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February 29, 2008

Grace Lee v. Angela Shelton

In both films, Searching for Angela Shelton and The Grace Lee Project, the main quest on the road for both films is a personal quest. For Angela Shelton, it is the personal quest to find closure with her past, and for Grace Lee, a personal quest to find a true identity among the similarity of a name. Both filmmakers use the film to connect women through the common name they all hold, however, both use that starting point to take drastic paths to tell a story. For Angela Shelton, the road is used as a connective tool to unite those Angela Shelton’s who have been abused, and the quest on the road to connect a name takes a different turn for Grace Lee, who uses the road to unify stories that create uniqueness for those who share the name Grace Lee. Angela Shelton focuses more on her own personal struggles and need to recover within her quest on the road, whereas Grace Lee goes on a quest to find out the stories behind the many people named Grace Lee. Being a Documentary, from a film analysis and studies point of view, the camera and viewpoint/perspective used within both films, in my opinion, have no gender or race. That being said, Angela Shelton’s film has a more female gender to it, being a female made the film and emphasized females within her film, than a male perspective. Within The Grace Lee Project on the other hand, also had a small emphasis on the female mainly by having all the people she talked to were female, but there was also a ‘raced’ viewpoint, which would be a Asian viewpoint. Being Grace Lee put out stereotypes of typical ‘Asian women’ and focused solely on Asian women within her film caused a ‘raced’ perspective.

Abuse vs. Uniqueness

The use of the road in "Angela" was a quest to find peace from her abuse by meeting other Angelas and telling her story, hearing there stories and making generalizations about a heterosexual Caucassion and African American women. She found peace in sharing her story. Grace Lee felt that most Grace Lee's in the world were unimpressionable and forgettable. She used her road to set out on a quest to find out why Grace Lee has been stereotyped this way, and also find the impressionable Grace Lee's of the world. This road differed from Angela's because it contained a specific race (Korean Americans) it was also slighty gendered because of the lesbian activist Grace Lee mentioned in the film. I think that the Grace Lee project was a better film and contains some great insightful thoughts. Not only is Grace Lee considered same, but a lot of us in the world are considered same. We have to search deep and throughly to find and appriciate uniqueness within eachother.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

Grace vs Angela

"How did I end up with the name that made me the loser in a sorority of super agents?" (Grace Lee).
Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee set out on personal quests to find themselves in their films: Angela Shelton to face her dark and abusive past, and Grace Lee to try and find some uniqueness behind her common name. Angela used the road as a way to connect women. She found as many women as she could with her name and set out to unite them all in their experiences and names. Angela's road was a very self-involved one. Even though she set out with the pretense of finding solidarity and a united front among women, she used the road and the women she encountered to fuel her own journey to facing her dark past. Her interviews were riddled with self-absorbed interjections, and every Angela she met was used in comparison to her own story. Grace Lee's goal was simple: to find out what women with the name, Grace Lee, were like. She used the road as a way to find unique qualities in women, rather than lumping them together in one group. Unlike Angela, Grace's interactions with the women were selfless: she intently listened to each of their stories without interjecting herself. She listened, and learned, whereas Angela listened and imposed herself.

In Angela Shelton's film, women are gendered as battered beings who are all too often afraid of speaking out and standing together. To me, she tried to make herself an example to these women of a strong person who had overcome a horrible past. In short, she tried to make these women her. Grace Lee, however, gendered women as unique souls who were lost in stereotype and clumped together under a name. She imposed nothing, tried to teach nothing, but rather went on a search to find uniqueness see how these women identify themselves. Her road was raced, as well, but only because most women with the name Grace Lee were of Korean heritage. Overall, both women went on the road for the same mission: to find themselves in other women. The way they went about this, however, makes all the difference as Angela used her road for the good of herself, while Grace Lee used her road to expose the beauty and the differences of womankind.

February 28, 2008

Grace Lee

"I changed the spelling of my name because I didn't wan't people to think we were interchangeable." (Grace Lee)
In the Angela Shelton (A.S.) documentary the road was very much a white and dark skinned, female, 20-50 year old, and many of which had experienced forms of abuse in relationships. The Grace Lee documentary was primarily a road of women with Asian ancestry from young to old and many of them were particularly smart. The interesting point that I think these documentaries displayed was that there somehow was a connection with names and identity. I believe that the reason there are these connections is that because certain names are common in certain cultures. For example in many Asian cultures women are expected to spend much of their time learning and are expected to follow a particular etiquette. In the A.S. documentary the road was used to unite and find commonality between the Anglea Shelton's and it was also a form of therapy for film producer. The G.L. documentary served for the purpose of finding women with the same name but different characteristics that embraced individuality. In both of these documentaries I did not find the road specifically telling of different races and genders because unlike previous movies we have seen the road itself was merely the miles between the women on their journies and they didn't demonstrate the common theme that women are not to take to the road. Neither women faced any danger. In both of these documentaries we learn that a name is a specific gender identity. You are a women if your name is Grace Lee or Angela Shelton. The name Grace Lee, especially Lee, signify that you are Asian. Angela is a race identity. You are most likely black or white. Perhaps a connection between culture identity for the name Angela is that as someone who has lived in the U.S. abuse is ever so common especially familiar abuse or family abuse. It may seem a bit radical to even say that as Angela Shelton is common U.S. name that for this reason alone one could assume that her identity could be one of the abused along with her gender identity.

February 27, 2008

Searching for Angela Shelton

In this week's film, the road functions in different ways for those involved. I think from Angela's standpoint, the road is a freeing, empowering way to explore the various facets of American women and their struggles, revolving around abuse, as a means to and end of her own unresolved issues. The road acts as a common connection between women that, although related through superficial ways (this being their name) and deeper ways (the problems that many of them have suffered), have extremely different backgrounds and lifestyles.

Through the road emerges a sense of unity and understanding. I think that the element of the names made for a good concept to bring them together in another way, but was not all that necessary to achieve the mission or message. And although the way the "experiment" was conducted had questionable factors, and filmmaker Angela did not seem to make the personal strides one expected, the experience as a viewer seeing the different personal accounts was successful. I think that Angela, although well-intentioned, used the camera irresponsibly in the sense that, even if unintended, she came off very self-oriented. This tainted the film in many aspects, and I found it frustrating to watch because if someone else had taken on this journey in a different way, the results could have been much more significant. Changes that I would make would have been to not personally be a severe victim of the issues about which I am venturing. Although it would be important to understand the struggles and abuse on some level, I think removing the element of a self-exploring adventure would have created more focus on the people that seemed to be the more important focus. I feel that having too many personal feelings towards the subject complicates things and turns the mission into far too much personal therapy and selfish intent. You can't love others until you love yourself, they say, and I think that goes for help such as this.

February 26, 2008

The Road to Discovery and Healing

In Searching for Angela Shelton, the road is used as a healing process for Angela. I really enjoyed this documentary. With each mile she travels and each women she meets, she takes apart of them with her for strength to finally face her sexual abusive father. I liked the way she presented the film. She uses her story as a means to connect with the other Angelas she meets on the road and allows for a strong bonding to occur, ignoring their economic differences or race. It shows the true human connection in its rawest form. It is the connection of struggle and the depiction of such a real struggle allows for the documentary to bring light to a real issue and the impact of it on women years after. I do not believe that Angela has any responsibility but to tell her story. Though many believe it to be possibly repetitive, one must keep in mind that she is meeting a new Angela every time and is not trying to put the spotlight on herself, but to simply tell the truth and use her story as a means for connection with the women. The story is about Angela. It is her story of her struggles in her life and her healing process to face her offender, her father. She uses the other Angelas in the film for strength, with each story in every state coming closer and closer to her father; Angela becomes stronger, taking their stories with her. I love the way she presents the documentary. It is her quest for identity and healing, though her father's denial does not allow for closure, I believe it is the stories of the women that inspire her to find herself and a new beginning. It is powerful and real. Her documentary shows the bond women have and the support they give each other, allowing for rebirth and a new beginning even after years of sexual abuse brainwashing them to think that they are “lower than a fucking dog.?

the road and such

It is my opinion, and I hold this very strongly, that Angela did a great job in making this film. The road played a crucial role in the making of this film. If every Angela had simply gone to her, the longing, searching for her self stolen by her sexually abusive father would have have been unfulfilled in my mind. This story is about her search for recovery, not really about the other Angelas. Some see this as a problem but I see this as a great attribute to the film as a whole. If there were no personal story, how emotional would the story be? As far as the extent of responsibly Angela used, I don't think she had any responsibility but to portray the truth. She used the information in an incredibly responsible way regardless, though. She could have exploited these girls, but instead she used their interview to create a film meant to help girls who were victims of sexual abuse. Call me utilitarian, but I think to criticize this film as irresponsible is, to be blunt, snobbish and makes me think that those who hold this opinion need to find something in the world that make them happy because it sounds a lot like the casting of the first stone has been made. I challenge you who think this way to do something more effective for the cause.

February 25, 2008

Searching for Angela Shelton

Searching for Angela Shelton is very intriguing movie, mainly because there are a lot of things going on within the movie. My first thought about the road: it was never ending like the movie! But after further thinking and reflection I realized that the road signified more than I initially realized. The road really encompassed her journey. In her quest to find other Angela’s, the road was not a straight line from city to city or in a logical order. That was mirrored even within the editing and telling of her own story. The film jumped around a lot, I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster of my own.
In class we talked about how this movie was uniquely different from the other films because it was more through the female gaze then through the male gaze. I would like to challenge that because I felt her whole journey on the road, in the film and through her life revolved around unfinished business with her dad. He became the center of the story. I even felt like he some what had control over the viewer as well. I don’t believe the male gaze was completely hidden, for the most part I feel like it never went away. The issues that were talked about revolved around violence against women, other issues were graphically sexual—all of which the male gaze was present. Also, how can the male gaze go away when it is the dominant norm? It would like saying that whiteness or heterosexuality can exist at times and not exist at other times.

Angela Shelton & the Road to Recovery

In this documentary, the road functions quite differently than we've seen it in past films. It doesn't seem to be the focus, instead it is the connecting force that brings these women together. The road is filmed without much emphasis on the driver/traveler giving the viewer a first person experience. This perspective shows how every woman could be on that very road. At the same time, however, Angela Shelton (filmmaker) uses the camera power to over represent or under represent different women throughout her journey. She focuses much of the journey on herself rather than equally representing each of the women and her story. This is an abuse of power as a documentary filmmaker, but I believe in order for this kind of dialogue to emerge (one that exposes abuse and recovery) she had to pick certain stories to focus on, including her own. This movie was intended to be a vehicle for women to connect and talk about their personal experiences with one another. I think it succeeds in this to an extent but also has a flawed and simplified view of "solidarity" and "sisterhood" amongst all women. Angela does not take into account race, class, age, ability, and sexuality disparities between the women interviewed. What she did accomplish, however, was an important discussion on abuse and the figurative road to happiness.

Searching for Angela Shelton...

Searching for Angela Shelton raises a very important topic and tells a story that needs to be told but Shelton's abuse of the camera tells it in a very irresponsible way. The way she brings her subjects to such a fragile and unpredictable place (especially the anonymous Angela Shelton) tells me that she is more interested in making a dramatic documentary than actually helping the other Angela Sheltons. In this film, the road functions as a metaphor for Angela Shelton's personal journey to acceptance of her tramatic childhood. If I were making this documentary, I might have spent more time developing the stories of the other Angela Sheltons and utilized more responsible filming tactics. In fact, I probably wouldn't have made this into a film at all. A book would better tell these womens' stories and most likely result in more honest accounts. Many of them seemed very uncomfortable with the idea of being on camera and often said that they wouldn't for fear of hurting their families.

Searching For The Other Angela Sheltons

Searching For Angela Shelton is this: a woman named Angela Shelton (who seems very much in love with herself) wants to embark on a quest to, appropriately, meet and dissect all the other Angela Sheltons living in the U.S. as a way to represent and connect the stories of women. It's a premise that might otherwise be dismissed as a vanity project had Shelton not learned along the way that a good majority of her subjects have suffered under sexual abuse, particularly as children (even more disturbing, most of their abusers were never charged). Herself a victim of incest, Shelton decided to shift from her original idea and zero in on the serious (and often muffled) topic of the abuse of women, and how the painful and violent pasts of these Angela Sheltons have shaped their hopes for the future. Engrossing and extremely admirable, right? So how come we got only one Angela Shelton (over and over and OVER) for the price of so many others? Searching For Angela Shelton should be empowering; it is only in the sense that the director had the opportunity to conduct this project, and that she stumbled on so many remarkable "I survived..." examples, despite how briefly they're examined. Otherwise, it's done so selfishly (and awkwardly, thanks to its distractingly contrived set-ups and overall poor editing) that it's hard to give the woman at the center a whole lot of credit.


The road in Searching For Angela Shelton could be argued as a tool for uniting women from around the country, but it seemed ultimately useless as a narrative structure because it was depicted so literally. We as the audience are simply guided along on the director's route (and provided a hefty amount of clichéd driving montages), but why? We already know that the filmmaker is on a road trip, as she introduces each new Angela Shelton by their name and the city they inhabit. It seems that the road footage is mostly used to illustrate, enhance or fabricate a mood that Director Angela really, really NEEDS us to feel, and the number of loaded, "emotional" images grows exhausting: among others, there's a trailer park, a tattered American flag, a close-up of the words "Father" and "Wrong" on a church message board, and grim city rain against the voice-over conversations with the clearly unstable "anonymous Angela." The visuals are plunked in as filler for the moments that have no obvious visual footage to boast. Worse, Director Angela's narcissistic habit of being in EVERY IMAGE immensely reduced the film's original potential. When not scanning over those brooding, black and white stills of her "talking on the phone", the camera simply couldn't get enough of our filmmaker crying, complaining or talking about herself in such a ridiculous, inflated manner that you can't help but wonder if she's kidding.


I would argue that Director Angela abused the camera, in fact. Not only did she open up a number of old wounds, but she leaves the audience completely confused as to how she dealt with each subject's stories aside from using them to bring it back to her. What happened to these other Angela Sheltons AFTER the camera was turned off and the crew was moved on? An assurance that she was leaving these women with at least a bit of information about where they could go to talk to someone or how they could help others in a similar situation would have been nice. While her attempts to turn the film into a portrait of women as a unified body so as to remedy the problem of abuse in America were promising, they seemed too often overshadowed by…her. Whether or not it was intentional, Director Angela edited the film in such a way that undermined the other women’s stories with her own blather (at one point in the film, the subjects are uncomfortably asking HER questions).


Personally, I would have focused more on the scattered Angela Sheltons and how their stories must be told, and less on how I "healed" from it (which, after we see Director Angela's meltdown, complete with...crayons, we're not so sure how she's doing). Alternative voices are the key to a documentary, not an over-dramatized personal account. And, I would absolutely, absolutely have a counselor along for the ride to provide actual resources. In the end, Searching For Angela Shelton offers very little solution, only discomfort; the simplification of a complex issue that deserves less of a filmmaker's quest for personal answers and more of a critical debate. With each pit stop, the strength of a new Angela Shelton should prove necessary, so it's a shame their stories are so simplified for the director's sake.

Angela Shelton's Use and Abuse

The camera has a huge role in what is seen and not seen in this documentary. Searching for Angela Shelton tries to show the hardships of women, named Angela Shelton throughout America. Although her attempts to help women in America “break their silence? she is unsuccessful and irresponsible in doing so. The road functions in this film as a way for Angela Shelton to get her name out in the public. She not only revolves this movie around herself AND her name, she also makes shirts for what seems to be publicity. Angela Shelton contacts many women with the same name and tries to find their story. The problem with the camera shots in this film is the editing. Angela Shelton only needs to put in what she wants into the film. Since her documentary is about child abuse and domestic violence, it seems that anything said by the “Angelas’? other than that wouldn’t be used in the film. The idea of helping women in general speak and understand they have rights are women is a great idea, but Angela Shelton’s centered focal point, takes the great ideas away. Shelton uses the film to promote herself rather than telling the stories of others. Many of the other women seemed like examples for abuse cases in America but everything stays centered around Angela Shelton. At the end of this film it seems like nothing emerges from the road. Nothing is solved, no one seems to receive guidance and it seems as if wounds and old memories were opened without any closure. Angela does not use her camera power responsibly. Angela has all the power in this film and uses to only for herself. She doesn’t take into consideration how the other women might feel after this film. There is no sign of psychologists on site for help or counselors for the women. This would have helped tremendously in assuring safety for these women. The anonymous woman on the phone seems to be the most unstable and yet Angela Shelton hassles her. Her irresponsibility to help take care of this woman shows Shelton’s true self-centeredness. Angela could have successfully made this film if it was more about the other Angela Sheltons. She also could have focused on their stories rather than herself. It would have been nice to see some professionals on site helping with these issues as well. If Angela Shelton would have been responsible and caring towards the other “Angelas’? I feel this film could have had a completely different outcome.

Searching for Angela Shelton

Throughout this documentary we viewed the journey of a woman searching for unity with other women throughout the United States, while she searched for herself and confronted her own past. The road functioned in this film as a means of connecting these women. As the filmmaker, Angela Shelton searched for other Angela Sheltons, the road connected them to one another, this was shown by the visual of the map that the filmmaker used as a graphic while showing where she had been and where she was going. As she made her way from one part of the country to another, she was dealing with difficult abuse issues of her past, in order move on and look toward the future. Meeting with different women, and sharing her story, ahd hearing their stories allowed for a healing process for all of the women.
The camera funcitons throughout this film as a tool for women's voices to be heard. The camera does not use the typical male gaze approach when the women are being interviewed. The camera stays central to the faces of the women being interviewed, and doesn't pan up and down for body shots. I think the camera throughout this documentary functioned as a mechanism to put a face to the name Angela Shelton, and allow the different stories to be heard. By staying mainly on the faces of the women being interviewed, the body is less emphasized which allows the impact of the stories being told to be heard without distraction. This is also interesting because as many of the women discuss stories of abuse in which their bodies were objectified and used, the filmmaker I believe makes a conscious decisoion to not objectify the bodies of these women further by using closer camera shots and not filming from the traditional male gaze.

Searching for Angela

It is time to liberate the New Woman from the Old by coming to know her-by loving her for getting by, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Woman will be, as an arrow quits the bow with a movement that gathers and separates the vibrations musically, in order to be more than her self.

This film, Searching for Angela Shelton, has a different direction compared to the other films we have studied thus far in the semester. The road is not the central function of the film. The main focus is on the individual women (Angela Sheltons) that have been beaten or sexually abused. Their stories are severe and very personal. This documentary gets to the core of many dark issues that are not often talked about in society (rape, incest, abuse). These struggles and how each woman overcomes these struggles are the focus of the documentary. This experience showed these women that they were not alone and that they could over come their troubled pasts and move forward.
The road ends up making it possible for Angela to make this journey to meet all of the Angela Sheltons in the country. Her journey is mainly to find out who she is as person. Who is Angela Shelton? But in the end, Angela must go home where she belongs and start HER new life. The road is one of success for Angela and many others.
I think that the documentary was wonderful. At times it was really harsh and descriptive, but sexual abuse is violent and painful. I believe Angela showed a great side of this dark story that has not been told like this before. The only thing I would have done differently is the ending of the film. I thought it was shocking to see her with little clothing on at the end bathing in water. I didn't think it was appropriate for the documentary.

I found her...

For me, Searching for Angela Shelton is a film about a woman who sets out on the road to piece together who she is and what it means to be a woman. In the beginning, I feel that Angela doesn't exactly know what her documentary is going to say. She knows that many of the Angela's have been abused but Angela is still unsure of what her film will say and what the story is. In the end after the encounter with her father, Angela discovers that she is the only one who can give herself closure to her childhood experiences. To me, that is the story that Angela tells.

To make this discovery, Angela interviews the other Angela Sheltons of the United States. Overall, Angela uses her camera power responsibly. Although many argue that she abuses her power when interviewing these women, I would say that she does not have any responsibility to these women. I do not believe that Angela forces these women to do interviews with her about their lives (whether abusive or not). She may pry and keep calling them even after they have said no, but these women can hang up or not open their door, etc. Does a psychologist doing an research on victims of abuse have the responsibility to make sure that every single one of them goes into treatment. No. I believe that ultimately, people are responsible for themselves. For example, the anonymous Angela Shelton continued to talk to Angela and at the end of the movie it is revealed that she did start some sort of treatment.

The area that was problematic for me was that in the beginning of the film Angela Shelton says how she is interested in knowing about the "women of America". However, on her map it appears as though she only visits the Southeast of the United States, which leaves out a large majority of the other "Angela Sheltons". Also, the women of America are more than just half black and half white. They are also Asian, a mix of different races, handicapped, incarcerated, of a variety of religions, etc. She uses races as a dichotomy for women. She are not just white and black.... oh and one Muslim woman, who is awkwardly placed at the end of the film and sort of left out of telling a real story.

I feel that Angela wouldn't have been able to make this movie in a different way, but only because when she sets out on the road she doesn't know what story she will be telling. Possibly if I would have made the film, I would have tried to focus more on the other Angela Sheltons instead of sobbing about my own experience in a foster home.

Searching for Angela

The road functions in this film as Angela's path to her self-discovery. She meets women around the country who share her name, but represent women as a whole. The strength that these women display by speaking about their abuse give Angela inspiration to confront her father. This strength emerged from Angela's experience on the road, talking to other Angelas. I think the camera power is used well in this film. The women are represented in their unique environments and they seem very down-to-earth and real. I can't imagine having shared an experience as awful as some of these women have in their lives, so I can't say that I would have made this film differently. I think Angela met her goal in finding herself through finding out about women in general.

Searching for Angela Shelton

I thought, that in the movie Searching for Angela Shelton the stories were raw and powerful. However, I think the message that the audience recieved, was maybe somewhat different than that of what the director wanted. The road in this film is a connecting agent, bringing women together who have similiar stories and/or life experiences they have witnessed or gone through. The road opens up many lost memories, and many stories that bring back emotional feelings for all the Angelas'. Whether the Angela the director was talking to shared a similiar story or not of abuse, the director always seemed to share her story with the other Angela which obviously was going to negativley affect the other Angela. The road working as a connective agent played both positive and negative roles in this film. On the negative aspect, it opened up old wounds without offering a way to heal them. It also brought a selfish aspect to the director, making it seem like she was using these other women to cope with her own problem. However, on the positive side, it did unite people who have gone through similiar situations and let them know that there are other people out there like them.
Her use of the camera in this film is what brings the selfishness to the movie, for me. I liked how she would sit with a camera possibly on a tripod and spill her emotions, because thats raw, and real. However, I didn't like her use of the camera when she was interviewing the women. It was almost intrusive, unrealistic. She was using the camera to film the Angelas response to her own story, which in part made it quite uncomfortable.
If I were to remake this movie, I would definitely do things different. I would focus more on the Angela's stories and less on my own. I would also make sure these women were doing okay after bringing back these stories and reopening the memories. It didn't seem like the director did that...it seemed as if she was only focused on her well-being (which she showed by cutting her shirt). This movie has a very touching story, I just think the way the director went about showing it was wrong and could have been done better.

Searching for Angela Shelton

Writing gives power. Telling your story to others,gives you power, and empowers others. This was the main point in one of the readings for this week.
Angela Shelton, the film maker, shared her story with many other women. She claimed to feel less alone because of this. There were only a few instances where her abuse of the camera was very noticeable to me.
She used it to enhance emotional qualities of the film. This was done by pairing certain things together like the phone conversation with the anonymous Angela and the thunderstorm. She did it another time when there was a ripped American flag and some facts about molesters and rapists going to prison- or more accurately how they don't get prosecuted. The last bit was when she said something about her father and then they flip to a sign on a chruch that makes a statement about being in denial about things. These were done throughout the movie to enhance it, but it also manipulates it into a more biased view of the movie. we don't get to make our own opinions really, we are learning her story and we see her discovering herself more, but that journey seemed to be incomplete at the end. She had a lot of issues to work through and it was interesting to see her do so through other Angela's.

February 24, 2008

Where art thou Angela?

