution out there. I found one quote to be particularly interesting because it is a church man who says that the widows do not know that it is legal to remarry because the church "ignores the laws that don't benefit them". Also Narayan says "disguised as religion, it's about money". This is a very strong historical fact and it makes the movie all the more powerful of a critique. Deepa Mehta is a wonderful auteur who is able to critique the values of her home country while still making the country feel beautiful and rich in different values.

What makes a feminist film?

Well, throughout this class I've come to a new awareness of what, exactly, a feminist fill is, or should include. Here is what I've come up with: a feminist film should challenge some kind of pre-set normative structure, it should include some sort of intersectional analysis about race, class, sexualities, gender, religion,etc.., it should also include a critique of the power structures holding those categories in place, it should challenge the naming of categories, and putting people into a box that they do not fit in. A feminist film does not need to be made by a woman, but needs to include all of the above things.

feminist media maker

After taking this class i believe the purpose behind most "feminist" work is equality. To me a feminist filmmaker is someone who creates a piece of work with the intention of drawing attention to an issue and or coming up with ways to fix it. I don't think one needs to call themself a feminist filmmaker in order for them to produce a feminist product. One of the key quailities of feminism is getting away from lables so if an artist doesn't like that title i feel it should not be imposed upon them, but we should still take there work seriously.
Rutgers Univresity has a great exhibition going on now that i would consider to represent feminist values
I think the film, Real Women Have Curves is a feminist film that is often over looked. Another movie that cam out not tool long ago that i would consider a great feminist film is, Pam's Labyrinth. I feel a lot of time movie viewers are not aware when they are watching what could be concidered a feminist piece. As there is a certian stigma that goes a long with feminism i think that certian viewers tend to avoid feminist films.
I believe that feminist filmmakers have done a lot of great work and have helped so many people. It is clear that feminism is about so much more than bra burning!

Senorita Extraviada

This film was a very moving one for me and was a long time coming. I had heard a lot about the film but hadn't had a chance to actually see it. Last school year the issue came up when through Amnesty International thousands of crosses were sent to the government. They were in the form of glued together popsicle sticks, but they were all signed as a petition (that I would argue is more powerful than a piece of paper) for change in Ciudad Juarez. I had therefore heard and read a lot on the topic but hadn't seen the film but I thought it was very powerful. I am glad that it is viewed on so many college campuses and is an effective tool in spreading the word and inspiring people to get involved (as we read in the article from the U of MN).
This really demonstrated the power of documentary as an activist tool and showed how important it is that certain stories get told.
I guess I just wanted to speak out a little and I hope that it made everybody else feel like doing something, or even more, about issues like this one. Watching films like this (or I guess anything we've watched) get me all stirred up and I think it's a wonderful thing! We all just have to keep fighting for change and eventually we'll get there.

Feminism versus Feminism

I think there are two versions of the word "feminist" when it comes to media, films, filmmakers, &c. I think media can be "feminist" -- that is, it was made for entertainment, profit, art, creativity, expression, &c, and also has some ideas/concepts/aspects that promote women's rights (the definition of feminism). But media can also be "feminist" -- that is, one of the reasons it was made was to promote women's rights. Not all feminist films are feminist ("The Piano", for example), but all feminist films are feminist. (Kind of like how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.)

Using those two definitions, I don't think that media/films/filmmakers need to be declared as feminist in order to be feminist. Jaimee writes in her post that "Water" is a feminist film, even if Deepa Mehta denies that it is feminist. "Bend it Like Beckham" is a feminist film that isn't feminist. "Live Nude Girls Unite" is a feminist documentary.

However, during class we considered things like race, class, and sexuality as part of a feminist analysis. This complicates things a little. I think that, with these other aspects, "feminism" is still for the purpose of women's rights, but "feminism" widens to "equality in general".

