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February 29, 2008

What about my name...?

Grace Lee (the filmmaker) effectively uses the road to deconstruct the stereotype that surrounds Asian women in the United States in her film, The Grace Lee Project. I feel that she does this by first establishing the stereotype (smart, quiet, blends in), which ends up taking up quite a bit of the film. After establishing the key characteristics of Grace Lees’ – or the common characteristics of all Asian American women – she can then move forward with the film and show distinct Grace Lees’ who break the mold and are changing the world around them. These women demonstrate that the box society gives Asian women can be broken out of, but sadly, not many do because of the strict social norms. Grace’s disappointment is shown when she discovers that the Grace Lee based in Seoul ends up giving up her groundbreaking work because of its social implications. In the end though, Grace proves her point: each of us is different and breaks the mold in our own way, but society should take some pressure off Asian women to act in a certain manner.

I believe Grace brings home a better sense of self from the road – similarly to Angela Shelton. Though Grace did not go searching for a particular “missing piece? of herself, she managed to get a better idea of who she was and where she was going by listening to these women’s stories and drawing on them for inspiration in her own life. Grace was saying that Grace Lee’s are each powerful, successful women in their own way – whether that is a loving mother and wife or a public figure, like the television reporter. She also suggests that Grace Lees do not identify themselves the same way that others do. Many of the women did not first identify themselves by their race or other characteristics given to them by the people interviewed on the street, though they were often proud of their heritage. Grace Lee Boggs explicitly states that she identifies people by what they do, not by their race or gender, which made her an integral part of the Black Power Movement.

You Are Either Asian Or American, Not Both

"Most of the time these other Grace Lees were only faintly remembered. They were "good girls" obedient, smart, and throughly dull. The more I heard about these other Grace Lees, the more I became convinced that "Grace Lee" signified a boring, conservative hyper-achiever, confirming already existing stereotypes of Asian Americans. I secretly feared that my name alone lumped me together with people I felt I had nothing in common with, or worse, with people who made me look bad! Was I just as boring and fishy as those other Grace Lees?" (The Grace Lee Project)

The "Grace Lee Project" was an interesting reflection of the Asian-American society, as well as the Asian-American woman. Being Asian though not being Korean, I felt a sort of affinity towards this documentary as I could relate to many of the themes. Asian-Americans are often viewed as being overachievers because they try to be overachievers. If they are not smart and talented at every musical instrument starting with A to Z, their family will look down at them and pressure them. Asian-Americans often have to work twice as hard as their Western Counterparts because Asians in America often do not get much respect. In order to get the respect they want and deserve, they have to work and show people how capable they are. Asian-Americans are often insecure and need people to tell them over and over that they are smart. They should not have to be like this.

This movie was exceptionally enlightening as it showed us how people do not have to abide by stereotypes in order to be happy as the happiest Asian-American was the ones who did what they wanted to do whether it was drawing weird pictures, playing musical instruments, or practicing their religion of choice. I think that this movie was more about being Asian-American rather than focusing on the feminism aspect of the movie. The stereotypes regarding being Asian-American can apply to both male and female Asian-Americans and as a result, I am not really sure as to how this particular movie was relevant to this class. However, it was a really nice movie, a good wholesome documentary that far exceeded the Angela Shelton documentary in both the creative and professional manners of the movie.


Identifying as Grace Lee

During the making of THE GRACE LEE PROJECT, both my best hopes and worst fears were confirmed and there were many surprises along the way. I learned what makes each of the Grace Lees that I met unique and what binds us all together.
(Grace Lee)

In the film The Grace Lee Project , the director Grace Lees explores identity politics by uncovering what her common name means in the world of the stereotyped Asian American woman that she has difficulty identifying with. The question that Grace frequently fouces on is that of how each Grace Lee distinguishes themselves and in a broader context how they identify themselves as well. What Grace finds is that she is not alone in her identity crisis that is related to her name; on her journey she finds a community of women who also struggle with the seterotype of Asian American women and who they themselves really are.

While Grace finds many common experiences with the women she meets with she also uncovers various differences in lives of some very remarkable women. One of these women is Grace Lee Boggs, a social activist in the black community of Detroit. Grace Lee Boggs was apart of the Civil Rights movement and leaves the director Grace with her own view that Identity is not in your name but in the things you do. Grace focuses more closely on the things that other Grace Lees do, which moves the documentary from humerous clips on the stereotype of Grace Lees to a captive story telling of the lives of each individual Grace. With such as shift in the documentary each Grace gains their own identity. I think this documentary gives Grace Lee identity by using multideminsonal conceptual analysis to uncover the struggle that all people face when attempting to set themselves apart for the social constructed stereotype they are placed in. Many different aspects of each Grace Lees' life were exposed to unfold a comprehensive image and identity that goes beyond just a name.

Grace Lees of the World

I really enjoyed "The Grace Lee Project." It was refreshing to have a bit of humor. I found it interesting that Grace Lee (filmmaker) began her quest on the internet, she let the Grace Lees come to her. She did surveys and researched the other Grace Lees. On paper, the Grace Lees looked very similar but after taking to road and meeting each Grace Lee, they proved be unique. Through the surveys and interviews with those who knew a Grace Lee, filmmaker Grace Lee showed the different stereotypes that were applied to Asain American women and, consequently, to the Grace Lees of the world. The Grace Lees were used to show the generalizations made on all Asian American women. The road became a way to deconstruct the stereotypes. Grace Lee showed women from all different ages, different family backgrounds, and different paths of life. Each woman that we met was extraordinary, from helping clean up a city to taking in an abused family, these Grace Lees exceded expectations and defied stereotypes. At the beginning of the film the filmmaker was unsure of her role as Grace Lee, she did not seem to fit any of the generalizations. Through the search of others with her same name, the filmmaker discovered that each Grace Lee was an individual and took on life in their own way. It helped her realize that she too was special, even though she was categorized as a "Grace Lee," Asian American woman.

February 25, 2008

"What's in a Name?""

At the end of the film Angela Shelton finds herself and realizes the true meaning that lies behind the name that she was given. By connecting herself and investigating the lives of many other Angela Sheltons in the country she is finally provided with an open door toward understanding herself and finding herself for the first time in her life. The film works to represent women whom have experienced a situation of abuse and through their humor, hard work, faith, and strength found the will to fight back and reclaim their life. Through this emotionally trying journey Angela Shelton undergoes she is able to reach an area of reconciliation with what happened in her childhood and able to reconnect with members of her family, her brother for example that contributed to the breakdown of her character, allowing herself to be lost and once again found.

An interesting area of the film that I found to be quite an original approach on the issue that was being presented was the capture of emotion. I as an audience was able to feel directly connected with Angela Shelton and was not for one moment incapable of going through the transition of emotions that were felt throughout the course of the documentary. It was amazing to see how open these other Angela’s were in terms of sharing the stories and presenting proof to a greater audience of the pain that they have been holding on to as a result of such criminal acts that were forced upon them.

“Do you have any idea where you are going?? –God This quote resounded throughout the entire documentary implying that Angela Shelton made this film in order to find herself, to feel connected to other women that may be holding on to the same hurt that she has been carrying with her all her life. She wanted to engage others and make them talk about the pain that they may have been suppressing by allowing them along with herself a means in which they can be released of such aching emotions. At the end of the film this question was answered for Angela Shelton by seeing proof of those other women who were able to revisit their faith and strength of character in order to be reunited with the person that has always been present but simply hidden.

Searching for A.S.

"Men have committed the greatest crime against women. Insidiously, violently, they have led them to hate women, to be their own enemies, to mobilize their immense strength against themselves, to be the executants of their virile needs....They have constructed the infamous logic of antilove." (878, Medusa essay)

I have been very lucky and have never been in a situation when a man has even tried to force himself on me. I have maybe a friend or two who has had that happen, but other than that I've never been exposed to such a situation. I put that quote up there because I think it is important to realize how dramatic and childish some of us are acting about this movie because men aren't bad people. I'll get to that later. Anyways, I thought this movie was absolutely remarkable. I cannot believe that one woman had the guts to go out there and pursue this project. I think she started off on this project expecting something totally different than what she got but it was definitely for the better. She needed this to help her in the healing process and it was probably a good excuse for her to confront her father and talk to him about her past. I'm very glad she had her physciatrist with her though because I don't know if anyone could handle that alone. Angela needed to do this for herself and for the sake of other women because what this did was open up a whole new world that has been hidden from people like me for such a long time.
If I could be in her place, I would do everything the same except I would not have as much of a man-hater aura around me. Although she is extrememly pleasant in the movie, every time she has to say that she too was molested or she too had a father that abused her, she would become a more sarcastic and bitter sounding person. This is completely understandable, I know, and I'm not blaming her for acting the way she does, it's just that the past is the past and the only use it has is to either hold you down or shape who you are. Men are not evil. Women are not evil. Evil is a spirit that goes in and out of different people at random times all the time. To call men the "anti-love" is just a silly thing to say because we are all people and none are smarter, better, or more important than the others. Not all men think they are either. I think that rape is a very peculiar situation because it can either come up from out of the blue or it can easily become an idea in a man's mind because of the signals us women give off. Oh I could go on forever talking about this but I just want to end saying that people are people and no one is going to change their sexual tendencies unless they have a hell of a good reason to so the only thing we can do is watch out.

Salvation from Affliction

This opposition to woman cuts endlessly across all the oppositions that order culture. It’s the classic opposition, dualist and hierarchical. Man/Woman automatically means great/small, superior/inferior… means high or low, means Nature/History, means transformation/inertia. In fact, every theory of culture, every theory of society, the whole conglomeration of symbolic systems-everything, that is, that’s spoken, everything that’s organized as discourse, art, religion, the family, language, everything that seizes us, everything that acts on us-it is all ordered around hierarchical oppositions that come back to the man/woman opposition, an opposition that can only be sustained by means of difference posed by cultural discourse as “natural,? the difference between activity and passivity. (Cixous, 44)

I want to begin by saying that there are a lot of things I would like to say about this film, but with respect to the assignment, I will try and contain this within the realm of the question at hand. I chose the quote from Cixous as an entry point into the understanding of the dynamics that were played out in Searching for Angela Shelton. I think the idea of a woman searching for other women who have had experiences like her own is a natural human instinct as a way of healing. However, in context to what the film was about, Angela Shelton searching for other Angela Shelton’s and discussing rape and sexual abuse, I was hard pressed to find her motives and follow through successful or helpful. I think that Angela Shelton used the cultural discourse and the use of dualisms towards Man/Woman as a way to fuel her journey.

I believe that Angela Shelton, with the use of “natural? cultural discourse towards Man/Woman, that she supported the idea that men and women are not equal and therefore men are the only beings capable of inflicting such vile acts upon another (women). That her father was responsible but that her step-mother was only a product of her father’s lust. That the real culprits were her father and step-brother, these were the true perpetrators. She blindly side stepped the idea that blame shall lie where blame is deserved and that is on everybody who perpetrated the assaults. The way in which I viewed the film I felt that she gave the power back to her assailants.

When Angela Shelton met with her father, she granted him the ability of denial. She granted him the opportunity to demean her again, and all that she did in return was roll her eyes. While throughout the entire film the point was to confront and conquer a lifetime of tragedy, she took the opportunity of confrontation and let it go.

Now in terms of her relationship towards (and I think it was towards and not with) the other Angela Shelton’s, I believe that she truly found a way to disrupt the system. That somehow they would all have similar stories. And while it’s true that many of them did in fact share common experiences, she made their stories under her own. Also, she only used their stories to tell her own, and not the other way around as would be expected. They were minute vehicles to her ultimate “salvation? from her afflictions.

And in the end: she was saved. The “original? Angela Shelton was redeemed from all evil and all past situations. Which I highly doubt wasn’t a ploy for a better plot. Things aren’t so quickly fixed in life.

Searching for Angela Shelton

"Write, let no one hold you back, let nothing stop you: not man; not the imbecilic capitalist machinery..." (Cixous 877)

I believe the convections from the 1970's of an early feminist recovery model is that women were suppose to keep their problems to themselves. They were suppose to keep everything hush hush, and they would not want other people to judge them by how their life is. Back then when situations involving women being victimized by rape, murder, or beaten, they would have an uneasiness of sharing their predicament, so they were afraid that they were the one to accuse of what had happened to them.

The story Searching for Angela Shelton works against the common culture representations on television of women being abused in any way by letting society know that these types of situations do happen. That life is not perfect and that not everything has to be hushed. That it is okay to talk about it. If more people know that this happens it will result in many women expressing their opinions, so women know they can protect their rights. If this information gets out, it will more likely prevent various abuses from happening in society in the future so that investigators can get involved and control this situation from occurring again. If I were Angela the only thing I would have done differently is to survey people of different race, and possibly changing the title as the class mentioned.

Angela Shelton

As a victim of rape this was a very hard video for me to watch. I understand what it's like to go through what she did but it seemed to me that she used these victims story to liberate herself. Which, when you go through something like that it is liberating to talk to other people about it and share your story- that's obviously the most important part of it. But the way that she handled the documentary upset me.

In tv victims (or should i say survivors) are more apt to go out and fight what happened to them. But in reality that is not the case, we tend to hide behind our stories afraid to share them. As all the women in the video admitted they had not fought their rapists, only struggled to get past what happened to them. Her story goes against the way tv presents this by crudely telling her story, and FORCING other women's stories out of them. It was really hard for me to watch, and i find it really frustrating!

Angela Shelton

By going in search of her father and trying to work through her emotional tangles as a victim of sexual abuse, Angela goes against the stereotypical female abuse victim. Most victims are silent, helpless. While Angela has her fair share of problems, she has begun to speak out and use her story to help other women speak up about abuse. This turns the tables on the abusers, because most rely on the belief that their victim won't report the crime. This movie brings awareness to the problem and a voice as well. Angela uses the movie to figure out what she needs to do to put the abuse behind her and move on. This can act as a model for women who have been victimized. While it may not be a pretty model, it makes the suffering real and human.
If I were to have made this movie, I would have put a voice to the male abusers. I think light needs to be shed on their persona and what kind of life they lead. However, I liked the way she put the movie together and I think that it was emotionally real.

Against the Norm

"We're stormy, and that which is ours breaks loose from us without our fearing any debilitation. Our glances, our smiles, are spent; laughs exude from all our mouths: our blood flows and we extend ourselves without ever reaching an end; we never hold back our thoughts, our signs our writing; and we're not afraid of lacking" (Cixous).

This quote explains the transformation of Angela and all other Angela Sheltons from the beginning of the movie to the end. She learns the power of speech and talking about any hurtful experiences which happened to her in childhood. Angela tried to maintain composure while searching for closure for her experiences. Since she was molested by her father and brother, it differs from the TV portayal of rape in Criminal Investigation stories because these are typically with random encounters of rapists whom are searching for power and is not necessarily someone that they are closely related to. On TV rapes and murders are in a dark alley behind closed doors when no one knows and the victim is too ashamed to tell. The difference with Angela is that her entire family knew that situation and in some twisted way was promoting it (with her step mom opening the door and her brother also molesting her as a learned behavior). If i were Angela Shelton, I would not have made this film any differently from how I saw it. This was a great film that helped me learn a lot about the situations what many women face every day and how it can be in such close contact.

Against the Norm

"We're stormy, and that which is ours breaks loose from us without our fearing any debilitation. Our glances, our smiles, are spent; laughs exude from all our mouths: our blood flows and we extend ourselves without ever reaching an end; we never hold back our thoughts, our signs our writing; and we're not afraid of lacking" (Cixous).

This quote explains the transformation of Angela and all other Angela Sheltons from the beginning of the movie to the end. She learns the power of speech and talking about any hurtful experiences which happened to her in childhood. Angela tried to maintain composure while searching for closure for her experiences. Since she was molested by her father and brother, it differs from the TV portayal of rape in Criminal Investigation stories because these are typically with random encounters of rapists whom are searching for power and is not necessarily someone that they are closely related to. On TV rapes and murders are in a dark alley behind closed doors when no one knows and the victim is too ashamed to tell. The difference with Angela is that her entire family knew that situation and in some twisted way was promoting it (with her step mom opening the door and her brother also molesting her as a learned behavior). If i were Angela Shelton, I would not have made this film any differently from how I saw it. This was a great film that helped me learn a lot about the situations what many women face every day and how it can be in such close contact.

Angela Shelton

In this film, the road functioned as a means for Angela to connect women around the country and allow them to tell their stories. By driving from place to place, she is creating a web which brings these women together in an effort to make them not feel alone. In the end, it is a story of unity. It attempts to help women understand that it is ok to tell their stories even if it is something that society would rather ignore. But more than anything, this is a personal journey for Angela. By meeting all of these women who had similar experiences to herself, she is able to confront her past which has been holding her back and, ultimatley, make peace with it. The strength of the women that she meets gives her the courage and hope to move on with her life. However, during her journey, I felt that she slightly abused her camera power. She was so focused on finding answers that she ended up being reckless with some people that she interviewed, such as the Anonymous Angela. This was a situation that could have very easily gotten out of her control, and for her to interfere with someone who was very unstable at the time seemed like an irresponsible thing. There were times in the film where I felt that she was more focused on herself than hearing the stories of the women she was interviewing, and I thought that was her other downfall in her use of camera power. Instead of letting these women's stories be heard, she tended to bring it back to herself and her story (such as the woman with the foster homes) and this was an abuse of her power. Overall, it was a well made film which addressed an important issue, and whatever faults that narrator had made me think about the movie more than I would have otherwise. So I would not change very much of the end result of this film.
-Answer to Section A's question

I am an Angela.

Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreak partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes, they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reserve-discourse, including the one that laughs at the very idea of pronouncing the word “silence?, the one that, aiming for the impossible, stops short before the word “impossible? and writes it as “the end.? (Cixous 886)

The road is the means of physically connecting all the Angela Sheltons. Though the stories and the presence of the other women and their stories served as the ulimate source of profound connection, the road is what allowed them to get to each other. The road breaks the barriers that are put up by society, keeping all the stories distant from each other. The road allowed Angela Shelton to break her silence.

Angela Shelton’s story is similar to so many other women around the world, yet unique to her. She was sexually abused as a child by multiple family members. This is devastating on her life and takes a break from relationships and sets off across America to talk to other women. The way she decided to survey women was quite interesting, by choosing women with her name. Though this is not foolproof and was not an accurate sample of the women of America, it served the purpose that she set out to do.

Women’s lives and stories and families emerge from the road and Angela’s adventure. I think that Angela uses her camera power responsibly to tell her own story, yes. But when it came to telling the stories of other women, I think it could have been done differently. I feel that even when the women began to talk, it came back to her story. Her camera power highlighted her story, which may not be wrong, considering the whole journey was about finding herself, confronting her dad and learning about the other Angela Sheltons.

If I were Angela I would have focused more on the other women as well. I would have allowed for the women to collaborate together, to help with therapy if needed after bringing up such a tough subject.

In Search of Angela Shelton

This film is about the director herself whose name is Angela Shelton and who has been abused by her dad. Through out the movie, she travels around America in search of others Angela Shelton, others who have been abused like her, and others whose name is just Angela Shelton. She decides to make this film, when she is drunk one night..i think. That's how she sounded like. It must have been really tough for the others Angela Shelton, because some of them called the director back and told her that they didn't want to hurt their family members by telling what happened to them on a film. To me, the whole thing seemed like an act. especially the director's acting or whatever. I know that this is a serious issue and still exists in corners of America, but the film was just hard to believe in. It had too much drama that I couldn't really handle it and left the room.