Finally a road film worthy of my viewing! Finding Angela Shelton was a moving movie on many levels. Specifically, for the Angela's and their stories, but also for all women, especially those who have been abused in their lives. At the end of the film I wanted to call my parents and tell them “thank you? for giving me such a special childhood that was free of that type of pain.
The road is used in this film as the connection between the Angela’s. Despite the fact that they all of the same name, Angela uses the road to reach out, both physically and emotionally, to all these different women around the country. Also, I think the road gives the film more purpose. Angela could have discovered all this information out by talking on the phone to the individual Angela’s, but who would want to watch that movie?
The story is supposed to be about all women. Even though the sample size was small, Angela was looking to break the silence on some important issues and show America the pain some women are going through on a daily basis. Also, the other story being told along side is the story of the narrator. Angela uses the other women’s stories to fill in the blanks on her own traumatic experiences.
In the beginning I was uncomfortable watching the film, but I think that was the point. The conversations the Angela’s were having are about private issues, and the narrator puts it right in your face. I do not think that the narrator abuses her camera power. It made the film more interesting and the images and shots were used to invoke more feeling. Although some were cheesy (the tattered American flag) she was trying to invoke emotion within the viewer.
If I were Angela, I would make the film truthfully. We discussed in class about the fact that the narrator Angela was an actress, and that some of the film may have been set up, which was disappointing to me after being moved by her piece. So, if I was Angela I would make the film truthfully, and if she did that, that I would only change one other thing. I would show her father’s face. I understand it was probably a legal issue, but I would have wanted to humiliate that man.

Searching for Angela Shelton

Angela had all the power in what the camera showed and I think that she did a good job of letting the other Angela Shelton's be heard. She uses the camera to show how other women around the U.S. have suffered from abuse also and she didn't start out thinking that abuse would be the main thing that most of the women had in common but that is what made the trip have a stronger meaning. The only times that she might have abused the camera power were when she was doing things like laying in a puddle in a parking lot and when she was throwing a fit but for the most part the shots taken by the camera were justified. There weren't any times of the movie that really bothered me because I feel that she got a lot of people to open up in front of the camera which is a huge thing especially since some of those women hadn't ever told anyone else before. The road is used as a journey where each stop builds up more and more courage and at the end Angela goes to see her dad. The other women her feel like she wasn't the only one and she was searching to actually find herself. The road is to discover what others are going through around the United States and how they cope with being abused in the past.
If I was Angela, I wouldn't really make the film differently but I would have ended it differently with some statistics about abuse in the U.S. and maybe some advice to the audience but that is all so it is somewhat educational. I believe that she accomplished she needed to though some of her words may have been biased, the message was still clear. the message seemed to be that you are never alone and it does feel better sometimes if you talk about what happened to you because if you keep it in, emotions build up and you may become depressed. She gave the women hope because she let them be heard and she told them what happened to her so they bonded and then she went on her way.

Angela Shelton - Camera Power

In the film Searching for Angela Shelton, the road played a role in helping the narrative along. The road did not function in the same way as in the other road films as the symbol of freedom, but it did represent a sort of freedom and liberation for Angela. For Angela, going on the road was the first step in finding herself and liberating herself of the horror of her past and finally moving forward - just as she moves forward on the road. Indeed the road can be symbolic of her journey and uncovering her story as well as other women's stories along the way.

I found this film to be very powerful and the stories that were revealed over the course of the movie, especially the main Angela's story, were very shocking and a bit disturbing as well. I think that the camera captured these stories very well and played a passive role to just watch these stories and Angela's unfold as they traveled on the road. As for abuse of camera power, I think that Angela did not abuse camera power but used it to effectively express a certain feeling or emotion to the audience. I also do not think she took advantage of the other Angela Sheltons - they were all willing to partake in the making of the film which helped to uncover Angela's story and help her overcome her past. Some students felt that she used them irresponsibly but in the end she did do follow ups on each story which shows that she took the time to make sure they were doing well. Either way I think that she used the camera wisely to portray certain emotions and capture the people she visited. I don't think that I would use the camera any differently or change much about the film.

Searching for Female Experiences

In Searching for Angela Shelton the road functions as a path of discovery, that is Angela's way of self-discovery. The road is symbolic for change, growth, progess. Angela Shelton was an abused child and because of the trauma she had endured she did not feel like she knew herself fully. She travels the country meeting other women with the same name only to discover that what emerges from the road is very powerful: human connection. The original Angela Shelton is inspired and moved by the women's stories. Over half of the interviewees had been raped, molested or assaulted in their lifetime. One of the most important aspects of what emerges from the road and Shelton's self-discovery is the power of unification between women across the country. Angela uses the camera power responsiblity by highlighting the strengths of the women she interviews (i.e. indepence of women who left abusive husbands and went on to purchase a home of their own). There isn't a single alteration that I would make to this film. I thought that it was inspiring and a beautifully arranged film. The juxtaposition of the music with the camera angles and techniques motivated me to think about the content and form of the film. What is discussed in the film are issues that are very important for women on a daily basis. Creating a film that uncovers these taboo subjects is a step in the right direction.

Angela's Film

In Searching for Angela Shelton the road functions as a means of discovery. Angela is traveling around the country interviewing other women as a way of finding herself. She claims that she is trying to unify women but instead appears to use the open road as a means to share her story with others. She takes to the road to fix what her dad and step brother did and confront them as well as bring into light the violence women experience (rape/battery/molestation).

The story underlying this documentary is that of Angela. Throughout her travels we learn more and more about her childhood and the sexual harassment that her and her step-sister experienced at the hands of her father, step-mother and step-brother. Angela confronts her step-brother and is able to reconcile their past and build a foundation for a strong relationship in the future. She also gets a chance to confront her father who does nothing but deny what she claims happened in the past.

The road and the traveling RV work to advance the story of Angela. Each interview with a different Angela Shelton and phone conversation with anonymous brings out more of the details of our story about Angela and her past.

Angela doesn’t use her camera power responsibly. She claims that she is trying to unify women but all I see is her pushing her own agenda throughout the film. If the story really was about unifying women Angela should have kept her personal story to a minimum. Instead she should have focused more on her interviewees and their stories. During these interviews the interviewee is the only one appearing in front of camera but we can hear Angela asking questions and then using the questions and the individuals’ stories to shift back into her personal story. She fails to fully consider some of the problems that may occur in these women’s lives by bringing up their painful past experiences. As is the case with anonymous you wonder if Angela may be pushing her over the edge. You feel as though you are waiting to hear that this women committed suicide. I think Angela should have considered her actions a little further and made sure these women had access to any help they needed.

If I was Angela I would focus on whether my documentary was a story about my life or about those around me. Once I decided my focus I would try and limit the other from the story. If it was about me I would expand upon what happened in the past and spend more time with my step-sister who experienced the situation at my side. I would also look into talking to my step-mother to hear what she had to say about it. If, however, I wanted to focus on other women and their life stories I would make sure to limit my presence to the audience. I would cut out the part of the film where I ask the questions and limit it to only their responses. I would probably limit the number of women on the video and try and get a deeper understanding of just who they are and how they got to that point. My audience would never feel as though I was using these women to tell my own story.

American Women

In this film, the road functions as a personal journey for Angela Shelton and a way for her to meet women from all over America, who happen to share her name. For her, this slice of the American population serves as an example of American women, and a way for her to try to find her personal peace after her traumatic childhood of sexual abuse. She uses these Angela Sheltons as a way for her to connect with other women, to tell her story, and to hear their stories. For her, this is a way of healing/therapy in hearing of the experiences that these women have faced, and the strength that they have found to get them through the hard times they've been through.
From the road emerges a sense of understanding and hope for women in general. Many women who are abused think that no one else goes through what they're experiencing, when the truth is that its far more common than most people acknowledge. This film, and the journey that Angela takes, show that women from all walks of life face the problem of abuse, and helps to provide hope and strength to women who have faced these problems.
Personally, i don't think Angela used her power responsibly. In my opinion, she focused far too much on herself and didn't go deep enough into the stories of the other women that she interacted with. It seems that in every interview she had, it came down to her saying, "oh, this is what happened to me," and the focus quickly shifted away from these other women and their experiences. I understand her talking about her abuse was a way to make these women more comfortable talking about the abuse they have faced, but it seems to be that she overdid it and took too much away from some of their stories. Had i been in her shoes, i would've tried to make the film more focused on the other Angela Sheltons, instead of staying so focused on herself. Not to say that the film shouldn't contain her story, but going more in depth with the other women would've been much more effective in my book.

The Road as Facilitator

My initial impression of this movie was that Angela was using her control of the camera to make a film completely about herself and portray it as being about women in America. Then the more I thought about it I realized that it truly is about herself and the other women are simply helping her along her journey. It required a bit of thought about the movie to be alright with the fact that it was all about her becuase well the title is "Searching for Angela Shelton" which implies looking for herself and not telling the stories of other women. I had to change my first thought of what the story is. I thought the story was about women around the country and their similarities and strengths and such when in fact the story is the emotional and physical journey of this one Angela Shelton. It is a story about her healing and learning and growing as a person.

The road in this film is a physical representation of an emotional journey as well as a facilitator for that emotional journey. Angela set out on this journey and made this film for a reason. It is a reasonable assumption that she made the physical journey because the emotional journey required the movement and meeting the different people in order for it to happen. Sometimes it is easier for the human mind to accept and allow change emotionally and mentally when the person's surroundings and physical environment is changing and because of this the road served as the different physical surroundings that allowed the emotional journey to tkae place.

Searching For Angela'a Closure

"This is how I would define a feminine textual body: as a female libidinal economy, a regime, energies, a system of spending not necessarily carved out by culture. A feminine textual body is recognized by the fact that it is always endless, without ending: there's no closure, it doesn't stop, and it's this that very often makes the feminine text difficult to read." Cixous (p. 53)

Angela Shelton's Searching for Angela Shelton follows much of the logic of this quotation, at least as much as surmised from the classroom discussion.

The self referential nature of the film's topic with its director, and title is only a small indication of the depth to which this closure-less cycle goes. Although this film is labeled a documentary film, and in ways tries to strive for realism, and on many levels succeeds in creating a genuine emotional concern, the scope of the film becomes, again as surmised from discussion, becomes difficult to read.
Angela Shelton's use of the camera during most of the interviews with the women, involves close ups, not only following typical interview conventions, but also allowing the women being interviewed to have their voices be heard. These zooms also alter the way in which the audience views the women, as the women are often literally removed from their social context, which can be taken as problematic, but definitely could serve as strengthening their unity as women by viewing them women solely as women, and focusing less on their surrounding differences.
Indeed Searching for Angela Shelton often attempts to propose an underlying unity among women, whether its through the abuse they suffered (the statistic that was used in the film was that of the 40 women talked to, 24 were abused in some way), but the films focus on the director's life can be taken as narcissistic, which greatly underminds the political implications of the film. Most of the class discussion seemed to gravitate towards criticisms about the director, rather focusing on the product.

Road Footage as Emotional Fodder

Although Angela’s story focuses on Angela’s personal narrative interwoven with the stories and dialogue of others, the camera seems to favor the road (or Angela). The camera uses the visual media the road provides as filler or as an emphasis for bits of conversation and voice over that have no visual footage of its own. In this way, the road becomes auxiliary and its visual inclusion is almost unnecessary for the advancement of the story. It is assumed that Angela is mobile, due to the fact that she introduces each character by their name and the city they live in. However, the road footage is often used to enhance a mood Angela hopes to achieve, such as the use of rainy and muddled traffic jams when speaking with the “anonymous Angela?. Although the story is situated on the road, its presence does not drive the narrative, but instead is put to use as an illustrator of mood. The visual landscape the road showcases provides Angela with a cornucopia of loaded images (thunderstorms, trailer parks, sunshine poking out through rain clouds).

Angela’s use of the still photograph interspersed with visual footage was an effective means to convey emotion; however, her narcissistic manner of being in every image detracted from movie’s potential. The whole point of the film was that there were so many women with the same name, so why did we have to see so much of just one?

I must say, after visiting Angela's site, I was overwhelmed by the narcissism. The entire site is devoted to the amazing-ness that is Angela Shelton. Not only does she call herself a "superhero goddess", but she sells myriads of t-shirts with her name on it. She does not appear to be promoting unity for survivors, but rather attempting to build a personal army.

This was hugely disappointing since I enjoyed the premise of the film. The testimonials of the other women were incredible, but constantly tainted by Angela's constant re shifting of the focus back onto herself.


http://angelashelton.com/index.html

--Check it out, its something else....

Angela Shelton

The stories and the way in which they were filmed and portrayed in Searching For Angela Shelton, I thought was very well done. It can and was argued that Angie was just using this film to get her story across, but I felt almost the opposite. She was using her story to make other women feel more comfortable talking about taboo topics. Though there were some instances where I did think Angie may have stepped over a boundry, and kind of lost control of her project. Though I don't think she is really to be blamed, she never claimed to be a therapist, she was just a woman trying to help other women. I think at times she didn't really realize what she was getting herself into. So in that way I think she may have abused her use of the camera, but not intentionally. Overall though I thought the movie was filmed very well, and took special care in small details. Most importantly her objective of the movie, I believe was accomplished. Not only did she and others move forward in their lives, she also caused us as viewers to be aware of what is going on around us. It is a topic that is not brought to light often, and is usually just swept under the rug. It really showed women of abuse that they are not alone, and that there is help out there for them.

Searching for Angela Shelton

In this film, the road functions differently than in the other films we have watched. The road functions as a way of connecting all of the Angela Shelton’s with one another. The road is not the primary subject matter in Searching for Angela Shelton, and the story centers not around the road, but around Angela Shelton’s abusive childhood and her personal search for answers from her family. What emerges, as a result of each meeting with a different Angela, is a commentary about the serious issue of abuse towards women in the United States. I would argue that Angela does not use her camera power responsibly in this film. While her attempt to turn the film into a story about women as a collective body who need to band together and change the problem of abuse in our country, it seems like her attempts to do this were overshadowed by her own personal story and tragedy. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, she edited the film in such a way that undermined the other women’s stories by continually interrupting their interviews with details about what happened to her when she was young. The phone calls she made to all the Angela Shelton’s were reckless because she jumped into conversations about abuse with no regard for what wounds she could be opening up. It seemed dangerous to take no precautions when calling all of the different women. Like we discussed in lecture, an assurance that she was leaving these women with at least information about where they could go to talk to someone if they needed to, would have helped. I thought it was even more irresponsible that she did not incorporate all of the social, economic, cultural, political, etc. factors that have significant bearing on what some of the women went through. It tended to simplify issues of abuse down to the mere actions of a man. While the intentions were there to make a film that shed light upon the issue of abuse towards women, the way in which it was filmed simplified a complex issue. I would have made the story less about my own personal “quest for answers? and would have used my story more as a starting point to open up critical debate on the issue. More discussion about solutions and talking with people who were making a conscious effort to form solutions to the problem would be included as well.

Angela Shelton

As Angela Shelton (the film maker) travelled around America looking for other Angela Sheltons, a story began to tell itself. I feel that in a way, the road allowed the story to progress. With each new stop Angela found herself at, a new piece of her own story was discovered, as well as a little, tiny piece of another Anegla Shelton's story. I kind of felt that Angela Shelton may have used the other women's stories in a kind of selfish way. Everytime another woman would share something, she would always bring it back to her own personal abuse. I undertsand that she may have been trying to get them to open up more freely, but there were instances where the women were already telling their stories and she would come in again with her own story; almost like a distraction to me.

While we were having the discussion in class after the documentary, another student raised the question of what happened to these other Angela Shelton's AFTER the camera was turned off and the crew returned to the road to find another Angela Shelton? Did they receive therapy? Did they get the kind of help one deserves after reliving very tramatic experiences that they had kept bottled up until that day? I certainly hope so. If not, that is one way I would have made the movie differently. Another way would be to focus more on the other women's stories a bit more. When I first heard about the concept of the documentary (seeing how all these different Angela Shelton's represent all women in America), I was excited to watch it! If I were to remake the film, I would try and stay more true to the intended project.

February 23, 2008

Searching For Angela Shelton

So far in this class, I enjoyed this film the most. I felt that the camera did an excellent job at portraying Angela's story. I felt the movie was perfectly told as well as perfectly filmed. Everything just went together very nicely. The camera's still shots and tri-pod positioning, at times, added a lot to the effect it was having on the viewer. This was a documentary film finding all of the Angela Shelton’s in America and that's exactly what the film showed: a documentary. If I were Angela Shelton I would not film this movie any other different way. The male gaze was not a part of this film and I felt this was the first film where the lead woman was actually successful at being independent and caring for herself. The road in this film was a journey to success for Angela Shelton. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. In my opinion, it was an excellent example of a woman's road film.

"Searching for Angela Shelton"

The road becomes Angela Shelton's journey across America to not only discover herself but to relate to other women in the country. As she soon finds the Angie Sheltons she spoke to, over half have been raped or sexually abused; she begins to show the audience the real connection between women cross-country. Throughout the film, it's clear that Angela Shelton is really trying to discover herself more so than finding out about women across America. However, she does make good connections with those Angies she talks with.
I think Angela definitely uses her camera power to tell her story. The film is about her journey; her discovery of herself and what matters to her. She is encouraged by other women on the road as she relates to all the other Angela Sheltons and finally realizes the importance of allowing other women to open up about their past abuses and hurts.
If I was Angela Shelton, I wouldn't have made this film differently. I think she did a great job of discovering other women across the country and making a relation between women as a whole. Women should be sticking together. Angela Shelton used this documentary to tell a story about herself, discover herself, and give a brief overview on other women in the United States.

Angela Shelton

In the film Searching for Angela Shelton the road functions as a sort of pathway for Angela to come face to face with her past as a means of finding the closure she needs to live her life happily. By meeting all of the other women that she came in contact with, Angela was able to relate to each of them in a way that helped her find the emotions and the grief that she needed to release in order to move on with her life and really be happy with who she is. I feel as if Angela’s journey served as a helpful tool for each of the other Angelas that she met along the way as well. Once their skepticism about the whole situation subsided they were able to open up to Angela in way for each of them to learn from each other.
I find that Angela’s use of the camera does a really good job of telling her story because it doesn’t add anything extra to the story and it doesn’t leave anything out. Depending on who Angela was talking to at a certain point in the film a different camera style was used to further the affect of how a particular Angela was feeling. When a face to face interview was going on the camera was really clear and it portrayed each story with clarity by focusing on the person that was telling the story. This gave the viewers a kind of insight when it came to watching facial expressions and emotions. On the other hand, when Angela was talking to the Anonymous Angela the camera used to create a blurry picture that seemed to jump around from road sign to road sign, which helps viewers interpret the emotions and feelings that were being portrayed by this person.
If I were Angela I don’t think I would have made this film differently. I believe that using a simple camera with few visual effects was really affective in portraying the issue that she was trying to expose. I believe that Angela’s goal was to reach out to other women while she was on a journey herself, and I think she did a very good job in doing so.

Breaking the Silence

In "Searching for Angela Shelton", Angela Shelton the director, starts the documentary explaining her need to self-examine and find her own identity. I believe this part was missed by many of the viewers in class that day and therefore the film was misinterpreted as the director eventually losing sight of her goal; when in reality I believe that her film achieved what it was meant to, her finally getting closure on her traumatic abusive childhood. One of her mantras was "everything happens for a reason", something Angela and the other women she met firmly backed in their life stories.
Throughout the film, Angela travels the road in search of other women and with their insight and much catharsis, Angela felt more united with the Angela Sheltons, thus meaning all 'women in America', whom she encountered. This point was poignantly refuted by one Angela (from Queens I think), who questioned whether or not women really are united. I found this to be rather ironic because it went against the goal the director was trying to put forth in the film; the strength and unity of women. I believe this film is on the right path to uniting women and it is important for women to see because there were many uplifting stories that could help women find their inner strength to fight back and unite.
The road can be viewed as both a tool for uniting women because it was how the Angela Sheltons were brought together, but also seen as useless in that her RV roadtrip didn't have much to do with the narrative other than guiding the audience along her travel route.
I was surprised to hear all the conflicting responses to this film because I found it to be refreshing from the other films we've watched in that there were first hand experiences and I think the director was really out there to help other women break their silence and finally breath free from their tormenting stories. I don't know what the director went through with editing and whatnot, but I am curious as to the scripting that went into the making and how much was edited to make certain scenes work. Other than those few things, I don't think that with those experiences Angela had, I would have made the film any differently; we all bring different aspects to the table and everything that made the director an Angela Shelton made her make her film in exactly that way.

Connecting through the road

Searching for Angela Shelton is an interesting journey on the road, that doesn't really use the road as a main focus point in the story. Although not a main focus, the road is important in the fact that it functions a connecting point for all the Angela Sheltons to share their life stories. In class we discussed how issues of "normality" apply to the claims Angela makes about the other Angelas and women in general. All of the women were potrayed at heterosexual women, but that's not Angela's fault. It just happens that's how the other women were. Finding the other Angela's still showed us a range of different personalities and life stories. Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is the last name Shelton. Typically, this name is a caucasion or African American's last name. This limits the amount of women she will be exposed to. What emerges from this story is Angela's self-examing gaze which leads to other women's self-examing and finding support in other's that share a dark secret. What seemed to happen with Angela is that she found closure in sharing her story with other women and finding out other women had demons, just life her. It seems that in the end many women found closure, or at least help, as well as Angela. One thing I think this video might inspire is other's who are lost and it might help them find themselves.

I do think Angela did leave some people hanging and with unanswered questions. It might have been helpful to have a consultant or therapist along the journey to help those other Angela's with issues.

...Hopefully this doesn't seem too rambling, i'm sick and this all is blurry, sorry :(

February 22, 2008

All the Angelas

..."Women must write women as man writes man" (The laugh of the Medusa. Cixols). The way in which Angela uses her experiences to unite other women with similar experiences I think is very profound and has a very positive impact. I also think that every director films in such a way that their message comes across therefore, I think everyone manipulates the camera power. I do feel that there were a few instances where Angela was not controlling situations very well like when she was on the phone with anonymous Angelas and the issues became so painful and hard and the women hung up. These situations are very dangerous because now who will they talk about with these things? I also feel that Angela used a few moments to unwind like when she was speaking with the woman about her foster experiences but that is all a part of her story and is some type of pain that a lot of the other Angelas could possibly relate to. Another issue that concerned me a bit was the fact that a man was filming the documentary because technically that would mean they were constantly under the male gaze. As a documentary it seems like there is less importance in noting each person's gender but more concentration on the ultimate story and what is being achieved but for such an intense and particular issue I find it a struggle for the man to be the camera person. Many of these women were abused by men and were in pain because of men so for them to speak freely about such painful issues and then repeat them when a man is there I imagine would be extremely difficult. Think of rape victims for example and how they must repeat their experience to a police officer and then again in court. I don't believe at all that where we are at today in society that this is sexist but rather mandatory if women are to ever become equal. Unlike one of the women in the class I feel that Angela (the director) was completely unbiased and not sexist at all towards other men especially considering the fact that she wants to continue a healthy relationship with her half brother and that she was willing to go all the way to South Carolina to confront her fucked in the head father-sorry for the language. I think if Angela's point of the movie was to try and unite women and let them know that they are not alone nor are they rugs to be stepped on then she definitly succeeded.

"Searching for Angela Shelton" use and abuse

Within the film Searching for Angela Shelton, the road serves as a unifying agent to connect all Angela Shelton’s throughout the US. In particular, the road is a way for the director, Angela Shelton, to provide linearity for the story she wants to tell. The road is a way not only to connect Angela Shelton’s, but to provide a connection of stories that prove to be linked to each other, like the cities of the US where all the Angela Shelton’s live linked through roads. The main story that the director Angela Shelton wants to tell, and the story that links many of the Angela Shelton’s around the US, is a story of abuse towards women, and child abuse, within the United States. Another aspect of the women’s/child abuse sector within the story of the documentary, is how majority of those who were abused, their abuser were never charged and how the strength within each woman abused, severed as a key point in their lives. Within the road, emotions and strength emerge within not only the Director and her struggles, but within each road stop, the strength and unity of each Angela Shelton proves critical for the overall documentary. However, as strong as the story and people within Searching for Angela Shelton were, the director Angela Shelton did not take the responsibility of the camera fully. Not only did she open up old wounds of many of her correspondents and interviewees of the film and leave them to fester, the audience is unaware of how she dealt with each individual as she caused high emotions to arise, such as providing counseling. In addition, herself as the director took advantage of her camera power by having her own will for a story to get in the way of who she was interviewing by getting whatever she wanted out of them at any cost. If I were to make this film, I would have in a drastically different way. Not only would I have focused more on the various Angela Shelton’s of the US and the stories they have to tell, I would have also focused less on my own story, as what Angela Shelton did, and focus more on the overall story connected all Angela Shelton’s over the US; abuse of women. The story connecting all the Angela Shelton’s is what is key to the documentary, and if I was given the opportunity to make this film, I would have made that the center of the film instead of my own will to tell a personal story.