Outside of what we've watched in class, I think that any film that promotes equality can be considered feminist. Looking back at my top ten list:
1. Hedwig and the Angry Inch - feminist, because it's about the struggles and eventual acceptance of a transgendered rock star.
2. Waking Life - not feminist, as I discovered while writing my midterm paper on it.
3. Fight Club - while it's all about the underdog, it's not feminist at all.
4. Memento - not feminist.
5. Bladerunner (IMDb) - definitely not feminist, as it is about the marginalization of a minority (the androids).
6. The Matrix - hard to tell.
7. The Fifth Element (IMDb) - not feminist.
8. Enter the Dragon (Bruce Lee) - not feminist.
9. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - feminist, as it deals with women's rights (re-marriage, ability to learn martial arts) a few times.
10. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Ni.
* El Laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth) - definitely feminist.
* Pi, The Fountain: (Darren Aronofsky) - not so much.
* Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke), Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle: (Hayao Miyazaki) - feminist, as is Miyazaki himself.
* Tron - not at all.
* Hackers - a female may be the protagonist but there's no way this is feminist.

As for a list of feminist films/filmmakers, I'd have to say pretty much everyone/everything on Women Make Movies. Unfortunately my film-knowledge is still rather limited so I don't have many other ideas for feminist/feminist films and filmmakers. (That and I like action films/dick flicks, which generally fail all aspects of feminist analysis.)

Feminist Film that Beats Around the "Bush"

As we’ve mentioned many times in class, I think that feminist filmmakers are quite abundant, it’s just that many resist from calling themselves that simply because of the “feminist stigma? (men haters, bra burners–which I heard may not have even happened at all, etc.) So, it seems as though a lot of filmmakers create work that lead toward some sort of feminism without explicitly saying so. It seems as though some people even go a roundabout way of doing it.

For example, Todd Haynes, a queer filmmaker (which is a genre already aligned with feminism(s)) seems to portray women that are quite dislikeable. In Far from Heaven, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story and Safe, the protagonists (two played by Julianne Moore and Karen Carpenter played by a barbie doll), offer an interesting view of women within traditional, upper class families. They are usually blind to their “actual realities?. They lack depth. They don’t think critically about their situations and they are gullible and sheepish. Depending on how one “reads? a movie, a wide array of reactions can come from looking at these women. Does Haynes’s portrayal of women make women look dumber? Or, does it invoke women spectators to move into action to avoid becoming like these women? If we are to think critically of everything we watch, we have to think about why Haynes is portraying women in such a terrifying and surfaced manner. To me, Haynes’s films are quite feminist because my own dislike for the characters (but not the movies, I love his films) puts hot coals under my ass to get up and be active and aware of my roles in society as a female being.

I think what makes a film feminist is if it tries to get the audience to think about women’s rights and/or oppression and maybe even get audiences to take it further into praxis. It is easy for one to understand feminism(s) but to live and breath it is a completely different story. It seems as though the next best thing to do, is to try to make the majority change its views of feminism and understand it as a good, healthy cause for men, women and all other gender categories.

Todd Haynes profile: http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/02/haynes.html

Link to a GREAT article about Todd Haynes's queer film Poison: http://www.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture/issue1/bryson/bryson.html

Safe Trailer:

July 4, 2007

Feminist Film

I really feel like I have gained a greater understanding of what makes film (or art, or prose...) feminist.

Feminist work does not have to be declared feminist by the author to be feminist. A prime example of this is with Deepa Mehta and her film Water. Despite the fact that she didn't consider the film to be feminist I would argue that it was absolutely a feminist film. Feminist work is feminist because it exposes the reader to a different point of view that calls into question issues surrounding race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or any other social location. In Water, a stor was told that was never deemed important in the dominant culture: the story of widowed prostitutes. It doesn't necessarily need to be completely focused on women or "women's issues" to be considered feminist either. For example, I would consider a documentary such as MurderBall, a film about quadraplegics who play rugby, to be a feminist film. Because it focuses on issues of a group of people who are systematically discriminated against in dominant culture, it is a feminist film. Furthermore, I would consider much of Michael Moore's work feminist, particularly his recent film Sicko. This documentary focuses on the lack of univerasl healthcare in the United States, which is also a feminist issue. While it doesn't directly examine women, it is still a piece of feminist work because it exposes an aspect of the American healthcare system that is rarely talked about: a lack of adequate helathcare for the poor. This is a feminist film because it questions the dominant culture and makes minority issues important.