All roads lead to Shelton

To answer Group A's blog question, the road in Searching for Angela Shelton serves as the path leading Shelton to her confrontation with her father, and the way she uses the film to talk about her own story in conjunction with the other Angela Sheltons makes it seem to the audience that all roads lead to Charleston and to Shelton's father. At the beginning of the film, Shelton says that she wants to represent the women of America by meeting other women with her name and telling their stories. However, from her first meeting with another Angela Shelton, it seems that her primary interest is not in hearing about others' lives and/or misfortunes, but in telling her own story to whoever will listen, which made it hard to see the film as more than a story about Shelton's personal journey, rather than the larger problem of violence against women--not that Shelton's personal journey is less important, but if she had billed the film that way from the beginning, it would have been easier to accept the marginalizing of the other women's stories.

I don't think Shelton used her camera power responsibly in this film. She claimed to be presenting a representation of American women--and she did show the Angela Sheltons in their milieus, with their families and at work, but she also intercut still photos of signs and scenes along the road, often as rhetorical devices to influence the way the audience viewed a certain scene. The most prominent example was in the sign that read "It's still wrong even if you don't get caught," where Shelton focused on the word "wrong" as her father denied his past abuse. Certainly it was abominable that he molested her and her stepsiblings, and that he lied about it, but in this and other cases, Shelton clearly tries to manipulate the way we, the audience, view what she is showing us, rather than letting us come to our own conclusions about the material (although in the case of Shelton's father, we would likely come to the same conclusion Shelton does). Were I in Shelton's place, I would have focused more on the other Angela Sheltons, told their stories in more detail, and spent more time on each woman individually, rather than cutting quickly from story to story. I would also have held back on revealing most of Shelton's personal story until she reached Charleston. What I found most unappealing about this film was that Shelton interrupted the other women to recount her own story, cutting them off in such a way that made it seem as though she was fishing for sympathy. Had she focused more on the other women, then told her entire story in Charleston, I think her individual story would have been a more powerful revelation, and perhaps the audience would not have noticed that she skimmed over some of the other women's stories.

Angela Shelton

I answered group A's question just because I felt more comfortable tackling the content of this question and because I have no background in Women's Studies.

I think that this film definitely breaks a few silences of violence against women. However, I think that the biggest silence that was broken was the film maker Angela's silence. I think that the movie centered around her story of abuse rather than the other Angela's stories. I also think that maybe she tried to play therapist a little too much with some of the women. She could have really had a negative and destructive effect on the some of those women and their families. I appreciated the fact that this film gets the word out that there are many women, at least ten, in the US that have been abused. Maybe some of the women who see this will be inspired to make a positive change in their lives. However, I wish that Angela had interviewed some credible sources, and provided the women with professional therapeutic help. I don't think that any of her little subtitled information was very credible. She had no sources to validate her information. She also never mentioned the percentage of all women raped in America, only the Angela's she interviewed. However, on a personal level, I did not have any idea that incest and child molestation was so prevalent in America. I think that because it is such a sensitive and personal subject, it is often overlooked and not talked about. I think that Angela did a good job of bringing this touchy subject into the light a bit more. But I would have appreciated more solid facts and resources.

The road in this film functioned as the connection between the Angelas all over the country. The director Angela used the road as a way to travel to her destinations and fulfill her journey. She could have used a plane to get from place to place, but she chose the road. I think she did this because of both budget and because on the road, one can see many different things and stop along the way. Trains, buses, and airplanes have specific destinations. The road and her RV provided Angela with the freedom to make her own destinations.

If I were Angela, I would have included some specialists on the subjects I was trying to focus on. I would broaden the scope of information that I was giving and provided some information on where to get help. I would especially focus on how I got through my trauma rather than just the trauma itself.

Angela Speaks

--I am not a GWSS Major--

The documentary film, Searching for Angela Shelton, displays women who were victims of sexual and physical abuse as perhaps reluctant, but not refusing to admit they were abused. They seem to identify with Angela Shelton (the director), and her ability to share her story without inhibition or discretion. Although this is potentially damaging for many of the participants in this movie, Shelton challenges them in order to haggle with her own demons. Traveling to her abusive father for an 'on film' confrontation acts as the pinnacle of her restoration. Her confrontation, though it accomplishes little if anything of substantial evidence, it provides the focal Angela Shelton with some closure. Though I believe she should have been much more tactful in the discovery process with the other Angela's, I think the film displays the director's need for attention, sympathy, and closure; All of which I believe she accomplishes.

Angela Shelton

Searching for Angela Shelton is a documentary about Angela Shelton who goes on a voyage across the United States to find all the other Angela Sheltons. Angela had been sexually abused as a young child and finds that many of the other Angela Sheltons have been abused in some way throughout their lives as well. I think that in this film the road functions as a means for Angela to find some answer to her troubled past. In the beginning of the film it seems as if she is just interested in the other lives of the Angelas, but as she travels across the United States it seems as if she is looking for some answer as to why she was abused. As she meets with these other women across the United States she finds that most of them have been abused in some way. She uses the camera to as the means to tell their stories. We do get insight from these ladies but the way the film is made, all the stories somehow come back to her own life. Instead of focusing on the Angela Sheltons and what has happened to them, she makes it so she can use their stories to tell about herself and her past. In a few cases, i think she handles the situations really irresponsibly. There is the first lady that she speaks to and this lady clearly has not had any issues with abuse but it seems that Angela is almost prying to try to find some information. Then there is the lady that is opening up room for foster care services and Angela brings up the totally irrelevant fact that she was in a foster home and it was horrible. In this instance the lady is clearly doing something good but Angela turns it into something bad by bringing up her own troubles. We see this throughout the entire film as she journeys to meet her dad. She finally makes it to South Carolina to confront her dad about what he did. I feel that it is almost stupid to think that after 20 some years that if she confronts him he will own up to the fact that he sexually abused her as a child. Seriously if some guy had gotten away with this for all this time, showing up with a camera and asking him why he did it is probably not the best idea in the world. I think that the film was a good idea and was interesting to hear these women's stories but I think it should have focused more on their lives and trials. I think it was good how she shared her personal story but that she was almost selfish in the way that she did it. Also I don't feel that she accomplished anything by going to her dad. I guess maybe it helped her in some way to confront him but it didn't seem like it in the film.

What's eating Angela Shelton?

Searching for Angela Shelton has obvious successes and misfires. A woman journeys independently across the country, using the vehicle of "American womanhood" to resolve (or attempt to resolve) her own issues. She encounters women from many backgrounds, all of whom have something-- encouraging, significant, or neither-- to say.

Obviously, she makes a mistake in presuming that the Angela Sheltons of the country represent all of the women of America. She also focuses more on her story (her pain, her past) than on an accurate representation of theirs.

Maybe, however, this inexperienced filmmaker has gotten closer to the heart of womanhood through her failings. Maybe some women really do get that caught up in their own pain, and maybe it is impossible to look past oneself into another person until they, you know, get over themselves, to put it painfully.

Further, perhaps it is impossible to give a truthful representation of womanhood through film, not only because truth cannot be represented by a camera, but because the borders of "womanhood" are so wide and indistinct that nothing can show more than a tiny, immediate picture.

Finding the New Woman

To write. [...] it will give her back her womanly being, giving her access to her native strength; it will giver her back her goods, her pleasures, her organs, her immense bodily territories which have been kept under seal...

I hope that Angela's story gave her some healing. I hope that it gave her her body back. By her making this film, she was trying to regain control and find insight. I think film-maker Angela's brother said it best when he said "I think you're searching for something... I hope you find it". I think that Finding Angela Sheldon is a story about finding yourself through common experiences with others. Trauma brings people together, and several Angelas in the documentary said that women need to stand together and be there and help each other out, because that's all we have. Angela's road trip was a journey to find her self, and ends in the, in my opinion, frustrating/maddening encounter with her father. Her father, who was supposed to always be her protector and lead male figure in her life; who only denied her accusations and dismissed her as well as them. Her reaction afterward was raw and emotional, and true to the film and herself. Angela's story, as well as all of the other Angela Sheldons', works against that which is now-entertainment of criminal dramas on TV or other pop culture. This is real life, where almost all of the Angela Sheldons that were found had been raped or otherwise victimized, yet had never seen their attackers be punished. In TV, you get used to seeing the criminal justice process go ao quickly, that the offenders are caught and punished within a 60 minute block. In Angela's story, these women had to rely mainly on themselves to heal and build themselves up. Frankly, I enjoyed the documentary just how it was. It was real, and emotional, and I felt for all these Angela Sheldons, and any other women like them.

In Search

“At worst, many women wonder whether they even exist. They feel they don’t exist and wonder if there has ever been a place for them. I am speaking of woman’s place, from woman’s place, if she takes (a) place (Helene Cixous, 43).?
What an awful thought to go through ones head “whether I even exist?, finding yourself in this world is difficult as it is, but when one has to go through the traumatic life experience of being raped, abused, or victimized, the mind really starts to question just why am I here, what did I do to deserve this, and how much can I really handle. This brings me back to the one section of the movie, where Angela is speaking to the “anonymous Angela? and she keeps repeating that she is “lower than a dog?. It disturbs me how any one person can have that much control over one’s life in order to make them feel so low, and so horrible about themselves.
The movie Searching for Angela Shelton is vastly different from the common cultural representation of women who are raped, murdered, beaten, and or victimized as seen on television. The women portrayed in this particular film, were not shown so much as victims, but as survivors. Whereas on the television screen women are shown merely as victims, their lives after the abuse, rape, or victimization is never shown. It is good to see that these victims of such horrible experiences are able to move on and succeed in their lives.
Despite some flaws within the film, overall I felt this documentary had the overall right intentions behind it. Not only was Angela traveling this road for her own personal growth and closure to her awful childhood, but she was allowing others the chance to open up about their experiences and share them with the world. I liked that this story was not just about her; although her story overpowered most of the film, but it still allowed for other voices of survivors and strong women in general to be heard.

angela shelton

I feel like the women in this film were portrayed as strong and defiant. Despite being abused in awful ways, most of them have managed to take that and confront it. They perservered through hard times and became inspiring figures. On television, or other CSI type stories, the victims are never given a chance to show anything but hurt and vunerability. Part of this is probably due to the time in which these shows span; most of the time, they are only taking place over a few days. I feel like these shows never show us what has happened, and they definitely never show victims afterward. This movie proved to be inspiring. That women could put the past behind them and help unify others, that was an amazing aspect and portrayal of victims. That being said, I would've done things a little differently than Angela Shelton. She had so many wonderful resources and chose to focus most of the movie on herself. I probably would focus more on the other women. I definitely would be less dramatic, but perhaps that is in my nature.

February 24, 2008

Searching for Healing

The movie presents a new view of victims af sexual assault, as compared to mainstream television and movies. I watch a lot of Law and Order, especially Law and Order SVU, and comparing that television show with "Searching for Angela Shelton" brings certain characteristics of the differing ways in which sexual assault is portrayed. In the mainstream showing, the victim of the assault suffers horrible trauma. Then the police officers come into the story and try to catch the bad guy. The police manage to spend some time trying to console the victim, but the main plot of the story and the main focus of the camera is the process of searching for the perpetrator, who is most of the time brought to justice in the end. The documentary shows rape, incest and assault dealt with in a completely different manner. The show ends with the catching or prosecution of the criminal, placing the focus on the perpetrator; and we are left hanging on the status of the victim, who should seemingly be the center of the story.

The feature of the movie that stands out is Angela's (the main one) struggle with her history, having grown up experiencing rape, incest and other horrors within her family life. She is the victim, and in this story she is the one who goes out and searches for a solution to her situation. In this case, it is not the incarceration or punishment of the assaulters. Instead the focus is on her battle to reach an inner peace, and peach with the world around her, including her step-brother and potentially her father.

Even though Angela is the victim, she does not remain helpless or crippled by her horrible pains. She does cry, and she does hurt, but she still manages to be a person with strenght and power to move, physically and emotionally. She is not passive. Her way of discussing her past stands quite in contrast with mainstream representations and discussions of rape and incest. Angela is very open in her discussion of the trauma she went through, describing the exact events and the feelings that she had. She has a voice, and she uses it to let those around her know all that violence that has marked her.

Angela's travel to search for the other Angela Sheltons seems to be just an excuse to travel to find her father and step-brother. This becomes more apparent as the movie progresses, since as she gets closer to her father's home, she spends more time talking about her own issues and less time letting these other women speak. The documentary could have instead just focused on her, using some other medium to express her need to travel, instead of searching for these other women. But maybe part of Angela's healing process did involve meeting other women. Maybe her life could be ok, since all these other women were, mostly, doing ok.

What does Angela Shelton Find?

Helene Cixous states on page 878 of The Laugh of the Medusa that "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, [...] in order to be more than her self." The film-making Angela Shelton set off on her journey to meet other women with a similar name professing not to know who she would find. But within each woman she encounters she identifies with a certain portion of that woman, a particular situation of experience, and this is what she portrays on screen. She is essentially using encounters with other women to tell a story about herself. However this story transcends the small boundaries of her own life because it begins to capture what Helene Cixous is alluding to: the unflagging spirit of women who have been and are still being hurt, molested, raped and repressed all over the country. And yet there are voices that speak out from this movie about sisterhood, survival, and hope. This is the true impact of Angela Shelton's movie -- little inspirational tidbits. If she does this task with a bit too much melodrama we as viewers forgive her on behalf of the women she has introduced us to. Angela Shelton goes on a journey and finds herself but also finds an echo of the voice of American women that helps her to be more than just herself. The thing I would have done differently in making a film like this is that I would have admitted from the outset exactly what I expected to find in the commonality among these women and use it to start the conversation with each woman rather than letting the film maker's personal story slip out in conversation as a probe to elicit a similar story. This seemed to me to be a shoddy brand of documentary film making. I wonder if more or less of the Angela Sheltons would have agreed to be on film if she had presented her project more straightforwardly.

In Search of a Painful Past

I found the film "Searching for Angela Shelton" interesting when compared to the other road films that we have viewed. I did not like the film much on its own, for I, too, felt that it was cheesy and over acted. I do appreciate what Angela Shelton (film maker) did and empathize with the women of the film, though my personal feelings are pushed aside to examine the differences between the past films and this one. In "Easy Rider" and "The Girl on a Motorcycle" the main characters took to the road to escape a life of displeasure. "Easy Rider" portrayed men who left their homes and belongings in order to escape society. "The Girl on a Motorcycle" told the story of a woman leaving an unhappy marriage behind. Both films show characters that left painful memories and unpleasant lifes behind in search of something better. Angela Shelton leaves her home, a place of comfort, to address and discuss painful memories of her past and the past of other women who suffered from abuse. She searches out the negative and faces the horrible feelings that come along with it. She chooses to go in search of those who have been hurt and those who have hurt her. In the end she does come to terms with her past and formed a community with the other Angela Sheltons.

Overcoming Abuse

I found the film Searching for Angela Shelton to be very interesting. The film, like numerous other films and televisions, made the women out to be the victims. It was the women who were abused, raped, and hurt. In the entire film we only heard from one man, Angela's brother, who also went through this type of abuse,when in reality many men are affect by it. As far as television and other films go, yes women were the victims however Angela's also showed the women as powerful figures who could overcome this abuse. It did not take a man or millions of dollars in therapy to help these women face what had happened to them, and each one of them came out stronger on the other end. If I were to remake this film I would do it fairly similar to the way Angela had made it. However, I would also include my visits with other Angela's who were not abused just to give the auidience an idea about the other types of women who are out there in America. I wish we could have met the women who did have a healthy and happy childhood because the way that she only focused on abuse made me really sad and feel like most of American women face these troubles.

Use and Abuse of Camera Power (taking Section A's question)

The camera more so than the road becomes the most powerful tool in this film. Instead of the road functioning as a way of escape and symbol of freedom, it serves as a connector, a direct line to the Angela Shelton's of the United States. The road is part of "breaking the silence" because support and unity in the form of the original Angela Shelton travels along it, helping other women to voice their stories and share their experiences. The road produces someone to relate to, the comfort of knowing they're not alone. Although bits and pieces of the documentary seemed a little cheesy and too "acted", overall i felt that Angela used her camera power in a very responsible way. I walked away with a strong sense of empowerment as a woman and a feeling of unity, which i believe was one of her goals. She set out on the journey to help other women and to help herself, which she did. For some of the Angela Shelton's simply "breaking the silence" and speaking aloud their tragedies was a great sense of relief. Some could criticize that she focused a lot on herself and her own story, but i saw it as an example, a sense of encouragement for other Angela Shelton's and women in general, of a woman facing her fears and confronting her pain to gain some closure and be able to move on in her own life. It is hard to criticize a documentary of such personal content because it is not a fictional film or intended to entertain, it is up to the individual to dictate the narrative and i think Angela does a remarkable job. Yes maybe there are a few nit picky things that could be changed and her background as an actress is questionable, but overall, If i were Angela Shelton, I would not have made this film differently.

Exporation of the Road and of the Self

In this film the road functions as a source of variation. The road brings us to new places and new people, it is a path for exploration of not only the United States but also of Angela Shelton and the experiences of American Women. On this journey they explore the experiences of different women with a common thread- not just the name Angela Shelton, but also personal strength and perseverance. The story emerges and many women tell their tale, many have been abused in some form and Angela has them tell her about it. Sometimes her tactics involve coercion and other times she uses a “this is what my father did to me? kind of a strategy in which she tells their stories using her own. Angela neglects some of her responsibility to these women; she is not a therapist and should not act as one. We also hope that she brought with her some kind of professional help but this is not mentioned in the film.

(this was section A's question)

Searching for Angela Shelton

The portrayal of rape, abuse, and molestation committed against women in Searching for Angela Shelton differs greatly from the current portrayal of such acts in modern culture. Typically, it is seen that most rapists have absolutely no connections to their victims, although this portrayal is starting to change with the knowledge that most rapists actually are family or friends of their victims. This is the case with most, if not all, of the women that are interviewed or featured in the film. The majority of the time on shows like CSI the rapist is a random man off the street, while the abusers are usually closely connected to the victim. In this respect, the representations on TV fit well with the testimonies of the film's Angela Sheltons.

Another aspect of difference is the fact that the filmmaker Angela Shelton was also abused by a woman, her step-mother. This is very rarely seen on TV crime shows; usually the woman is the victim and never the culprit. I feel that by never depicting the woman as the assailant, screenwriters and TV producers are in a way feeding into the stereotype that women are always weak and susceptible to men. Men being victimized by women is not unheard of at all, but it is never seen on television. In this regard, I think that it is admirable that a woman was also portrayed as a "bad guy" in the filmmaker's narrative, even though Angela never actually confronted her as she did with her father and brother.