Abuse of the other Angelas

The road in the movie represents the journey for Angela Shelton, both personal and in finding these other women. The farther she travels along the highways of the U.S., the closer she comes to her father and confronting him with memories of her childhood experiences. Also, she spends something like 57 days on the road, which is shown as she goes from Angela to Angela, so it represents the physical journey that she undertakes in order to find all the other Angela Sheltons. As the days add up, Angela Shelton opens up more and more and it becomes easier for her to tell her story and for the other women to open up to her. The road makes her bolder, and she uses the road as a symbol for her personal journey, especially through the use of billboards, church signs, bumper stickers, and many other items that allow her to "create" something deeper than what is actually there- she allows the things she found while on the road to help make her journey seem more symbolic.
I think that the camera was used responsibly, as the person filming had no role in the film, and therefore had no impact on the women's stories. It was certainly interesting to hear all of their stories, though trying to make a statistic out of them in terms of how many of them out of all of the women interviewed had been abused was stretching it a little. I think that she should have been more up front with the women before she started filming them, maybe by telling them what she was actually doing, not simply going out and finding all the other Angela Sheltons, since this was clearly a personal journey that she was making for personal reasons- to tell her story. Using other people's stories to tell your own is not exactly an admirable thing to do, but if she had changed anything, it would no longer be her story, so no, I don't think I would have done anything differently. In order to accomplish a goal like that, one that is so personal, you can't change it- it has to be the way you envisioned it to be.

February 21, 2008

Abusing Angela Shelton

"It is time to liberate the New woman from the Old by coming to know her - by loving her for getting by, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Woman will be, as an arrow quits the bow with a movement that gathers and separates the vibrations musically, in order to be more than her self" (Cixous, The Laugh of Medusa, 878). This quotation, to me, exemplifies what Angela Shelton wanted her movie to be about: a story about the emergence of the new, strong, unsilenced front of united women from the old repressed and singular victim. She set out on a journey to discover herself as well as the women who share her name, but the name doesn't matter. What this journey created was a look at the silence women force themselves to undergo, the strength women have in the face of tragic, abusive events, and the underlying bond of femaleness that connects all women. The road in this film creates a physical connection for these women. Throughout the film, Angela travels in her RV, talking to various Angela Sheltons across the country, and as these women give their testimonies, the camera focuses on the road: the highways, the scenery, the RV passing through each place on its poignant journey. The road becomes a vessel for the new woman, and unites all those who have been silenced, or those who live in fear. Unity is an important theme is this film. One Angela Shelton, during her testimony, drives this home: "He couldn't get anything because my friend did not leave me...all of us females should stick together. Unity. That's what we don't have."
When giving testimonies, the camera is completely on the Angela Shelton, showing the importance of every woman's story, that no woman is "lower than a fucking dog" as the anonymous Angela Shelton constantly said. The way in which the camera kept an intimate distance with each Angela illustrated that this movie was supposed to be about every woman's story, a theme that seemed to change in the second half of the film.

The story in this film is split between recognizing women and dealing with sexual abuse and molestation, as well as Angela's personal crusade to find who she is and rid herself of some demons. Because she focused so much on herself, I don't feel that Angela was terribly responsible in her use of the camera. She came into peoples lives, had them open up about their nightmarish pasts, and left them where they stood. For the stronger women, I'm sure this was vindicating, but how did it impact those who had been fearful or silenced? They had now publicly shared their deepest, darkest moments without any promise of help or therapy or what they might need. The way she dealt with some women was a selfish act to me. The movie, which was supposed to be about women (notice the plural) soon became a film about one Angela Shelton. There's nothing wrong with wanting to face her past, but when the film is supposed to be a vessel for the good of womankind, it seems self-indulgent to make her story seem to be a much bigger problem than the stories of all those other women. Using her story to make other women open up was not so much of the problem, but when the women being interviewed were asked about how they felt about Angela's situation, I felt that a huge shift had been made from what the film was supposed to embody, to a showcase of Angela Shelton's personal journey. I would definitely say that Angela abused her camera power here and shifted the focus of the film to herself. Her story was powerful and important, but was in any more important than those of the other Angela Sheltons? What was lost here, is what the New woman is: she is strength, bravery, and most of all unified with her fellow women in not only gender, but experience, pain, and joy. Because of her camera abuse, Angela left out THE crucial concept, unity, and made this piece individualistic and vain.

Finding Angela

Part of the purpose for the film is to use the Angela Shelton's of the country to represent all American women. The road then serves as not only filmmaker Angela Shelton's way to get to these different women, but a personal journey she takes to find peace within herself. She physically bridges the distance between herself and her family through the road and attempts to mend her emotional distance. The different shots of the road and different cities/states she travels through show the distance of her journey but also adds to the theme of representing women in America. You can be across the country from someone and still find common ground between your lives, such as what Angela did when speaking to the other Angela Sheltons.
The story is about filmmaker Angela Shelton trying to find herself and make peace with her past. By speaking with other Angela Sheltons she attempts to connect with women to heal herself. By chance many of the other women she speaks with have had abuse circumstances and through their conversations and meetings it is a form of therapy for filmmaker Angela Shelton. Her hope is that other women such as the ones she spoke with as well as those watching will find help in seeing the connection of the stories.
What emerges from the road is hope for Angela and other women. By meeting with women who have had similar abuse circumstances and hearing the struggle they dealt with gave Angela an opportunity to unload her past as well as speak/think about her future. Seeing the power of the women she met with was a very important and necessary thing for her to see, as well as others watching the film. Her journey is hard and emotional, but in the end she benefits knowing she can be okay because these women are okay. Also by speaking with anonymous Angela, it was her way to be the voice of strength and comfort not just for this woman but for herself as well.
I think she does use her camera responsibly. This is a documentary and a very emotional one at that. The camera allowed us into the lives of all of these courageous women as well as able to be on Angela's journey with her. The point was for Angela to help heal herself along this time on the road. That is exactly what she did through her camera.
If I were Angela Shelton I don't think I would change anything. Searching for Angela Shelton was her attempt to find herself and make peace with her life which was the focus of the documentary. Therefore, nothing would change. I think she successfully accomplished what she sought out to do.

February 20, 2008

Use and Abuse of Camera Power

The camera in this film becomes a way for women to speak from experience and to “break silence? on issues of sexual abuse and trauma. How does the road function in this film? What is the story? What emerges from the road? Does Angela use her camera power responsibly to tell this story? Explain. If you were Angela would you have made this film differently?

Lonely Wanderer

Ruth Hottel states, “Varda consciously moves marginalized figures to center stage in her films and affords them a central role normally denied them in the dominant system.? This is clearly the case in her film, Vagabond. As Varda states, “a well-written film is equally well-filmed, the actors are well-chosen, as are the locations. The cutting, the movement, the points of view, the rhythm of the shooting and of the editing have been felt and thought out like the writer’s choices? (Hottel 676). In Vagabond, Varda disrupts the male gaze with every movement of the camera and most importantly, the actress she choices for the main role, Mona. Mona is a solo woman on the road with only her body. Her rawness is capture throughout the film, capturing the raw reality of life as a female wanderer in Europe. The way Varda shoots the entire film is as if we are looking at Mona through the eyes of Varda, a powerful female which greatly disrupts and challenges the male gaze. Through the lens of a female, the viewer is able to see Mona’s brutal reality of life. As one of the docu-testimonies stated, “That’s not wandering, its withering.? Yet, Mona seems very content with her life and is educated. At every moment that Mona is invited to a world of stability, she rebels as if she is afraid of disappointing someone or incapable to pursue her goals. At the goat farm, she is offered a life of stability and shelter; yet, she rebels and refuses to feel trapped or controlled by a boss or a partnership. Thus, she roams aimlessly throughout the cold winter, alone, only with interacting with others for her own personal pleasure of alcohol or drugs. She finds these vices in order to numb herself of the true loneliness she feels. Her loneliness and desire for interaction with people is revealed when she states to the college professor that she wants to be a babysitter and while at her stay at the goat farm, she repeatedly tries to connect with the farmer’s baby boy. All such events truly disrupt and destroy the male gaze in this movie. The viewers see her as something real and not as a sex object through her independent personality and her clothing, never revealing and only used as a means of survival during the tough winter months in France. The lens of the camera is through the eyes of a woman and shots are never pursued to expose or objectify Mona’s body. We see her body in one shot because she is one complete human, not parts of the female body meant to be objectified through close ups. In the end, Mona life purpose of a free life, with no restrictions leads her to her death in a ditch, forgotten from society and washed away as easy as the wine that covered her face.

Vagabond

"Vagabond is a compelling and disturbing portrait of a young single woman, Mona Bergeron (Sandrine Bonnaire), living on the road, drifting with no place to call home, nor any desire to claim one." (Laderman 265)
Mona breaks the male gaze and especially dealing with what we have seen to this point in class. In every movie we have watched so far, almost all female characters who were of moderately young age were seen as a sex symbol to some extent or at the very least attractive. Even in Easy Rider, the girls on the commune who should be dirty, disgusting and not to mention smell terribly were seen as attractive to the two men. Mona is told over and over again that she smells terrible and that she needs a shower. In fact, the only real compliments she received on her beauty were from the truck driver attempting to have sex with her and her last "boyfriend" who kept saying what a good lay she was. Unlike Girl on a Motorcycle she was not obsessed with the male gaze. She was obsessed with a life quite the contrary, free of commitment, free of obligations and free of anything but freedom.

February 18, 2008

Vagabond

"...through this contrast of movement versus immobilism, Varda subverts the traditional codes of classical narrative cinema which depict man as the gender on the move and women as static" (Hayward 288).

The use of cinematic elements to depict cultural ideals and make personal statements is both abstract and yet blatantly resounding. We never seem to be able to catch Mona, as Hayward states in the reading. From the beginning, people's perceptions of her are always expressed when she is out of grasp. When the woman Mona travels with for a brief period tells a man to go find Mona, when he does she is belligerent and she "scares him away". This represents that although she has reentered a life she fled from, she cannot be contained and continues her free exploration, depending on no one. I finished the film not feeling quite like I knew her, her motives, or why she was the way she was, but I still felt satisfied that the film had portrayed exactly what it was meant to.

Although the music used throughout the film always had a threatening tone, it greatly contrasted Mona's fairly consistently calm demeanor and lack of fear. It made me feel that I should be concerned about Mona, yet many events led me to believe that despite the music and common assumptions, she was doing fine on her own (early on in the film, at least). At times, we were led astray by the personal accounts of the people she encountered. One man said, "Female drifters are all the same, loafers and men-chasers". Yet when we watched Mona in action, these did not seem to be her sole motives or goals on the road. It was this constant 'mixing up' of perceptions that, to me, shattered cinematic norms. In some scenes, she was depicted as homeless, yet when she stayed with Assoun, she was said to "live outdoors". This euphemism was another way in which the viewer couldn't create a stereotype of the main character, because she was constantly evolving in the eyes of others.

"Vagabond" & Counter-Cinema Techniques

"Vagabond...deconstructs and reinvents the [road film] genre in terms of narrative structure, film style, and thematic tone" (Laderman 265).

Whereas American road films like Easy Rider promote the notion of wandering freedom, the European road film seems to assume a much darker tone, refusing to romanticize a protagonist's desire for rebellious travel. The 1985 French film Vagabond is a prime example, using elaborate camerawork (alongside ominous music and interesting symbolism) to de-mystify freedom into a false ideological construction. Tracking shots, in which a camera "follows" or continues moving without edit, come to represent the film's theme of aimless, isolated mobility. It begins with a slow gaze across a winterized crop field, taking in the landscape, before stopping to zoom in on main character Mona's froze corpse. This disturbing imagery is briefly followed by a beach scene in which the camera glides over sand and sea to link with the director's voice-over narration on how she believes Mona must have risen up from the water. Then, Vagabond's signature music kicks in and we've backtracked to just plain disturbing. Accompanied by "minor, almost atonal" keys, the next tracking shot travels slowly down the highway and catches up with our anti-heroine, hitchhiking and going nowhere fast. Within these first few (cold and distant) minutes, we learn of this waif's overall insignificance and how "life will continue after she dies." This is presumably why the camera always shifts to some object or setting instead of zeroing in on Mona and her various predicaments (even when she is raped in the woods, we found ourselves staring at branches in confused horror). Mostly, she wanders in and out of these tracking shots with no mind paid, as if to suggest that the landscape is more focused than she is; that there is an interconnectedness that will always go beyond her. One shot I found particularly engaging is where a man keeps up with the camera on a bicycle, while Mona falls out of the frame to fix her broken boot. However, Vagabond lets us know from the very beginning what exactly we have on our hands. Not only is Mona first seen dead in a ditch, but we have contrasting shots of policemen zipping her up in a body bag with the washing of wine off various village surfaces (we later learn where this comes from: the "bizarre pagan ritual" that involves vine-wound men dousing wandering strangers with wine dregs). There's a reason it looks like blood and is found between scenes of her body's disposal--because Mona is all-too-easily washed from society's memory.

Vagabond

Vagabond is a compelling and disturbing portrait of a young single woman... while the action dramatizes Mona's aimless mobility, it is really the moving camera that conveys it with forceful if oblique pathos.
Laderman 265

Mona does not let anything move her on but herself. When she is at the goat farm and the man gives her stability and every reason to stay settled for a time, it is herself motivation that pushes her to "move on".
This film definitely embraces a feminist counter-cinema by disrupting the power of the male gaze and phallocentrism. There are a few times where men look at Mono as an object, but she flicks them off and the men completely forget about her. She is not at all like Rebecca from Girl on a Motorcycle who definitely felt the male gaze and the power of the phallos.
The moving camera helps move along the action and narrative throughout the film along with Mono's motivation to keep moving.

Vagabond "suggests that the culture that in some way spawned Mona may have inadvertently contributed to her tragically meaningless death."

Vagabond

“With the alienated and alienating Mona, the film disrupts the classical structure of the look and narrative because she refuses that place culturally assigned to the women? (Hottell 18)

The male gaze, as we understand it in its traditional form, was disrupted time after, after time in the film “Vagabond?. For example, scenes with Mona being dirty and spitting; picking her nose causes that male gaze to be disrupted. She is not raised to a platform of sexuality, to the rawness of animalistic sexuality. She wears clothes that are baggie, ripped and torn. Her body becomes ambiguous, non-definable as male or female. In tracking shots she becomes a passerby not the main focus of the shot. Almost like we, as the viewer, don’t even notice her, she is that invisible. One thing I thought most challenged the male gaze was Mona’s food consumption. Serving and being served food holds power and significance. In the whole film whenever food is being served the women brings the food out to the man; the woman (server) never eats what she has prepared. The only woman who eats in this film is Mona, except when her and the professor eat some flat bread in the car. Mona, through the act of eating, puts on a male dominant role and sheds the woman submissive role. Time and time again the male gaze is being challenged in the film “Vagabond?.

Woman on the move

...through this contrast of movement versus immobilism, Varda subverts the traditional codes of classical narrative cinema which depict man as the gender on the move and women as static" (Hayward 288).

To me, this quote really describes the major difference between the movies "Easy Rider", and "Girl on a Motorcycle" versus "Vagabond", because until Mona, the women in these films were still. The women in "Easy Rider" were stationary, and we only saw them in the home. In "Girl on a Motorcycle", she was given the illusion of moving, but was ultimately trapped between her two men. In "Vagabond", however, Mona is constantly moving. She is not controlled by the road like "Girl on a Motorcycle", but rather, she controls it. She decides whether or not she will bathe, or work, and lets no one decide for her. The various camera angles make it obvious that Mona is always on the move, and even the cameras can't control where she will go. Because of the odd camera angles, and Mona's constant motion, the male gaze is also interrupted. "Vagabond" is the first movie we have seen where a woman has broken free, and can move around as she pleases.

Vagabond

"Mona does not cruise the highways on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wreaking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies... do."
--David Laderman, Driving Visions: Exploring the Road Movie, p. 267

Unlike the typical American road movie, Vagabond's portrait of the road is far from glamorous. For Mona, the road is not a medium used to reach to her lover, sex or romance, it is her home. Unlike Rebecca, Mona is not viewed in a sexualized manner, her clothes are loose fitting, dirty, and leave much to the imagination. Rebecca is victim to the male gaze and fetishism. She does not object to a stranger raping her while Mona's similar situation provokes a very different feeling. Rebecca's rape is seen as romantic, making love to a complete stranger. Mona is completely detached from the world around and therefore detached from the male gaze.

Queen of the Road

…?the effect is to unfix the gaze, to render it inoperable. Because there are so many points of view, Mona cannot be caught in any of them. In this criss-crossing of gazes, Mona has already moved on or has not yet arrived.?

Our Vagabond, Mona, has taken over the road as her own. She embraces an “I don’t need anybody,? sort of attitude as she makes her way. Although she does use people (for rides and food handouts) they do not own her, she will move on the second she wants to. This film does a good job of keeping Mona dirty and unkept, however her face remains pretty. Even though she is rarely the subject of the male gaze, she is not intolerable to look at.
Mona is on her own and happy to be. Vagabond is able to disrupt the power of the male gaze by reinstating the power of the woman. The people carrying the narrative and reminiscing about Mona are most intrigued by the fact that she a woman vagrant, not by her beauty or feminine wilds. She, of course, encounters men on her journeys, but is never overpowered by them – she is the leading role and she carries the story. I also think it is important to look at some of the most influential relationships that Mona creates are with women, which is very unlike Girl on a Motorcycle. The woman who picks Mona up in her car begins to care a lot about Mona and her well-being. They create a friendship, and this woman takes better care of her than any of the men she encounters. This friendship, again, reinstates the power Mona has and the power of women in general.

It is taking me longer to come up with a title than write this.

What struck me most about this film were the many small specific examples that helped to create a counter cinema. The disjointed narrative and tracking shots are two broad examples, but Vagabond nudges our mind away from the classic road film in more subtle ways as well. In the film both agriculture and urban enviroments are portrayed as prisons. Shots composed through metal spikes, bars, or fences are frequent. There are also many shots of the trees as bars against the sky. In the opening scene as she is coming out of the water on the beach the frame is sectioned by fence posts. The road is also the thing that dictates what she should do, and the first thing she ignores, when she walks past a stop (no trespassing?) sign. This representation of the road not conquering nature, but rather as a prison created by it is the exception in road film.

Another exception found in this movie that is rare in films focused in the male gaze is that there were no simulated rape scenes. Simulated rape scenes are often shot to illicit a sexual response despite of the level of horror in the act. The fact that you didn't see her raped, but were still shown the end of one and the begining of anotherwas my most appreciated interruption of the male gaze.

other examples:
There is often a male gaze where the audience is more aware we are looking through a males eyes. In these shots we often see Mona reflected in a mirror, or through glass, giving the male gaze less power than it would normally have.

Mona starts out rolling her own cigarettes, shaping herself what is often considered a phallic object.

Shots are often comprised not around Mona's body, but rather on the effect her body has had. You may not see her, but you know what her agency has created.

Vagabond

These are aspects of her feminist cinecriture which are political because - as with feminist writing which refuses to inscribe contours - in their disgressiveness they go counter to dominant male-filmaking practices and are therefore, counter-cinematic. An it is also true that her particular approach of textural intertexualization is equally counter-cinematic in that it works 'in opposition to the naturalized dominant male discourse to produce textual contradictions which would de-naturalize the workings of patriarchal ideology.

This film is a very unique one of it's time. It begins by taking a new look into the road movie. The main character, Mona, (a woman) is not seen as a sex object as in previous films of this era. She is seen as having a difficult and trgic life. She fights through her struggling life, but most of all she is seen as having a past. By adding this component we add depth to her character.
The use of flashbacks and tracking throughout the film gives the audience a different feel to the story. Often times Mona is not seen as the object to be looked at or filmed. The camera often 'stumbles' upon her while filming and then wanders off again. The use of flashbacks in the film can be distracting and confusing which consist many times of flashbacks within flashbacks.

Feminist Counter-Cinema in "Vagabond"

"Unlike in most American road movies, this road is no refuge from home, no vehicle of revelation or redemption or critical insight--except, perhaps, for the audience, testimony to the film's unique form of cultural critique, which occurs not so much within the film but rather as a result of watching it." (Laderman, 270)

In Agnes Varda's film Vagabond (1985), it became clear from the beginning how a feminist cinema could work to counter the male gaze. The tracking shots in the film are really telling in that they tend to follow other objects in the mise-en-scene, as opposed to our main character, Mona. Oftentimes, Mona enters the mise-en-scene or leaves it while the camera stays still. She is just passing through in this sense. She is not necessarily telling us her story, the interviewees help to tell it juxtaposed with flashbacks to Mona's travels. Another interesting point is that many of the men in the plot are not to be trusted. The mechanic lies about raping Mona in her tent and the truck driver lies about kicking her out because she would not sleep with him. A man who claims "I've been watching you" rapes Mona in the woods after she is dropped off. These speak to the different things a woman has to worry about while on the road as opposed to things a man has to worry about. They are quite different and even though Mona chooses not to sell her body or use it in ways that the character of Rebecca does in Girl on a Motorcycle, it still gets abused in situations that are out of her control since she has chosen to drift by herself. Mona is never sexualized in the same way that Rebecca is and this is done through the camera work which works against a male gaze and achieves a different effect in its portrayal of Mona. Mona's apathy towards her situation and towards any type of critique of the culture in which she lives makes it quite different from the quests in American road movies. Like Laderman says, the cultural critique does not come straight from Mona's mouth, but as a result of watching the film and then thinking about it. It is in the act of watching that we can think about how Varda critiques French culture.

Vegabond- disrupting the male gaze

Mona is te ultimate hippie/punk waif: she shows little emotion, has no direction, does not care what happens to her, nor where or how she goes. Laderman 266

Vegabond is the first film that we've watched so far that was willing to give not just the lead role to a woman, but not overly sexualize her at the same time. Unlike Rebecca in Girl on a Motorcycle it is not a man that is pushing the story along or guiding the woman. Mona was challenging the role of women in film. She was not shown as a piece of meat all pretty for the men to look at, but she was grungy, smelly, rough, and had many manly characteristics. It was very clear to see that the male gaze was disrupted in a big way in this film. Mona was the one "using" the men for drugs and food and then leaving whenever she chose. This is very different than what we have previously seen, with the women being under the control of a man. Many times throughout the movie Mona could have almost passed for a man. She sat with her legs wide open, spit, smoked, didn't bathe, this was unheard of for a woman to do. She really broke the barrier's that had been on women in films prior to her role. She also showed that she wasn't jealous of the freedom of a man, because she just took that power and freedom. She didn't wait for it to be offered to her.

Champagne is better on the road...

"Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highways on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wreaking subversive havoc" (Laderman, 267).

Varda does an excellent job in Sans toit ni loi , proving that the power of the male gaze can be disrupted if techniques like the tracking shot are used and the non-normative perspective is considered. Mona as a a character escapes the recursive panopticon framing and the "looked-at-ness" with her animalisitc qualities and how Varda does not allow the audience to get to know Mona, the use of the docutestimonals helps assure this. Unlike Rebecca, Mona is not your everyday sexualized main female character, her every move is not controlled by a man and she is not seen as "lack" or as being castrated. In other words, Varda makes an effort in making Mona come across as being a discarded body and I felt as if I was wasiting my time along with Mona. As a spectator you get to see how masculine Mona may come across, always eating, her dirty teeth, her spitting, and the shot when Mona and the professor are drinking beer it is like a line is drawn down the table emphasizing the difference in what it takes to be feminine, with the clean, manicured red nails versus Mona's very dirty nails and hands.

February 17, 2008

Sans toit ni loi

" And it is also true that her particular approach of textural intertextualization is equally counter-cinematic in that it works 'in oppostition to the natualized dominant male discourse to produce textual contradictions which would de-naturalize the workings of patriarchal ideology'(Cook 1985, 198)." -Hayward, 291

"Vagabond" is a film of the feminist counter-cinema because the narrative structure that Varda employed in the film was against the norm. The entire film was in flashback and the audience knew the ending/outcome right from the beginning when Mona was found dead.
In terms of working against a partriarchal ideology, from the beginning of Mona's story, an independant woman is portrayed and is able to go on the road by herself with practically nothing and gets by fairly well until she gives up. Everything Mona encounters is from a decision she willfully made, from her deciding to leave her mundane life as a secretary, to earning money doing odd jobs, to her death. "Vagabond" is a feminist counter-cinema film because the main character is a woman who does what she believes in and through a series of her own decisions, she chooses to live her life according to her own ideas and values. Mona doesn't care about her appearance, definitely disrupting the male-gaze and object-to-be-looked-at mentality that was seen in "Girl on a Motorcycle", where Rebecca was very concerned with how she looked and was viewed by all the males in that film. "Vagabond" is an empowering feminist film because Mona is a woman who lives for herself, not letting a male dominating society hold her back.