July 2, 2007

Assignment: Feminist Film? Filmmaker? Thoughts? Conclusions? (5 points)

In this course we've done a lot of feminist analysis of media (films, TV, images...). I'm wondering now, after all of the critique, what you believe makes media feminist? Do you have a definition that outlines what makes a film feminist? Who are some feminist film and mediamakers that you've encountered?

Does a filmmaker/mediamaker necessarily need to say "I am a feminist filmmaker..." to count? Can you declare a piece of media as feminist even if the maker doesn't articulate a feminism?

Please, list (and/or link us to) films, shows, blogs, vlogs, film and media makers that you believe are feminist.

This is the response to the movies that I watched last weekend.

Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi starting Aftab Shivdasani as Manish, Anjori Alag as Ishita, Dino Morea as Rajeev, Sameer Dattani as Jai and Nauheed Cyrusi as Monica.Main Link: http://www.bollywoodworld.com/cgibin/dailynews.cgi?http://www.erosentertainment.com/eros_us/product/PromoView.asp?6779,1
For Monica, being rich and having fame is happiness.
For Ishita, being a successful and having money is happiness.
For Jai, happiness means power.
For Rajeev, to be the best in what you do is all about happiness.
For Manish, it is about having one Rupee in hand and you can earn more by betting.

This movie is about five friends who want to reach their goal in only five years. On their graduation day after getting drunk, they ended up in jail where they placed a bet on who will be the happiest person in all after five years. Manish is the one who will decide who wins the bet and who the happiest out of all is.

In this movie, I saw how each individual was passionate to work hard to reach their destination. I also saw how Ishita and Monica took advantage of their femininity and use toward their goals. At first, I saw Monica, trapping this rich business tycoon who was a happily married man. She trapped him and made him get married to her by printing their affairs information on the highly published magazine. She got married to the rich man and gained fame and money.
Later, I saw Ishita keeping her body hostage to another man to reach her goal of being a successful film actress.
On the other hand, Jai used politics as a way to reach his goal. Rajeev used his brother’s business as a way to get successful and he creates his own empire.

After seeing this movie my reaction was null because I could not believe the fact that Ishita and Monica could go that far to reach their goal. Working hard toward your goal in an acceptable manner is a different scenario, but having to cheat on someone to reach to the final destination is disgusted.
The use of gaze in this movie played an important role. I saw Monica uses gaze to attract and grab attention between the crowds to make her way to this rich man’s heart. She also uses mischievous gaze to flirt with this rich man. Furthermore, I saw Ishita doing the same while being on the set in the movie.
On the other hands, Rajeev, Jai and Manish portray different kind of gaze such as angriness, frustration, egoistic gaze, and voyeuristic gaze when looking at women. The use of gender role was separated in this movie. Like I saw, Monica and Ishita used her body to reach their destination/goal, whereas all the men used their men powers and masculinity toward their goal such as being a business man and being in a politics show their masculinity and power to attain their goal.
Above all, I felt that this movie lacked reality because of the setting and the story line. This movie was very fast forward, although the topic was strong but in the beginning, I was introduced with the different characters fast. After that, they placed a bet and without wasting time any further, I saw how each individual chose certain routes to accomplish their goal. I felt that the director should have focused on one individual and should have given appropriate attention to the every little detail such as the background, lights and the costume. In this movie, I further notice that costumes of woman are short and glamorous. It felt to me that they were trying to show the actress body more then they were trying to tell us the story. Basically, I felt that this movie was mainly made for money reason rather than emphasizing and educating the audience about the severe consequence. This sometime can lead the youngster to no where besides making them fall down on their knee and making them regret and learn from their choices.