Angela Shelton Exposed

“If man operates under the threat of castration, if masculinity is culturally ordered by the castration complex, it might be said that the backlash, the return, on women of this castration anxiety is its displacement as decapitation, execution, of woman, as loss of her head. We are led to pose the woman question to history in quite elementary forms like, ‘Where is she? Is there any such thing as woman?’ At worst, many women wonder whether they even exist. They feel they don’t exist and wonder if there has ever been a place for them. I am speaking of woman’s place, from woman’s place, if she takes (a) place? (Helene Cixous 43).?
Men have, for a long time, questioned the ability and existence of women; but it is truly sad that women question their own existence. While watching Searching for Angela Shelton I noticed that from beginning to end the women kept saying that they were nothing, they were no one, or that they are invisible. The most shocking one was a woman that actually believed she was lower than a dog. These women have been mentally and physically abused by people that were supposed to be the ones protecting them. They have been abused so much that they are actually mentally torturing themselves years afterwards. I found that the road was there to intertwine women everywhere together. As Angela was traveling she was building a path that was never taken, and can now be taken by other “Angela Sheltons.? Angela used her camera power to her advantage because she was trying to find her, trying to patch her life together with the help of others who have had the same trauma. The one thing I would change would be to help the other women confront their past, so they have an opportunity to move on. I feel that since they helped her by telling their story, she should help them. I found this documentary very troubling, a big reality hit.

Upending the stereotype

"Women have no choice other than to be decapitated, and in any case the moral is that if they don't actually lose their heads by the sword, they only keep them on the condition that they don't lose them -- lose them, that is, to complete silence, turned into automations," (Cixous, p. 42-43, 1981).

While I don't know anything about the feminist recovery model, I think I can to the rest of the question justice.

Angela Shelton fought back against the deafening silence in order to have her story heard. She is what is in opposition to the cultural representation on TV of women being victimized -- she is a survivor. Instead of having something terrible happen to her and then her accepting her fate while walking quietly into the night, Angela chose to loudly stand her ground. Instead of being ashamed, she told her story to hundreds of people in life and millions through her film, and she found the bond of sisterhood that comes with having been perpetrated against. She developed strength, inspired others to be strong, and took their combined strength to confront her abusers. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the most serious abuser denied the truth. For a moment, she freaked out, but then she once again found her strength, in both herself and in all the other women, and stood proud. This is the hallmark of the survivor -- to be able to stand physically alone, while knowing that one is never spiritually alone. Angela refused to be silenced and refused to be yet another statistic, which is what sets her apart from most of the portrayals on TV of women who were abused.

Now, as far as what I would have done differently in this film would be to ensure that adequate psychological help was available to those who I would interview. While it is true that talking about one's abuse can be quite cathartic and very healing, it can also open up old wounds. These wounds generally need assistance in order to heal -- and several of the women (specifically the Anonymous Angela) seemed to be having a difficult time dealing with things by themselves concerning the wound that had been reopened by talking about her abuse on the phone with filmmaker Angela. It would have set my mind at ease to know that professional help was available to these women, as I spent much of the film worrying about whether the Anonymous Angela was going to commit suicide because she did not have the resources to help her deal with her abuse.

Naming the Nameless

“We are led to pose the woman question to history in quite elementary forms, like, ‘Where is she? Is there any such thing as woman?’ At worst, many women wonder whether they even exist. They feel they don’t exist and wonder if there has ever been a place for them. I am speaking of woman’s place, from woman’s place, if she takes a place.? (Cixious, 43)

I found Searching for Angela Shelton to be very thought provoking and interesting. I felt that the road functioned as a connecting link that somewhat bridged the gap between these women who had very different, yet similar experiences. Angela traveled the road from one woman to the next and told their stories as a tool for both personal closure and for giving a voice to women around America. I think that the road was also used to represent the fact that women from all walks of life and all parts of our country face abuse and trauma. I personally feel that what Angela Shelton did was very brave and that she used her camera power responsibly. I can understand that many students may believe that she exploited the women in the film and opened up old wounds, and in some ways I don’t disagree. However, I feel that the results of the film were extremely powerful and gave a voice to many women. For example, the anonymous Angela Shelton said “I’m invisible, really? and “I’m nobody?. This shows how this woman completely lost her sense of self and her identity was ripped apart as the result of abuse. This film gave her an identity in a way, and by doing so, it also provided women around the country with a sense of self and a voice. If I were Angela, I would have focused more on the women I was interviewing and I would have emphasized the idea that the purpose was to tell their stories. However, she had a personal journey to take, and although she may have emphasized it too strongly at some points, she used her own story as a tool to reach out to others.

Searching for Angela Shelton

This documentary was not what I hoped it would be. While I enjoyed it more than the other road movies we have watched in the class, I didn't think that it covers the issues that it set out to. The premise of the story is actually something I find very interensting. What's in a name? How much does our name affect who we are as a person? I think that the documentary could have actually been an interesting piece if the filmmaker Angela Shelton had let the other Angela Sheltons tell their stories, and explored what these women had in common other than 24 out of 40 of them having been beaten, molested, or raped, or the group being half black and half white. Instead the story revolved around the filmmaker telling primarily her story and finding herself, while interviewing a select amount of people along the way, the only thing that they have in common being their names. However the movie turned from this topic towards the issues of child abuse and rape, which while they are important issues that need to be brought to light in our society, I feel that the whole issue was presented under the false pretenises of searching for women with the same name and what they have in common.

As a side note, could the blog topics be posted on a more central location, on the home page under the movie title for example? I didn't feel confident anwsering the Group B question as I am not a GWSS major, and could not find Group A's question anywhere, hence why my blog does not directly address any of the blog guidelines given.

Angela Shelton's Story

This film differs immensely from what we have seen in class thus far. From a stylistic point of view, it is dissimilar because of the documentary style. This style helps convey the message that the creators want to send. Everything in this film is real - there is no acting - the people and their stories are all as real as it gets. In the other films we have seen, the characters don't know what they're in store for, and they have no real structure to their journey. In Searching For Angela Shelton, the "main" Angela Shelton has her journey planned out, start to finish. Through this journey we see something very different than what someone will see on television or in movies today.

Early feminist recovery model was found in this movie when unity was incorporated among women in need. Very often women who have been abused either directly or indirectly need empowerment (more frequently in earlier recovery methods) through likeness with others, through an understanding that they are not alone and they don't need to be alone. This project encourages these women through an early style recovery model. The lead Angela Shelton also finds the same solace in her journey to understand the making of her ultimate confrontation.

The reality in this documentary is much unlike common cultural representations of women being victimized in a subplot of criminal investigation stories. A great criminal investigation stories result in the criminal being brought to justice, leaving small redemption for the women who were victimized to begin with. In Searching For Angela Shelton, the sad truth is exposed that frequently there is no closure brought to stories of rape or abuse.

Though this film helped to expose said truth, the narrating Angela Shelton seemed to expose it in an irresponsible manner. Her voyage supposedly began as finding the Angela Sheltons across the country, discovering what women in the United States are like, supposedly taking that random sample to represent the average women. Call me crazy, but I don't think the average woman is a mess of tears and trauma 24/7. The plot focused on negative experiences to draw parallel to the narrator's own journey, without including any everyday or average experiences in this search for a representation of the average woman. Of course trauma can be something dealt with every day, but the exposure to stories of women being abused and belittled is very rarely a constant focus in a typical day of a great majority of the victimized women. The movie did not seek usual things. It went out of its way (in a very obvious manner) to frame a message it wanted to send. Though the stories were likely not doctored, the focus definitely was to portray a certain bias. Men in the film were not treated fairly, nor were the women who were arguably exploited.

If I were to have made this film, I would have stuck to my original claim - and if that wasn't the intention, I would have stated the truth to begin with. This film did not help women, it helped the narrating Angela Shelton (in that sense, she was very greedy and irresponsible.. In fact, there were far too many examples of men abusing women and having no consequence. Although that may be a commonality, it promotes more male dominance. Though a documentary on the "typical" life of a "typical" woman may not be as intense or dramatic, it would have served a better purpose.

I believe a much better approach would have been to not focus on the stories to help the narrator, but to focus on the broad lives of each of these women, and as many aspects as you can. The ups and downs, the victories and the defeats. Not only the disheartening losses. Afterward, if the narrator would like to prove a point about victimization in the world of an "average woman," a story could be told and a comment could be made at the end if there were any victimization in their lives, rather than pointing it out to begin with and learning nothing more about the women.

Searching for Angela Shelton

In Searching for Angela Shelton, Angela Shelton (the filmmaker) irresponsibly frames victims of sexual abuse within a self-righteous journey toward an aggressive, misguided attempt at "reconciliation" with her (presumably) abusive father. In what could have been a poignant examination of sexual trauma (which the film masquerades as), Angela Shelton essentially implicates otherwise innocent women in a stagy, vapid tantrum of anti-male grudge matches. In some cases, her technique is outright offensive. Near the end of the film, for example, she includes subtitles to "clarify" a man's speech despite the fact that he's perfectly understandable--it is as if every male figure must be reduced to a controlling molester or an unintelligible idiot. Indeed, one of the only other males to be presented is a deaf man, who, through no fault of his own, is nevertheless labeled as someone of inferior communicative abilities. For a film that prides itself in displaying a valid representation of women in America (albeit through the arrogant , exclusive promotion of only "Angela Sheltons"), the selective portrayal of males is unforgivable, in my opinion. Poor selectivity plagues the film in another area as well: Personally, I did not believe for a moment that so many people would just happen to quote "Everything happens for a reason" verbatim, nor that Angela Shelton would have a box of fury-inducing crayons to readily tear apart. Everything seems so contrived, forced, and poorly planned, it's ridiculous. The multiple appeals to religion that the film offers serve absolutely no performative function whatsoever. Instead of providing a solution (or admitting that one doesn't exist), the film resorts to a cop-out on the most massive scale imaginable. Sorry for the rant, but I thought this film was an absolute mess. I would have kept the focus on the women's stories without thrusting myself into the narrative. There is nothing wrong with making a documentary about self-discovery, but to deliberately deceive and manipulate one's way to enlightenment is irresponsible. This is the first film in the class that I think presents "the road" as an utterly regressive path.

Investigating Angela Shelton's Struggle

When I say "women," I'm speaking of women in her inevitable struggle against conventional man; and of a universal women subject who must bring women to their senses and to their meaning in history.
(Cixous, 1976)

I think the film Searching for Angela Shelton in a general sense does not investigate a specific crime scene, but instead investigates womens' struggle with men. Angel Shelton's journey to discover other Angela Sheltons quickly changes into a journey of how men have victimized women. Instead of a tough male detective leading the investigation as on many T.V. shows, it is Angela Shelton herself. Angela does not portray herself as a helpless victim, but rather cast herself in the role of a strong independent women seeking answers and closure. Law enforcement is not utilized to seek justice, Angela chooses self-discovery as a means of justice served.

Although I like the idea of women being portrayed in the media as taking control of their lives and uniting, I think the way Angela Shelton tries to achieve this makes women look inferior to men. It seemed to me that Angela focused on the negative experiences women had and not on events in which they have succeeded in overcoming men to achieve their goals. The way in which Angela goes about seeking out other Angela Sheltons in which she drives around the country only obtaining information that coincides with her story and once she has that information the Angela Sheltons just become another number.

I believe that Angela Shelton had good intentions of creating a story that goes against against common cultural representations of women in the media, but with the poor execution of the film we are still left with the image that women are victims. If I were Angela Shelton, I would have focused the film around how women over come sexual abuse even thought there victims are often not prosecuted. I would try to display and image of women overcoming men and would use Angela Shelton's own personal experience with her father as an example in action of how she has personally risen above her struggle with men.

Learning to Talk

I did not take issue with the way the documentary was filmed, like some people in lecture did. I think the documentary was successful in making connections and inspiring women. By following Angela's journey to self-healing and acceptance, viewers are able to see how a victim can move on and learn to live in peace with themselves. Angela inspired the women she met. The women stated that Angela made them feel less alone and abnormal. By getting women to open up and talk about their abuse, others can see that they are not alone. I disagree with the comment in class that Angela handled the Anonymous Angela irresponsibly. It was stated that Angela pushed her over the edge and went too far. I think the opposite is true. I think the Anonymous Angela was already at the edge and Angela helped her make a connection and hold on to life. The anonymous Angela said, "I'm invisible," and "I'm nobody," and "this is a God thing that you started calling." I think even the Anonymous Angela recognizes that Angela kept her from going too far. The biggest accomplishment of this documentary was that Angela is teaching others how to talk about their abuse.

Searching for Angela Shelton.

Entertainment in America is a powerful way of communication. But too often what we see on TV shows are very different from what really happens in the real world! For instance, in the majority of criminal investigations we happen to watch on TV, the bad guys are always caught at the end. But is it how it really is?

" Searching for Angela Shelton" portraits a different scenario than what we`re used to believe through the media. More than half of the women she talked to (24 out of 40) were either raped, molested or abused in their past. And the most shocking part is that none of their abusers were ever caught. The vewer learns the fact that victims of crimes do not always get consolation. Another thing we have to consider is, did the law enforcement consider rape as a real crime compared to murder? We`ve seen the lack of judgement in Angela`s father`s trial; and how people often want to ignore the fact that it happened.Also in some of those cases, the lack of evidence or witnesses turn things around.
Bottom line is, any rapist or child molestor should be considered as a criminal; but it seems that it is easier to get away with such a crime than killing... for instance Angela``s father still lives a normal life after ruining three.

The only thing I would`ve changed if I was in the position to, would probably be that I will have a better diversity of Angelas Sheltons representing differnt minorities in America. Other than that, I really liked the movie and I think it raised an awareness to women all around America to speak up fo themselves.

Searching for Angela Shelton.

Entertainment in America is a powerful way of communication. But too often what we see on TV shows are very different from what really happens in the real world! For instance, in the majority of criminal investigations we happen to watch on TV, the bad guys are always caught at the end. But is it how it really is?

" Searching for Angela Shelton" portraits a different scenario than what we`re used to believe through the media. More than half of the women she talked to (24 out of 40) were either raped, molested or abused in their past. And the most shocking part is that none of their abusers were ever caught. The vewer learns the fact that victims of crimes do not always get consolation. Another thing we have to consider is, did the law enforcement consider rape as a real crime compared to murder? We`ve seen the lack of judgement in Angela`s father`s trial; and how people often want to ignore the fact that it happened.Also in some of those cases, the lack of evidence or witnesses turn things around.
Bottom line is, any rapist or child molestor should be considered as a criminal; but it seems that it is easier to get away with such a crime than killing... for instance Angela``s father still lives a normal life after ruining three.

The only thing I would`ve changed if I was in the position to, would probably be that I will have a better diversity of Angelas Sheltons representing differnt minorities in America. Other than that, I really liked the movie and I think it raised an awareness to women all around America to speak up fo themselves.

Searching for Angela Shelton

"She must write herself, because this is the invetion of a new insurgent writing which, when the moment of her liberation has come, will allow her to carry out the indispensible ruptures and transformations in her history," (Cixous 880). Many people in class had a major problem with Angela Shelton and her decisions she made while making her documentary, Searching for Angela Shelton. I did not have the problems that most people pointed out. It was Angela's choice to make her film however she wanted to make it. It was her documentary and she can do and say whatever she wants. She can skew the story that she is showing to portray a message that she wants. In the documentary she portrayed women as victims, which is common among the cultural representations of women in the United States. She also showed women as survivors and able to overcome extreme obstacles, which is not necessarily found in cultural representations of women. If I were Angela Shelton, I probably would not have made this film differently. I think that Angela was on a journey to find herself and to heal herself. She did what she needed to do to heal herself and perhaps she helped heal others along the way.

Angela Shelton hits the road.

In the movies we have watched so far I think that the road functions in some ways as the answer to the problem or the vessel the characters use to find a solution to their problem. Because this film was a documentary, the road served a different function for Angela. In the beginning of the film she tells us that she will go on the road for 60 days talking to all the Angelas and then at the end of the journey she will confront her step-brother and father. The road has almost become what is taking her to the final step of her mission to find Angela Shelton (once she decided to start the journey, of course). Unlike many of the others, Angela knows her final destination. Also functionally, of course, the road takes Angela to all her interviewees to allow them to tell their stories, which of course is the point in “breaking the silence?.

I wouldn’t say that Angela uses her camera irresponsibly. She at least is using it in a way that allows women to simply tell their stories without judgment or gaze being placed upon their words or bodies. Though I think sometimes it is frivolous to look for a female gaze because it hasn’t really been established like the “male gaze? has, she is definitely moving towards it. If I was Angela I would have included more human details from these women’s stories. She sort of cut up their experiences to include only the traumatic events in their past, which I feel erases a lot of the important things that need to be said about these women if we are going to encourage other women to “break the silence? as Angela hopes to do with her film.

February 22, 2008

Is it possible to live a life on the road?

Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wrecking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter (Laderman, 267).

I know many have already used this quote to begin their blogs, but I couldn't help but to use it because it encompasses exactly what I think of the two films. The last word I would use to describe Vagabond would be romanticized. At no point during my viewing of the film did I think Mona was being portrayed as physically appealing. The men in Easy Rider had their rugged good looks and the rebel attitude going for them, while Mona appealed as a free spirit, but her rugged looks were far from good. While the men in Easy Rider find it hard to find initial places to stay, Mona is not turned away until after she stays a while in a specific place. People tend to feel empathy for her rather than the men. She is not seen as a threat but of more of a nuisance. As far as the characters in Vagabond are concerned, a woman should not be traveling alone because it is dangerous. The characters in Easy Rider think that the men themselves are dangerous. The men in Easy Rider are also not starving and they get there money from drugs. Mona never has much money and she simply gets petty handouts. She is traveling in the cold winter time and the men travel in the comforts of summer. While the men must guard their lives from people who disagree with their choices, she must also defend the sanctity of her body. She is striving to survive in the wild while Billy and Wyatt are simply trying one way of living. It is living versus survival between Mona and the motor boys.

Although there are mass amounts of differences between the two films, I think that the similarities lie in the reasons for the journey and the effects of the journey. Both Mona and the men are looking for a way to live outside of the constraints of society. They travel from town to town and meet new people who help them of hinder them in some way. Neither of them ever seem to get comfortable in any one place and therefore must always keep moving. They aren't searching for a place to live, but for a way to live. Both films end with the tragic deaths of the main characters. However, the final difference of the two films is that the death of the Easy Riders is involuntary and the result of an act of hate. Mona is because of the elements and also partly because she gives up. She chooses to lay in the ditch and not get up.

Some Women In The Film Pretended To Be Abused

This film, "Searching for Angela Shelton," is quite different from the general conventions of how a sexual abuse victim usually behaves in films and in person. Many people believe that a sexual abuse victim would be fearful and behave rather like a hermit. They stayed away from men, did not discuss what happened to them, and kept quiet about their own feelings which was especially true in the earlier years where women were prevented from expressing themselves or were afraid to let their feelings be known in an effort to be polite. Women were taught to accept what men do to them and blame themselves for it. This film while not particularly entertaining or ethical to the women, does empower women by enlightening women to the fact that they are not the ones to blame for the horrible things people do to them.

This film, "Searching for Angela Shelton," did show that women can take their power back however, it also exploited their problems. This film could have been much more effective in supporting the recovery of women by not making a mockery of them by making their situation seem humorous at various moments. It was really despicable how the film made it seem so normal, so nonchalant, so casual, so cavalier, so common, so frequent that a large number of women are abused. The film interviewed too many people for the viewers to be able to connect and sympathize with any particular woman. The film should have took the viewers through the beginning, the middle, and the end of how the abuse takes place so people could realize whether they are in an abusive relationship or not. I also believe that it would have been good if the film would have interviewed an expert on this subject as it would have added an experts advice on the situation.