Creating Counter-Cinematic

"Mona is rarely at the beginning of a tracking shot, she either walks in or is picked up by the camera and, equally significant, in all of these tracking shots, she and the camera.." pg 4, Hayward.
This quote itself proves the fact that there is counter-cinema techniques going on because the male gaze has lost its power in this movie. The woman is no longer the object to be looked at through the male eyes or the viewer's eyes either, she is just another character in the movie. She passed through the camera and didn't represent a sex symbol especially since she hadn't taken a shower the whole movie, nor did she change her clothes. The interesting thing to me is that dhe still made a good impression on some even though she was rudest women I've ever watched in a movie. The male gaze was always interrupted except that of the mechanic that either had sex with her or raped her, I'm not sure. This is definitely a feminist film which is evident by the way Mona is presented; she has no significant ties to men besides to mess around with, she is fully clothed, she isn't seen as a sex object and she has an independent life of her own. She doesn't have anywhere she needs to be or anyone to tell her what to do, and if she doesn't like the person she gets a ride with, she leaves. The camera looks at the scenery and the people around Mona and Mona is just there. The phallus no longer has the control of the movie or the women, because Mona isn't in search of a life-long partner, she is a traveller and would have always been that way.

"The Queen of the Road"

Mona thumbs her nose at both the conservative work/home ethic and the liberal sixties alternative.

Throughout the movie Vagabond Mona is no longer seen through the male gaze. Although this film starts off gazing over Mona's cold and dirty soulless body, it does not continue with this type of gaze. As we see in the film Mona is a "true" punk of her time. She does not care or want to find home, work, friends or comfort. She simply chooses to drift. One way this movie disrupts the male gaze and phallocentrism is by men not being able to control what she does. The man at the farm tries to provide work and help for Mona but Mona chooses not to work. Her uncaring mindset makes her show distaste in receiving help. This disrupts what would have shown a male figure assisting in improving in her life and would have changed the story completely if she would have agreed. If you were to compare the farmer’s wife to Mona there is much difference. The farmer’s wife seems stuck. She has little freedom and many duties. She is seen as controlled by a man. She can only alter her life in little ways and could never be on the road. Mona on the other hand is the opposite. She has nothing holding her back. She has nowhere to be, yet she chooses to go nowhere. Her choice to go nowhere seems frustrating but is extremely powerful. Mona shows that her decision to do nothing and be careless IS actually a decision which WAS made and is now being followed through. Mona IS “The Queen of the Road?. Mona seems to not care about any outcomes in the end of this expedition. She is in full control of herself and her actions. Mona would rather sleep in her freezing tent, in midwinter, than receive assistance from any male figure. This road film is more about Mona than about the road. Her punk character is the story of the play, rather than the plot also disrupts the phallocentrism that could occur. Her destination is unknown. Throughout the film the characters are more concerned with making sense of her aimlessness rather than thinking of her as a poor, homeless, female. Her refusal for a “home? and assistance take away from the male gaze. In the brief moments of actual gaze, it is done by a woman whom wishes to be free and held like Mona is. Mona is the queen of the aimless road.

Vagabond and Counter-Cinema

"These recurring, almost nonnarrative traveling sequence shots convey her wandering mobility with more coldness and distance than a more typical road movie driving sequence" (Laderman 268).

In the film Vagabond, the film techniques and camera movements Varda uses throughout Mona's journey, help to create counter-cinema and disrupt the phallocentrism and male gaze that is usually seen in road movies. These camera techniques include the recurring traveling sequences that Laderman mentions in the quote above. In these specific shot sequences the camera tracks Mona but in the end does not follow her but continues to pan on stopping on inanimate objects. Using this technique, Varda forces the viewer to look away from Mona and not focus on her throughout the entire film creating the "distance and coldness" Laderman describes. This action disrupts the focus of the male gaze and in effect allows Mona to blend in with the surroundings rather than be the center to be framed or objectified. Also these tracking techniques create counter-cinema and disrupt the male gaze by emphasizing the fact that Mona is walking and that she is her own vehicle. Vagabond is completely different from other road movies in the way that there is no vehicle to fetishize or feeling that the vehicle is what helps the characters escape. Mona is her ride and means of transportation. She is not dependent on a vehicle like in Girl on a Motorcycle but is completely in control and drives her own narrative. Vagabond definitely creates counter-cinema as Mona disrupts the male gaze by being in control of her own journey and not being driven or influenced by anything other than her own choices and desires.

Vagabond

"Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highways on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wreaking subversive havoc" (Laderman,267).

The way in which Mona is depicted in Vagabond breaks free from the desires of the male gaze and instead projects a strong femininity that goes beyond the narrow definition of a woman that we see in other films. The scene in which Mona and Madame Landier are in a diner displays the contrast between Mona and Madame Landier, who is a more typical model of femininity. The camera focuses on the women's hands. Mona's hands are rough and her nails are short and dirty, and are shown beside the woman driver's hands, which have long painted nails and are clean and soft. Mona is dirty, smelly, and alone. She is constantly on the move, not moving towards a man as Rebecca was in Girl on a Motorcycle, but moving without destination. Though she doesn't fit into society's mold of what a woman should be, Mona is well-liked by many people who she encounters. Mona meets a man who becomes attached to her, and she leaves him without warning. This is another example of a way in which this film embraces feminist counter-cinema. Mona represents freedom-not only because she is a wanderer, but because she is living for herself and no one else.

Vagabond and Counter-Cinema

“…Varda presents us with woman’s image demystified, and the effect is far from soothing for the other characters, particularly for the men. She upsets the trajectory of objectification and its bolstering of the system, and turns the look back toward the camera and the spectator.?

Vagabond as a film disrupts the male gaze and how women are looked at by making the main character and her journey the focus of the movie. The character is not obsessed with men, and the movie does not focus on a any part of her as a sexual being. She is simply a woman on a journey, alone. The film also runs counter to the male gaze in the ways in which Mona reacts to the treatment that she recieves from men. She ignores or rebuts their comments when they focus on her as a woman- for example, at the beginning of the movie when the driver that she hitches a ride from kicks her out after his comment about there being a bunk in the back of the truck and she replies unfavorably. She keeps a low profile throughout the movie- no makeup, dirty, dressed all in black, and quiet. She tries not to catch people's attention unless she needs something, and if that occurs, she is very forward in the ways in which she expresses those needs. Mona gives off the appearance of being self-sufficient and independent, which is the total opposite of how she would be presented if the film were to be oriented towards the male gaze and its themes.

Creating Counter-Cinema Instructions

In what ways is “Vagabond? a film that embraces the cinematic techniques and narrative structure of a feminist counter-cinema -- disrupting the power of the male gaze and the phallocentric capture of woman as object to-be-looked at? (Start your blog entry with a quote from the readings.)

Vagabond

"Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highways on a sleek mortorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wreaking subversive havoc." (Laderman 267)


While reading Laderman's Driving Divisions, there is a part where he refers to Mona as possibly the genre's fisrt serious "Queen of the Road." Mona was a different looking woman compared to all the women we have seen in previous road films. In my opinion, it didn't seem as if she was portrayed as a sex object and I didn't feel there was a lot of phallocentrism, if any, in this film. Mona did not act like a "predictable" woman would act. She never showered, didn't really care what others thought about her, and she didn't know where she was ever going to end up and she was alright with that. She received a lot of criticism about how she lived her life and even though she let it get to her sometimes, she usually just brushed it off and became a passenger in someone else's car. She didn't stay in one place for long and maybe that was her way of avoiding any male gazing or phallocentrism. This film was definately different from the other women road films we have seen because it was not revolved around the male gaze. Instead it was revolved around where Mona would end up next. Mona was the one in charge of herself, very independent, and that was extremely clear throughout the movie.

Vagabond

Mona for the most part escapes the male gaze by having attributes which are distinctly unfeminine. She is dirty, we are told she smells terrible, she smokes constantly (she cigarettes she rolls herself), she is vulgar and anti social. Cinematically she is unconventional which as Hayward suggests distracts from the male gaze. Her theme lacks melody and its harmony is abrasive, tracking shots will focus on objects other than her (trees, cars, etc). Still Mona does not completely escape being sexualized. Mona is looked at with the male gaze on occasion when we look at her though certain male characters. the young men on a motorcycle in the beginning of the film view Mona as a sexualized being as she emerges from the sea. This scene was related back to Botticelli's Birth of Venus, The male gaze is extended into the next shot when we see the young men looking at post cards and discussing women and robbery. The male gaze is also intentionally present when Mona washes the car at the gas station before being raped.

Undoing phallocentrism in cinema

As David Laderman says in Driving Visions, "Vagabond's moving camera becomes the central expression of the film's theme of mobility" (265). This cinematic technique is one of the most important disruption to the power of the male gaze because Mona is rarely captured/objectified by the camera. The camera is constantly sweeping by, thereby decentering Mona and focusing more on the rest of the mise-en-scène. Thus Mona is rarely subjected to the male gaze and as the object to-be-looked at. She is becomes progressivly filthier thereby unfetishizing her, unlike other movies which fetishize and stylize women to the point of "perfection." The narrative structure too disrupts the power of phallocentrism simply by having a female as the protaginist of a road film and beyond that, that she drives the narrative, not men like Girl on a Motorcycle. She is a drifter, but she has no one completely dictate where she goes next. For example, when the sheep farmer gave her land to stay and plant potatos, Mona decided that that wasn't what she wanted after all and did not follow the farmer's advice. In some ways the film could be critiqued as a quasi-feminist film because of all of the violence done upon Mona, but the cinematic techniques and the narrative structure features discussed above embrace the feminist counter-cinema.

No sex appeal from Mona...

As quoted from David Laderman’s book Driving Visions “Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter.?

Vagabond embraces the cinematic techniques and narrative structure of a feminist counter-cinema film through its disruption of the male gaze and avoidance of phallocentric capture. As an audience, we are constantly looking at the other characters looking at Mona. We, like the others, are trying to figure out Mona and find ourselves much less interested in sexualizing her.

To avoid creating a male gaze, Varda is extremely careful in the treatment of Mona as a sexual being, both in her relationships with others and in her physical appearance. When the film opens Mona is bathing in the ocean and men are watching her from the road. The camera focuses on these men and their dialogue keeping Mona at a distance preventing her naked body from being seen. In a later scene Mona is raped by a mechanic and Varda prevents us from seeing Mona. All we see is her hand as she closes up her tent. Instead we are focused on the mechanic zipping up his pants and walking away. In another scene following her rape we see Mona get attacked by a man in the woods. The camera protects us from sexualizing Mona by panning away from her and the man toward the trees in front of them. Even though Mona’s relationships are important, Varda uses Mona’s physical appearance to fully disrupt the male gaze. From the clothes Mona wears to her looks the audience struggles to find any sexual desire for her. The lack of sex appeal for Mona is made most clear in the scene where Mona and the professor sit across from one another at a restaurant. The professor has manicured and painted finger nails, neat hair, makeup and jewelry. Mona has dirty nails, messed hair, and wears no makeup or jewelry. Even in death we see Mona’s face and clothes stained by grapes, and her hair in a greasy mess.

The phallocentric nature of the film is avoided by the role of the automobile and the ability of Mona to lead the action and be treated as an equal. The automobile, a popular phallocentric symbol, is not relied upon in this film. In the scenes where Mona is in an automobile it is being driven by a woman (either the professor or Yolande). Any action or travel in this film is initiated by Mona. During her travel from place to place she is treated as an equal. First, when she stops to stay with a farm family and we watch her sit across the table from the farmer having a conversation while the camera moves back and forth between the two. The second good example of equal treatment is when she works with Assoun who offers to split what he makes with her if she joins him trimming grape vines.

Using these techniques Varda is able to prevent the sexualizing of her main character and establish a counter-cinema film.

Mona the Vagabond

"With the alienated and alienating Mona, the film disrupts the classical structure of the look and narrative because she refuses that place culturally assigned to the woman. Even though her masquerade is undermined at the end, she does not return to society, choosing instead to return to the land." (692 Hottel).

The film Vagabond by Varda we are introduced to a different female lead. While men throughout the film find Mona attractive and make mentions of her physical appeal she is quite different than the typical woman objectified by the male gaze. Not one point in the film is there any scene in which Mona does not have her clothes on. Where the film could have gone the route in showing her body, it chose to keep on the track of having her covered, opposing the overused sex object.

We do encounter a scene in which Mona is attacked in the woods which plays into male domination. However, she does not ever stay with a man which provides her with great independence and a tough exterior. Though she is dependent on others to give her food and at times shelter/work, she always ends up on her own continuing her journey on the road.

Her death is interesting in the film. As the quote above states, Mona does not give in in the end and leaves her body with the land. Mona's journey was about her not conforming to mainstream society. While she could have stayed in one place and kept a job, she chose to continue her vagrant life on her own. Her death could be seen as her "punishment" for not conforming. She took to the road, but the road gets her in the end. It consumes her much to the point of exhaustion. Mona having already lived a life of conformity clearly would have understood that it would be easier to leave her journey and find a job and a place to live, but she stuck to her life outside society's standards. She lived and died with the road.

Countering the Male Gaze and Phallocentricism

"...the effect is to unfix the gaze, to render it inoperable. Because there are so many points of view, Mona cannot be caught in any of them. In this criss-crossing of gazes, Mona has already moved on or has not yet arrived. Varda represents this phenomenon visually through the contrasting images of Mona's wanderings and her speculators' immobilism..." (Hayward 288).

In the movie Vegabond, the main character Mona is not followed by the male gaze, nor does she seem to be bound by phallocentricism like some of the women in other movies we have seen. Rather, Mona is an independent, lone woman who feels the need to take her show on the road. The viewer does not know necessarily what she left behind, but the viewers does get to see that wherever she travels, she is playing by her own rules, not by those of the male characters around her. Every stop that Mona made along the way, it was almost as if she was looking for a place to permantely settle, but the minute she was given direction or criticism of her lifestyle, she was on her way again. It was as if she desired to be off the road, but only if she was the one who in charge. The road, in a way, gave Mona her independence from phallocentricism.

The male gaze was also missing from this film. Mona's character was dirty; she never bathed throughout the entire movie. In fact, there were numerous comments from both female and male characters talking about her lack of cleanliness. Mona travelled the road alone. She had nobody to impress, and even if she did, I still do not think she would have washed herself up. I took that as another sign of her independence. The other characters took it as a sign of disgust and no male character really had the desire to 'gaze' at her.

Mona did not follow the typical feminine mold of what a woman is supposed to be and as a result, she was able to rid herself from phallocentricism and the male gaze.

February 16, 2008

Abandoning Omniscience

“[Varda] is seeking comprehension and plans to take the spectator along with her as the camera travels through the winter landscape of Southern France. She sets up her purpose for the film and directly informs us of her intent—to understand something of the nature of this renegade from the Order…At no time, however, does the narrator inform us of the proper interpretation—instead we are left with the enigma of this you woman who refused the constraints of society? (Hottel, Flying through Southern France)

The curiosity the spectator shares with the narrator, a typically omniscient being, during Vagabond embodies the feminist cinematic technique that brings the gaze back into the possession of the female lead. Mona, is a non-normative taking command of her mobility, which unsettles the psyche of those accustomed to a masculine mindset, which seeks to situate and control. The audience cannot understand Mona’s transience, constantly questioning her motives and rebellion. This questioning does not come from a narrator, but through the prodding of those she meets, such as Madame Landier, who asks nothing sexual or exploitative of her. Hottell further explains this:

“Mona’s chosen liberty makes traditionalists uncomfortable—they feel it necessary to deny that her situation was the chosen one.? (Flying)

A typical masculine-driven film would not have allowed Mona’s mobility to have been voluntary, such a decision revolts against the institution of domesticity and stability. Secondly, Mona would never be allowed such absolute control over her mobility. Mona does not rely solely upon the phallocentric modes of transportation, such as automobiles or motorcycles. Instead, Mona often uses her own body to transport herself, using automobiles only when she deems it necessary. Her wandering has no rhyme or reason, not directed or maneuvered by the omniscient (male) hand, and the camera never attempts to shake an answer from her, demands nothing. In this way, the film abandons the male gaze, which seeks to categorize and dominate, opting instead to embrace the perplexing lifestyle of its focus.

Travelin' Thru: Mona As A Disruption Of Phallocentricism

"And yet, surprisingly, the dismal rambling of this apathetic, nihilistic drifter becomes the starting point...for a uniquely polictical criticism of French culture and French national indentity...She passes through the lives of various characters - that is, through a landscape as much social as it is literal - provoking various reactions" (Laderman 266).
In the 1985 film, "Vagabond," Agnes Varda successfully counters the power of the male gaze through the story of Mona, a drifter and hitchhiker in France. This narrative embraces those of feminist counter-culture cinema in that Mona is the driving force behind the movement and action of the film. Unlike "Girl On A Motorcycle," where Rebecca was driven by the male gaze, Mona is driven by herself. Her cause for moving is her own doing, and not a result being objectified and under the permanent gaze of a man. When Mona is living at the goat farm, she is offered a place to live, land to work, but as she is turned off by stability, she doesn't take advantage of this. As the fatherly goat herder attempts to point out her character flaws and make her do something with herself, she calls up the driving force inside her, moving on. This shows that she is in no way captured by the phallocentric world, but rather she is living and moving for herself. There are moments in the film where men objectify Mona's body, but as she does not recieve their male gaze, their objectification falls short and becomes meaningless (example: when some boys are taunting her at the water hose, she flips them the bird and they quickly forget her).

Besides being immune to the gaze of men, Mona's force in this film changes all that it touches, making Mona a social change as well. Her drifting takes her to many different places, and in turn she encouters all levels of social class: from sleeping with goats to drinking brandy in a mansion. As she encoutners each status, she touches the person she is with. Yolande was the most noticable touched by Mona. Mona's stealing of private property from the house Yolande works in ultimately caused her termination in the social sense. However, Mona also touched Yolande in a personal way, making her realize that her boyfriend is a shit, that she wants the kind of love she imagined when she saw Mona and her current man sleeping together. Yolande's life is one of many examples in which Mona's mere presence changed lives and outlooks. In doing this, Varda gives Mona a power greater than phallocentricism and cultural precedents, she gives her the power to touch and to continue to move. Giving this power to a woman is a sure mark of feminist counter-cinema as she has the power to touch, change, and abolish the power of the male gaze and objectivity, at least when it comes to her own body. This is illustrated further in Yolande's realization that her boyfriend is an asshole. As Mona, a walking disruption to the male gaze, is able to deobjectify herself, so Yolande is able to take some steps toward deobjectification in realizing that what she has is not what she wants. Overall, by making Mona a power in so many people's lives, and by giving her the power to move when SHE feels, Varda gives power to the female body, disrupting the make gaze and creating feminist counter-cinema.

Vagabond

After reading the David Laderman chapter he talks about how road films in the U.S. are different from films in Europe. I've always enjoyed foreign films more than American film, but was never sure why. Upon reading his words I recognized that we do indeed have different perspectives. These differing perspectives create better/worse films. Of course this is only my opinion.

Mona was a woman who wanted a different life, so she went out on the road. She was happy with the way she lived even though she didn't have much. The men around her saw her many times as vulnerable ad rarely took advantage of her. In American cinema, I feel there would have been many more sexual advances toward her. This film took a look at the vagabond lifestyle and how she had to survive. It was a narrative of her life, and not much more. Some subtle hints were intertwined to let us know, even though we already did, that she was going to die in the end. One example of this was " when they die, think of me", she said this when referring to the sick trees.

Personally, I enjoy European/foreign cinema more because of the narrative, the way it is artfully put together and the different viewpoints. American Indie films also have the same feel to them.

February 15, 2008

Tracking shots, female voices, and the woman

“With the alienated and alienating Mona, the film (The Vegabond) disrupts the classical structures of the look and narrative because she refuses that place culturally assigned to the woman? (Hottell). One of Hottell’s closing statements explains Varda’s approach to a feminist counter-cinema film. Varda uses the narrative, the camera, and voice-over to disrupt the power of the male gaze and the phallocentric capture of a woman as an object and to-be-looked at. By creating a story about a solo traveling woman who never bathes shields Mona from the male gaze and being an object to-be-looked at. Covered in dirt and stench, Varda creates character that doesn’t care to-be-looked at thus not drawing the male to gaze at her. Varda uses the camera to show Mona’s travels, the spaces she passes through, and the people she meets. Only at the beginning, when Mona arrives from the sea, does the camera objectify her. Mona is never framed or looked at secretly through a window by a male gazer. Many tracking shots limit the about of frames solely on Mona. This limits the amount of time spent of framing the female body, thus allowing for more emphasis on the narrative and ideals of the character herself. By framing the story at the beginning of the movie, Varda herself in a voice-over, explains what will happen in the film. The use of a female voice removes the phallocentric element that most films posses. The use of the tracking shot, female voice-over, and almost no objectification of Mona with the camera Varda creates a feminist counter-cinema film the disrupts the power of the male gaze and phallocentrism.

Unfixing of the male gaze

The representation of this experience- through a series of flashbacks which, at times even, become imbricated-is instance it causes a disengagement from the story- thus preventing it from becoming an ideological fil about vagrancy...(it becomes a film about) the effect to unfix the gaze and to render it imoperable. Because there are so many points of view, Mona cannot be caught in any of them.- Hayward 287-88

The film Vagabond is still a film of rebellion, even more so then Easy Rider and Girl on a Motorcycle that claim to be rebellious but do not show it through cinematic technique. Those flim's center around the American fetishism of sex, and mobility and excitement of a vehicle. Easy Rider and Girl on a Motorcycle have the same linear movement from start to finish, looking for an answer, not being fulfilled and end in tragedy. Vagabond is a film that not only claims to be rebellious by it's plot and character's words but also in actions, filming in un-linear sequence, and less valorization of the main character, Mona (who becomes of of an anti-hero). In this film there is not much meaning in the quest, expect when Mona mentions that she does not want to be a secretary and more and found that unfulfilling. The narrative doesn't answer many questions, moves backward from a death scene in the beginning, and leaves the view to fill in the voided areas and unanswered questions. This film wasn't necessarily and film to find out who this girl was and what he life was like before. It was more of a French cultural critique and statement that even if you seem to be free, really you are not if you cannot provide shelter, water, and food for yourself.
The male gaze is unfixed in this film by not having a beautiful main character submsive to male desires. Although Mona is shown with out clothing and raped, she is not fetishized like Rebecca in Girl on a Motorcycle. Unlike Rebecca who's goal is to find her new man wearing tight clothing being transported on a gift from him Mona is her own independant self. She is not looking for acceptance and doesn't have a goal in mind at all. She is a dirty, unattractive wanderer that doesn't have a male companion, male goal, or male desire. There is no pleasure that comes from looking at Mona, and this is what disrupts the scopophillia. She is not passive and pretty. She is ugly, independant, and unmotivated to be anything else the a homeless slob.

Vagabond as Counter-Cinema

The European road movie grounds the meaning of the quest…
(Laderman 248)

The film, Vagabond, embraces a narrative structure of a feminist counter-cinema through the differences it portrays when compared to an American road film. The first instance in the film when this occurs is when Mona is walking out of the sea after bathing. In an American film she would have probably been looked at as an object for the male to gaze upon for his own pleasure, but this film simply notes her presence in the background of the scene while the main focus is on the men on the motorcycle in the foreground. Another example is the reason why Mona is on the road in the first place. As she sets off on her journey there is no real way for the audience to determine where or why she is going. IN no way has she been forced to travel in the first place and the feeling of escapism is no where to be found as it would be in an American road film. This takes away from the male gaze by placing Mona in a role that more closely represents a role that a male character would possess. She talks and acts as a male would if he were to be in her situation, causing her to be undesirable through her dirty appearance and violent actions. Mona also takes on the role of a male through her interactions with others. Instead of being in situations in which she needs to be rescued or saved, she is constantly in some position of power, which weakens the phallocentricism of the film. In most situations she is the character to initiate the action instead of having the action initiated upon her. She is able to find her own ride on the side of the road, she rolls her own weed, and she ultimately determines when and where she wants to go. Her ability to be on her own and determine her own outcome is enough to take the gaze away from her breasts or her behind and to focus it more on the meaning of her journey as a whole.

February 14, 2008

Vagabond and Counter-Cinema

As put by David Laderman,

“Vagabond features a Road Woman – perhaps the genre’s first serious queen of the Road?

