Mulvey and Halberstam-Views on the Gendering of the Cinematic Gaze


Please use the following questions to guide your reading and notes on Mulvey and Halberstam's respective views on the filmic gaze:
1. How does Mulvey view the concept of the gaze in 40s and 50s Hollywood cinema?

2. Can you think of examples in which women's bodies are coded as "to-be-looked-at" by a gaze coded as heterosexual male?

3. Does Mulvey see any possibility in Hollywood film? Or is it all destined to repeat patriarchal fantasies? What do you think of this? Are there alternative readings of these Hollywood films?

4. How does Halberstam's analysis differ from Mulvey's? How does Halberstam view the transgender look?

5. Can you think of examples where this look operates in other movies/media?

6. Does Halberstam see possibility in what she calls the transgender look? What do you think of this argument?


This idea of human form and symbolism is really an interesting topic. In Laura Mulvey's piece, "Visual Pleasure And Narrative Cinema" she opens by talking about a woman that "stands in patriarchal culture as signigier for the male other, bound by symbolic orderin which man can live out his phantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the silent image of woman still tied to her place as bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning" (p. 834). What does Mulvey mean by, "bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning"?

what is “gaze” exactly? Mulvey talked that woman is traditionally displayed has functioned on two levels: erotic object for male characters and for spectators. So what is the power differences in terms of gender when Mulvey talked about “gaze”?

Halberstam, in her piece describes a handful of different example of movies that illustrate the idea of the transgendered look/character. She notes on page 77 (202) that many times that the transgendered character in a film often tries to rewrite history by creating an alternate future. Halberstam also mentions that often times as viewers, we have to "rewind" the past of the transgendered character when he/she is first presented in the film as being "properly" gendered to better understand the motive and process of the character's gender transformation (78/203). She also describes film tactics, like in "The Brandon Teena Story" how Brandon, the transgendered character is presented as a ghost to haunt the narrator after death. She claims these strategies allow us as audience viewers to look with the transgendered character instead of looking at him/her. My question to you is do you think we really need all of these different film tactics/coordinations to truly understand a transgendered character? It almost seems like we are overanalyzing something that could be simply understood if it was just listened to, eg. the transgendered character telling his/her story.

I have never seen any of the films being discussed in any of the readings for tomorrow, so I'm kind of wondering what everyone else's take on the reading is. What do you think about the sex scene toward the end of "Boys Don't Cry"? Also, has anyone seen any similar movie? Do they utilize the techniques described? Or did you notice anything else?

The only film that I have seen that has a transgender character is the film "Bad Education".
This story is about a boy who grows up abused in the church and becomes addicted to drugs and transgender as he gets older. I haven't seen it in a few years but that part of the story sticks out to me. Which brings me to my question. Do they always display the transgendered chracters as victims or processing through pain? Do we ever see transgendered people who have fufilled lives or are they always troubled people?

Laura Mulvey claims that people need alternative film. However the necessarily doesn’t convey her purpose to female audiences.
I think it looks like just the victim mentality of one woman.
Feminism approaching to the film is summarized as follows: Critical analysis through feminism, interesting about the film made by feminist director, and attempt alternate movie. However the ideology of feminism is long way from the reality, and the feminism film have not impact on world. Even some women might not agree what feminism film tell audiences. Don't you think the same way as I think?

Halberstam discusses about how the director slowly shows the audience the trans gender character, and how it usually becomes a surprise. Do you think that in the future transgender roles won't be a twist or the highlight, but possibly just another character, like the best friend of the woman in a romantic comedy for example, just an everyday role. Because as of right now a transgender portrayed in cinema is usually the center of attention and is the highlight of the film. The film is centered around it. I'm just wondering if in the near future that LGBT can just become apart of cinema and not have this "in your face" type role. Your thoughts?

Halberstam touches on the exposure of transgenders in films. In what ways have you reacted personally to these exposures? Do you think people will eventually lose the element of surprise, and it will become just a normal occurrence?

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by zimme313 published on October 17, 2012 11:27 PM.

Banet-Weiser, 'What's Your Flava?" was the previous entry in this blog.

BW and Lim is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.