The blame does not completely rely on the producers of the film as many of the women interviewed have a role in making this film good or bad. In general, many women told compelling stories of their sexual abuse and how they dealt with it. However, it seemed that too many women were telling the same story as though they wanted the attention of the camera and desired the sympathy of the viewers. It seemed quite blatantly obvious that some women were pretending to have gone through an abusive experience as some were so boastful, almost proud of their experience to the point where it was simply disgusting to listen to them. For example, the chubby fast-food woman described her experience in such a generic manner that sounded so derivative from a cheap soap-opera drama. Overall, the producers of the film could have chosen a more wholesome cast of characters.


Angela Shelton

I would have made this movie differently if I were Angela Shelton. The movie was supposed to be an uplifting, self-help kind of movie for people that were dealing with abuse, rape and molestation. Instead, the movie exploited the women interviewed and only emphasized the filmmaker’s personal gain throughout the movie: her own self-therapy. The filmmaker, Angela Shelton was on a mission to help women (all Angela Sheltons) and let their voice be heard. Instead of doing this, the filmmaker used other peoples' pain to help her get through her demons by acquiring empathy from the other wounded women. This was her therapy. Overall, the movie was an amateur’s execution of a disturbing topic. The film should have been done more professionally by including therapists to help the wounded and scared women. Therapists could help the women who are suffering rather than leave them hanging like the filmmaker did.
As a non GWSS major, I can't comment on the other questions with any knowledge. I don't have any bakground in this field.

February 21, 2008

SVU Hits the Road

Fictional crime stories often have confusing roles as far as who is really the victim and who should be held responsible. Searching for Angela Shelton tells parallel stories of women who feel invisible because many Americans feel a comprehensive discussion about rape and abuse is lacking in our culture and sheltered generations feel that they have no alternatives to an unhealthy home-environment. As a documentary, the road is not the dominant narrative but acts as a site of reclaimation for an external purpose (even though the documentary was centered on herself). The road taught Angela Shelton that ignoring a widespread problem will not make it go away. Sheltering future generations only creates an explosive discontent and perpetuates cycles of violence, alcoholism, and anxiety. "Breaking the silence" and resisting in unity alone will not make families perfect but they open the door for conversations about these issues.

Abuse of the Camera in Searching for Angela Shelton

“A woman-text gets across a detatchment, a kind of disengagement, not the detatchment that is immediately taken back, but a real capacity to lose hold and let go. This takes the metaphorical form of wandering, excess, risk of the uinreckonable: no reckoning, a feminine text can’t be predicted, isn’t predictable, isn’t knowable and is therefore very disturbing. It can’t be anticipated, and I believe femininity if written outside anticipation: it really is the text of the unforeseeable (Cixous, “Castration or Decapitation??, 53).

Due to my minimal knowledge of feminist theory, I am choosing to respond to Group A’s blog question.

In the “road documentary? Searching for Angela Shelton, the road seems to function as Angela’s path to self-discovery and purgation of her tulmoltuous past. As Angela interviews women across America, the powerful idea of female unity and blacklash against domestic violence becomes secondary to her personal story, which climaxes in South Carolina when she confronts her father. Dispite the fact that she recieves very little closure from her abusive father, Angela seems to have a weight lifted off of her shoulders, reinforced by her symbolic “baptisim? in the closing scenes. The stories of the other women are almost used to compliment Angela’s story, taking an obvious back-seat and not being expanded adaquetely.

Though the narrative seems vain in nature, I believe Angela truly does care about and impact the women she interviews. For example, she changes the life of the woman at the truckstop simply by exchanging stories and making her aware that her and her daughter are not alone in the fight against child molestation. Angela comes across some very strong women, but I feel that she abuses her camera power in the case of the Anonomys Angela Shelton. Her attempt at therapy through fellowship goes too far in this case. As discussed in class, she had absolutely no control over the situation and was bringing up very painful memories for an alcholic that she was probably thousands of miles away from at the time. Her message can be seen as “kitchy? throughout the film, perhaps through some choice editing made in individual women’s stories and overdone intercutting of symbolic images. If I were Anglea Shelton making this film, I would have made clear from the beginning of the narrative that this story was almost fully about myself. Perhaps another solution would have been to create a documentary about her personal journey and another detailing the stories of specific Angela Sheltons across the country. Some of the focus should definitely be taken off her personal life, because after an hour and a half, the audience gets tired of hearing about it.

February 20, 2008

Upending the Crime Story

Angela’s confrontation with her incestuous father and brother is the place where the road story ends in this film. As such the film is framed as a criminal investigation framed within the conventions of an early kind of feminist recovery model from the 1970s. What are these conventions? How does this one woman story work against common cultural representations on TV of women raped, murdered, beaten and victimized as a subplot for criminal investigation stories? If you were Angela would you have made this film differently?

February 18, 2008

Vagabond vs. Easy Rider

"Film, unlike theatre, is the absent spectacle-the spectacle of absence. In this respect, therefore, it would seem to provide the perfect vehicle of expression for women as filmmakers and makers of feminist films." (Hayward 287)

In Vagabond, there is a seemingly weak and weary woman who cannot depend on herself when it comes to fulfilling the basics of life. She needs others to get food and to get from one place to another and is almost completely dependent upon other people, if not men, to sustain her life. Wyatt and Billy from Easy Rider have it easy compared to Mona. They not only have a nice ride full of money, but they are two men who are purely out for a fun and carefree roadtrip to find themselves without knowing it. They can depend on themselves and if not, they can woo most girls into getting them what they need. Although both films take place on the road, wide and open, these two movies are completely opposite in message. Vagabond has a struggling woman as the main character but even though she is struggling, she is not as misused as other female characters we have seen on previous movies. The camera does not look at her in a perverted way or anything even close; if anything it shows the condition she is in to help guide the story and create a sense of sadness about her character. In the other movies we've seen, the woman are either submissive and willing to bow down to most of men's needs, or they are looked upon as a stupid, airy sex toy on a bike. At least in this film Mona has some sense of being a female without all the little perks that some men hand out to women still today on a day to day basis. In the same sense, though, maybe the director is making a more obvious hint that although women have defeated the sexual submission in films, there are still the obvious daily feats that they have to face before they can really get on top. Maybe the director is appluading the fact that women have become more accepted but is booing the fact that women (and I'm talking about at the time these films were made) are still shot down and dependent on everybody else, seemingly. Billy and Wyatt would have nothing to complain about if they ever saw Mona on their trip.

Easy Rider vs. Vagabond

"The goatherd gives Mona shelter on his farm, offering her a job and the chance to work the land. But unlike Wyatt in Easy Rider, Mona is not so impressed with the idea of working on a farm. On a strictly impulsive (rather than rational) level, she seems averse to any form of stability or domesticity," (Laderman 269). Easy Rider and Vagabond have many more differences than similarities. One difference is that Mona is scrutinized for being a woman, if nothing else where Billy and Wyatt are scrutinized for the way that they live. Billy and Wyatt have a destination in mind when they hit the road where Mona is just traveling around with no final destination. In Easy Rider, Wyatt and Billy have to travel together, whithout one there is no other whereas in Vegabond, Mona cannot travel without leaving the people she meets behind. She is destined to be alone where Wyatt and Billy are destined to never be apart. Some similarities between these films is that the main characters are on the move the majority of the time and in both films there is talk about how important working the land is. Gender has a lot to do with how these films are perceived. In Vegabond, the camera is trained to move and leave the main character behind. She is not seen as important and can be easily left or forgotten whereas in Easy Rider, the camera follows the main characters, they are the center of the movie, what they do is deemed important but what Mona does or what happens to Mona doesn't really matter. Mona is also seen as a male chaser which is similar to how Billy and Wyatt are perceived (female chasers). It seems to be an endearing quality for Billy and Wyatt as a bad quality for Mona.

Easy Rider/Vagabond

Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wrecking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter (Laderman, 267).
The only real similarity between the movies Easy Rider and Vagabond are that it is categorized as a “road movie?, otherwise these films are drastically different. For instance, in the movie Vagabond, Mona is someone who has given up on her once socially acceptable life, and has chosen this new path as a way of looking for something - what exactly she is looking for was very unclear, and possibly she did not know herself. However, in the film Easy Rider, Wyatt and Billy are in search of an America that will accept them for who they are, to be accepted outside of the norms of American life. Moreover, Wyatt and Billy’s adventure was shown in a more free-flowing way, they had money and food to travel and ride on through to new places. In Vagabond, Mona was shown as a female who was dependent on finding someone along the way to help her get from point A to point B. Yes, she herself did a job here and there for a piece of food or some money, but she was still dependent on others for a place to sleep, a ride, or extra food. This idea of the movie that a female needs help from a male or another female kind of angered me because it is still viewing and showing females as helpless, and if we were to go out on our own things would not be pretty. Furthermore, Mona who is displayed as a very dirty, ugly, disgraced female was still subjected to sexual abuse/rape. This idealistic of females not being able to take care of themselves and needing to stay in the realm of civilization to be safe and taken care of is one that still is shown in many ways today.


“…life on the road for a woman does not offer the same adventure and romance as a man.? (Laderman 265)

Life on the road for Mona Bergeron wasn't as easy as the men in Easy Riders. Similar to both movies the main character(s) both ended in their death. Vagabond started the movie with the end of Mona's life, but Wyatt and Billy ended the movie in their death. Wyatt and Billy had people pay attention to them both positive and negative. For example the group of girls who gave them much attention, but the group of guys who made very rude remarks at them. While Mona did get some attention there were times where people didn't even pay any particular attention to her and some of the people regretted not speaking to her. For example the woman who did like having Mona as company as did Mona driving around, and the professor who tried to help her grow a potato field and make a life for her. In the end she left them to continue her journey on her own. She even said herself that she likes to be alone. Mona had an encountered with a hooker. The hooker asked her if she wanted to sell her body for money, but she stuck to her standards and refused to do it. As for Billy and Wyatt who had ladies that were usually there for them.

In both movies neither character(s) seem to not have a home, but it seem like the open road was a home for them. I believe in the end Mona had a more difficult journey than Wyatt and Billy did. The two men got to experience the road while on their motorcycles with much attention from people who liked them and from those who didn't like them. Mona did not have anything on her no vehicle just her backpack and some people’s encounters with her. She did find some run ins with nice people who tried to help her the best they can and some rough encounters they terrifies her ending in her death.

Vagabond: A Means To An End

... the effect is to unfix the gaze, to render it inoperable...

Mona, through her time on the road, has managed to escape being a victim of the male gaze. The camera, through the tracking shots, never is centered on her in a sexualized way. Often, rather than a voyeuristic angle for the shots, it seems like documentation. Mona achieves this through her complete disregard for the wants, needs, and expectations of other people. She does not want to work, pay, or commit to anything. Mona inspires people, yet through these means, her time expires. She is unable to maintain her way of life, unable to escape the realities of the road, of nature. She dies, without an explosion and a shiny piece of mechanical splendor, but rather, dirty, cold, scared, and tired.

I must include both film titles in this string of gibberish.

Ruth Hottell quotes that "the Woman is central insofar as the woman's desire is the central problem or challenge for the male protagonist." This is a nice summary of the typical perspective of the andocentric narrative film. As in Easy Rider, the woman is the function of the male desire, not even its end. Even the sexual pleasure that he can take from her is momentary, and seems to separate her body from herself, as with Mona in Sans toit ni loi. Mona is so abnormal and ephemeral, removing herself from the typical physical aspects of human life and clinging to the essential: hunger, for substance as much as sustenance. The men that surround her can't understand this need for vagrancy, the compulsion of the wind to keep her moving. All they want from her is her body, what it can do. Wyatt in Easy Rider has that same nomadic tendency, that same essential and feral approach to life. Their characters are remarkably similar. What is different is both their approach and their end. Wyatt uses a traditionally "male" vehicle, and tears through the filmic space with all the phallic power he possesses. Mona has no vehicle, no power except herself. The problem herein is that the outside system is the same. Wyatt works within the male-dominated system, trying to explore, understand, and perhaps change it. Mona cares nothing for what's already organized in society. "Without roof, without laws," she is separate and therefore independent.

But they both died. Wyatt's complacence and decadence don't take him anywhere new, not really. So when he and Billy are killed by the motorist, it's more of a misunderstanding than a poetic downfall. The drivers were the stereotype of systematic male, and couldn't accept or understand a different appearance of male. Their deaths are significant but only in the wantonness of a couple of redneck idiots taking out their heteronormal, homoerotic frustration. Yet Mona, all fey and momentary, is a reality unto herself. What frustrates me is that I can't decide what her death means, what caused it. In a spiritual sense, of course. There is the foreshadowing of the road taking a person over and killing them, and then there are the constant attempts of all who meet her to plant her somewhere, in something, to normalize and therefore possess her. The difficulty that I have is that Mona herself is a changeling. She is at once as unsturdy as the wind and more real than any other person in the film. Of course she had to die. But what poetic can explicate it best? Was it that she was a woman? Or that she was more than man or woman could ever simply be defined, and the jealousy of the collective took its toll?

Vagabond vs. Easy Rider

"Vagabond is a compelling and disturbing portrait of a young single woman, Mona Bergeron, living on the road, drifting with no place to call home, nor any desire to claim one." For some reason, life on the road doesn't seem to have the same sense of adventure for a woman, as for men. In Easy Rider despite the fact that they were just drifting, they still had a destination in mind. They also still managed to find all sorts of adventures to go on, and interesting people to meet. Mona can't really say the same... in Easy Rider people looked at the men as though they were wild, but the women loved it. Mona on the other hand, was looked at as a slut, people felt bad for her- even though she was doing it by choice. People viewed the men vs mona different simply because she is a woman. It seems to me that in Easy Rider they went looking for America in a sense, the kind of America free from civil society- they were looking for freedom in America. Mona wasn't looking for anything exactly, she simply tuned in, and dropped out of conventional society. And she really wasn't very motivated to find work or do anything to better her situation. Being a woman on the road, I can imagine, is much scarier than being a man.

The Danger of the Road

"Varda subverts the traditional codes of classical narrative cinema which dipicts man as the gender on the move and women as static." (Hayward, pg. 288).
Easy Rider established that, for men, the road can be mean both their freedom and their ultimate destruction. In Vagabond, we get the chance to see what the road can mean for a woman, and surprisingly, it has a very similar result. Both movies emphasis the freedom that is associated with being on the road, and both show the fatal results of living on the fringes of society. Apart from this basic concept, the journey of the characters in these movies is vastly altered by their gender. In Easy Rider, the men controlled their own freedom which was symbolized by their motorcycles. However, in Vagabond, Mona is forced to rely on others for trasportation which dramatically limits her own freedom and makes her much more vulnerable. So while their journeys were very different, their ends were similar, and why is this? It is because, regardless of gender, the road is a dangerous place. These dangers are not exclusively limited to men or to women, but confront all people who take to the road. By making the woman mobile, we are able to realize that it is not a matter of gender, but a matter of human nature.

With and Without Wheels

"Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wreaking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romaticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies... do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter." (Laderman 267)

The leads in both Vagabond and Easy Rider are societal outcasts. Billy, Wyatt and Mona have no place to call home and are shunned by "normal" culture. All encounter situations where they are ostracized and pushed away from civilization, though the extent to which this occurs differs between movies. In Easy Rider, Billy and Wyatt are on the open road, free to travel where they please with plenty of money to get them to their destination. While they are not welcome in some places, such as the diner, there are plenty of people who romanticize them, including the girls in the diner. They are the new masculine, that has yet to be accepted everywhere. Mona, on the otherhand, is at the bottom of society, and there is no niche for her to fill, no place for a woman drifter to survive. She has no money and must accept odd jobs to earn a few bucks or a ride to her next destination. While she is idealized by Yolande, who thinks she is perfectly free and in an ideal relationship, this is a rare occurance. Yolande is later proven wrong when she crosses Mona's path again, realizing that Mona is unsettled and has no true companions. Mona lacks feminity, partly in an attempt to survive on the open road. Nothing about her is romanticized and it is as if she barely occupies a place on earth. She is unable to take any opportunity to settle down, no matter that she may have dreams of leading a "normal" life. This happens at the goat farm, where she is offered a plot to farm and a place to stay, but she has no work ethic and is kicked out. She is a dirty drifter who, as a female, has no chance of reentering society. Billy and Wyatt, as sexualized males on motorbikes, occupy an edge position in society, while Mona, a dirty, unfeminine drifter has no place in European culture.

Female nomads are confusing, male nomads are heroic...

... but neither of them are really accomplishing anything.

“But what does freedom on the road really mean? Here, something other than the American Road movie portrays. Something more difficult, less attractive, less free. Read through Vagabond’s lens, the freedom symbolized by the American road movie turns out to be idealized ruse, an ideological construction? (Driving Visions, 268).

It seems that in both Easy Rider and Vagabond, the protagonists take to the road to escape whatever it is in normative society that conflicts with them. In Easy Rider, the protagonists opt on to the road, searching for a sense of self and a sense of freedom. Laderman argues that Vagabond dismantles the freedom myth created and romanticized in Easy Rider, but I would argue that Easy Rider reaches a similar conclusion.

To me, the absurd way that the two protagonists die in Easy Rider says that the new freedom they thought they had found is an illusion after all, since those still within bounds of normative society (the men from the small town) bring their journey to an end. In Vagabond, Mona is forced on to the road, presumably because she was outside the bounds of normativity and needed to escape some type of restricting force (law, family, etc). So, different narratives with the same conclusion – that you’re never really free (and if you are, its not all that great).

Gender plays a role in how the stories are told. In Easy Rider, the men are forcefully navigating themselves in a specific direction, motivated to continue their journey and experience more of “life?. In Vagabond, the female protagonist chooses her nomadic lifestyle, but allows others to choose where she goes and lacks direction. Her wandering is empty and without motivation and difficult for those who encounter her to figure out. In Easy Rider, the traveling men as less questioned and more understood (and often admired) by the people they encounter. Only in what Laderman refers to as Mona’s encounter with the American road movie mentality is her lifestyle ever admired. In all other parts of the film her mobility and lack of emotional connection to people is confusing, perhaps because it is contrary to normative ideas of what women should want.

Mona is one tough chick

These movies are similar in the fact that the main characters seem to rebel against any sort of "normal" life, which ultimately leads to their death. They do not want to be confined to a life living under the same roof, working the same job, following the rules of society, etc. They wanted something else. On the other hand Mona didn't have a "something else." She did not seem to have any passions, dreams or motivations, or even a final destination, where as Wyatt and Billy had a goal in mind, to get to New Orleans.

"Such hardcore hardship is almost unthinkable in an American road movie" (Laderman 268).

Another difference is the simple fact that Mona, was alone with no permanent form of transportation. Billy and Wyatt were partners on the road, buddies, companions, support to one another, and they both had motorcycles to get them to their destination. It also seemed as though they had enough money to survive, buy gas etc. Her experience was less glamorous. She was filthy, poor, and hungry. She was treated with little respect by men, such as the truck driver who expected sex in exchange for giving her a ride. She had the hardest time just surviving through the days. Like most women being looked upon by the male gaze, she was not the usual image of sexuality and beauty.