Within Agnes Varda’s landmark feminist critique film Vagabond (Sans toit ni loi) there are various elements that embrace the cinematic techniques and narrative structure of a feminist counter-cinema film. At the start of the picture, it seems that, like most films, the look will be primarily from the male perspective with Mona emerging from the sea in a silhouetted light of the day that seems to embrace the phallocentric view of men. However, from that point on, the film begins to disrupt the power of the male gaze by having Mona reject the phallocentric dominance of men over women through her look, body language, actions, and dialogue. One of the most pronounced actions of Mona is her ability to initiate most actions; begging for rides, asking for water, and beginning the look between herself and other people, specifically male. Throughout the film Mona is the one to initiate a gaze between her and a male, being the one to stare down the image of another, instead of having it be the other way around. In addition, with certain people, Mona rejects the attention and gaze others may give to her through her body language and sudden shift of attention, such as when she enters a local diner and begins a gaze at a young man, but as soon as he reciprocates the gaze back, leaves him to ponder at the bar. With relevance to rejecting a certain gaze within the film, Mona also formulates the narrative structure of a feminist counter-cinema by being the main force to drive and facilitate the plot. Mona does not answer to anyone but herself, and only for brief moments does a male have a link to the drive and survival of her life. David Laderman’s description of Vagabond is dead on; Mona fits at the first queen of the road.

Vegabond...feminist counter cinema

"-to show how her filth is accrued and her clothing diminished; and the last memorable trace on her body, the red stains, is the last to receive elucidation (Hayward, French Film)." Firstly, the way in which Mona is dead lying in the ditch does not display any form of sexual desire like the deaths of most women in films so that even in her death a woman must resume beauty. Further, Vegabond does not place specific attention to images such as the male gaze so that we as the viewers may see and create our own meaning and visions rather than be forced to think in one narrow way that the film creator tries to shove down our throats as feminist Jutta Bruckner was saying in the same article. The women's beauty are not overtly stressed so much and even when Dr. Landier is shown partially nude in the bath tub the scene does not seem overly sexualized but completely normal. I do however find it not suprising that the only nudity we saw was that of a woman which perhaps was to prove a point. Although many of the men who had run into her along the road had talked of her as though she was rather beautiful her image and way of dress did not stress any particular body parts that a man didn't have as well such as her hair and eyes. When the men spoke of her it was more the fact that she was a female loner that excited them. The main character Mona in this film was portrayed much differently than the woman on a motorcycle. Also, to go along with not only the images of Mona but her attitude and the scene where she spits out of the camper and other scene where she keeps rubbing the snot from her nose with her sleeve do not follow the gender norms of a patriarchal society.

February 13, 2008

Creating Counter-Cinema Instructions

In what ways is “Vagabond? a film that embraces the cinematic techniques and narrative structure of a feminist counter-cinema -- disrupting the power of the male gaze and the phallocentric capture of woman as object to-be-looked at? (Start your blog entry with a quote from the readings.)

Girl on a motorcycle

The one line that stuck out to me in the description for this blog is the one about the male gaze in this film and it got me thinking for quite some time. After contemplating this idea for quite some time I realized that everything she did was predetermined by some sort of male influence, everything. SHe has her dad, Robert and Daniel. The only other thing she seems to love in the world besides her perception from male rolls is her motorcycle. I would argue that this love, too, was merely a love as a result of male influence. It's her Daniel when Daniel isn't there. It's her memories of Daniel. She's had that motorcycle for at least a couple weeks when her journey takes place and not one of her flashbacks were by herself on her first ride on it or the first time she showed her friends. The only flashback of the motorcycle was when she arrived at Daniel's. This film is liberating only in the fact that she has the freedom to choose which guy she feels as though she wants to sleep with. I would argue, though, that even this is not freedom, but rather entrapment. She wishes every time she goes to see Daniel that she didn't have to go back. She at one point says, "This is the last time I'm coming here." to Daniel's response of "I'll give you 10 days." This is not a liberation film, rather a film about a women who is desperate for male attention.

February 12, 2008

Brainwashed in Love

In “Woman on a Motorcycle,? the main character Rebecca is viewed through the lens of the camera with the eyes of a man. In the first opening scene, she is stripped nude of her clothes under the powerful whip of Daniel, her controlling lover in her dream. Her body is captured with the male gaze through the doorway of her closet prior to her wild adventure on her motorcycle, illustrating the “peeping tom? used for the male viewers’ enjoyment. Rebecca’s entire pursuit of her independent adventure is ironically fueled by her dependence on a male, whom she cannot go living without. Rebecca views are not independent, but in accordance with Daniel’s views. Every narrative throughout the film is driven by Daniel’s view and questioning his approval of any act she commits. It is as if Rebecca has been brainwashed by Daniel and aware of her inferior position stating, “Daniel treats me like a slave.? She is openly aware of her dependence and allows Daniel to know his controlling effect on her, allowing herself to be extremely vulnerable to a man. The first encounter between Daniel and Rebecca was rape and ultimately about Daniel’s control over Rebecca. His control is what fuels his affection for Rebecca. Her intimacy with Daniel leaves Rebecca aware that she “has no identity.? Though she realizes her state with Daniel, she longs for her visits to him and is like a puppy dog begging for affection. “The way you taught me to drink, Daniel.? She is unable to be independent of constant thoughts of Daniel and opportunities to showcase his teachings that she has acquired. Her one independent tool is the motorcycle. Yet, this mode of transportation that she feels is her freedom is ultimately plagued with the thought of her lover and her undying need for him. Every action and thought Rebecca possesses is ultimately a longing for acceptance and love from a man who only sees her as an object of “free love.? Rebecca’s fetishism with her motorcycle represents her obsession with Daniel. The motorcycle was a gift to Rebecca trapping her forever in her love for Daniel. It is with this fetishism which was ironically meant to free her from her everyday life and into Daniel’s refuge that brings her to her ultimate escape, death.

Let's Get Sexy!

In Laura Mulvey's essay, she writes how the average cinematic woman is "isolated, glamorous, on display, sexualised." She continues on to discuss how the "show-girl connotations" in the beginning of a typical linear-plot film morph and are refocused onto the singular entity of the male protagonist. This focus enables him and hands him the power. After watching The Girl on a Motorcycle, it became apparent that this theory was tweaked but still upheld in order to keep the male spectator's role intact. Chronologically speaking, Rebecca starts off as a young, bow-in-the-hair Daddy's girl. We see a prime example of this when she does not share a room with her boyfriend Raymond as they holiday together in the mountains. However, as her affair with Daniel blossoms, so does her glamorous sexuality. She loses her modest skirts and high-necked sweaters for skin-tight leather. By containing yet giving the world a sneak peak at her womanly figure, she is fulfilling the male spectator's fantasy. This is taken even further by inserting a very masculine/testosterone associated piece of machinery between her thighs. As our "liberated heroine" rides off to her eventual death, she makes us feel that her identity is completed by Daniel. She fancies herself as his slave and thus brands herself with that individuality. Her husband Raymond, on the other hand, gives her personal choice on a number of different topics. She dismisses this opportunity to create her identity by becoming, in her own words, "a bitch." Instead she extends herself into the role of sex-slave Goddess and eventually ends up with a lot less than she began with.

The Male Gaze in "Girl on a Motorcycle"

In Girl on a Motorcycle, the motivation for the entire story is the motorcycle. The motorcycle itself is introduced into the story as a phallic object, I think Rebecca describes it as "strong" and "fast". She even refers to it as a "he". This occurs at the beginning of the film and because of this, all plot motivation from then on out stems from a very phallocentric base, the motorcycle. We are continually remimded that it is not normal for a woman to be riding a "man's machine". It is important that she receives the motorcycle as a gift from her lover, Daniel, because she quite obviously treats the motorcycle as she would treat her lover. The motorcycle essentially takes hold of her as she rides it and she is not the one in control. Besides the motorcycle being the motivation for the plot, Marianne Faithfull's female body is constantly being fetishized. From the first scene when she gets up naked and zips up a skin tight body suit as the camera does the classic pan up the body shot, objectifying her body in a way that turns it iinto a sex object (and not by any means as a site of liberation). All of the shots of highly sexualized sections of her body (always shown while she is straddling the motorcycle) work to separate her into different pieces or objects of sexual desire. These different shots do not allow for one, whole cohesive body that can be understood as a person. She can only be understood in terms of her different, sexualized body parts. All of these points speak to an underlying phallocentrism in the film that very clearly marks sexual difference. The female is objectified while the male is given power. The one man in the film who does not objectify Rebecca is "not man enough" while the one that does-- she keeps crawling back to.

February 11, 2008

The Male Gaze

Girl on a Motorcycle attempts to liberate women from oppression by introducing them to life on the open road, a road built around men. Phallocentrism floods the film, with shots of girl on the motorcycle, girl naked under sexy motorcycle suit, girl bored with gentle lover who never takes charge of her, girl in love with man who shows no promise, offering instead mystery and adventure—just like the open road.

Liberation in Girl on Motorcyle means freedom from womanhood and assuming a masculine identity. Freedom is interpreted as masculinity, the vehicle that empowers Faithfull. Even if taking on a more masculine identity was magically liberating for women, constantly casting women in domestic situations prior to their liberation further oppresses them. When Faithfull isn’t throttling the motorcycle on the open road, she ties up her hair and shelves books at her father’s store. In some scenes, Faithfull’s mystery man gets permission from her father to take an adventure, which pa deems a good cure for his daughter.

On the open road, women have two choices: they can stay domestic, or they can take it like a man. Unlike the road, with limitless possibilities, women are given narrow options for reaching their destination in Girl on a Motorcycle, making viewers wonder why Faithfull would ever bother taking the journey.

For fun, here's a video of Faithfull--dressed like a nun--performing "I Got You Babe" with David Bowie:

The "Freedom" of the Road

"Girl on a Motorcycle" is clearly not a liberating film for women. The main character DOES get to be the driver of a very masculine piece of machinery, and in a very basic sense she is "in control" on the road. She gets to control her speed, her destination - problem is, the bike was given to her by a man. A man who voyeuristically chose her as his prey, raped her, bound her to him physically and psychologically, and treated her with no respect in return for the personal sacrifices she was making of her body and her marriage. The motorcycle superficially gave her the phallus, but it was really only loaned to her by her lover Daniel and her control was limited.

One thing I found interesting stylistically about the film was the difference in camera shots ('the Male gaze') when compared to Easy Rider. When the two men, Billy and Wyatt, were on their bikes, the shots were large panning views of the wild west and the nature around them, with the men looking very manly and powerful on their bikes. When Rebecca took to the road, the shots were of her rear end, bound tightly in leather and perched on the seat. There were also fewer shots of her from the side; most of the camera work was done of her face, with her glazed-over eyes, the "I'm so in love and thinking about my lover" look plastered on her face. There were many not-so-subtle shots representing the phallus in its sexual act - the gas station attendant slowly sliding the gas spout into the motorcycle, the apparatus itself extending from between her legs when she drove, etc.

Also not liberating about this film: 1) though she was 'in control' and behaving like a 'rebel,' Rebecca wore a helmet. She was constrained from total freedom even while on top of her own bike.
2) Rebecca constantly had to fear that the border guards would inappropriately touch her or make comments to her - and relied on her husband to pay for the gas.

Girl on a Motorcycle

It seemed promising but turns out, Girl on a Motorcycle is just another example of a film filled with phallocentrism, fetishism, and the male gaze. Like Easy Rider, the main character is placed upon a motorcycle on the open road. Unlike Easy Rider, the driver is sexualized and degraded. For Wyatt and Billy, intamacy with the road provides liberation. For Rebecca, a false sense of liberation. She repeatedly refers to herself as "stupid" and "silly" revealing that, in fact, she is not in control or liberated. She is controlled by the men in her life. For example when she tells Raymond that he "ought to tell [her] to shut up and tell [her] what to do." Also, that her thoughts center around Daniel... he is always in control of the relationship: SHE always makes the journey to see HIM and can never get him to commit. There are numerous examples of the male gaze, fetishism, and phallocentrism in this film. The movie is meant to appeal to a heterosexual man. Rebecca is the focus of this gaze. There were countless examples of phallocentrism including the not so subtle sexual inuendos (the gas pump going into the tank, twisting of the throttle). Fetishism was also present for example during her dream, Rebeccca's clothes are whipped off her her body in S&M fashion and she as she dresses she says "skin... mmm... I'm like an animal." It's called GIRL on a Motorcycle for a reason. Rebecca is not free. She is naive and submissive like a young girl... the ultimate victim of the male gaze.

Phallocentrism and the Male Gaze

“Sometimes it’s instinct to fly,? Marianne Faithfull’s seemingly rebellious Rebecca thinks aloud at the beginning of Girl On A Motorcycle. “I’m not going to feel guilty!? Finally, you think, the 1960s sex kitten prototype gets her just desserts! How can this film NOT be liberating? It wasn’t often during that era that a restless housewife was given screen time to abandon her dead-end marriage and indulge her need for speed. In between threats that she’ll “turn [herself] on? and that “Rebellion’s the only thing that keeps you alive!? mantra, we appear to be off to a great start. That is, until you learn where this leather-clad lady’s only road leads—yep, to a guy. An aggressive, borderline abusive jerk who clearly has no interest in Rebecca beyond having sex with her. We first learn this when he—get ready—rapes her in her ski lodge hotel room while her fiancée sleeps soundly a skip away. When our heroine starts musing that she “comes to life? when with him and that she knows her body is all he cares about, it suddenly feels like we’ve taken a very wrong turn indeed.

Ultimately, Girl On A Motorcycle depicts a woman manipulated, degraded and, eventually, destroyed by phallocentricity—it is in no way a liberating portrait of sexual freedom or personal independence (especially from the opposite sex). The film is shot completely with a male gaze in mind, turning Rebecca into a subordinate object to be cornered and gawked at. There’s T & A galore as she dons a leather catsuit (with, naturally, nothing on underneath), straddles her motorcycle from all angles, lets her breasts fall out, and has oodles of rigorous extramarital sex. Even when she’s not shown in flesh-and-blood form, Girl On A Motorcycle gives us shots of a gas pump slowly easing into her bike’s tank to keep things "sexy". I also found one student’s mention of the border scene totally accurate: her liberty must be given permission, but not before the patrolmen have had their eyeful. She must sit and be sexually scrutinized before freedom can be attained. By the film’s grim but predictable ending, even Rebecca’s motorcycle, a vehicle so still so uncommon for women to control, feels like another tool of oppression, a phallus she deems “he? and must ride to “find herself.? Rebecca needs men to shape her identity—we all know one. Throughout this whole movie, I couldn’t help but think of a close friend of mine who constantly adopts the habits of and makes excuses for the asshole guys she falls way too hard and way too fast for. Her conclusive death, to me, is not positive or liberating in any way—it simply reinforces the film’s central concept that all women will inevitably be punished for their independence.

Well... at least she's driving

The film Girl on a Motorcycle does create a new physical position for women; the woman can now sit in the driver's position or seat. However, the work is restricted by phallocentrism and by the male gaze. The female progtagonist is caught between two men: Daniel and Raymond. The whole of her personal story in the film revolves around her relationship with her husband and her love affair with Daniel.

Girl on a Motorcycle reveals this Male Gaze in several scenes. For example, when the woman passes from France into Germany (in her dream or memory), we watch her be uncomfortably be touched by man at the border. Here a male spectator would watch the male character in the film touch the female character in a sexual way.

Although this work may be liberating on one hand for the woman as she becomes the driver and protagonist of the plot, it is all controlled by what actually occurs in the story line. The viewer is alloted a shot of the female breasts several times, and we see a shot of her clevage while she zips up her suit she is going to wear while riding her motorcycle. She even says "I'm like an animal", which is a dehumanizing statement to herself. When she puts on the suit, she is no longer a woman but an animal; Keep in mind that she is going to do a very "un-feminine" thing by going on this journey for sexual pleasure and "love". The woman believes she is in love with the man who raped her while on a vacation with her husband. The fact that the film doesn't reveal how a woman could be hurt by becoming a rape victim (or being felt up by a border patrol officer) sends the message that woman are only bodies. Lastly, we see phallocentrism quite literally when the woman has gas put into her motorcycle. The nozzle enteringthe gas tank is a direct association to heterosexual intercourse.

Overall, at least she's driving.

Girl on a Motorcycle

Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive!
said Rebecca

At first glance, Girl on a Motorcycle seems to be a liberating film for all women. A woman finally takes control of the wheel. Rebecca could be an inspiration to women everywhere. However, her character and the male figures in her life allow her to do the exact opposite of that. Throughout the entire movie Rebecca is completely controlled by men: her father, her husband, and finally her lover. Even though she does have a motorcycle and considers herself so alive and rebellious for taking trips to see her lover, Rebecca is trapped by the motorcycle. It was a gift given to her from her lover and she cannot refuse to go and see him. The men in her life have her trapped because she simply cannot handle the independence her life would have without their security and control. Rebecca said,

He never give me an identity, he never even says I'm pretty.
This shows that Rebecca seeks approval from men and is not comfortable without them in her life. At the end of the film, the motorcycle is burning up in flames. This shows the failure and eventual death of Rebecca. She was never going to change her ways and her death was almost expected when she would drive so carelessly and life her life with no self-respect.

The male gaze throughout the film is very evident. In fact, that too Rebecca is comfortable with. She expects men to look at her. During the gas station scene, the bar scene, and when she is crossing the border men are constantly looking at her in a sexual way. It is expected and not seen as disrespectful through Rebecca's eyes. She finds in almost flattering. This again shows that Rebecca relies on men for their approval. She doesn't feel confident in herself without their 'gaze' of approval. For all these reasons, Girl on a Motorcycle is definitely not a liberating film for Rebecca or any other women.

Phallocentrism At Its Finest

Girl on a Motorcycle was anything but liberating for a woman. The film, although possibly innovative in its time, was strongly focused around phallocentrism and the male gaze. Phallocentrism is when men are the focal point throughout a production. They have the power and are superior to all others. It is very assuming that this film is based around phallocentrism. This can be seen in almost every production as far back as ancient Greek theatre. Men are superior, while women are put on the back burner for show. Rebecca, the girl on the motorcycle, was controlled and obsessed with men. Instead of being liberated throughout the movie, she because obsessed with the males in the production. Everything Rebecca stood for in this film revolved around a male's visions, thoughts, demands, etc. The narrative is Rebecca’s voice and she is constantly discussing her disgust and love for men. While focusing on men throughout the narrative, we also see Rebecca through the male gaze as an object or possession for the male role.

Male gaze was used throughout this movie and caused Rebecca to be thought of as an object. There would be certain conversations that Rebecca would use her physical beauty to get her way. When Rebecca got gasoline in the beginning of the film was a crucial point to show that men saw her as nothing more than a prize. The film would take very specific shots of her breasts or her buttocks, while a man would slightly caress it. The male gaze helps to show that this film is based on the entertainment of men but it also shows Rebecca as a possession. She does not seem intelligent, or witty, or fun in this film because of her constant thought of men. Her point in the film is to be Daniel's love object, and nothing more. While watching this movie, you can get frustrated with Rebecca's actions. Her thoughts of obsession over Daniel make the audience think that she deserves nothing. I feel that this type of film was the first to show women as an independent, yet unsuccessful at it. She is so adamant about being Daniel’s partner that she ends up dying in the film. This obsession shows the need for men in society because without their assistance woman would not be able to survive. This is an ultimate phalli centered thought and achievement for men. This also makes this film one of the least liberating films I have seen.

In the interview of Marianne Faithful, she discusses being a love object of Mick Jagger. Basically she was a toy and nothing more. Rebecca and Marianne could be comparable to show that women were thought of as inferior objects during the 60s. These women felt that they had no other choice but to be controlled and not really loved. Rebecca is made into a rebel at the time and if we are to watch this film, it makes the rebel seem like a horrible role to have.

"Love is a feeling, so is a toothache" is a phrase that Daniel says to Rebecca. This phrase will stick in my head forever in this movie because it shows the superiority and power the phalli have over women and the world in this movie.

The Male Gaze

Despite the efforts made by the filmmakers of Girl on a Motorcyle to be progressive and liberating for women, the film seems to achieve the exact opposite goal, by oppressing women as sexual objects. The film presents the ideology of the male gaze, in which the female is viewed as a sexual object and subject for the viewing pleasure of men. As writer Laura Mulvey states in regards to the male gaze, "Each is associated with a look: that of the spectator in direct scopophilic contact with female form displayed for his enjoyment (connoting male fantasy)"... (p.42). This is quite evident throughout the film as the main character, Rebecca, is shown wearing seductive clothing, riding the motorcyle (phallic symbol) seductively, on her way to win the man she thinks she loves. Though she is leaving her husband and liberating herself, Rebecca is merely leaving the "oppressed" lifestlye of marriage, to the "oppressed" lifestyle of trying to please a man that will never fully love her. She is constantly trying to please men throughout this film, and once she finally is able to leave both of them at the end, she ends up dying in an accident. This death symbolizes punishment for her as a woman leaving men, and as a woman attempting to be free. Rebecca is far from being liberated in this film, as she is the object of the male gaze, and ultimately dies as a result of her rebellious ways. She is viewed as a threatening and dangerous woman who ultimately must die.

Liberation?

Throughout the film Girl on a Motorcycle, Rebecca is supposed to be seen as an adventurous, woman taking control of her life. However, she is solely dependant on men and seen as a sex object during the film's entirety. She starts out living with her father, then moves on to her fiance, and then under the power of her lover. The scene at the border is very poignant too because there she must receive permission to cross and waits under sexually scrutinizing eyes until the border patrol men have had their fill. Her body is a central image and in close up is framed in a very sexually revealing way that objectifies her as just that, a body. Initially, the film tries to portray Rebecca as powerful, but with every male interaction in the film, she is made into a spectacle and castrated because all her power is essentially taken away. I think that the film was supposed to be liberating in that Rebecca is a woman who drives her own motorcycle and that she does what she wants in the aspects respecting(or not respecting in her case) her husband. However, the film fails because she becomes sickly infatuated with a man who has no respect for her, and that is where her freedom is lost and in no way could Rebecca ever be liberated from underneath the male dominance seen throughout the film through the penetrating male gaze.

February 10, 2008

"Girl" on a motorcycle

Well, after going through the readings and viewing the movie a few new concepts were brought up, one being voyeurism and the other phallocentrism. The female character is degraded in many ways which we will discuss here.

The first way I noticed that she was degraded was by the way she was filmed. It was obvious from the time she puts on her leather pantsuit without clothes on underneath (oh how tantalizing for men!) and the way her breasts are shown as she zips it up, that she is an object. In the scenes with her lover, she is portrayed as emotional and a stereotypical female, except for the fact that she is mostly with him for sex. She later syas though "you would never have me, would you?" Which hints at the stereotypical female "need" for commitment. So although in some ways this film could be sen as putting a woman in control of her life, she is still portrayed as weak, and inferior. She is inferior because she does not posses the phallus. Although seen as sexy, and a little bit out of control, and because of this maybe a bit threatening, she is sentenced to death by flames in the end.

Now for voyeurism, this was interesting because I had never heard the word before. I just have heard "peeping-tom" and in this film there was much opportunity for peeping. The scenes by the window, kissing by the cabin/shed in the snow where they could be caught. There are multitudes of examples, but the way everyone is filmed you feel like you are peeking in on something a bit naughty.

If this film was supposed to be liberating for women, I disagree on that. The only part that was liberating at all was the fact that she was taking control of her happiness when she could by traveling on her motorcycle. The lesson in the end though is pretty obvious so her freedom is later negated and show as a big no-no.

The Male Gaze

In the film Girl on a Motorcycle, the maze gaze and phallocentrism are present throughout the entire film from beginning to end. Indeed the title of the film itself indicates male dominance. Rather than a "woman" on a motorcycle, the director chooses to use the word "girl" instead. This takes away power from the main character, Rebecca, and makes her more passive and seem childish even before the film starts. Girl on a Motorcycle is filmed from the male gaze. The voyeurism in the film can be seen by the many close-ups of Rebecca's body and the focus of just certain body parts. With this kind of camera work it takes Rebecca and turns her into an object rather than a whole person. This takes away power from her and puts it in the hands of the male characters in the film and it is for the enjoyment of the male viewers as well. While this film may seem liberating for women in the sense that a woman is taking control of her life and choosing to spend it with another man and choosing the way in which she displays and uses her body, I would argue that the control she thinks she has is in fact in the hands of the male characters. Rebecca is not drawn to the man that gives her freedom and her own control, she is drawn to the man, Daniel, that controls her and tells her what to do. Throughout the film Daniel controls her actions and inevitably narrates her life.

Unlike Easy Rider, the road in this particular film is not freeing to the main character. For Rebecca, the road only goes in one direction - to Daniel. The road is not a symbol of female freedom as the road that surrounds Rebecca is completely filled with only men and the male gaze. Whether this gaze is from male characters she encounters on the road or her thoughts about men while she is on her bike, the male gaze is always around her and controlling her actions and decisions. Her happiness and desires in life revolve around men and the male gaze. This film is definitely not liberating for women.