Vagabond/ Easy Rider

... to place a painterly reference alongside a cinematic one is to represent immobilism and movement simultaneously.

Reading this quote made me think of scenic shots within Easy Rider and Vagabond. There was something peaceful yet morbid about those types of shots in both movies. In Easy Rider, the main characters traveled across the country to go to New Orleans. Its obvious that there is movement occuring, but the immobolization seemed to start when they started in their drug trip. The constant filmatic shots in the graveyard was eerie. They seemed stuck in the graveyard moving from tombs to statues. Vagabond, had a deathly feel as well. The scenery held a deathly gloom everywhere Mona went. As she traveled through different towns, she never got too far from where she started. Death was stalking her, only allowing her to go so far before she died. I think the role gender played within both movies was the way the characters died in the films. The men in Easy Rider died from a violent act whereas Mona (a white woman) died peacefully and quietly. If she died violently, would it have affected the impact she left on the other people she met? Would they have cared about her any more or less? And yet to have two white men be killed on their motorcycles would obviously cause much more of an uproar, ironically.

Reasons for Being on the Road: Mona vs. Billy and Wyatt

Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wrecking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter
(Laderman, 267).

In the movie Vagabond, we met Mona, a hopeless drifter who gave up what we assume is what a socially acceptable life, with a career and an education, to become a social outcast. This movie introduced to us a different idea of why people feel the need to travel the road. In Easy Rider, the main characters, Billy and Wyatt, are traveling along their road to find a new kind of social acceptance, they are searching for an America that will accept them for who they are, and what they represent. Mona is searching for nothing. She is not looking for social acceptance of herself. She has willing left behind a normal life to live on the road, scavage and beg for food, and help from strangers. She smells terrible, indicating that she has left behind more than just a socially acceptable life, she has left behind the social accepted idea of hygiene as well. On screen she does not look sexy, or dashing, or offer us a life that we might secretly envy. With Billy and Wyatt, there was a feeling that they were doing something right, they were defining the norms of society in order to be themselves. With Mona there is no such glamor. She is simply a wandering vagabond, not searching for anything specific, or moving with a greater purpose in mind, she is just moving from place to place in search of her basic needs, food and shelter. This idea in itself seems very rare, females are usually portrayed in films to have many ulterior motives for they actions. They are looking for a man or looking for someone to take care of them, they very rarely are able to met the basic human needs on their own, men are always introduced into the picture to help take care of them, or to provide them with some basic need. Mona needs no one to help her do this, in fact she willing leaves the care of men multiple times. While her circumstances certainly do not improve after she does this, it shows that she is able to provide for herself on her own, a new idea for females in film.

Rider v. Vagabond

"This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly distrurbing homeless drifter "(Laderman, 267).

Mona is much different than the main men of "Easy Rider" in the sense that her sort of drifting is frowned upon, she is pitied by people. In "Easy Rider" Wyatt and Billy are almost respected or admired by some of the people they meet. Their drifting symbolizes freedom. In "Vagabond" several people say "poor girl" about Mona. The professor and the caretaker of the old woman both "feel bad" for her and treat her as a charity case. No one does this for Wyatt and Billy. Also, it could be argued that all 3 character want to be on the road, it is a choice. Mona is offered places to stay but continues drifting. Yet, "Easy Rider" portrays our motorcycle cowboys as rebels almost, and they always have money to eat, buy gas ,etc. It is as if they had a plan, or at least the funds to be on the road. We see Mona as hungy a lot throughout the film, as well as sometimes stealing. "Easy Rider" has the audience admiring the drifters, even the camera shots and music encourage this. "Vagabond", on the other hand, has the audience shaking their heads at Mona. She is alone, dirty, hungry. People offer her assistance but in the end she is lazy and abuses the handouts she receives. The film opens with her lying dead and continues to tell her story with camera shots that do not even deem her very important, as well as sort of eerie music. These two films tell the story of three very different "riders" of the road.

women have all the luck...

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

Gender seems to have a great deal to do with the differences between Vagabond as a road movie and American road movies, such as Easy Rider. While the road is a dangerous place for anyone who travels (note the various sketchy situations Billy and Wyatt got themselves into in Easy Rider), it is even more dangerous for a woman like Mona in Vagabond. Mona is a realistic view of the traveller -- she is unwashed, disheveled, with few possessions, no money, no ambition, no goal (except to keep moving), and no means of getting to where ever she is going, and extraordinarily apathetic. All of this, in combination with her gender, put her at greater risk than any of the previous protagonists we have so far encountered. She is literally at the mercy of any person who crosses her path, with the majority of those who she encounters exploiting (or attempting to exploit) her sexuality in exchange for their assistance. Many times, Mona would give herself to someone in exchange for a safe place to camp, while other times, the men she encountered would just take what they wanted (like the farmer who raped her). Because of her lack of funds, Mona lacks the ability to control her own destiny, with the exception of making the decision to pick up and leave in order to encounter the next person who may or may not attempt to exploit her. Now, contrasting this with the various adventures of Billy and Wyatt in Easy Rider and the tame-by-comparison reception they received (the farm, the commune, Mardi Gras), the depiction of Mona as a traveller is in far less a romantic light.

Mona vs. Billy and Wyatt

The similarities of Vagabond and Easy Rider pretty much stop at the fact that both groups/individuals are outcasts that are in search for something. However, Wyatt an Billy seem to have and advantage over Mona in the fact that they are "independent" in their travels. They have their motorcylces to travel, whereas Mona has to depend on other people to travel. This could infer that women are inferior to men because she has to rely on others, which fits a common stereotype of women always needing protection.

Billy and Wyatt also seem to have and "easier" time getting places because they are male. Even though they aren't accepted in normal society, they are less vulnerable because they are 1. in a group and 2. they are male. Mona being by herself and a female is more "in danger" as in the scene with the purple guys dressed as trees.

Riding or walking, still a Drifter

Both "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" follow the paths of different drifters in their quest for freedom, but that if pretty much where the similarities end. Wyatt and Billy have a seeming advantage over Mona in the fact that they at least have their bikes to keep them company and assist in their travels. Their trip signals a quest for freedom and the open road for adventure. Whereas the French view of the road trip on which Mona embarks is not necessarily freedom and openness. She is an outcast of a different sort. Like the female she is, she has to rely on men to pick her up and feed her, drive her, or give her a place to stay.

Both sets of outcasts in these movies are looked down upon, but Mona's is a double-edged sword. She is not only dirty and a drifter, but she is a dirty FEMALE drifter. Females are not supposed to be so unkempt and unproper. They are supposed to be hosuekeepers or teachers, clean and civilized. Thus, as a result of her actions, Mona spends the majority of the movie alone. Even when she is the company of certain willing persons, she is isolated and outside of the mainstream "culture" of this movie. She is raped in the darkness and no one except for the movie audience ever finds out. It is not as schosking had it happened to someone like the elderly woman's housemaid. Being a drifter in Mona's case is not a liberating, freeing experience. It is a death walk in which she meets her fate because she floats alone in a daze throughout the countryside until she gives up and succumbs to what she deserves.

In "Easy Rider" the freeing journey the men travel along together is crazy as well, however they have their companionship, as well as that of George, which is less lonely and dark. When they die, it is a shock to us as a movie audience. However, in "Vagabond", we see right away that Mona dies. Then we are taken back in time to see why she did. It is not a surprise to us that she perishes, and the only surprise to myself was that she lasted as long as she did.

You're either a woman or a human

The text seeks to reproduce the misrecognized wholeness and dispell the disquieting interruption invoked by the presence of the Other. (Hottel)

The narratives in "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" share many similar elements; the protagonists experience many of the same events, feelings and dangers. They experience the inherent dangers of being on the road; they live and sleep out in nature throughout most of their travels; they are outcasted by the people surrounding them, who criticize their ways and their seeming freedom; they suffer the hatred and violence of these people; and die in the end. But the main difference between thes two tales is gender, and the effect this has the on the events the protagonists experience and the ways in which the director narrates the story.

Mona is a woman and Billy and Wyatt are not; or maybe a better statement would be that Billy and Wyatt are men(mankind) and Mona is not. Billy and Wyatt suffer an attack at night, from men that hate them for who they are and what they represent, namely hippie culture and a masculinity and freedom that the people don't approve of. Mona also suffers a violent attack, specifically rape. Not because of her freedom or her differentness, but because is a woman. The rapist stalks and attacks her because she is a prey to him, simply because she is a (female) sexual object.

Billy and Wyatt find a potential home at a commune of likeminded men and women. But they decide to leave, in order to continue their journey. It is a conscious and personal choice they make, to not accept the home that is offered to them. Mona finds residence and work with a man who is willing to aid her and provide for her a home environment. But she is forced to leave because the other workers to not want a woman with them.

Some similarities do exist between the experiences of the three protagonists. They live on the road, sleeping out in nature, in the harsh environments, though Mona's is harsher due to the weather. All three also have sexual partners, which they pick up with ease, and leave again when they want to move on to something different and new. Yet Mona is on equal terms or at an equal level with her male companions, while Billy and Wyatt hold a great control over the prostitutes that they hire.

The differences in experience and narrative come down to the femaleness of Mona. Her experiences are always visibly and noticeably affected by her gender. Gender does play a role in Billy and Wyatt's traverses, but it is such an unmarked and standard effect, that it is not noticeable or acknowledged. This is also true with the cinematography of the films.

As the Hottel quote explains, the director of "Vagabond" made stylistic choices in order to present Mona as normal, as not Other. The force to Other females is so strong that the director had to attempt to place Mona as normal, at an equal level with everyone else. This had the (intented or unintended) effect of placing the protagonist of the story, not as the visual and narrative center of the story, but at the common theme by which all the other narrators connect their stories. Billy and Wyatt control what the spectator sees and hears, whereas Mona lacks this control and is presented as she is portrayed by everyone around her; in a sense still existing as an Other.

Vagabond and Easy Rider

She passes through the lives of various characters-that is, through a landscape as much social as it is literal-provoking various reactions.
Vagabond and Easy Rider are similar in the sense that both are considered "road movies" and that the characters in both films are outcasts from society. They also have some similar instances where the characters encounter the same sort of experiences. In Vagabond and Easy Rider, the characters travel in and out of people's lives. In Vagabond, Mona enters the lives of different people that for the most part are connected to one another in some way. She tends to remain in relatively the same place or in the same area for the entire movie which leads her to encounter some of the same people more than once. She also tends to leave a lasting impression on all of those that she meets as we learn through the interviews with the characters. In Easy Rider, Billy and Wyatt are traveling across the country, instead of just meandering around one particular area. They also meet various different people along their journey. In both films, there are points in time where they are given the opportunity to stay in one place and farm the land. Mona decides to stay and then does nothing for work on the farm. I think that in Easy Rider, the two might have possibly stayed and found a home on the commune where they stay for a little while. However, there is a point where Mona could possibly be content when she begins working on the vineyard. Another difference between the two movies, is the soundtrack. In Vagabond, Mona's theme music plays and is piano music in minor keys giving a dramatic feel to the scene. It portrays the mood very well in that things for Mona aren't looking too good. In Easy Rider, the music for the guys on the road is rock-n-roll and very upbeat songs which make it feel almost cool to be on the road apart from society. Some of the main differences between the films is that Vagabond is a woman traveling alone and not in an automobile. Most of her time is spent walking and wandering around. Because she is a woman we also see that she is taken advantage of in a few cases such as the truck driver and then her boyfriend at the end of the film. I think that because she is a woman that she leaves a stronger impression on those that she meets than Wyatt and Billy leave on those people that they encounter. I also think that the professor in Vagabond thought she might be able to reform Mona and bring her back to civil society. In Easy Rider, the guys were just outcasts and were viewed as that where nothing could be done about it. Those that had a problem with it dealt with it by killing Wyatt and Billy in the end. And although Mona dies in the end as well, she dies of her own accord and not willing to accept any of the help that those around her offer.

Driver vs. drifter

“Whether Woman is depicted as temptress or ideal Madonna, the outcome in the narrative is the same—woman occupies a place as object, not as subject, in the narrative? (Hottel 679).

In both Easy Rider and Vagabond, we follow the travels and exploits of social outcasts—Wyatt and Billy are long-haired, drug-dealing bikers in a culture that frowns upon such things, while Mona is a female drifter, a status that carries its own set of stigmas—we see the protagonists’ interactions with those along the road, and their ability to make friends (the hitchhiking hippie and George in Easy Rider, David, Assoun, and the train station bums in Vagabond) as they travel. However, the differences between the films are more notable than the similarities, and they have a great deal to do with the gender of the traveling protagonists.

Wyatt and Billy, exhibiting the new, long-haired biker masculinity of the late 1960s, are drivers, taking control of their motorcycles and steering toward a specific destination—Mardi Gras. They tell several characters their goal is to make Mardi Gras, and it is only after they leave New Orleans having achieved their goal that their journey is brought to an abrupt end. Mona, on the other hand, is a passenger, drifting without a tangible destination, staying in one place only when it is convenient, and hitchhiking—accepting rides from other, more active characters—in a real sense drifting through the film without taking much initiative on her own. As the men in Easy Rider attract and facilitate the travel of others, Mona repulses people—even prostitutes—as she wanders (although they often help her anyway), and needs others to help her move around the country.

The way the two films were shot underscores the differences between the active male outcasts and the passive female one. Easy Rider uses what I think of as fairly standard road movie camerawork for the most part, following the protagonists down the highway with tracking shots and weaving together these depictions of Wyatt and Billy with point-of-view shots that shows us what they see as they drive. Agnès Varda, on the other hand, uses the tracking shot differently, where “either the camera and frame ‘abandon’ Mona and go on to focus on an object, or she exits the frame,? as though Mona is incidental—marginal, like the typical feminine character, not central, like male characters—to what Varda wants to show the audience (Hayward 288). The visual depiction of Mona connects with the way we see her through others’ recollections and through their eyes rather than her own throughout the film. Where Wyatt and Billy are our reference points for how we should see the other characters in Easy Rider, we very rarely get Mona’s point of view in Vagabond. Ultimately, despite Mona’s assertion that she chose to live on the road, rather than remain a secretary, her role as an active traveler ended there, as she takes on a passive role in drifting rather than driving and falling victim to outside forces acting upon her, right up until her death.

Free to be free.

“We cannot fix the film any more than we can fix Mona and it is in this de-fetishization of the text as well as the body-female that Varda asserts her own brand of feminist filmmaking practices.? (Hayward 294)

The classification of road films Easy Rider and Vagabond, is one of the few similarities between theses movies. Some of the most obvious, but important reasons that these movies are not similar is because first and foremost, our leading lady is exactly that, a lady. Wyatt and Billy are drastically different characters from Mona by nature, but the gender difference is very prominent. It changes the dynamic of the movie. Another reason this movie is obviously different is means of transportation. Wyatt and Billy are able to choose their paths, turn around and go home, stop when and where they’d like. Mona hitchhikes, campus, walks through various fields. Her means of getting places shows her fluidity much more so than being in control of a vehicle. Mona’s death being presented in the first scene is also a representation of a difference. The delivery of the message is so drastically different; the direction of Vagabond is so unique. The framing of how Mona appears to the audience is indirect in many scenes, yet she is still in our focal point.

One similarity is the seeming desire to find freedom and identity. This common theme is represented very differently though, in respect to the differences. These journeys are not the same, because the journey of each individual is unique. Mona has no true path; in some scenes she doesn’t even have a road. The choppy transitions between scenes and acquaintances is a testimony to who Mona is and her role within the story. She is drifting, drifting through time, through place, through identity; she is fluid, not static. She is a true drifter.

Free to be free.

“We cannot fix the film any more than we can fix Mona and it is in this de-fetishization of the text as well as the body-female that Varda asserts her own brand of feminist filmmaking practices.? (Hayward 294)

The classification of road films Easy Rider and Vagabond, is one of the few similarities between theses movies. Some of the most obvious, but important reasons that these movies are not similar is because first and foremost, our leading lady is exactly that, a lady. Wyatt and Billy are drastically different characters from Mona by nature, but the gender difference is very prominent. It changes the dynamic of the movie. Another reason this movie is obviously different is means of transportation. Wyatt and Billy are able to choose their paths, turn around and go home, stop when and where they’d like. Mona hitchhikes, campus, walks through various fields. Her means of getting places shows her fluidity much more so than being in control of a vehicle. Mona’s death being presented in the first scene is also a representation of a difference. The delivery of the message is so drastically different; the direction of Vagabond is so unique. The framing of how Mona appears to the audience is indirect in many scenes, yet she is still in our focal point.

One similarity is the seeming desire to find freedom and identity. This common theme is represented very differently though, in respect to the differences. These journeys are not the same, because the journey of each individual is unique. Mona has no true path; in some scenes she doesn’t even have a road. The choppy transitions between scenes and acquaintances is a testimony to who Mona is and her role within the story. She is drifting, drifting through time, through place, through identity; she is fluid, not static. She is a true drifter.

February 17, 2008

Who gets to tell their story?

Mona’s actions and words seem contradictory, even mad, from the standpoint of “traditional? reason, for although the “witnesses? to her last winter evince the need to categorize her, she eludes their efforts (Hottel 11).

Mona in Vagabond and Wyatt in Easy Rider are both central characters who hit the road to fill their need to be free of society. But as a woman Mona’s cinematic journey is quite different than Wyatt’s.

Extended Entry--

One feminist idea focuses on the underdog in any category – sex, race, sexuality, or class being unable to tell their own story. There is an academic idea that takes the histories and confessions of those of a lower class and being tell them from the dominant binary’s point of view. While I agree that Mona is in charge of her destiny and is controlling the course of her story, she is still not the one allowed to tell it. We see the story of this woman (this binary underdog) through the eyes of others, many of whom were more privileged in the category of sex - men, or class- the professor. Wyatt in Easy Rider is also in control of his journey’s outcome, but we get the sense that he is conveying the story to us himself- we don’t have to watch or hear about the action through anybody else’s eyes. We watch it directly as it happens. Varda uses the cinematic tool of looking at the main character through the looks of other characters on the screen; and even though we aren’t looking at the main female character in an objectified or sexual way, her story is still told through the eyes and words of others.

One small similarity I noticed between the central characters in Easy Rider and Vagabond was the markings on the things they carried with them. Wyatt rode a motorcycle coated with images of the American flag with a helmet to match; on Mona’s bag was a monogrammed M that looked like a University letter. I thought these were interesting symbols for them to carry on their journeys of searching and wandering. It makes me think that they were always carrying a piece of their past or of what they were escaping from and avoiding (American tradition and society for Wyatt and Mona respectively). I would like to think that this was why their journey’s “failed? or ended in death. Because you can never be allowed to completely escape your past or the things that have shaped you.

Who needs a home anyways?

"Since mainstream narrative seek to restore the traditional dyad of subject/object, the power giving accessory must be denied voluntarily by the woman in order to return to her status as the ojectified other" (Hottel). This differs from each movie of "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond". In "Easy Rider" gender plays very much a role, objectifying women, keeping them out of the spotlight and not allowing them to be a direct part of camera shots. However, in "Vagabond" although we never look into her eyes directly, we know that she is not passive but a strong woman who needs no man in her life to pave the way. Both of these movies are people on a search away from typical societal constraints to find something fullfilling but they never seem to find it or when they do, they don't know what it is. It seems more acceptable for men to hit the road and search for the missing link rather than a women. At these times, women were still expected to cater to a man, yet Mona was no product of the society presented in front of her. Emotionally stable and strong willed, Mona has no qualms about hitting the rode by herself. It seems that people took to her more readily than the 2 men in "Easy Rider". I am unsure why this is the case, but I can only assume it is because women are supposed to be docile and submissive rather than men who are dominant and dangerous to strangers. Even though this was not the case, persay, with Mona, people did not know that until they let their guard down with her and she took advantage of them.