Object on a Motorcycle

This movie deceptively tries to show the agency and feedom of a woman taking to the road and embracing her sexual self, however, the overwhelming presence of the "male gaze" and the phallocentric narrative negates any understanding of female control and liberation. Throughout the film, Rebecca (both by the cinemetography and narrative) is manipulated and degraded by phallocentricity. Her motorcycle takes on a male identity and is used to control her narrative and sexuality throughout the film. The bike, the men she encounters, the dialogue, the camera angles and her inaction/reaction to these things enforces her role as an object and not an actor/agent. The camera focuses only on rebecca's body and desirability and the script reads like a male fantasy novel. Lines like "you ought to tell me to shut up and do what you want to do" and "if you weren't so reasonable I wouldn't be such a bitch" reiterates Rebecca's male centered dialogue and obejectification.

Some of my classmates have understood the end (rebecca's death) to be the only positive action in the film. It is my opinion that the end only reinforces the phallocentricity of the film by depicting an out-of-control sexual woman, thus reiterating an assumption that anglo women must be asexual and suboordinate to be considered worthy of success and happiness. This movie was disturbing to me as it did the opposite of being liberating to women during a time that was so full of feminist action and progressive thought. Perhaps it was used as a counter attack against the feminist movement itself.

Woman entangled in patriarchy and phallocentrism

Laura Kaplan is right to say that

Voyeurism and fetishism are mechanisms the dominant cinema uses to construct the male spectator in accordance with the needs of his unconscious
(120). These two mechanisms are main ways that phallocentrism and the male gaze are maintained throughout the film Girl on a Motorcycle. From beginning to end the protagonist is objectified, fetishized and kept under explicit control by a variety of men (i.e. her father and lover). This film is not liberating for women. The form and content of the film is sexist and belittling to women. For example, Rebecca is constantly framed by the camera in eroticized ways, like breast shots. She even rides to see her lover with nothing on but a leather motorcycle jumpsuit. Men control the plot and narrative and although she is the main character, Rebecca acts in accordance to degree of control that her lover has over her. Even minor male characters, such as other restaurant patrons, stare at her and demean her by what Kaplan calls the "male gaze" (forcing a look upon someone in order to control them by imposing sexual desires upon the unwilling). Man's unconscious and the power that it has to have a phallus in society are clearly demonstrated in this film by the way men stare and grope Rebecca throughout the film, disempowering her by portraying her as weak and passive. One quote from the film sums it up the immense phallocentrism of the film: "You're right. I am a stupid bitch. Now take me to him my black pimp."

Phallocentrism and the Male Gaze

"Happiness is a word I'm always a little wary of...I prefer to think about peace and comradeship." - Marianne Faithful, What I Know About Men
This quote shows how Marianne defines happiness and how she is happy with somebody. It is ironic that this is how she feels but the she desires and obssesses over is neither peaceful nor a comrade but a playmate who likes to seduce her a occasion. Phallocentrism is shown in this road film because Raymond, the lover, is the phallus and therefore has control of the women. She wasn't satisfied by her own husband, Danny, because he treated her like a queen and never objected to anything she did or said. For example, when she received the motorcycle from Raymond, she asked Danny whether she should keep it. He said she could do whatever she felt was right for her. He always left the decisions up to her, except for when she wanted intimacy, so she hated that. She had the control in the relationship. But Raymond had the male gaze. He looked at her for the pleasure of looking at her physique, not because she was attractive in his eyes. For example, when she was on the ladder in the bookstore. She was somewhat "in one place and harmless" like discussed in the lecture. Raymond gazed at her for his own satisfaction.
To take everything I just mentioned into regard, I don't find that this film is liberating to women. Well, the fact that she was on a motorcycle the whole movie, was a sex difference that women aren't usually seen as doing, was liberating. As for why the woman left, isn't liberating at all. She drove off to the man that is man that women tend to dislike. These are the men that are demanding, afraid of commitment, sex-oriented, and unappreciative. Danny, on the other hand, loved and respected her, wanted her to be happy, and appreciated her but he couldn't satisfy her sexual needs and he was a bit of a push-over. Danny, despite a couple qualities that could be changed, is the man that most women want. I don''t understand why she decided to leave besides to fulfill her desire to be touched. This wasn't liberating for me because I saw that Daniel was clearly the better man for her, but she was stuck on voyuerism, the phallus(Raymond), and being rebellious.

Girl On A Motorcycle

phal·lo·cen·trism
–noun,
a doctrine or belief centered on the phallus, esp. a belief in the superiority of the male sex.

In the film, Girl On A Motorcycle, Rebecca is viewed as a sexual object to man. The film revolves around her on a huge motorcycle, (which is referred to as a "him" throughout the movie), the fact that she is wearing nothing underneath her jumpsuit, and sex. Even though Rebecca is the one driving the motorcycle, it seems as if the motorcycle is really the one in charge. Phallocentrism and the "male gaze" are very clear in this film. Rebecca is outlined by windows and doors from the very beginning of the film and continues to be throughout the entire movie. She dreams of men rubbing up on her and grabbing her and when in reality they don't, she assumes they are queer. Rebecca is always searching for attention and is extremely dependent on her lover. In the beginning of the film, it's as if it will be a liberating experience for Rebecca, but really, she is just looking for approval and attention from Daniel. Definately not a liberating film for women.

Direct and Indirect Male Gaze

Throughout almost all of this film, there is a feeling of male gaze, even at times when Rebecca is the only character in the shots. Because she objectifies her self and takes pleasure in her abusive relationship, even when she isn't under the gaze of a male character, she has thoughts of being the subject of the male gaze. For example, she often has flashbacks and dreams of her in situations where men are looking at her as little more than an object for visual and sexual pleasure. There is also a sense of an "indirect male gaze" in many shots with her riding her motorcycle. While there are no characters in the film watching her, the viewer is provided with shots of her body in her tight leather outfit, as she rides her motorcycle in an overly sexual manner.
If it weren't for the ending of the film, I would almost go as far as to say that this film is the complete opposite of liberating for women and instead is very objectifying in the way that it almost seems to promote the promiscuous and abusive relationship that she is in. In my mind, the ending seems to be saying that living this crazy, abusive, and "free" lifestyle can only end in failure. The director very well could've had her get to her lover's house and discover him gone, but it wouldn't have provided nearly as intense of feelings about her downfall and the type of life she had been living.

Phallocentrism is rampant

Although the main character of the film is a woman the whole film is geared towards a man's point of view. Even from the first scene of the movie most of the shots of the woman are of her body and very close up on her chest or backside. Her motorcycle suit is referred to as being like skin and she continually thinks of the fact that she is wearing nothing underneath it. The motorcycle is large and powerful and sets the woman free and is constantly referred to as male. Even when it is the woman who is making the trip the whole thing is actually about her boyfriend, the man of the story. She is constantly thinking about him and heading towards him. She even says she feels as if she only comes to life when she is with him, as if she lacks something when she is by herself.
This film is in no way liberating for women. She is portrayed as being a sex object with no worth but what the men give her. Multiple times she almost gets into an accident on the road because she is not paying attention which implies she is stupid or air-headed. Her whole world revolves around the man she wants and the man she is stuck with and that in no way liberates her. She is formed and defined by men and that is all her life is.

Whatever, Woman on a Motorcycle is about as Liberating as Easy Rider.

"Men, that is, turn 'the represented figure itself into a fetish so that it becomes reassuring rather than dangerous'."
Laura Mulvey.


Woman on a Motorcycle is easy to understand as very phallocentric film that debases women as objects, and places power with the male spectator, and the technology of power. Indeed the camera work supports Mulvey's claims as it captures images of Marianne Faithfull and codifies them with explicit meanings of sexuality.

No doubt the glances exchanged between all the males in the film and Marianee Faithfull are loaded with a multitude of meaning in themes of domination, and all that blah blah.. but...

To me context needs to be notated with this film to appreciate how liberating the film can be understood.

First, the film takes place in Europe, and considering that most women had gained suffrage in France in the later part of the 1940's, the social roles and expectations of women were (and more than likely still are) different than they are in the US.

Additionally, the interior monologues were written by a woman, Gillian Freeman. Her other writing credits have been for films that have created interesting dialogs regarding sexuality (see I Want What I Want.

Whilst Rebecca's interior monologues may be taken as campy and innocuous, paving the way for future generations of sexually active, image conscious females, who attempt to use their sexuality as a means to obtain power, and respect, there are noticeable paradoxes in Rebecca's monologues. Namely how she recognizes that her sexuality is her undoing, but at the same time her primary motivation. Indeed Rebecca austerely notes "I know my body is all you care about." In which reading the film using Mulvey's theories, which place primacy on the image of the woman, and how those images can be understood. Girl On A Motorcycle does not try to present a liberating image for women because in the context of the film, there is no where for Rebbecca to be free, akin to the struggle of the protagonists in a film that was made a year later, Easy Rider . Yes, Rebecca's nihilism can be seen as immature, and its self destructive qualities may have more resonance when thinking of not Rebecca's death as a personal tragedy, but rather as the only means in which Rebecca could find freedom in such a patriarchal society, a society where Rebecca believes, "I have no identity."

GOM, still for male gaze

As most of the class has agreed, Girl on a Motorcycle is not a liberating film for women and could be dubbed girl orgasming on a motorcycle. I is phalliocentric by centering the main character, Rebecca around a sexual meeting and concentrating many shots in the film around her body, sexual actions, and sexual innuendos (i.e no clothes under jumpsuit) she's a pretty girl in a tight fitting get- up and believes she is "free" and independant when she is actually riding her motorcycle as a substitute for her abusive lover. This movie used various types of voyerism to display the male gaze including the camera filming sex scenes between the cheating lovers and the look between Rebecca and Daniel.

Although Rebecca seems as though she is an active character by going on a trip to see her lover she is overpowered by him during their "love making" he also says that he will lover her and never love anyone...making the decisions in the relationship.

This film is a poor example for womens liberation and only reminds of how many men like to have power and be in control of situations and sex.

Desperate Woman Deserved it....

Not that I am one to say someone deserves to die, however I feel this is the first movie I have ever watched that in the end, I was hoping she would crash that motorcycle. Rebecca is a desperate woman who thinks her motorcycle and big breasts are liberating her, when she is just digging herself into a hole.
Girl on a Motorcycle was anything but liberating for women. Rebecca felt the victim of her circumstances, when she was the one that made things worse for herself. Her husband was nothing but sweet to her, even if she did find him a bit boring, he didn't force this marriage on her - she got herself into this situation. After her sexual encounter with another man at the resort she pushed the marriage on Raymond, He wanted nothing but to make her happy and she continued to make herself miserable and blame him for it.
The "Male Gaze" is heavily used in this film, and Rebecca hopes for such attention. She expects every man she comes across to berate her and see her as a sexual object. In her dreams, the dark skinned border patrol feels her up and talks sexually to her. Then, when she rides through in real life she accuses the attendant of being queer because he does not make a pass at her. Rebecca thinks that she can use her body to get what she wants. And with this affair she feels as though she is liberating herself, while I feel she is doing the exact opposite.
Throughout the movie Rebecca feels she is liberating herself from her husband and her marriage. By waking up in the middle of the night and talking to herself saying, "if only he would wake up I wouldn't go." She blames her adulteress actions on her husband, when in the end I find he did nothing wrong, and does not deserve to be treated this way by her. She seeks liberation and ends up finding herself caught in another man's tangled web. She is not free, she begs for acceptance from Daniel and hopes he will like her and much as she likes him. She "liberates" herself from her husband while letting another man use her as a sexual object.
Liberation does not come to this woman, and death may have been the only thing to release her from the mess she had gotten herself into.

Almost a week late but I hope I didn't blow it.

After reading a few of my fellow students' postings I realized that both implicit and explicit meanings brought forth by Wyatt's prophetic claim. Yes, the fictionalized characters journey comes to a tragic end, and yes, their end can easily be understood as an allusion to the collapse of the optimism of the social rights movements of the 1960's.
While the film has received much recognition not just as great film, but as the archetype for the road film and been regarded in prophetic terms by Klinger as "[partaking in] apocalyptic,disaster-filled predictions of the future of the country" (193). At the same time the film's legacy, cultural resonance, and arguable legitimacy is constantly subverted by the its signifiers being used in an entirely different context from whence they were originally used. For all the counter cultural ideas the film attempts to espouse, they become diluted when one thinks of how many songs on the soundtrack are now used to sell automobiles, motorcycles, and other consumer products.

Furthermore motorcycle culture has gone from being a counter cultural movement, and based on very anticonsumerist principles becomes reincorporated (in the sense Guy Debor would use the term) into the commodity cultural. See: Harley Davidson, Orange County Choppers, et. al. Indeed Klinger's (not to mention many of my fellow student's) observation on the films' romanticized notions of nature, and fronteirism is another concept that has collapsed into a pastiche nostalgia for times that no one remembers.

No Female Liberation

"The Girl On a Motorcycle" tried to present an independent woman on the road- rebellious in nature due to her driving a motorcycle- but she is on the road desperately going toward a man who is clear and blunt about not having feelings for her aside from their sexual encounters. This obviously does not present her in the best light.

Just about every man she faces in the film uses their male gaze toward her. The film is clearly shot with the male gaze with the precise camera shots of her body, and we also only see her naked, not any of the men. There is a hint of her lover's body but it is awkwardly covered by a bouquet of flowers. As a viewer, you can feel the sexual nature of the men's stares, and she is very aware of it as well. In fact, when the boarder patrol does not show interest she assumes he is gay- she is thrown off by not becoming an object through his male gaze and/or touching. She is a sex object, and becomes one through her lover, Daniel. He presents power over her both physically and verbally. Daniel assumes his power beginning with the rape- although she does not put up a fight, she in unaware of who she is sleeping with- and verbally as he speaks to her in a manner of importance over her. For example when she says she is going to stop seeing him he responds, "I give you 10 days." She also says to her husband "You ought to tell me to shut up and tell me what you want to do, " throwing herself further down as a subordinate object.

Furthermore, her motorcycle is the phallocentric object within the film. She has given the motorcycle a male gender when she says "there he is" upon viewing her bike. The motorcycle between her legs acts as her phallus or even just a phallic symbol for the film. There is also the aspect of the sex object while she is at the gas station and the gas pump and the gas tank on the bike are clearly shot to insinuate sex.

Finally, her journey on the road comes to an end through her horrible death suggesting a punishment for her supposed independence and unfaithfulness. This further suggests the fact that this film demeans women rather than promoting sexual freedom and independence of men.

Liberation for Rebecca Only In Death

“Woman on a Motorcycle? is far from a liberating film for women. This can be noted by the use of phallocentrism and the male gaze.

From the motorcycle Rebecca rides to the various actions of the characters, the use of phallocentrism throughout the film reinforces the audience’s perspective that women are marginal, inferior, and passive. As Rebecca sneaks outside to go see Daniel we first lay eyes on the motorcycle. This bike is a phalicized object that is responsible for penetrating all that is in front of Rebecca. The first thing she says as she approaches the bike is “there he is.? Rebecca’s motorcycle, a gift from Daniel and a phalicized object, is at the center of the film. It is the bike that is responsible for the film’s action, as well as a means of control Daniel has over Rebecca. All she can talk about while riding the bike is Daniel and she behaves as though she is a giddy teenage girl. Her behavior and lack of independence from Daniel makes it hard to associate with Rebecca. Even when the motorcycle isn’t present we are still given the impression that women are not free based on the characters actions. For example when Daniel enters Rebecca’s fathers book store the two men exchange dialogue in the center of the screen while Rebecca appears in the margin on a ladder. Or when Rebecca arrives at Daniel’s and falls into his arms. She submissively lays there as he begins to undress her.

From phallocentrism to the male gaze the film continues to follow the same theme. In the opening scene of the film Rebecca walks around her home naked and we watch in pleasure (scopophilia). The door frames her body to emphasize that she is on display for us. As we sit in the dark voyeuristically watching her every move we feel a sense of perversion. Another important scene that demonstrates how the male gaze is established is when Rebecca is with Daniel who is wearing sunglasses. The sunglasses block us from seeing his eyes and leave us associating more with him. We watch Rebecca just as we assume he is.

For all of these reasons the film “Woman on a Motorcycle? is far from a liberating tale. The only moment in the film when we could say Rebecca is liberated would be in her death.

Girl on a Motorcycle/ Female Liberation


Many questions and ideas were raised in my head, while watching Girl on a Motorcycle. First it was very apparent apparent that even though the movie stared a female in the leading role, it somehow still managed to maintain a phallocentristic point of view. Though to Rebecca's credit, she seemed to hold some power over her husband. It was very clear to see that, as they say, she wore the pants in the relationship. Raymond seemed to have no say as to what she did and didn't do. Though I do not think that this film overall was very liberating for women, parts of it gave hint to liberation. The independence that Rebecca showed and the fact that she did what she wanted and when she wanted was very outside the norm for women of her time. So, in that way she showed some liberation. Although, the power of the male gaze was also very evident throughout the film. Mainly at the border of Germany when she was on her way to see Daniel. The way the border men looked at her, and touched her, showed that no matter what she did female liberation could only go so far in those times. The men knew that they had a certain power over her, and her lack of resistance proved them right. It almost seemed as if she thought it was their right to touch her inappropriately which doesn't go far in the goal to liberate women.

Though Rebecca seemed to have great power over her husband Raymond, it was the opposite with Daniel. He was almost like a drug for her, she just couldn't stop or get enough. Though she tried many times to "quit him", she just couldn't find the strength to stop seeing him, and that was what ultimately led to her death. He along with her motorcycle became almost a fetish to her, though she knew seeing him was wrong, she couldn't pull herself from him. Though I would say this film had moments of women liberation, it still portrayed the power that men had over women back in those times. It was a new role for a woman to have as the adulturer, rebellious, motorcycle driving lead that was up until then always given to a male, but it still had to a certain degree the idea of a man being in control.

"Girl on a Motorcycle," Liberating?? Huh?!

The movie Girl on a Motorcycle is sometimes deemed as a "liberating" film for women. After watching this movie, I cannot see how this conclusion was created! If anything, this movie signifies a woman's dependence on man. Though there are indeed moments of seeming liberation, it turns out those instances are fueled by male influence. For example, Rebecca, the main character, rides her motorcycle, a trait that is looked at as a rebellious one for women. As the viewer looks deeper into the woman's love for riding, it turns out it is rooted from her lover's authority over her. He bought her the motorcycle so they could continue their love affair. It is the man controlling the relationship, not the woman. She is obsessed with him in a way. In fact, the film makes it look as though she cannot function without him, or any man for that matter.

Rebecca is on a vacation with her fiance and while she is in bed, she is raped by her future lover. Rape itself is one of the most unliberating and abominable acts one can do to a woman, yet Rebecca's character apparently loves it and in turn, starts to have an affair with her rapist. Throughout the film, Rebecca is seen in the male gaze quite frequently. The viewer actually sees her seeing the males in the film look at her through the male gaze. She seemingly thrives off it. Whether it be a man pumping her gas, or the male border patrol officers using it, she appears to love the demeaning attention.

It is as though she craves the male gaze and is not satisfied without it. This film does not represent a society ready to fully liberate women, in fact, it is the direct opposite. This film makes it acceptible, seemingly in the eyes of women, to be confined to men forever.

Transfer of Power from gaze to gaze

Although on the surface, the female focus of Girl on a Motorcyle, Rebecca, appears to be the ultimate liberated bad ass --- taking off on her motorcycle in a leather jumpsuit, taking lovers and commanding the road --- she is actually completely commanded and directed by an outside force, the male gaze.

This is most apparent when we analyze exactly who and what drives the plot, which may or may not necessarily be the focus of the camera. Ultimately it is Daniel, the lover, and enforcer of the male gaze who makes things happen. It is Daniel's gaze which first stirs Rebecca in the ski lodge, the camera purposefully showing Daniels eyes, then Rebecca being beckoned and controlled by the gaze his piercing eyes emit. Again, in her father's bookstore, Rebecca feels she is being viewed erotically by Daniel, guiding her to take action and go with him. She also only takes off on the motorcycle to feed her desire to be 'viewed' by the male gaze, aka Daniel. Her eroticism is only stirred when beckoned by Daniel. So, although she appears to be sexually liberated by taking up with a lover, in reality, it is the male gaze which directs this impetus.

In my mind, this is purposeful for the reasons that Mulvey states:

"As the narrative progresses she falls in love with the main male protagonist and becomes his property, losing her outward glamorous characteristics, her generalized sexuality...her eroticism is subjected to the male star alone. By mean of identification with him, through participation in his power, the spectator can indirectly possess her too."(Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, 42)

Rebecca simply shifts from one creation of the patriarchy (subordination by her father, getting married, etc.), to another that is simply shrouded in a veil of faux-rebellion. Rebecca is still controlled by a man's gaze. Thoughout the film, we see the transfer of control of Rebecca's sexuality from father, to fiance, to lover. But Rebecca never possesses it.

I also thought it interesting that Marianne Faithfull discussed being controlled by a male gaze in her recent interview, stating:

"I feel quiet wonderful having those five years as [Mick's] muse. I was young, beautiful, interesting, intelligent...I had a lot to give. I mean, I gave him the key to my brain. But I don't think the role of muse is a very happy one for anyone. Hisotry shows that."

She points out that being directed by a man, even for creative purposes is not a fruitful way to live. Being the object of a gaze, while perhaps flattering, is not healthy or liberating. She also points out their desire to live in a spectacle:


"I mean, incredible things happened to us, like drug busts, which was awful, but I understand that that drama was exactly what Mick wanted, and so thats what we had"

Its very interesting the way this idea plays out in real life, rather than on screen.

Check out these interviews:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR1QaQWwYQA

and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnYNP9_f5P0&feature=related

February 9, 2008

Girl on a Motorcycle as Liberation?

While some view Girl on a Motorcycle to be a very liberating movie for women there are just as many, if not more, that see it in a different light. Although Rebecca’s actions can be very liberating and rebellious, Rebecca’s liberation is disguised behind the constant view of the male gaze and phallocentrism, both of which are commonly present throughout the entire film. Rebecca finds a struggle with herself early in the film whether or not to feel guilty about leaving Raymond for her lover, but as the film progresses she becomes more in tune with her rebellious side and decides that she feels more free and liberated through her actions. “Rebelling is the only thing that keeps you alive.? Although Rebecca’s thoughts and actions make the film seem liberating to women she is still constantly controlled by the men around her. This can be seen while she is filling up her gas tank or passing through customs on her way to see her lover. She is continually being looked at as an object that is meant to be taken control of, which, in turn, strays far away from liberation. Rebecca’s entire road trip, which is meant to express her rebelliousness and freedom as a woman, is completely controlled by the men that she comes in contact with. She is no more liberated than she was before she decided to leave Raymond for her lover, David.

February 8, 2008

Liberating?

"Rebellion's the only thing that keeps you alive," says Rebecca. (Girl on a Motorcycle)

In this 1968 film, Rebecca rebels against the normality of "femininity" and seems to be enjoying the freedom of the open road on a motorcycle. At first glance, this film looks as though it is liberating for women. However, as one watches the film, even from the beginning the male gaze and phallocentrism comes into play. From Rebecca's husband to the gas station man to the men at the bar, the male gaze takes control once again. This film is far from escaping the male gaze. Her lover can't even handle just gazing at her, but fondles her to show his power and dominance of her. She thinks she has freedom, but does she really? Has her rebellion to ride a motorcycle to her lover take away this gaze of the female body and liberated her from male dominance? No.
This film is far from liberating.

Woman on a Motorcycle is the definition of phallocentrism!

"...the male figure cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification. Hence the split between spectacle and narrative supports the man's role as the active one of advancing the story, making things happen." (Lauren Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema pg. 6) Woman on a Motorcycle starts off using phallocentrism and male gaze immediately when the film starts with her getting out of bed naked and then dressing herself in a skin-too-tight leather suit and up until the very end where her body is gracefully thrown in the air through a car windshield. Rebecca's lover Daniel who definitly has a case of scopophilia is constantly touching her body reemphazing that his male gaze just isn't enough. Daniel's creepy intrusion on Rebecca while she is sleeping at the Resort leads watchers to believe everything is just fine and dandy because Rebecca was secretly glad that he had come in to her room. The film does not question the idea of what Daniel would have done if she had said no. This film also defines what a real man is and what he is not. For example, a real man does not ask a lady for permission to have sex with her a.k.a. Daniel. A real man also does not display too much love or affection because that is something a wimp would do. a.k.a. Raymond. Rebecca to me is the opposite of a heroine. She represents a woman who rather than fights the oppressive patriarchal role goes along with it and the only time she stirs from it is when a man indirectly tells her to. Rebecca does not go take to the road to free her spirit or damn the role that she was given. No, she takes to the road to let some barbaric, twisted man fondle her breasts and talk about how love doesn't exsist.

Liberating for women?

At first, the 1960s film "Girl on a Motorcycle" might seem like a revolutionary movie having the woman play the main role. However, after just a short time of watching the film the viewer realizes the woman doesn't represent liberation or freedom at all. The male gaze is repeated over and over again in this film. Whether it is the woman being framed by the way her zipper moves, or she is standing in front of a window or mirror, she is portrayed as a sex object more than anything else. But what's more, is that she wants to be treated this way. She "castrates" Raymond many times by yelling at him to just tell her what to do, and by the simple fact that he won't have sex with her without her approval. Also, when the guard doesn't hit on her she assumes he must be queer. Finally, the movie shows that the men really have the power when, after Daniel rapes her, the first thing she says is,"I've never been so happy". "Girl on a Motorcycle" is clearly a movie for men, telling them that it's okay, and actually encouraged to treat women poorly, hit on them, and have sex with them without their consent, because if you do, they will never be happier.

Girl On A Phallus

"...the female image as a castration threat constantly endangers the unity of the diegesis and bursts through the world of illusion as an intrusive, static, one-dimensional fetish" (Mulvey, 47). This quotation couldn't be more relevant to the way in which phalocentricism bursts through the film, "Girl On A Motorcycle" and creates not a liberation for women, but rather a prison of sexual fetish. The male gaze and phalocentricism dominate the entire film, making it ridiculous to think that it is at all liberating for women. In the film, Rebecca leaves her husband, Raymond, for her lover, Daniel, by way of her motorcycle, a giant phallic symbol in itself. Rebecca, throughout the film, drives on and relives her affair. Though driving and the road are often meant to be symbols of liberation, in this film they make it clear that a woman cannot escape a man's world.
On the road, Rebecca is the victim of endless voyeurism. From the gas station attendent who studies her body, to the bar/restaurant full of men who undress her with their eyes, she becomes the subject of unwanted attention. The male gaze on her sexually alive body helps to establish her character and femininity as a means of castration, as she is lacking a phallus. This lack becomes all too apparent when she turns her life over to Daniel.

It is very clear that Rebecca is only liberated sexually, and even in this sexual liberation she is more of an object that a person as she lacks a phallus. During her ski trip with Raymond, she clearly establishes herself as an object, "You ought to tell me to shut up and do what you want to do." Besides establishing herself as an object, this also establishes the castration of Raymond; he cannot take control of this object, and furthermore, because he has been castrated by Rebecca's affair with the dominant male, Daniel, he too comes to represent lack of a phallus. In the very beginning of the film, during the dream sequence phalocentricism was established as phallic Daniel rode his motorcycle around a castrated Daniel playing the violin. Raymond finalizes his castration when he allows Rebecca to keep the motorcycle. There he "had his chance" to regain his phallus and take hold of his object, which he failed to do.
Rebecca makes it clear that she cannot create her own identity, making it impossible for this film to be liberating for the female. Her identity is created through what the phallus (aka Daniel) has told her to be. Her love of motorcylces, her sexual drive, and her thought processes have all been derived from him. She may love the road and the freedom of a motorcycle, but he taught her to do so, and the phallic symbol of a giant machine between her legs is a constant reminder of this. She uses the road to be fullfilled sexually by the phallus, not to be liberated. As she drives, she hears in her head the way in which Daniel would correct her, and smiles. She has been defined by the male gaze as an object, and as such can be molded by the phallus, and by choosing the phallus, has the power to spread her lack to the castrated man. The unity of the film world is fetishized by phalocentricism and the male gaze, making this movie the exact oppostie of anything that might be liberating for women.

Girl on a Motorcycle

In a film that is characterized as one that flaunts women’s independence, that independence is drastically lacking. The film Girl on a Motorcycle is centered on men and how they control women through their actions and the ways in which they dominate the main female characters’ every move and thought. While there may be certain points in the movie where Rebecca attempts to portray a free woman, such as riding her motorcycle cross country, leaving her husband, and having relationships with two men, there are also many parts of the movie in which the freedom she is attempting to have has been overshadowed by the reasons she wants to be free. Phallocentrism is central to the main theme, as the movie is focused on Rebecca leaving one man for another. Her fate (not to be seen as the same as her freedom) is determined by the men she is attached to- she considers herself to be free of Raymond, her husband, only to be trapped in an affair with a man who will not love her and who appears to have a great deal of control over her. Her thoughts are constantly dominated by the two men she is involved with and their feelings and actions. She is seen as a sexual object by her lover, and is portrayed that way throughout the entire film, even to other characters, as she dons a tight-fitting leather motorcycle suit, which causes her to encounter many male stares along her trip.
A film cannot be liberating for women if the entire film is controlled by men’s desires and their ability to control women. The male gaze and phallocentrism are prevalent and recurring themes throughout this film, neither of which allow for women to truly be free. In order for this to be considered liberating for women, it would have to completely factor out males as being anything remotely sexually related- or make the women be the dominant role within the story.

February 7, 2008

Girl on a Motorcyle and the Male Gaze

The film Girl on a Motorcycle disguises itself as a revolutionary feminist film of its era by ‘liberating women’, however, even though the film portrays a female alone taking to the road, there is still the phallocentric dominance throughout the film. This main gesture of having the male be the center of the plot and directing the storyline is focused on the basis of Rebecca, the lead female character, only taking to the road and “freeing? herself by going to a man. If she didn’t have Daniel, her lover, to coerce feelings of love and freedom, Rebecca would remain captive in her home, and never take to the road. Rebecca never ventures away from her husband or the home she deems a prison on her own will, leaving for herself, it is always for Daniel, and Daniel having a “hold? upon her and keeping her continually coming back to him. Throughout the film as well we are consistently having a phallocentric point of view dominant by having the ‘male gaze’ continuingly upheld by how Rebecca is viewed and framed. From the beginning of the film, even within Rebecca’s mind, we the spectators and among the spectators of her dream being shown a paraded, naked body of Rebecca as numerous shots glorifies her body as a male would in his dreams. From there, various shots throughout the film are placed from a male perspective, looking at Rebecca both on and off the road, having the audience members both male and female identifying with the male gaze displayed on screen. Shots of only parts of her body as she rides on the road, various shots panning up and down Rebecca’s body, and others shots of men gazing at Rebecca and treating her as their own visual and literal object of sexual pleasure as with the border control attendant only treating her as he is there for her. Though this film does breakthrough the barrier of having a women, alone, taking to the road and embarking on the land on a motorcycle, which is deemed a male vehicle, the overall context of the film is still placed in a phallocentric world. The girl on a motorcycle, is in the end, controlled by a man.

February 6, 2008

Where is the Male Gaze?

Rebecca's rebellious spirit and independence may lead some to consider Girl on a Motorcycle to be a film that is liberating for women. But when examined more closely, it is clear that this is just another movie whose action is propelled by a phallocentric male gaze.
Rebecca leaves her loving husband, Raymond, for a man who raped her some time earlier. When she decides to set off on the road, the male gaze is made apparent as she zips up her leather suit and her breasts are squeezed tight against the leather. She leaves town, thinking about how pathetic Raymond is and how much more desirable David is. We are then shown a scene in which Raymond is made a fool by his young students. This is done to let the spectator know that Rebecca needs a "real" man, which is certainly not Raymond. The film is narrated by Rebecca's inner thoughts, leading the viewers to believe that this is a true desire for women--to be dominated, taken, controlled. The most clear instance of this desire is when Rebecca says "it's his bloody kindness that's killing me", referring to Raymond. This is proof that the film has a phallocentric drive in that it is implying that women should not be treated well because they don't want to be treated well.
What at first seems as a liberating act, Rebecca's road trip is in fact just a product of a man's, David's, control over her.

Woman on a Motorcycle and the Male Gaze

A married woman mounts her motorcycle and takes off on a road trip to see her lover. She is marked as a rebel by her adultery, implied use of sex and drugs, and her love of mobility, speed, and solo roadway travel. How are phallocentrism and the male gaze maintained in this early road trip film? Is this film liberating for women? Explain,
using some of the vocabulary from lecture and the readings.

easy rider

"In examining Easy Rider’s treatment of the road and the landscape, we can see that there is no single “smooth? message offered by the film about uts times. Easy rider is a quintessential example of a film caught between to languages." (Klinger 11).

As I was watching the film, I felt like the phrase: "We blew it" described or represented a couple different ideas. Through out the film I noticed many shots of graves or graveyards, far too many to count. I believe that this represented the phrase "we blew it". It means we’re finished; it is done. Death is the final stage. All our drug use and counter culture brought us to death physical, emotional, and mentally. I felt like this film was a “lesson? for those who participated in the same activities as Wyatt and Bill. I didn’t feel like it encouraged participation in counterculture but discouraged through the imagery of death and "we blew it".

One the other hand it was a clear rally call around the hardships of the counter culture. That if you choose to participate in it, one runs the risk of sacrificing one's life to do so. All in all the difference comes from whether or not one looks through the gaze of a hippie or from the goverment.

"We blew it"

The quote I want to use actually comes from not the reading in full but the very first page of the book. Patti Smith's quote which states "Outside society, that's where I want to be." I use this quote not because I'm lazy and and didn't do the reading but because this quote, especially from the lips of Patti Smith, encompasses more of the theme of the movie, and especially the line "We blew it," then anything Laderman said. Patti Smith, much like the boys of Easy Rider, was on a quest for freedom. She, though, unlike Wyatt and Billy, found it and lived the free life more then 99.9% (and this number is being extremely gracious to the rest of the world) of the people who have ever graced this planet through her punk rock musical ability.
This movie is about 2 men, Wyatt and Billy, on a quest to find the free America. This theme is brought up in the Diner when George discusses that people are afraid of true freedom and what that represents. Wyatt had found that freedom once. He found it from the commune, where he was truly happy. Billy didn't like it but Wyatt knew. Even from the time they picked up the hitchhiker, his name escapes me at the moment, freedom was abundant. "Soon," he said. Billy responded, "That's what you said this morning." The hitchhiker responded, "Sometimes I say it all day." True freedom, living off the land. This is something Wyatt obviously respects with his previous conversation with the farmer. After the commune, they found nothing but hardship. They were arrested the first place they went for illegal parading, George was killed the following place, and even in New Orleans there was at least a confinement to the church during the LSD trip where sorrow and desperate cries for escape were the most real thing any of the four could grasp on to. Even after the quote, "We blew it," was said they were killed on their motorcycles for representing freedom. "We blew it," Wyatt said after their trip into New Orleans. He said this because he knew freedom was found on the commune and they walked out on it, so consumed with trying to find the mythical idea of freedom that he couldn't se it when it was there.

Easy Rider

As stated by Klinger, “this territory still promises freedom, diversity and tolerance.? Such a revelation was discovered when Wyatt and Billy were in the southwest. Yet, I believe that Wyatt’s statement ultimately shows that such a promise of freedom, diversity and tolerance is not nationwide as they discovered in the south. The viewer is able to see the transition of culture with each mile the two hippies make towards New Orleans. In the southwest, they are greeted and welcomed by a family and a youth commune. I believe their dinner with the farmer and his Mexican family truly touched Wyatt. It opened his eyes to the life that he wants and what life should truly be about. He is inspired by the man and his “nice set-up? by living off the land, with a family able to do his own business without interference. For Wyatt and Billy, this is their hope and dream. Wyatt’s statement shows his absolute exhaustion and anger with the culture and the mistreatment he receives. It is his discovery that he will never been accepted within such a culture upon his arrival in the South. After George’s murder, Wyatt puts his life into perspective and realizes that in fact, he did blow it. Billy and Wyatt are models of the counterculture and the South is American culture. They both are very optimistic and Wyatt’s statement shows the frustration that what he was searching for; freedom and national progress, was nonexistent and ultimately ended up murdering George, Billy and himself. Wyatt’s statement serves as “a lyric on behalf of paranoia, saying to the counter-culture: yes, you better fear those ignorant Southern fascist hard-hats.?

As stated by Klinger, “this particular film demonstrates the end of the frontier and the hopes it held for individual freedom and national progress.? I believe that they were both looking for acceptance and a reaction to their counter-cultural lifestyle. They did not find individual freedom and national progress through their traveling. They did find acceptance in many locations of the Southwest where they had stopped, but the further South they reached, the more resistance and unwelcoming responses they received. The scene at the youth commune exemplifies the acceptance I believe they were looking for, but unfortunately only found it within a small community in a remote location. The commune took them in, feeding them and welcoming them like family. Although they did not have much food, they openly without regret gave strangers food and offered them shelter. I think this experience opened Wyatt’s eyes to how the country should be, without judgment. As they traveled, they reached the conclusion that the hopes and dreams of the open road were gone and such was the tragic ending of the film with their deaths. Their quest is framed by white masculinities through their language and the way women are presented in the film. The two women at the youth commune were there only for a good time, but the audience is never able to see what kind of people they are. There are no meaningful conversations with the women or any conversations except mainly for responses to the men. A similar situation arises when the men are in New Orleans with the two prostitutes and they tell the woman “to shut up and take it? when questioning the acid that they were shown. As Klinger states, [that] “Criticism from the alternative and mainstream presses alike generally saw it as a spectacular document of its times that effectively represented the hippie ethos as well as the serious riffs between counter- and dominant cultures.?

February 4, 2008

Easy Rider

"We blew it! "As said at the end of the movie when looked at on surface level, means just that. They did not succeed in their rebellious mission. Upon further analysis, one sees that it is a critique on counterculture. Many people in the 60's were either involved in counterculture or were on the "outside" of this lifestyle. So, by saying "we blew it", and coinciding with the death of both men, one could say that this phrase is a critique of their lifestyle. The way they were living their lives according to the "outsiders" was an unsuccessful way of living.
A life out of the status quo can be seen as threatening to society, and therefore scary to people who don't understand it. When a person isn't consuming goods, and living the American dream they can be percieved as weird, unconventional etc. So, the gang in Easy Rider is no different.

"We Blew It"

"After George's murder, the film becomes increasingly dark in mood, developing a bitter tone of disenchantment. It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding on a variety of levels." (Laderman 76)

"It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; and it is the end of wanting to be on the road." (Laderman 77)

Despite Billy’s idealistic insistence otherwise—and against our better hopes (somehow, we want these two scrappy deadbeats to come out swinging)—Wyatt’s claim that the duo “blew it? rings true. Their physical and psychological plight was, ultimately, a quest for identity; an adventure away from a hyper-contextualized, ultra-conservative America and meant to answer the age-old “Where do I belong?? They were searching for a society (or anti-society), built around the purest forms of freedom and self-expression, that would never be. It is because of their differences that America cannot meet them halfway. The film’s landscape makes this era-specific inevitability more obvious after George’s murder, showing our heroes on roads that suddenly don’t look so beautifully, perfectly vast. While they swerve away from and behind each other and, finally, back together again, they are met with the industry and ignorant population that will eventually kill them. The “We blew it? statement and final scene (while Billy lies bleeding beside the road, Wyatt wraps him in his American flag jacket) help establish that the road has ended and the dream is indeed dead.

"We blew it"

Laderman says Wyatt and Billy's

last campfire discussion questions the meaning and validity of their quest (thus the very premise of the film), as Wyatt insists on the failure, even futility, not of America, but of their own journey
(75). Meaning and validity are the reasons why Wyatt says
we blew it.
This line means that Wyatt and Billy never really find what they are looking for. In my opinion this search is for happiness in an evolving country. There is a tension between mainstream America and the figures of counterculture (i.e. Wyatt and Billy), as is demonstrated in the numerous scenes filled with the conservative "rednecks" harrassing the easy riders and especially the scene in the smalltown diner where the travellers find themselves being explicity harrassed for dressing and acting differently by the sheriff and others. Wyatt and Billy are in this social space where they don't know where they belong. These characters are never truly happy and this can be seen in almost any scene with Wyatt because he never smiles, he always seems restless and uneasy (which is ironic because of the title). Take for example the scene where he and Billy are with the prostitutes. Wyatt doesn't feel like he belongs there and instead asks the prostitutes if they want to go outside for the festivities. This is why they quote unquote blew it. As figures of American counterculture they never find happiness. Their companion George is murdered and the only time that the two ever seem peaceful is when they are on the road. This movie opens up interesting questions of whether outsiders of mainstream culture can ever truly find happiness.

Patti's thoughts

Laderman says “The conservative society rejects them (Billy and Wyatt) more than they reject it; that they seek acceptance in their very difference, but that society cannot tolerate such difference.? I think what Laderman says is supported by what Wyatt says at the end of the movie. Wyatt says, “We blew it!? to Billy towards the end of the film. Wyatt is saying that they didn’t fix America like they wanted to. They just wanted to fit in and the only trouble they got into wasn’t their faults. For example, when they enter the dinner to eat and there was the policeman, his friend, and then a table full of girls. The three men decide to leave because they don’t feel comfortable. They didn’t provoke anyone intentionally but the males were very threatened by them because Wyatt, Billy and Charlie were different or counter-culture. Wyatt and Billy wanted America to see that they were people too, but they “blew it? because the only people they interacted with were other “different? people who were also on the periphery of American society. They “blew it? because America was still the same and so were they.

They Blew It!

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.
--Roger McGuinn, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", from the Easy Rider soundtrack

They blew it! The mission of Wyatt aka "Captain America" and Billy was unclear in its beginning, and the results of such a lacking vision seemed to feed the duo's impending doom.

Several points in the movie make this point clear, such as when George dies as a result of being along for the ride. The arrival of George--along with the visit to the commune--were the only times of enlightenment for the two on their road to destruction. It seemed only natural for the chaos of their journey to overwhelm any sense of order. The two are trying to figure out the American Dream, after stealing a piece of the pie. Wyatt wanted to seek truth in their journey, but whenever that truth arises, he shuns it, and instead decides to relish in debauchery. Unlike the stable, easy to follow road their bikes sped across, the journeys of life are disjointed, and self-made. These two were suffering identity crises, clutching onto whatever seemed right. In a way, that seems to be the road to the American Dream.

But Wyatt reaches the same conclusion after achieving material success as Madonna does in her song "American Life: "I'm just living out the American dream/And i just realized nothing is what it seems." The road to success can leave one morally bankrupt, if they don't take efforts to do the right thing. They didn't make that money by any legitimate means, and even if that wasn't the cause of their death, they wouldn't have been under those circumstances if that weren't the path they had chosen.

"We Blew It"

"The process of road travel provokes an internal, psychological process (or journey), thus implying a causal bridge between quest and questioning." Laderman, 72.

I believe that the film Easy Rider is about identity and Wyatt and Billy are on an adventure to discover who they are and how they fit into the evolving contextualized America of the seventies. The film was created during a time of personal struggle for many americans and the culture was changing and people were trying to figure out where they belonged. Being on the road for Wyatt and Billy was an alternative 'quest' for discovery of one's identity and throughout the film they discussed the significance of being and where one came from, Wyatt at one point saying he 'never wanted to be anyone else.' And also the hitchhiker doesn't really say where he's from, just 'a place'.
There is a great deal of reflection in the film and the road is a physical and psychological journey for both Wyatt and Billy, that in the end, because of their differences, America is not yet willing to transcend to that higher meaning Wyatt and Billy are looking to find and during their last campfire, Wyatt realizes this failure and proclaims, 'we blew it'.

Interpretation of "We Blew It"

In the movie Easy Rider, I think their is deep meaning behind Wyatt's phrase "We Blew It". I think this phrase is more about changing their society as it is. The world they see while traveling is extremely racist, violent, and non accepting. I feel that when Wyatt says this famous phrase it is about changing everything they see. The two men played by Hopper and Fonda have nothing to lose. They have their whole lives ahead of them. I think Wyatt says this because they didn't take advantage of their opportunities to inspire others. I also think that this phrase is used to show that everyone have the chance to change. Some people choose to grasp this chance and others choose to let it go. In this movie, they choose to not change and everyone that is close to them, including the two main characters, die. I feel that this phrase foreshadows this. The two men blew their opportunity to alter the world when Nickelson comes along on the journey. I think this movie is about moving forward in life and making a difference. I think this movie shows that if you don't try to make a difference in the world that life is unimportant. It shows that nothing matters but what you do to change and improve the world in which we live.

"We Blew It"...

"After George's murder, the film becomes increasingly dark in mood, develping a bitter tone of disenchanment. It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding [...]."
(Laderman, 76)

When Wyatt tells Billy "we blew it", I believe he is making a statement about their direct situation which would entail himself and Billy; however, as films will, they often carry another message behind what is said. "We blew it" could also be used to portray the other young men, and possibly women, who were also part of the sub-American culture of the late 1960's.

Wyatt's statement in the film shows his disappointment in relation to their trip but it also foreshadows the final moments of the journey. Wyatt and Billy do not return home (to where ever that might be, as the movie is about finding their own America and creating their own home) and they do not survive the journey. The statement could be thought of as a precursor to what is to come in the following decade.

Easy Rider- "We Blew It"

The characters' journeys in these films directly commented on the state of contemporary society. More specifically, "Easy Rider" and US road movies of the 1960s carried a certain message about America during a time when the nation's identity was contested (Klinger 180-181).

When Wyatt says, "We blew it" at the end of the movie, he is reflecting on their journey. In the beginning, they were on a quest searching for "America", a place that is supposed to represent freedom and acceptance. What they find, however, is that society is cruel, judgemental, and not accepting at all. After riding for a while, and experiencing the non-accepting culture within America, Wyatt realizes that they "blew it"; they were searching for a type of society that just does not exist.

Easy Rider- "We Blew It"

"If they have failed to be truly countercultural, the road now mirrors their failure with images of technology's own failure to fulfill its ideological promise of improving society: here, it seems more like a contamination" (Laderman, 77)

This quote connects Wyatt's words of, "We blew it" with a failure to be "truly countercultural". It is a prophetic statement in that it hints at a failure of countercultural ideals in general. The failure of the countercultural movement to instill all of its ideals moving into the seventies can be thought about in terms of Wyatt's statement. To juxtapose this failure with a very different type of riding montage than the others in the film speaks to Laderman's connection of the two men's countercultural failure and the technological failure of modern society. The landscape is quite different-- stark and uninviting with power lines and factories (Laderman, 77). This differencee as opposed to the beautiful landscapes seen in previous driving sequences equates the failure of Wyatt and Billy's trip with the failure of technology to make better the society in which we live. The ever-present tension between rebellion and conformity comes to a climactic end when the rednecks (representing conformity) kill the easy riders (representing rebellion) amidst an ugly industrial landscape. Conformity wins in the backdrop of industrial society and Wyatt and Billy's attempt at being truly countercultural does not happen. They cannot find the true "America" through the means that they choose-- continual mobility-- and conformist America hinders their chances time and time again on their way and ultimately ends their journey and quest for freedom.

"We Blew It"

In saying "we blew it," I believe that Wyatt was expressing his disappointment in the results of their travels. Their good friend George was dead and instead of spending money on useful, practical things, they "blew it" on prostitutes and gas to go places that they didn't belong. I think that the phrase "we blew it" was an expression of Wyatt's regret as well, for using the hippie culture for it's access to drugs and sex instead of the revolutionary changes that the movement could make possible.

"We BLEW It"

It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; it is the end of wanting to be on the road.
(Laderman 77)


Easy Rider is not just a story of two young Americans hitting the road like many other wide-eyed Americans of the time. They may have gone out looking for America like many other had, but Wyatt and Billy’s journey has many twists and turns that eventually lead them right back to where they came from. Wyatt and Billy are lost when they start out their journey. In search of ‘true’ America, they travel to many different rural country sides that appear to temporarily soothe their hunger for American independence and free-living. However, as their travels come to an end Wyatt says to Billy, “We blew it.? Wyatt isn’t referring to the many illegal acts they had engaged in throughout their journey; killing George, taking LSD, selling drugs. Wyatt finally comes to the realization that their hopeful journey has only lead to disappointment. They had not found America on their road to New Orleans, and perhaps they had just not been looking hard enough.

The movie changes dramatically after that last campfire scene. The lighting in darker, the music is gloomy, and the characters no longer possess the desire for the road. The ending where both Wyatt and Billy are killed shows that they had lost their own game. They were not able to be happy with their lives as Americans.

February 3, 2008

"We Blew It"

The ‘search for America’ undertaken by Captain America and his sidekick Billy is not geographical, it is literally a quest to find out where America’s head is at (Klinger 181).

The goal of Captain America (Wyatt) and Billy’s trip was to discover America’s mindset. The initial scenes portrayed the characters hope for an accepting humane society. Wyatt and Billy had their hidden drug money, freedom, the beauty of the open road, and Born to be Wild playing as their anthem.

While on this trip Wyatt and Billy experience the death of a fallen comrade, George, leaving Wyatt to make the statement “we blew it.?