Mona is smelly and filthy, but she's still a woman

" Instead of emphasizing the high-speed, thrill-seeking driving typical of American road movies, these films emphasize introspection and reflection; passage through the landscape becomes an allegory of a lost soul seeking the meaning of life" (Laderman 248).

The American and European road film portray the road very differently. The American road symbolizes freedom and escape from oppressive culture versus European road travel where "traveling outside of society becomes less important (and perhaps less possible) than traveling into the national culture, tracing the meaning of citizenship as a journey" (248). For example, Easy Rider and Thelma and Lousie are all about the escape and finding freedom on the raod, which is not so in Girl on a Motorcycle and particularly Vagabond; "non-American road movies tend toward the quest more than the flight" (248). While Wyatt, Billy and Mona are all outcasts, Mona slips into the cracks of society, while Wyatt and Billy are noticed wherever they go. Mona is so vastly different from Wyatt and Billy, simply meandering without purpose or intent. Gender also comes into play as well. billy and Wyatt are the dominant figures, they move the action along. Because they are male they are the lookers, despite the fact that they are outcasts, they have the virtue of the male gaze that cannot be taken from them, unlike Mona, a woman, who is passive because of her gender, she is looked at (although no one in the film truly sees her). She is objectified by the male gaze despite her filth on several occasions; phallocentrism continues to rule. This is seen in her sexual abuse and treatment by the men she meets. While she is not "sexified" like Rebecca, she is still an object, there is no escaping the male gaze even though she is dirty and smelly. From the moment she denies the truck drivers advances to her drug buddy at the end of the film who only sees her as a "good piece of ass," phallocentrism is at work. However notably in Vagabond the women are physically juxtaposed with Rebecca and those in Easy Rider. They're almost unrecognizable as women in their physical appearance if not for their passive roles and the male gaze. Mona is obviously no supermodel and the goatherd wife is beyond plain jane. I find it quite interesting that even though their appearance is not the epitome of a femininity they still cannot escape it. Despite the stark contrast between symbolism and the goal of the road in American and European road films, clearly phallocentrism is still present.

Women Travel Alone

Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wrecking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly distrurbing homeless drifter (Laderman, 267).

The main difference between Vagabond and Easy Rider is our main characters. In Vagabond it is a female who is truly a drifter. She is not attractive and has no desire to settle anywhere. This desire to continously be on the move is evident through the use of the cameras tracking shots. The camera will continue past Mona and onto a different object symbolizing this idea of movement. Easy Rider also uses these tracking shots however, in most of them both Wyatt and Billy are in the center of the frame suggesting that there road does have an ultimate destination, New Orleans. Another interesting difference between our main characters is their appearance. Only once do we see Mona bathe, and that is at the beginning of her journey when she comes out of the ocean. In Easy Rider we see Wyatt and Billy bathing and they look clean and are attractive. This is evident during the scene in the diner when the young girls can not stop giggling about how handsome they are. Another important difference is that Vagabond begins at the end of Mona's life. We already know the outcome of Mona, we know that she is going to die alone in a ditch. Easy Rider hides the death of our two main characters, it never occurs to the audience that they are going to die until it actually happens. Even then we are still so stunned that it is hard to believe.
Finally, by making the main character in Vagabond a woman, I feel that Varda is expressing the idea that woman are more isolated than men. To emphasize this point, Mona does not have her own means of transportation and is forced to hitchhike through southern France. Also, she is alone. Yes, she does drift through and has a few key moments where she seems "settled" but eventually she does leave and is just as alone as she was before. In Easy Rider, the men are not alone because they have eachother. They travel together, do drugs together, and die together, unlike Mona who always was and will be forever alone.

A Journey Moved by Others

“Trees are amongst the many objects that link or punctuate the film and, as with most of the objects, are more readily associated with violence and death than with regeneration and life. Trees are framed as Mona is raped. Trees (plane trees) have been ‘colonized/’raped’ by a deathly American-imported fungus (gift of World War II). Mona immediately identifies with their destiny: ‘si elles cre`vent, pensez `a moi’ (‘if they perish, think of me’), she says (my stress) (Hayward 293).
When Mona was dropped off in the woods by the professor none of the trees around looked fully alive, it seemed as though they were struggling for whatever was left. Hayward talks about how Mona associates herself with these trees, and she actually does blend in as she stays there for awhile setting up her tent and campfire. When the professor tells Mona about the deadly fungus she could careless and actually hopes that they just all die. Mona’s point of view of those trees is how some people view her. I agree with Hayward’s statement because Mona was raped around those trees that were deadly violated by the fungus: she was violated as they were. Even though this is a road film like Easy Rider there were more differences than similarities. The similarities I saw were that they both liked doing drugs and neither found a place they could reside in for long. One of the differences was that in Easy Rider, Wyatt (a male) controlled the story, the movement of the plot. Whereas in Vagabond, Mona did not have much control as Wyatt did. In Easy Rider, all the scenery shots were either just scenery shots or involved Wyatt and Billy. In Vagabond, the scenery shots start at Mona and moves away from her, all the way until the viewers can no longer see her: even when it goes from scenery to Mona it moves pass her, once again removing her completely. Wyatt and Billy are never removed completely. Even though Mona was the main object she was not always the main focus. Mona was on a journey but never moving until she was moved by someone. I personally enjoy watching Easy Rider more than Vagabond.


"Trees are amongst the many objects that link or punctuate the film and, as with most of the other objects, are more readily associated with violence and death that with regeneration and life."--Susan Hayward

In the film Vagabond, Mona Bergeron defies the oppressive nature of "roofs" and "laws" by embracing an exhaustively autonomous lifestyle much like Wyatt and Billy in Easy Rider. In a strictly superficial sense, both films share a similar narrative trajectory emphasizing the idealism and seemingly contradictory failings of independent behavior. Unlike Easy Rider, however, Vagabond is primarily concerned with the abstract implications of isolation with respect to a thematic journey; this is manifested pervasively by the film's metaphorical motif of trees and its nonlinear storytelling structure. At one point, Mona ambiguously recalls: "I was fighting all these bits of images." This quote is a perfect summary of the film's aggressive use of fragmented flashbacks serving to bracket off Mona's experiences from societal frameworks in general. This nonlinear style is balanced by the recurring imagery of linear, parallel objects (ridges in snow, raised bumps in plowed fields, crosswalk paint, numerous gates and fences, pillars, closely bunched trees, etc.), which fittingly represent the neutral world that Mona constantly wanders. The tree motif is, more often than not, used to represent the essence of Mona. For example, Yolande observes that "The woodwork's pretty, but it collects dust"--just like Mona's increasingly grimy appearance.

Throughout the film, wood represents Mona being "cut off" from the world. The trees infected with fungus and the persistent burning and slicing of branches and twigs (especially the matches that slowly contribute to Mona's unhealthy smoking habit) symbolize the inevitable decay that Mona must experience to sustain her way of life. The helpful professor who gives Mona rides even remarks that "She's taken root in my car." Another reference to the state of Mona in terms of plant life is found in "Wandering? That's withering." Again, as opposed to the protagonists of Easy Rider, Mona is in no way concerned with proving anything--the constant sight of worldly signs and road markers fulfills that duty. Indeed, she is told "Don't leave any marks," has "no marks" on her body upon death, and wears a jacket with a stop sign on her back--out of her mind completely, but emblematic of what is, literally, behind her. She is "aided" by pointing finger logos and her hitchhiking thumb, the kindness of dogs, and frequent watering spouts, but it is, of all things, men who are ironically masked as plants who preface her demise. The woman's role is not to be a passive, fixed object like a tree, but in avoiding such a fate in this world, she risks losing her life. Mona's most prophetic statement regarding her herbaceous cousins: "Think of me if they die." Trees (living or dead) remain, unfortunately, in a permanent silence.


“To articulate Varda’s departures from the status quo more clearly, it is necessary first to delineate the dominant cinematic apparatus as well as mainstream narrative’s exploitation of the psychological process inherent in film viewing to relegate the Other to a position of object, outside the sphere of influence in/on the system. Although the analysis holds true for all colonized bodies, I will restrict the following description to the gendered Other, woman, for reasons of space and particularity for Varda’s cinema.? (Hottel 1999).

Varda’s departure from the status quo that Hottel mentions throughout her article is something that can be easily recognizable throughout Easy Rider as well with their attempt to journey beyond what is safe and what is to be expected by society. She mentions that Mona’s character takes on this title of the “Other? in which she is viewed as the object of other’s interest although does not allow herself to be influences by the outside forces that are looking in. Commonly when others whom she encounters ask her to stay, ask if they can take care of her, it is not something that she is interested in, being tied to one place and one person. She does use them for temporary comfort, company, food, or money but it is unlikely that she reveals anything about herself or life to those who may want to know more about her and her journey of solitude. By doing this she puts herself in the position of the object in which she is not connected or bound to anything or anyone and does not allow others to get a glimpse of who Mona really is. This could simply be a result of the insecurities she feels in not knowing who her true character is and therefore does not want anyone to try and define her.
In Easy Rider this is also shown with both main characters in which there is a constant interaction with those individuals that they may come in contact with but the conversation involves talking around the issues and not actually about them. They have embarked on this journey in a way to find out more about others and what changes may be happening outside the walls of the mainstream rather than discovering the core of themselves. In doing this they like Mona allow themselves to be seen and treated as objects by those around them. As I afore mentioned characters in Vagabond such as the environmentalist wish to take care of Mona, to protect her although she does not wish to be kept nor does she wish to protect herself. When thinking about Varda’s cinematic style in creating Mona as an object there is immediate foreshadowing to her death in the end and we are able to see a direct connection with Easy Rider. These characters in a sense are viewed by themselves and others as objects although in Vagabond Varda interviewed other characters to suggest that those that she came into contact with possessed some sort of concern of her well being in Easy Rider the majority of those that the two men come in contact with do not wish to be involved in their quest to find America and are therefore considered disposable.

If Easy Rider was about a woman...

Ruth Hottell states "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." (692) Although Easy Rider and Vagabond are both road movies in the sense that main characters are on the road and behaving in ways that are outside societal norms, the movies are entirely different because of the way gender is portrayed in each of the films. Wyatt and Billy are men on a trip and this journey is filmed and viewed from the male point of view. If one of these characters was female the movie would not be substantially changed because the male gaze would still be the dominate of framework for understanding the movie. We see an example of this predominate male gaze in a movie about a woman on the road, Girl on a Motorcycle. Rebecca spends the whole movie being dominated by both on and off screen male presences. Vagabond is different because Mona exists outside the male gaze. Although Easy Rider and Vagabond are both movies about the search for particular types of freedom only Vagabond continues this search for freedom into the act of making the film itself.

"A truly disturbing homeless drifter"

"In Varda's and Bonnaire's iconoclastic interpretations of the French Female Lead, Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter (Laderman 267). "
In this quote Laderman seems to highlight both a similarity and a difference regarding genders and the road film as portrayed in Easy Rider and Vagabond. Although Mona is a woman and therefore inherently different from the male lead characters of Easy Rider, she does possess similarities to them. As Laderman describes her, she is "ugly and disheveled," a characteristic that is traditionally attributed to men moreso than to women. This, as well as a drug use and the fact that she is usually seen in the company of men, aligns her with Billy and Wyatt. It also seems to be the only thing in common between Vagabond and Easy Rider.

In their film, Billy and Wyatt possess both a way of traveling (their motorcycles), as well as a purpose. The same can not be said of Mona. She is constantly on her own, hitchhiking the entire way with no consistent conveyance, and not once does it become clear what her goal is in traveling. Billy and Wyatt had both something they were escaping as well as something to escape to, but Mona only seems to have the former. Is this indicating that men are more goal-oriented while women are more about the journey? Maybe. It is not entirely apparent.

Easy Rider vs. Vagabond

"This is not a film about how a particular vagrant woman lives her solitude, but the effect to unfix the gaze, to render it inoperable." (French Film, Hayward). These two road films are similar in the way that they both signify "the road" as danger, a quest and the action of going. The movies also imagine the road to be a sense of freedom and mobility. In both movies, women are shown as passengers. Even though Mona was the main character in Vagabond, she is still shown as a passenger. This is done through the display of the male gaze on her and the lack of importance she represents in peoples' lives. The movies are different in the way that Easy Rider focuses on two men looking for America, a sense of adventure and an escape from their everyday chaotic lives. In Vagabond, Vona isn't looking for anything inparticular, she is simply wanting to disappear. The movies are also different because Vagabond features the male gaze throughout the whole film. She is looked at with the male gaze and filmed with the male gaze. The camera is always watching her, never showing what she is seeing from her eyes. I believe that gender has a huge difference to do with filming of both films. Gender causes the films to be filmed in different ways. When a woman is on the screen they are gazed at, not shown, like men.

Searching for Happiness

Hottel states, " Like Varda's style itself, Mona's chosen liberty makes traditionalists uncomfortable-they feel it necessary to deny that her situation was the chosen one."

Wyatt and Mona are very similar in their quest for freedom. They both willingly flee civil society in search of greater freedom. Feeling that there is more to life than a 9-5 job, Mona decides to start walking. Wyatt was able to use his motorcycle in search of the meaning of America. Both Mona and Wyatt sleep outdoors on their journey. Both Mona and Wyatt encounter people who don't understand them and are straight out rude to them. Wyatt found ignorant people in the restaurant and Mona did with the vine cutters. I think people reject things and people they don't understand and these people couldn't understand why someone would willingly travel and live on the road. I think it is harder for people to see a woman without a home, than a man. Women in this society are seen as more breakable than men. A woman is not supposed to get dirty. It is harder for some people to see a woman suffer, than a man. This is supported through the comments of the boss's wife. She told Mona that vine cutting is not a woman's job. It is interesting that Mona would find opposition from both the woman and the male vine cutters in the place where she seemed to finally find happiness. Looking to your surroundings or other people or taking off on a journey is not going to lead you to happiness. I think happiness needs to come from within.

Easy Rider vs 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".

Personally, I prefered the movie Vagabond than Easy Rider. These two movies are similar and different in many ways. One similarities is that both these movie deal with the road. The only difference is that in Vagabond, it is a female [Mona] who is traveling the road. In Easy Rider, it was a man. The films were also different in terms of the reason for traveling. In Easy Rider, Billy and Wyatt were in search of real america and real freedom. But, in Vagabond- we don't clearly see the intention of her journey. All we know is that Mona loves to be on the road and she goes where her feet takes her. She doesn't have expectations from life or anything. To me, she was a very independent woman who was looking for a place where she would feel like home. There was a point in the movie, with that Tunisia? guy, where she wanted to settle down with him. Except for that, he wasn't strong enough to be a man and keep her with him and she goes her separate way. Another similarities and difference is how people behave with the main characters from the film. In Easy Rider, girls envied Billy and Wyatt, wanted to travel with them and thought they were cool. But the guys despised them. In Vagabond, guys were in a way shocked by Mona's characteristic and behavior, and girls envied her and wanted to be like Mona even though they knew that their culture wouldn't support it. But, all girls wanted to be free like her- free not only to travel on their own but to love freely to show their emotions to other freely and do whatever your heart tells you to do freely. And the other girls didn't have the courage to be like Mona. In Easy Rider, the guys ride their bike. But, in Vagabond, she hitchhiked wherever possible and walked on her feet. Another thing that was common is that both the main characters didn't believe or follow the law. Because they believed that there should be no law other than living in your own terms freely. No law above or below the sky. Also, the characters from both the films were in drugs/grass. The result of the journey is also very similar. Both the main characters in Easy Rider and Vagabond dies in the end.

February 16, 2008

Easy Rider & Vagabond, Compare & Contrast

"In radical contrast to the 'audiences' within Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, Vanishing Point, or Badlands, the characters who observe Mona's movement do not admire or glorify her; she does not become a 'star.' In foregrounding the social matrix Mona passes through, Varda implicitly challenges the road movie's tendency - within the narrative, and as a genre - to not romanticize the rambling outlaw." (Laderman 266-267)

The films Easy Rider and Vagabond have striking similarities and very distinct differences noticeable throughout their durations. Though both movies focus on a character (or characters) leaving everything material behind to take to the road, there is so much substance in each to prod discussion, especially when looked at in comparison to one another.

The similarities between these two films begin with a single basic premise of a journey on the road. Within this basic likeness, there are many contrasts that can be made between the movies. Easy Rider focuses on two men who are using their freedom to search for ideal freedom, while a single woman in Vagabond takes advantage of her freedom without any sort of motivated search. Part of this difference can be explained because of the gender of each character. In Easy Rider, the men are taking charge. Wyatt is a sex symbol, and they clearly control any phallic idea. From their motorcycles to their overall influence over others, everything about the main characters in Easy Rider is about being the best – not coincidentally, they are both males. In Vagabond, Mona is a woman wandering by herself, without much direction aside from not being controlled by society. In fact, she quitting work and “leaving her boss not to simply find another boss on the road.? Mona is not a sex symbol; her transportation mode is anything but powerful. The traditional male gaze is not fixated on her like we have seen on women in the past.

In each of these movies, the characters find help from strangers. In Easy Rider, Wyatt and Billy get some significant help from a hippie and a lawyer, who donate their services because the men are so charismatic. The two main characters inspire the others without much direct effort. Nobody took pity on them, because they were charismatic men with companionship and power. In Vagabond, Mona gets help from a variety of strangers also. However, people do not help her simply out of some sort of admiration or adoration, but rather to try and help give her apparently pitiful life some direction. Seeing a single woman on the road undoubtedly contributed to people being so prone to offering help. A man who studied philosophy spoke during an interview claiming that she was simply withering, not wandering. Trying to help her ultimately proved futile despite any effort he could give.

Some of the people each character encountered were intentionally trying to cause harm. In Easy Rider, it could easily be attributed to the men controlling the phallus, and jealousy or fear of castration motivating others to become hostile. In the end, their death was very epic and managed to send these legends out with a bang. Contrarily in Vagabond, Mona was sexually assaulted (another difference easily attributed to gender variation) and the driving factor in her harm had nothing to do with fear or jealousy.
Through each of these films, there are countless similarities and differences, both fused within one another. Often an attribute of these is pulled out of the gender disparity.

Total freedom associated with loneliness?..

" The American cinema is entirely dependent [...] on a system of representations in wich the woman occupies a central place only to the extent that it`s a place assigned to her by the logic of the masculine desire" (Hottel). In vagabond ( Sans toit ni loi ), the spectator is taken into a world that he/she may have never experienced before.Changes made here are big. A woman occupies the most important role assigned to her by another female. Through Agnes Varda`s voice ( narrating voice) the spectator can now see through the eyes of a woman.

Although there are nearly two decades separating the movie " Easy Rider " with " Vagabond ", the purpose both main characters had, is clearly the same: the quest for freedom. In Easy Rider, Wyatt and BIll, two friends travel across America to find another America; one more suitable for them. Mona herself in Vagabond is looking for freedom itself; she wants to be free like a bird and have no oblligation whatsoever. On the other hand, the differences we observe bring us back to the feminist notion in Vagabond versus the masochism of Easy Rider. Bill and Watt, although getting away from the world still had each other and their most precious possessions: their motorcycles. And not only that, but would they have fun together and face danger together. i assume it was much more difficult for Mona to hit the road not only as a woman but as a lonely woman. She had nobody to rely on but herself; no real belonging to at least call hers. She had no sense of belonging. Ironically, none of the people she met along the way could forget her. Was it because she was ready to keep the freedom she had at any price? Or maybe beause they saw in her, a part of them they are not ready/or to scared to discover yet?

Like the goatherd that provided Mona with food and shelter said, there is a limit to freedom; total freedom brings you total loneliness. And total loneliness eats you up. Mona was totally free and thought she was invicible. But no human can win over the laws of nature.

February 15, 2008

Rebels vs Realism - Who Prevails?

“In foregrounding the social matrix Mona passes through, Varda implicitly challenges the road movie’s tendency – within the narrative, and as a genre – to romanticize the rambling outlaw. Mona’s culture does not know how to deal with such aimless wandering; most of those interviewed cannot make sense of her. Throughout, the film suggests that the culture that in some way spawned Mona may have inadvertently contributed to her tragically meaningless death (Laderman 267). “

This provocative quote from the Laderman readings provides an interesting way to compare and contrast the films Vagabond and Easy Rider. In Easy Rider, the small group of male hippies searches for the seemingly lost America. These men receive one of two reactions by the people they encounter – envy or hate. The individuals that cannot understand or handle these men react violently, ultimately murdering them in the end.

In Vagabond, the single female Mona is not searching for something as grand as a lost country – she in fact does not seem to be searching for anything at all. She is simply living her life, which happens to be a drifter on the French countryside. Mona receives puzzled reactions from the people she encounters, but none reacts by wanting to kill her. As a single woman, Mona is seen as weaker as or more fragile than the pack of men in Easy Rider. Though Mona attempts to resist this idea, she reinforces it through many of her actions. Her womanly vulnerability is seen when she is sexually assaulted by different men and runs screaming into the phone booth when the men practicing the pagan ritual come after her.

In both Easy Rider and Vagabond, the main characters meet an untimely end. Wyatt, George, and Billy are murdered in a roadside spectacle complete with explosions and archetypal southern bigots. Mona, in contrast, dies naturally, finally giving up the urge to wander. Referring back to Laderman’s quote, both films seem to suggest that the culture that created these “outsider? figures lead to their death. For Wyatt, Billy, and George, the mainstream culture directly leads to their death when the men chase them down and murder them. For Mona, the disinterest and obvious lack of effort on the part of those she encounters to understand her leads to her “blending into the scenery? and her ultimate death. The men of Easy Rider die because they are noticed – Mona dies because, as a woman, she is not noticed.

Aucune Identité

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.

Although many of the same cinematic techniques such as the tracking shot are used both in Easy Rider and Vagabond, the differences between American and European cinema and the influence of gender make these two road movies dissimilar. I think one very important difference between these two films is the role the automobile plays. In Easy Rider the motorcycle becomes apart of the men riding them, which is evident by scenes like the one at the motel where Billy and Wyatt do not turn off their bikes nor get off them to ask for a room. Mona on the other hand has no automobile of her own; all she has is her body and the assistance of others to keep her in constant motion. Mona does not achieve the same sense of independence that the men do, having to rely on others to help her meet her basic needs.

The motives for taking to the road in both films are very different as well. Billy and Wyatt set out to discover America where as Mona is simply living, drifting along without a destination or desire to stay or be with anyone for too long. As a women Mona lacks the privilege and power of a man to gain an identity on the road. Few people Mona meets even take the time to remember her name and merely use her until they need her or can no longer support her. There is a distinct contrast to the way in each journey's ends that reflects that motive. Billy and Wyatt come face to face with a symbolic representation of what they are fighting against. Mona isn't offered the opportunity to fight back and merely passes along without being noticed just as the film began, leaving a trace of herself with those she met, but they are unable to identify just what she left them with.

February 14, 2008

Americans Are Discriminating Against Hillary Clinton Because She Is A Female

"Generally speaking, European road movies seem less interested than their American counterparts in following the desperately rambling criminal exploits of an outlaw couple; or, in romanticizing the freedom of the road as a political alternative expressing youth rebellion. Rather, the exploration of psychological, emotional, and spiritual states becomes more important to the Continental drive." (Driving Visions: Exploiting the Road Movie, P. 247-248 David Laderman) This is a principle difference that can contrast the movies of "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond." Although both movies are rebellious road movies, the European road movie similar to "Vagabond" can be more insightful and more appropriate to a college class. A written summary without actually watching the films "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" would make one think that these films are nearly identical except that one is in English and the other is in French. Both of these films feature plots of a group of men and a single woman on the road trying to find something that does not exist.

The most obvious difference with the movies "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" can be the gender of the drifters. The male drifters in "Easy Rider" were not treated particularly well because they were in America and also because they were male. It seems that male characters tend to elicit less empathy and sympathy that female characters because they are portrayed to be tough and unfeeling. The female drifter in "Vagabond" was generally treated pretty well since she was in France and because she was a female. People usually treat females with more consideration and respect because people portray females as being weak and requiring more care and attention. This is probably the reason as to why Mona was treated reasonably well as she was not only a relatively nice person herself, she was also a vulnerable female drifting on the road alone. Another interesting difference in the films "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" can have to do with the nature of the drifters. In the film "Easy Rider" the drifters seemed to have a desire to continue drifting on the road, having fun at times. In the film "Vagabond" the drifter Mona seemed to want to find a place for herself and was not happy being on the road as noted when the Moroccans kicked her out of their residence. Mona seemed to want to have people connect with her and tried to give people the impression that she was strong when she was a vulnerable woman.

The most important difference in the films "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" are the cultures they take place in because there is a simply startling difference in the manner the Americans and the French treat the drifters. The culture of the people are expressed very sincerely in the movies. The manner in how the Americans and the French treat the drifters may have to do with the gender of the drifters, being male or female however, the Americans are simply inexcusable in their wantonly cruel treatment of the drifters whether they are male or not. The lead character, Mona is a shabby-looking individual that would dispatch the narrow-minded, bigoted Americans into a wild marathon, did not have the same effect on the French. The French in this movie actually took the time to get to know Mona for the innocent, if rather lost person she was. The French in general, opened their arms to her, more than willing to help her, talk to her, and give her what she needed. The tree-specialist lady was especially kind, letting Mona sleep in her car. The kind treatment of the French to a different looking person is in stark contrast to the callously wicked treatment of the American people. They jeered, mocked, and even killed the different looking drifters. This was simply a part of American culture to treat those different with indifference. We should all be able to learn from the example set by the French in the movie "Vagabond."


Sans toit ni loi

"Trees are framed as Mona is raped. Trees...have been 'colonized'/'raped' by a deathly American imported fungus...Mona immediately identifies with their destiny; 'si elles crevent, pensez a moi'"

A good point the article by Hayward makes is the reversal of symbols all throughout "Sans toit ni loi". Symbols of life, freedom, growth, and even passion are turned to death, captivity, stuntedness, and something needing to be doused rather than fueled. Trees, fire, water, even shutters are now something nasty and lurking. This entire film seems to be a statement of contradictions towards "normal" male road films like "Easy Rider."

"Easy Rider" is a film depicting the joys of living in the 70's. They are young, they were free, and they could do drugs and sleep with as many women as they wanted to without any true consequences. Yes they had some difficult times but they always came out on top. "Why?", one might ask? Because they are men. "The Vagabond" turns these identifiers of male life inside out when referring to Mona and her life on the road. Everything from drugs to sex is turned into a negative when Mona does it. Even the fact that she is on the road in the first place seems to be heralded as a bad idea. She is emotionally distant and cold instead of vivid in life and action. She is unable to take care of herself to her determent where as in Easy Rider all their scruff just makes them sexy.

The two most significant things seem to be her rape and death. As I quoted in the beginning life becomes death and freedom becomes captivity in the rape scene. Her desperation becomes the cry the trees cannot produce though they are in the same situation. Mona's death is so useless compared to the devastating glory of Billy and Wyatt's deaths in Easy rider. Mona tripps over life ( water pipe), Billy gets shot in pursute of "fun" and Wyatt gets blown up in all the wonder that comes with attempting to save a friend. While Billy and Wyatt become this intangible good, Mona becomes a waste.

February 13, 2008

Gendering the Outcast Instructions

Both “Easy Rider? and “Vagabond? are road stories about living outside of home (“roof?) and civil society (“law?). How are these road narratives the same and different? What’s gender got to do with it? Explain. (Start your blog entry with a quote from the readings.)

February 12, 2008

That was a Big Bike

"Girl On a Motorcycle" started out being one of the most unusual movies I have ever seen, yet as I watched teh story unfold, I realized that I was a lot like Rebecca. She was free. She was liberated. It makes no difference if her wedding present was a bike from another man or not- either way it was hers and it was her ticket to freedom. The make gaze in this movie was more than obvious with the silly sounds she made and the close-up of her zipping up her black, leather, tight motorcycle suit. Also, with the security guards smacking her on the butt and army men hooting and hollering at her. Yes, there was much male gaze, BUT it does not mean in the least bit that she has no freedom or liberation or power while being a woman. I think that all the attention gave her more power than an average woman just because her looks could and did get her to places that some other females might not be able to get to. She took advantage of the men's smaller brain's and went with it, which makes her not only smart, but creative, and for that I give her mad props. Even though she was "battling" in her mind between which man she wanted, deep down she didn't want any of them. She wanted a mix of the two and if she couldn't have it, she didn't want it. Rebecca was a free, strong, spicy, nympho who knew how to shift a bike.

February 11, 2008

Lacking Liberation

I seem to have trouble getting my entries in on time...this time my computer was in the shop since Friday. Oh well, glad to finally have it back...

"Girl on a Motorcycle" failed to prove liberating from male constrictions at the beginning. Rebecca is tied down by two men, her husband and her lover, and cannot break free from either, bouncing back and forth between them until she meets her tragic end. The opening dream of her being denuded by the ringleader, as she sits atop a horse, a method of transport remarkably similar to a motorcycle, starts the cycle of phallocentrism continued throughout the film. The shots of her zipping into her leather suit, her animal-like skin, are obviously through the eyes of a male, perpetuating the male gaze. Shots similar to these continue and keep her an object of male affection, nearly always viewed as a sexual object. While on her motorcycle, a "gift" from her lover (more like a leash if you ask me), she may feel free and rebellious, but she is always travelling between men, never free to ride where she desires. It is this whip that she travels back and forth on that ultimately leads to her death, finally thrown from the phallus that kept her bound by men, her motorcycle.

The "male gaze"

Its quite clear that the sexuality and liberation of Rebecca in the movie can create an issue among men and more conservative women. From a woman's perspective, there were things in the movie that made me feel uncomfortable. Ironically, it wasn't Rebecca's sadomasochism fantasies or even her subtle observations of George upon their first interactions. It was the the camera shots of her body, or the

male gaze
. I agree with the director's perspective of the male gaze. Its obvious that men gaze at what arouses them, from breats to booty. The question that is constantly in my head is: Without the
male gaze
, is that ultimately taking away the phallus of the man? In other words, does a man feel emasculated without gazing? And ultimately, does that lead to a mental castration for a man? The constant body shots and sexual inuendos through the motorcyle seemed to remind me I was looking at a women that can only create a sexual stimulation for the audience rather than focusing on the independence and liberation of Rebecca.


It seems to me that Girl on a Motorcycle did more than fall short of liberation. From the very title-- using the diminutive instead of "woman"-- it failed.

The strongest parts of the film are wrapped in contradiction. A woman, Rebecca, leaves an unhappy marriage in the stifling complacency of the suburbs to seek sexual freedom, but she finds it in the hands of a rapist. Indeed, her sexuality betrays her all along, becoming an overwhelming obsession with a man who shows her neither love nor respect. The literal vehicle of her sexuality, her motorcycle, is a thing that is traditionally male-- a phallic vehicle that pierces even into her mind, listing her thoughts and imaginings and splattering them across the page.

Her constant sexualization is another, more dominant form of penetration. The writhings of Rebecca's body are as animalistic as the fur she wears. The power of the motorcycle and the intensity of pleasure take her over and own her. Even her daydreams hold men in the position of power, as when the border guards assault her. No statement of her enslavement could be more obvious than the moments just before her death, when she loses herself in her dream and gyrates over the motorcycle, never noticing a second of the pain.

Instead of setting Rebecca free, Girl on a Motorcycle looks into her mind and lingers on her body, and goes to the other extreme of domination.

a little liberating?

The movie is supposed to be about a "girl" who rebels and takes to the road. It is quite amazing that she actually does that. She is a woman who takes a lover, does drugs and has the freedom, of some kind, to travel around. Yet the movie is about as liberating, and positive, for women as most movies are today; which is to say not very. The movie, though having some positive moments, mostly uses the female as a object to stare at, from the moment the movie begins and throughout everything she does. Though there are moments of female gaze, where the spectator views the world through the protaganists eyes, the spectator is quickly taken away from that view, back to a male gaze, by consistent photographic and narrative elements that place the protagonist as an object to gaze at.

The beginning sequence shows the female protagonist looking on as two men compete. Then the ringmaster, Daniel, whips her around the circus. This imagery places the protagonist as a person under the command of someone else. From this point forward, sexual and phallic imagery abound. The acts of putting clothes on, filling up a gas tank and lying in the grass are all sexualized, by showing off the woman's body or by highlighting phallic imagery. The woman spends most of the movie on her motorcycle, which can be seen as empowering. But in a later part of the narrative, the motorcycle is highlighted, also, for its "phallusness." The woman's scenes on the motorcycle then change, from a cinematographic stance, by focusing on her thighs surrounding the bike, and having her "ride" it.

Any freedom she might have is undermined, through the narrative and filming. A few female backround characters are shown, but throughout most of the people that we encounter are male; and all of them look at her sexually, or even try to touch her sexually, like the border patrolmen. One positive, or liberating aspect is that the woman never seems to be critcized for her affair or her use of drugs. An aspect of this is that Raymond is portrayed as a weak man, while Daniel is powerful and beautiful, and the protagonist is drawn to the later. But this is not really criticized for much of the film. But in the later parts, the woman herself begins to criticize herself; calling herself a bitch multiple times. The movie ends, as most do, with her death. This ending can be read in many ways, as a halting of her freedom, a punishment for her infidelity, or many other ways.

Though this movie is seemingly centered on a female, many problems still arise from it. There is clearly a male gaze at work, seeing her strictly as a sexual object. The spectator is reminded of this throughout the film. But if we are to look for positives, the movie does place a woman as the lead narrator. We get to hear her voice throughout, we get to see her throughout, even in moments that are not sexualized, and we get to follow her story. This was probably a little step towards female empowerment, but nowhere near enough.

Girl on a Motorcycle

This film had potential of being very liberating for women, but it fell short of this female freedom with the ever present male gaze and phallocentrism. From the very being of the film, Rebecca is made to be a sexual object to be enjoyed by men. Starting with her dream where her clothes are ripped off, and continuing with her repeated sexual harassment by men throughout the movie (such as the men at the borderline) she becomes an object rather than a woman. The "liberating road" loses all of its potential freedom since it is simply a means of carrying her from one man to another, more dominant, man. Daniel is the personification of the male gaze and phallocentrism. When his character is introduced, he is watching Rebecca from across the room with his eyes obscured by darkness. He has no respect for her, and treats her as his inferior. It is this powerful male figure that takes away Rebecca's liberation and makes this film just another movie which objectifies women.

Girl On A Motorcycle

During the film, the female body is used as a source of weakness and vulnerability. Daniel uses exploitation and manipulation to use the woman's body for his own purposes. Unlike Raymond, Daniel is able to violate the female body into submission, ultimately making him more attractive to Rebecca. The motorcyle, instead of being liberating, acts as Daniel's tool for Rebecca's complete surrender. Rebecca, rather than being frightening of submission and exploitation, gladly travels through the countryside to receive it. She is neither liberated nor made independent through her time on the road. Raymond is castrated by his inability to control any situation. Rebecca, desiring control, is attracted the man that takes what he wants, even if it means climbing in her room and sexually exploiting her. Rebecca, though aware of the fact that Daniel has complete control over her, laughs and smiles crazily at her reflections of her exploitation. She is trapped in an abusive, adulterous relationship that is the opposite of liberating. And yet, the relationship is represented as the most attractive, the most learned of the female body, the most desirable.

The Girl On a Motorcycle

‘The presence of women is an indispensible element of spectacle in normal narrative film, yet her visual presence tends to work against the development of a story line, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation.? (Mulvey 40)

The phallocentrism maintained in this film is very influential. Even though this film had a woman riding around in her motorcycle it was not very pleasant to see the main character, Rebecca, getting dominated by the male character, Raymond. Although it didn’t seem like she didn’t have a problem with Raymond being the order around. This is why I don’t think this film is liberating for other woman at all. There were many scenes where Rebecca would let Raymond take her over especially the many scenes where they are sleeping together. He seems like the one who was always dominating her.

There were many scenes where the male gaze is maintained throughout this film, with Rebecca being the sexual depiction with her very tight leather suit riding on her motorcycle. The various scenes in this film where the male characters gaze is at Rebecca are when she was filling up her gas, checking her paperwork, and even in the bar.


It is very obvious that this movie wasn't liberating to anyone. From the very beginning of the film, the camera shoots Rebecca as an object. First, in that tripped out circus ring. Then, through her putting on "skin", which was supposed to be liberating for her, maybe symbolized freedom and a sense of adventure out on her motorcycle. However, with the shot that panned up her whole body and showed her clevage, it is hard to take her seriously. That shot to me was an accurate picture of was yet to come, and it was also the perfect example of the male gaze. For the rest of the film, her actions are always driven by a man. She is contained by men for the whole movie; by the obvious male gaze and even through being killed at the end. She is also completely fetished. When she visits her lover, and end up cutting each other with the rose thorns. Anyway, it is pretty clear that this was not supposed to be a movie to make women feel liberated. It was probably made so men could go see marianne faithfull riding a motorcycle in a leather jumpsuit.

Sexual Conservatism vs. Feminism

I want to talk about something a little different. It is really important when looking at a film like Girl on a Motorcycle to distinguish between parts that are definitely not feminist in nature and parts that could just be seen as sexual liberation. We certainly see the pleasure that Marianne Faithful's character receives while being whipped by her sexually dominating partner, as well as her completely submissive side when she collapses on to him and begs the man to rip off her clothing. BDSM is a legitimate fetish that needs to be acknowledged here (this excludes the rape). I think it is particularly important to examine this movie carefully, because it would be very easy to castigate Marianne's character for simply being sexually liberated and indulging in a sexual desire/fantasy/fetish. Of course, this is not an excuse for the film. The sexual castration of her husband, being placed in the feminine/emasculated, in many scenes, especially the one where all of the prepubescent school children make fun of him. The placing of the male pronoun on her bicycle is also decidedly phallocentric in that no action of her own is in fact initiated by herself. When off of the motorcycles she is either laying down, or propelled by a male. And the male gaze saturates this film, where every man attempts to demystify her and control her with their sight. So I am not excusing the film, but making a point about some of the content that may be overlooked.