To me the “we? refers to society and Wyatt is discovering that the quest to find out what America’s mindset is has led them to the understanding that society’s culture does not accept societal differences but instead expects everything and everyone to conform to a standard norm. When Wyatt, Billy and George were being released from jail, George informed them that if he hadn’t been there they would have received haircuts. On top of the conformity, people not understanding the differences between themselves and Wyatt and Billy are frightened by them and this emotion is displayed as hate. Wyatt and Billy are turned away from a hotel after the night desk clerk came out and saw the two of them on their motorcycles. Another example of fear fueling hatred would be the night Wyatt, Billy and George spent in the woods only to find themselves being attacked in the middle of the night.

Once Wyatt made the statement about blowing it the mood of the film changed and the feeling that the characters had given up on their society began. George had been killed, Wyatt and Billy were forced to sleep outside and live as outsiders, and the scenery of the road became more gloomy and industrialized.

We Blew It

Typically one passes through the landscape, as a means, toward destination; but in Easy Rider movement through the landscape becomes an end in itself, specifically in terms of appreciating the landscape. Moreover, such appreciation of the environment becomes a way to rediscover one's self. (Laderman p.71)

Wyatt's comment at the end of the movie struck me to be a realization of their lives. The whole movie Wyatt and Billy were working so hard to make it to Mardi Gras. They went through some ups and a lot of downs on their journey. The quote I found in Ladermans' Driving Visions is explaining that, throughout their experience they were able to realize different characteristics about eachother and themselves. They met new people along their trip and thought they were on their way to success with all the money they had collected from selling drugs. Wyatt expressed that he thought they had failed and I feel Billy didn't understand why Wyatt would say that. Throughout the entire film Wyatt and Billy rode side by side. At the end of the film when they were riding down the road next to the open field, Wyatt drives ahead of Billy leaving him behind. I felt this scene really showed the separation of the two guys and the ugliness that was being portrayed. Wyatts' comment was a realization that just because they had a lot of money and drugs, they were still missing something. I think what they were missing was being with it all the time and living life without any subtances taking over their feelings.

"We Blew It"

Laderman points out that many novels present the road journey as "therapeutic relief from stable, repressive domestic American culture" (12), the same can be said for Easy Rider. Wyatt and Bill dream of fleeing from their lives as outcasts in dominant society and find their own conception of freedom. They take to the road, leaving behind all that they know in order to find something better. What Laderman describes as "therapeutic relief", Wyatt in Easy Rider sees as a cure for the sense of captivity he feels from being part of mainstream society. When Wyatt claimed that he and Bill "blew it" at the end of the film, he realized that their arrival and departure from New Orleans signified the end to a journey that they had hoped would free them from the society from which they fled, and open up a new door leading to a more ideal life. The journey was in fact successful for Bill, who died with a feeling of freedom and success, unlike Wyatt, who felt as if his life had ended when their journey had. The two men started their new lives on their motorcycles, making it only fitting that the end of their lives would coincide that of their motorcycles', their vehicles of freedom.

We blew it.

The 'search for America' by Wyatt and his side kick Billy is not geographical, it is a literal quest to find out where America's head is at.

When Wyatt exclaims "we blew it" he is not talking about their personal journey, but rather referring to America as a whole. Wyatt and Billy had left LA looking for America and freedom. What was found was unexpected and disappointing. The beginning of their journey was promising - the farm and the commune both shared great potential for personal independence and strong, tight knit communities. Both placed an emphasis on living off of the land, which was an important aspect of American life on the frontier. But as Wyatt and Billy travel further east they are met with persecution for their long hair and unruly looks. They (and George) are victims of hate crimes and ultimately murder.
Wyatt is making the point that we -America as a whole- blew it. There was potential for freedom and independence but somewhere along the way prejudice and intolerance won out.

Who blew it?

And yet, the road also can provoke anxiety: We take the road, but it also takes us. Will we survive the upcoming hairpin turn? Are we on an extended detour, full of delusions? Do we need to turn onto a new road?
Wyatt and Billy are on the road, but they don't have to be. They had at least two chances to stop somewhere and find a home. That's where those last two questions and Wyatt's statement come in. He is saying that they blew their chance, the took the extended detour and didn't turn onto the new road when they should have and well, look what happened. They didn't stay where they could have been accepted and continued to poke at society right in people's faces and that got their friend killed and in the end them killed as well. When they are at the farm Wyatt looks like he might consider that to be a nice life once he got older and when they were with the hippies he seemed like he might want to settle down and stay there right then. But they kept moving and went from places where the people were friendly to them to places where the people hated them. They blew it by leaving where they could be accepted, whether they fit in or not. The culture and counterculture also blew it. They were both too extreme. The counterculture, like Billy and Wyatt, were so very different from the mainstream culture and refused to make concessions, simply expected everyone else to accept them. When they are in the diner in the small town and simply sitting there waiting for service is a very good example of this. The mainstream culture was also too extreme but in the other direction. It is too traditional and too unchanging. The girls in that diner who were so desperate for Wyatt, Billy and George wanted something new and different and the culture that they were part of restricted them from it. The fact that a counterculture so extreme and different grew out of the mainstream culture says a lot in itself about how much too traditional the mainstream culture was. In short they all blew it because a middle ground needed to be found and both culture and counterculture needed to make concessions for the other but neither would and so they will both destroy each other and themselves.

So I guess they blew it....

“Perhaps the counterculture drive of our rambling protagonists has become infected by conservative society’s misguided technology fetishism, fostering their failure.?

By proclaiming, “We blew it,? I feel Wyatt is reflecting on their lives and the journey they have been taking. In the beginning they are “Born to be Wild? and road ready, but society and the road itself has beaten them down. During their first stretches on the road they were so sure of themselves and ready for anything and now I think Wyatt is questioning himself.
They prided themselves on being different and free with nothing to hold them back, and Wyatt is realizing that their actions have consequences. Because of their refusal to conform, their new friend was murdered. Also, I think Wyatt is feeling uncontrollable guilt about the death of George. Why did George have to be the one to die and both of them made it with minimal injuries? They bring along another passenger and essentially get him killed. Although they did not intend for this to happen to George, because of their lifestyle choices they were the victims of a hate crime.
As sad as hate crime is, it happens. This film put something on the screen that I am sure was controversial at the time. Most things are controversial because they are true; just no one talks about it. These types of events happened in society, which shows what “hate of the unknown? can do to a person. George himself realized that they were being hated against because they were scared of the freedom they represented.

"We Blew It"

“It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; and it is the end of wanting to be on the road? (Laderman 77).
I found it appropriate that Easy Rider started Wyatt and Billy’s journey with “Born to be Wild? playing in the background because the whole purpose of Wyatt and Billy’s journey on the road was to find America and they were willing to do whatever it took to find it. As they traveled, their goal was to experience the America that they had never known. They wanted to see if it truly existed. At the end of the film, as Wyatt and Billy sit around their campfire, Billy excitedly exclaims “we did it,? but Wyatt replies with, “we blew it.? Through these words Wyatt is expressing his feelings of failure for not finding what they were originally looking for. The two of them have completely different interpretations of the success of their journey on the road. Billy feels like life is just beginning because of the money that they received, but Wyatt feels like life is coming to an end because he was not able to find what he was originally looking for. At this point in the film Wyatt has given up on his search to find the real America he was originally searching for. It is the end of his road, his being on the road, and his wanting to be on the road.

February 2, 2008

"We Blew It"

"It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding on a variety of levels." (David Laderman. pg.76)
Wyatt and Billy set out on their ride to find America, because they are not satisfied with the status quo living. They are frustrated with the way people in America are living and they want to redescover it in a way. This is shown by their drug selling/doing, fast, almost rebellious life style. They want to be anything but conventional. Whether selling drugs, getting high, or just plain riding they want to be set apart. As they ride, their not exactly sure where they're going, how long they're staying , but whatever they do they want it to be new and different. As the lyrics of the Byrds' song goes that was played in the movie, " I wasn't born to follow." Much of the depth of the movie happened during their conversations around camp fires. They talked about the freedom that they were trying to acheive, and how they didn't want to be caught up in the stability of society. Like was shown when they stopped at the home of their first hitchhiker. When Wyatt became to what he thought was "too comfortable" he immediately wanted to move on. Throughout the movie you could tell that he felt the struggle of escaping normalcy, and "regular" living. One of the climaxes at the end of the movie, he exclaims to Billy, "We blew it." This can be interpreted

Much of the depth of the movie happened during their conversations around camp fires. They talked about the freedom that they were trying to acheive, and how they didn't want to be caught up in the stability of society. Like was shown when they stopped at the home of their first hitchhiker. When Wyatt became to what he thought was "too comfortable" he immediately wanted to move on. Throughout the movie you could tell that he felt the struggle of escaping normalcy, and "regular" living. One of the climaxes at the end of the movie, he exclaims to Billy, "We blew it." This can be interpreted in many different ways. My interpretation is that Wyatt feels that no matter what he and Billy do, they are never going to escape the normalcy and complacency of life. He felt it creeping up on them all during their journey. Though they did what they could to go off and ride to find America, they kept getting sucked back into the American lifestyle. This is shown very well by Billy's reply to Wyatt's "We blew it comment." Billy says, " Man we're rich we have everything." His comment, is one that many regular American's would give, basing their wealth and happiness on what they have. Wyatt realized this, and knew that though they tried, they didn't come very far from being different from everyone else.

"We Blew It!"

"... the end of this montage subtly suggests that the failure of the journey is also interpersonal: full shots of them riding show them seperating, moving apart from eachother, as well as moving backward within the frame as they literally move forward. It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; and it is the end of wanting to be on the road" (Driving Visions, Laderman, pg 77)

In the film Easy Rider, Billy and Wyatt, the two main characters, embark on a journey, with the aid of drug money, to find what they deem as the 'counterculture.' They believe it will be then that they find true happiness and can rid themselves of conformity. Throughout almost their entire jounrey on the road, Billy, with his long hair, and Wyatt with his 'free' attitude feel as if they are representing a very non-conformist, rebelious lifestyle. Travelling on the road with their motorcycles further reiterates their belief. They live their life in a selfrighteous manner, but ultimately, they come to realize differently.

With the death of their friend George, Wyatt later states that "We blew it." Though he never fully explains what he means, the viewer is led to determine for themselves his meaning. I came to the conclusion that Wyatt is now realizing that what he thought to be the non-conformist life style has really turned out to be quite the predictable one for him. All this time, he thought he was being unique and different from the norm of society, but in reality, he was doing exactly what was expected of his kind: rebelling. Though it is true they do not fit the "redneck" stereotype, they certainly play into another one, that being of young 'hippy-like' men. I think Wyatt realizes that they conformed, just in a different way, and he ultimately feels defeated.

Just as the quote above states, once this realization occurs, the desire to be on the road, and live the not-so counterculture lifestyle is no longer wanted and thus the road life is no longer sought.

Admitting Defeat and Selfish Motives

Throughout the film Easy Rider, the viewer witnesses a internal struggle between counterculture/individualism and the pressure and underlying desire to conform to the lifestyle that is prescribed, mapped out, and easy. Captain American embodies this contradictory attitude, as Laderman argues:

Captain America's peaceful soul searching strangely recollects and rearticulates the quiet stoicism of the cowboy. He also admires the rugged individualism of the farmer; from this perspective, his name suddenly reveals the militant patriotism and "manifest destiny" it intends to mock." (48, Journal of Film and Video)

Throughout the film, Captain America and Billy attempt to lose themselves among the outliers of civilization, yet their ultimate goal of smuggling drug money negates their efforts to 'get back to the earth'. While eating with the farmer's family, Capitan America remarks "You should be proud". Capitan America truly admires an escape from capitalism, and living off of the land. Yet, he and Billy's motives are ultimately selfish and rooted in capitalism, tainting their interaction with those who are truly "apart" from the constraints of society.

The lyrics to a song from the soundtrack, "Its alright Ma (I'm only bleeding)" by Robert McGuin, explain:

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn/ suicide remarks are torn. From the fools gold mouthpiece/ the hollow horn plays wasted words/proved to warn/that he not busy being born/ is busy dying

Here the sentiment of being dragged down by capitalist desires is echoed in "fools gold mouthpiece" and "he not busy being born/ is busy dying". Although Billy and Capitan American claim to be "apart" from societies demands, they ultimately surrender by claiming their ultimate adventure is one of discovery, when in reality -- its motives are monetary.

Capitan America's utterance "We blew it" epitomizes the disappointment he discovers within himself when he realizes how the open road, adventure, and individualism they claimed to seek was driven by money and self-service. In the end, the road movie ideals "punish" their greed, and cut their trip (and their lives) short.

Here is Bob Dylan singing the song "Its alright Ma (I'm only bleeding)"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bjqYPH7rAo

February 1, 2008

"We Blew It"

While the American Dream is essentially about success and security, about making it, the road is about escape, and freedom.
Romancing the Road by Eyerman, page 74. I believe that Wyatt was under the impression that money doesn't fulfills life and happiness so he wasn't satisfied at the end of their trip. Their mission was to go out and find the America that they hadn't experienced before which was complete freedom from everything and exploration for experience. It was very fitting that when they set out on their journey,
Born to Be Wild
was playing in the background, as if they were born to be on the road. The American Dream is supposed to mean that people have freedom but in the movie, it was evident that most people like the so-called
rednecks
were too afraid to let go of the lives that they were leading. For example, the men in the small town diner that were discriminating against Wyatt, George and Billy because they had long hair and dressed differently, didn't think that anybody should act or be different. When Wyatt said them three words after they left Mardi Gras, he meant that him and Billy two blew it for anyone that thought America was different because they were supposed to find that there was another success other than money. When Billy was satisfied with the fact that they were rich with money, Wyatt was disappointed because money was all they knew before they ventured on the trip. They set out to find something new and instead in the end, they gave into the societal norms with money measuring success. Life itself was supposed to be the reward since they were experiencing a different kind of life, independence, with the choice that they could decide what they wanted to do and when they wanted to do it, without boundaries. I think it is sad that the only measurement of success and happiness always has to be connected to money and that is what Wyatt was starting realize and it frustrated him. I would also like to add that I thought it was ironic that Wyatt said
we blew it
and was unsatisfied with life and then the next day, they were both shot to death. Isn't it ironic?

"We Blew It!"

It is a celebration of the freedom of the road and the beauty of the landscape and a dissertation on the end of the road and the repulsive banalities and industrial blight that disfigure the scenery.
Klinger pg. 199

At the end of the film, when Wyatt says, "We blew it," it is left open-ended to the audience. He doesn't continue to explain what he means by this phrase, but one can draw a conclusion that its in relation to Billy and Wyatt's failure to oppose the cultural norm of America during their trip. There roadtrip was on the premise of being countercultural and as they leave New Orleans, Wyatt realizes that they have failed to do this.
The landscape itself after this phrase becomes dull and the 'norm' of American society. Throughout the entire film, Wyatt is always 'on the go' and restless. He wants to keep moving as if away from "normal" cities and industrialization. The song Born to Be Wild in the beginning of the film reinforces this restless, always on the move feeling.
The "we" that Wyatt uses is referring to himself and Billy. It was their adventure; their roadtrip. Wyatt and Billy failed to stay against the norm of society. They got caught up in the stability of culture.

...the road now mirrors their failure with images of technology's own failure to fulfill its ideological promise of improving society: here, it seems more like a contamination.
Laderman pg. 77

"We blew it"...

"American road novels generally devote more romantic attention to the highway and automobile. Yet the automobile bears within it an ambivalence, around whether it frees or imprisons us." (Laderman, p. 9)

Wyatt (aka 'Captain America') and Billy set out at the beginning of the movie on an adventure, using illegally-earned money to seek the freedom and excitement of the road on the way to their ultimate destination: a prime example of hedonistic rebellion against societal order, Mardi Gras. Their adventure seems to be fueled by an underlying desire for some kind of greater enlightenment or sensual/emotional/spiritual awakening than they have experienced within the confines of society. Wyatt discards his watch at the onset of their journey, signifying (according to Laderman) the "urge to move beyond not only social and narrative conventions, but temporal and spatial ones." (Laderman, p. 68) Yet on their journey, they find themselves unable to completely escape the constraints of time, space, and conservative culture - in fact they find themselves dependent on them, to some extent.

The first indication of struggle between freedom and conservative culture occurs immediately, when Billy and Wyatt look for a hotel room to sleep in and yet are rejected by the very "institution" they are attempting to leave behind on their journey. They end up sleeping in nature, in a less comfortable and ideal sleeping situation but with more "freedom". Ironically, they feel safer and more free in the wild than they do where they are not accepted, in the hotel run by a man representing the conservative ideals they are trying to outrun. Later, though, Billy and Wyatt are robbed of this safety in nature, when they are brutally beaten by local rednecks who again reject their free-loving, wild spirit lifestyle. Their freedom is constricted by society. Wyatt, unable to feel as exhilarated about life using drugs as Billy, states somewhat prophetically "We blew it" near the end of the movie. There is no way he could have known that the would both be killed the next day, the ultimate rejection by the closed-minded rural rednecks they have continually encountered - but he felt that their journey was in vain. They presumably squandered a large amount of their drug money on more drugs, alcohol, and sex, and were unable to truly find the elusive freedom from society that they set out in search of.

We blew it!

"...a spectacular document of its times that effectively represented the hippie ethos as well as the serious rifts between counter- and dominant cultures." (Klinger, p. 179)

Easy Rider begins its journey full of hope for Billy and Wyatt and ends with such a horrific event that it truly represented the vast differences that divided the country at that time. Billy and Wyatt represent what Americans fear and hope for the most - true freedom. Buying motorcycles and setting off on the road without a care and with nothing to tie them down encapsulates what many Americans can only dream of doing, as modern society has dictated that in order to have a valid life you must have a job, a spouse, and a mortgage bill. If you do not sign on for that lifestyle, than yours is not valid, as seen in the eyes of America, thus creating fear (which becomes hate) of those who are free. Because of this difference, and for the freedom that they cannot have, the people that they meet in the South are set upon hating Billy & Wyatt, ensuring that they feel as unwanted and worthless as possible. Eventually, this leads to violence, and ultimately, death, as that has become the American way of dealing with things that are deemed unacceptable.
Wyatt’s proclamation of “We blew it? at the end of the movie represents the end of the hippie culture, the end of true freedom. As their journey showed, neither drugs, sex, nor money allow attainment of freedom, and that the further away from Los Angeles they got, the less their culture was accepted. What was accepted as the dominant culture in one region was the counter culture in another.
The film uses many techniques to portray these cultural differences, including the way in which scenes were shot and the change in Billy and Wyatt’s attitudes. In the beginning, there are many panoramic shots of wide open space, uncivilized land, and free moving peoples. Towards the end, the shots become focused on societal progress in the form of buildings, graveyards, and businesses, ultimately forcing those who lived there to form roots. As the scenes change, so do the characters attitudes. At the start of their journey, Billy and Wyatt ride erratically over the road, changing lanes, playing with their bikes, and acting carefree. As they begin to move into the South, they become more reserved, trying to get through to Mardi Gras as quickly as they can, which they begin after they encounter trouble in the “parading without a permit? scene.
In the end, we learn that true freedom does not come easily, and that the dominant culture is not always as accepting of counter cultures, as maybe it should be.

"We Blew it"

In Driving Visions, Laderman states that "at a certain point down the road, the road movie's glorified mobility seems to yield a disillusioned attitude in the protagonist, who have been unable truly to escape, and who have internalized (brought with them) the pressures of conformist society." This quote seems to help explain Wyatt's "We blew it" statement in the fact that neither Wyatt or Billy ever escaped conservative and conformist America despite all their efforts. For instance, at their last campfire conversation Billy says now that they have all their money they can go to Florida and retire. This statement is reinforcing the ideals of conservative America where you do settle down and have a sense of stability. At this point in the film, Wyatt is no longer "disillusioned" from traveling on the road and realizes that they never did completely embrace American counterculture but were stuck with the beliefs of conformist America. Indeed conformist America literally kept following Wyatt and Billy while they were on the road - one example is when the men in the diner follow them to their campsite and give them a brutal reminder of the conservative America they are trying to escape from. Another instance is of course at the very end when the pickup truck, another symbol of American conformist culture rather than a motorcycle, chases after Wyatt and Billy showing that no matter where they go the conservative American culture will always be with them. With this last sequence in the film, with the exploding motorcycle and two deaths, we get an extreme visual of the counterculture ideals dying and in the end the conformist culture conquers. When Wyatt says, "We blew it" he finally realizes that no matter how far they traveled the conformist culture will always be with them.

"We blew it!"

As stated by David Laderman in his work Driving Vision,

“It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; and it is the end of wanting to be on the road?
(Laderman 77). This observation fully encapsulates the final statement “We blew it? by Wyatt in Easy Rider by stating the end and being defeated. This powerful declaration symbolizes and states how both Wyatt and Billy were unable to glorify the counter-culture declaration by them by taking to the road and living a lifestyle opposite of what America stood for in the 1960s. From the beginning of the film, we are given the images of how these two men embark on the land to not only discover America, but to start the life they have always wanted to. The image of the two of them at the beginning of the film, getting on their bikes, Wyatt throwing away the symbolism of time and constraint set by society through the watch, and riding away together begins the overall emphasis of counter-culture by going against how most in society and America live. This beginning is also enhanced by the rock song “Born to be Wild? by having the image of them on their new life adventure together in connection with the words of the song, to enhance the overall connection of living and going against the norm. Throughout the movie they live their new life they way they have always wanted to, continuing to stat how they finally are able to do things according to how they have wanted. The life of freedom, drugs, women, and the overall ambition of not having to answer to anyone. The two men however are challenged various times by catching up with society and its conservative values along the way, by being arrested, ridiculed, and attacked for living their lives they have been on the road. In the end, however, Wyatt realizes they were unable to live the life they wanted and the life they felt they belonged to wasn’t real, in addition to realizing the life they felt they belonged to wasn’t truly for them, is where Wyatt makes the statement and observation “we blew it!? Although the statement at the end of the film “we blew it!? is never fully understood or elaborated due to the sudden end of the all-American road trip by society Wyatt and Billy were getting away from, there are many interpretations to be made about what can be deemed the most profound words spoken within the film Easy Rider.

Blowing It In Easy Rider

"It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding on a variety of levels. The sense that stability, and all if its pitfalls clings to their wanderlust is most pronounced during the film's first climax" (Laderman 76).

Wyatt's lingering line, "we blew it," in "Easy Rider" can refer to many aspects of the film, but above all, I believe this line refers to the duos inability to carry out the rugged individualism and wandering ambition that they had tried hard to uphold throughout the film. From the early scenes of the film, Wyatt and Billy sit in stark contrast to stability and a roadless life. When they have dinner with a farmer and his family, the contrast in the appearance of the characters alone illustrates this point. Later, when Billy and Wyatt reach the commune, they find a sanctuary for wanderers, basically a safe haven: "Thank you for a place to make a stand" (Easy Rider). Even here, where wanderers are content to stay, Wyatt and Billy grow ever restless to leave again. The duo are individuals and live their lives by the road, a contrast to everything and everyone around them.
Their greatest success, and consequently their greatest failure, comes when they meet George Hansen. Here, I find, is where the meaning of Wyatt's "we blew it" line originates. George is a lawyer who finds himself bored with life and consequently is a drunkard. He embodies American culture, standing still in a place that has outgrown him, being free without freedom. Billy and Wyatt represent the American counterculture of true freedom and wanderlust. As the three of them take off on the road, we see the culture and counterculture mesh in the childlike flying motions Billy and George make on the road. We see how this combination affects American culture in the diner scene. As the trio sit and wait for service, groups of people sit around and talk about them. A group of men discuss the inhumaneness of the trio, comparing them to gorillas, an officer and his friend discuss ways to "deal" with them

We see how this combination affects American culture in the diner scene. As the trio sit and wait for service, groups of people sit around and talk about them. A group of men discuss the inhumaneness of the trio, comparing them to gorillas, an officer and his friend discuss ways to "deal" with them, and a group of girls is enamored with their long hair and ruggedness. Here we see how American culture is simultaneously frightened and intruiged by counterculture.
George's death is the first way in which "we" (aka American counterculture and escapism) blow it. With the death of their new partner, Wyatt and Billy have failed to successfully introduce their way of life into American culture, stability having caught up with them. By taking George's money and spending it in New Orleans, they have accepted American culture, have fed into it, and have abandoned their own counterculture. Their failure is further illustrated in the acid trip. The trip, filled with freak outs, religious references (the ultimate symbol of stability), and complete incoherence, solidifies both wanderlust and the counterculture that Billy and Wyatt embody as a dream, not a reality. Ultimately, they have failed in their journey to escape stability, have failed in upholding their counterculture, and have blown it in terms of staying faithful to themselves and the road.