"Raymond is my bike".

...and you are Daniel's.

From the outside, if a viewer is simply reading the synopsis of the film, I'm sure that Girl on a Motorcycle seems a fresh new lierating take on how a female can simply leave her hum-drum life for the thrill and passion of her lover. However, once you view the actual film, it is quite simply, a female trying to fool herself into thinking she is the dominant male of her life. We are pulled into Rebecca's past as she reminisces about her past, and as she compares the cowardly lion of a boyfriend in Raymond with the overly masculine, active Daniel. Even when Rebecca and Daniel meet, there is a sense of extreme power on behalf of Daniel, and Rebecca is content to be his passive, fetishized, play thing. While she is dominating over her boyfriend the entire time at the ski chalet, you see that she is content to become the willing subject of Daniel's voyeuristic gazes at her from across the room. She likes to think she has absolute power over men, Raymond in particular, yet she completely reliquishes any control over herself and her body as Daniel simply takes her for himself. As we are pulled back to her present time, she reminisces more about her past travels on her bike, all the while making us very aware that, as free and strong as she might think she is, she still succumbs to becoming a victim of the male gaze everywhere she goes. She allows not only Daniel to entrance her, but also strangers with whom she openly lets take control over her, like the border patrol or the gas station attendant. She willingly lets men in her life hold the phallic power over her and is content to be submissive and a sexual object to be glowered at. We as the audience are constantly viewing her from a male standpoint, as well; immediately in the beginning of the movie, we are given a voyweuristic point of view as she gets dressed in the morning, showing us that she has nothing on undeneath her "second skin".

She might feel that her journey is liberating her from a caged life, but she is deathly mistaken. She even refers to her motorcycle, her key to freedom and liberation, as a male. Liberating as it may seem, the only person even more a victim of castration in this film is Raymond himself.

"Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive!" ...Right.

Girl on a Motorcycle does a fabulous job of giving the impression it is a film showing a liberated woman, as Rebecca seems to independently take to the road with her motorcycle, on a journey of her choosing. However, as her past is revealed, we see that her journey and her motivations for it are tied to a male presence—even her motorcycle is tied to her lover—and the film is anything but liberating, particularly as Rebecca is subjected to the male gaze throughout the film. From her dream of being stripped by ringmaster Daniel in a circus ring to the glances she receives at the bar, the audience is frequently put in the position of watching men watch Rebecca—or even watching Rebecca through the men’s eyes—the persistent shots of men looking at her body and seeing her as a sexual object subjugate her rather than liberate her. Indeed, Rebecca’s life revolves around her desire to be with Daniel, much as the film centers on men’s views of her, and the pleasure they gain from watching her. The scopophilic behavior is indicative of the phallocentrism in the film—while men enjoy watching Rebecca, she is surrounded by phallic symbols that remind her and us of the power men have in her life as she is torn between her husband and her lover. Her motorcycle is the most obvious phallic stand-in, as several shots throughout the driving montage suggest. The gas station attendant’s very deliberate insertion of nozzle into gas tank is a ridiculously overt suggestion of intercourse, and only serves to reinforce what the rest of the film tells us—Daniel possesses the phallus, the power, and Rebecca is subject to his power, recklessly abandoning her married life for the less-than-guaranteed future with a man who shows little interest in anything but using her body.

Power of Phallocentrism

Within the first few minutes of the film Marianne is controlled my phallocentrism when being completely exposed while riding a horse. Although the film does put a woman in the driver's seat on the road, it is anything but liberating for women. When reflecting on the plot, narrative, and cinematic techniques it is quite easy to recognize that it was created through a male gaze. The entire story line is focused around a woman having no say or control of what she wants. With almost all of Marianne’s dialogue being thoughts in her head centered on what the men in her life think it makes me wonder if she knows who she is or what she wants out of life.

Marianne is not s strong independent women that viewers look up to. She marries who husband out of fear of being alone and lets the man she is having an affair with control her every thought. In almost all of the scenes, even when she is riding and supposedly taking control, Marianne is only seen as a sex object and is fetishized by men and appears to like it. Through Marianne’s flashbacks it almost seems like she will gain some type of control over her life when she gets married, but out of fear of losing her, or "castration" as theory shows, her lover gives her a motorcycle as a wedding gift and again regains all control.

Girl on a Motorcycle could never be viewed as liberating with Marianne wanting a man to control her, just as she tells her husband on their ski trip. Even when Marianne rebels and leaves her husband to go after what she wants she lets another man control her thoughts and eventually end her life. Girl on a Motorcycle does not portray a women taking on the road, but instead shows a women losing all control due to the power of phallocentrism while on the road.

Sometimes it's an Instinct to Fly...

...I'm not going to feel guilty.

I found this film to be incredibly unique and bizarre. From the moment we see Mariane on screen we are looking at her from the male gaze. Imeediately she gets dressed in her leather riding suit and the audience is given a close-up of the fact that she's wearing nothing underneath. As for the film being liberating, I would have to say absolutely not. I'm still trying to figure out if it was a story about the promiscuity of the subconscious within this woman or a tale on the ups and downs of S & M relationships. There were some very interesting scenes, like the scene where she stops to take shots of vodka....we the audience become just like all of those men watching her from within that bar. Her story is one told completely from the perspective of the male gaze and the motorcycle was the phallic symbol that enabled the story to continue and its ultimately the very thing that ends her journey.


I won't repeat what others have said beyond stating that this movie was very phallocentric and not liberating to women at all. Instead I want to focus on the often repeated images of birds throughout the film. I feel the birds tie into the idea of liberation, especially freedom. Birds are free to fly around or away whenever they feel like it, in the way that Rebecca clearly wasn't. She thought the motorcycle gave her that freedom she clearly craved, but it didn't. Instead, it tied her to Daniel and the road. Therefore, the constant bird images in the film represent the ultimate freedom Rebecca thought she could find, however; like the birds, it was uncatchable.

February 10, 2008

Girl on a Motorcycle

The most frequent example of the male gaze in Girl on a Motorcycle is the audience watching the men in the movie looking at Marianne Faithful.

Even in the shots expressing her point of view in flashbacks were centered around men looking at Rebecca - in the bar at the ski lodge, at the border. This relates to the idea in the readings that women's sexuality is defined by wanting to be looked at. “If she [any woman] is to have sexual pleasure, it can only be constructed around her objectification; it cannot be a pleasure that comes from desire for the other (a subject position)- that is, her desire is to be desired"(Kaplan 126). This clearly, isn't a very liberating position for a woman in cinema to inhabit. Rebecca is completely defined by all the men in the movie. All her decisions are based on Daniel's desire for her and her desire to please him. The relationship with Daniel is slightly more complicated than him treating her as a sex object. Because Daniel had been in love and hurt before Rebecca he was unwilling to be involved emotionally in their 'relationship'. Because he had been hurt by a woman, as a woman Rebecca represents castration to him. This is why she had to die in the end- because she was a threat to masculinity... even though she was the object of the movie, controlled by the men in her life.

Girl on a Motorcycle

The most frequent example of the male gaze in Girl on a Motorcycle is the audience watching the men in the movie looking at Marianne Faithful.

Even in the shots expressing her point of view in flashbacks were centered around men looking at Rebecca - in the bar at the ski lodge, at the border. This relates to the idea in the readings that women's sexuality is defined by wanting to be looked at. “If she [any woman] is to have sexual pleasure, it can only be constructed around her objectification; it cannot be a pleasure that comes from desire for the other (a subject position)- that is, her desire is to be desired"(Kaplan 126). This clearly, isn't a very liberating position for a woman in cinema to inhabit. Rebecca is completely defined by all the men in the movie. All her decisions are based on Daniel's desire for her and her desire to please him. The relationship with Daniel is slightly more complicated than him treating her as a sex object. Because Daniel had been in love and hurt before Rebecca he was unwilling to be involved emotionally in their 'relationship'. Because he had been hurt by a woman, as a woman Rebecca represents castration to him. This is why she had to die in the end- because she was a threat to masculinity... even though she was the object of the movie, controlled by the men in her life.

Phallocentric? Yes. Liberating? Ha.

It becomes obvious in the first few scenes of Girl on a Motorcycle that this film is phallocentric and not female liberating. In Rebecca's inital dream sequence she is on a horse at the circus, being controlled by the ringmaster (who we later find out is Daniel) and eventually has all of her clothes whipped off, much to her delight. Rebecca comes to rely on men to give her an identity and make her life exciting. This is evidenced by her phrases "I only come to life when he touches me," and "He never gives me any identity." Throughout the film, Rebecca is seen as a castrated women, who is contained by the male gaze. Dispite her solo journey, she is surrounded by men who treat her only as a sexual object, as noted by their gaze. The gas station attendent, boarder control men, old men at the restaurant, and her lover Daniel all look at Rebecca scopophilicly. Rebecca rejects the men in her life that don't excerise this control over her - namely, Raymond. Even the motorcycle is a "him" and gives Rebecca pleasure on her way to meet Daniel. Viewing Rebecca as castrated in the film even appears in her dreams, where she is subjected to the gaze of pulsating male eyes on more then one occasion. In the end, Rebecca is punished for her adulterous sins by being killed on the highway at exactly the time she was supposed to meet with Daniel.

Give me road or give me death.

Rebecca specifically calls her motorcycle “he?: “There he is?. Girl on a Motorcycle presents a story about a woman and her journey, but a story where the men of the plot control all the actions. This woman sets to the road because she is unhappy in her marriage to Raymond, but only to seek refuge in the arms of another man, Daniel. I believe that this is restricting women in their ability to be on their own, to be independent of men. Phallocentrism is central in this the plot of this movie, in which case, I don’t believe that it is liberating to women, much less Rebecca. The police officers at the country borders that she crosses refer to her as merchandise, Rebecca saying “I only come to life when he touches me?, and the view that Rebecca enjoys being Daniel’s sex slave represents the theme of phallocentrism. Rebecca thrives on Daniel’s scopophilia. She enjoys his gaze and his attention.

I believe that this film could have been a monumental film in representing women as liberated and free to drive, free to roam. When she drives down the road, she cruises down the middle, as if she has no borders, no restrictions. This could have been a movie that represented women as independent of men and as women who enjoy their sexually apart from men. It would have been a film that could have been groundbreaking in the road rules for women.

Can I fill your gas tank? Ooooh yeah Thanks...

This movie is the farthest thing I have seen from liberating in my entire life. Every decision that Rebecca made that might have been considered liberating were only made because of her lover, Daniel. Even the mode of transportation that carried her from her unhappiness in her marriage was given to her by her lover. All he does is oppress her. He uses her for sex and does not show any other interest in her. The way that the camera is used even dehumanized her and makes her into a sex object rather than a human. The moment when she puts her motorcycle outfit on is a slow pan down her body. When there is nudity in the movie it is of Rebecca's breasts and only of her breasts. When they show her naked body her face usually isn't in the shot. The whole movie is a male gaze through the camera. As a woman, I saw nothing that made me proud of my gender, it actually made me feel upset that I was being represented in that way.

Rebecca even admits that she doesn't want to be independent and liberated. Her husband, Raymond, is very nice to her and asks her her opinion. But she only tells him that “you ought to tell me to shut up and do what you want.? Daniel just just that. He tells her to shut up when she asks him of his intentions on the motorbike. The phallocentrism in this movie isn't subtle at all. When she pulls up to the gas station, the attendant goes to fill up her tank with gas and it is so overly obvious that the insertion of the gas hose is a sex reference.

This movie really upset me. I am also really peeved that this was a pioneer female centric film. I think Thelma and Louise are looking like angels to me right now.

Freedom Driven Journey? or Sex Driven Journey?

“At this point he associated scopophilia with taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze? (Kaplan 37). This is referring to Freud’s explanation of the gaze. People are compelled to gaze out of curiosity and it takes over them. Some are controlled by the object of interest and some are the controller of their object. Women tend to be controlled by their gaze objects and men being in control of the phallus are the ones controlling their gaze objects: majority of the time are women. In the movie Woman on a Motorcycle, it is all about the male gaze. This movie reiterates the saying that the male is the action subject and the female is acted upon. When Rebecca knows that she was raped by a man she throws herself at him even more, she asks to be acted upon. She seeks freedom so therefore she rebels and starts to ride, but I question what the definition of freedom is to her when she wants to be controlled by a man in the end of her journey. In her narrative when she arrives at Daniel’s place she throws herself onto him and lets him take over. When she was sitting at the restaurant/bar she says that Daniel never gave her a role, never confirming his feelings or the status of their relationship. All Daniel wanted was her body. It bothers me that knowing all this she still yearns for him. She speaks out about how she is sicken by all the attention she gets from all the men, but her facial expression and body language tells another story. Even when Daniel tells her that he never asked her to come, she does not seem phase by the comment but moves even closer to him. I do not think she was searching for freedom but instead searching for someone to control her. I find this movie completely unliberating to women. Rebecca demonstrates that women are lacking and seen as castrated. This movie was entirely for the male audience, there was no part of the movie did I feel it was for women viewers.

"Girl on a Motorcycle..." liberating?

In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The male gaze projects it fantasy into the female figure, which is styled accordingly? (39 Mulvey).

Girl on a Motorcycle seems like it should be a liberating film about women, however, it still puts women on a lower standard than men. As Rebecca travels, others (mainly men) are skeptical that she is traveling by herself without her husband. Her first stop, as she is filling her gas, the attendant says that her husband is “a generous man? implying that she needs a man’s permission in order to go out. Phallocentrism plays a huge role in this movie. It is shown in Rebecca’s father when he says that daughters are of no use because they get married and leave, and it is especially shown through Daniel. One would think that Daniel would be her freedom because he is the one who gave her the motorcycle, but it is the opposite. You see that Rebecca is dependent on him. She can’t do anything without worrying about what he may think. He is the one that initiates everything, and she’s just along for the ride.

They Promised Liberation and They Provided Fetishized Female

In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its fantasy onto the female figure, which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness." Mulvey 39-40

In the film, Girl on a Motorcycle, this idea of exhibitionist and passive female was an incredibly transparent reality. Despite the fact that Rebecca is “taking? control and leaving on her motorcycle, she is repeatedly put in the passive, gawked position of woman. A notable part of the movie where Rebecca is experienced as a sexual object is when she first puts on her full-body leather motorcycle suit. Rebecca, who maintains a seemingly naked body throughout the film, puts on this layer of skin that proceeds to just barely fit her breasts, leaving them out for an easy glace and sexual arousal. The suit is also created perfectly for “woman,? having a glitzy (and easily accessed) zipper and a yet glitzier belt, presumably purchased by her lover.

Throughout the film Rebecca is maintained as a sex object. While she is riding her motorcycle her face often has the look of sexual satisfaction, creating fetishism in context of a woman on a motorcycle and of sexual deviance (due in large part that she, the woman, is taking a lover). When Rebecca is resting in the grass on the side of the road, the camera is mounted on top of her and placed at eye level, putting the viewer in control. The positioning of the camera and Rebecca’s orgasmic facial expressions put the viewer in a sexual situation with the fictional character, the male gaze at its finest.

In the film Rebecca is leaving her husband, who is portrayed as a castrated man, being passive and helpless as a man. This is why Rebecca is leaving him, because unlike her lover, her husband is unable to fulfill the position of “man? that she needs. He is unable to control his classroom of unruly students and he is unable to control Rebecca, in fact he’s oblivious to her doings and whereabouts. Rebecca is searching for somebody to control her, not very liberating.

This film does not provide a liberating female perspective. It places a woman in “control? for the voyeuristic man to fetishize over, which creates the opposite of any liberating ideals, the woman as object. Time and time again the film provided the male gaze, it put the man in control of Rebecca, of the woman.

Liberating? Yeah right...

While The Girl on the Motorcycle is an early female-centric road-trip movie, it is far from liberating. On the contrary, it plays into the very theme of male domination that a feminist film should rail against. From the very beginning of the film, it is clear that the manner in which Rebecca is presented is to be viewed as nothing more than an object of desire. She is continually sexualized by the camera, with many shots (especially in the opening dream sequence & the fantasy sequence with the border patrol) of her separated into various body parts (rather than seeing her as a complete whole). Additionally, the shot when she zips up into the leather catsuit again puts her in the place of being objectified by the male gaze of the camera. The sequence in the bar demonstrates Rebecca's scopophilia, as she dreamily imagines all the men at the bar looking at and objectifying her.

In terms of phallocentrism, the film is chocked full of examples of male dominance. Rebecca may have the free will to leave her husband and ride her motorcycle across Europe, but she is depicted as being completely dominated and controlled by her male lover. Daniel tells her exactly what to do and to "shut up," quite frequently -- exercising his dominance over her with ease. Rebecca likens herself to being a self-destructive whore who needs to be hurt in order to feel like she is loved. She even goes so far as to tell her husband, Raymond, "you ought to tell me to shut up and do what you want," plainly indicating her desire to be subservient to her male master.

The theme of liberation is surface level at best. Sure, Rebecca becomes liberated from her marriage and rides solo across the countryside, but her intent (as shown by one of the many fantasy sequences in the film) is to fall straight into the arms of her male lover, who immediately objectifies her, has his way with her, and then discards her as he philosophizes about desire without love. Nothing more than pure objectification. At the end of the film when she has decided to free herself of the bonds of her marriage and liaison (true liberation), she dies in a crash.
Rebecca (and womankind, as represented by her) can have a certain degree of liberation, but still must be put back into her place in the end. This sentiment is far from the liberation that women had hoped for....

Liberation Does Not Equal Star

Just because a female was the lead character and the only person traveling on the road does not make this movie liberating for women. First of all, the film is still very phallocentric in that her life revolves around a male and literally his phallus. Also, her body is always being exploited in sexual ways, which inhabits the male gaze. This occurs before on even begins watching the movie.The front cover is basically of her chest and it looks as though she is unzipping her leather suit, incinuating sex. Another way in which her body is exploited is while she is riding her motor cycle laughing, and then it will be a shot of her pelivic area rising up and down along with the vibrations from the motorcycle, or it will be a shot of her butt or again of her chest. Besdies being phallocentric and pertaining to the male gaze, the film uses voyeuristic cues to arouse the audience. For example, when she first leaves her home to go visit her lover she stops at a gas station and there is a shot of the attendant who takes the hose and slowly places it inside of her gas tank, foreshadowing to the act of sexual relations and also his desire to sleep with her. Basically, this film is just eye candy for straight men.

The Girl on a Motorcycle

The potentially liberating aspects of The Girl on a Motorcycle's road trip narrative (featuring a "free" female protagonist) are undermined by the film's blatant adherence to both phallocentrism and scopophilia. The most pervasive and overt manifestation of the active feminine being rendered passive by a heterosexual masculine force is the motorcycle itself. Not only is Rebecca's motorcycle a gift, but she must also be meticulously instructed in its usage--all under the oppressive gaze of Daniel. The motorcycle, in a metaphorical sense, is completely aligned with the phallus. For example, the final scene of the film features Rebecca not only simulating sexual intercourse with the motorcycle, but also reminiscing about Daniel-themed lovemaking and fetishistic domination fantasies while doing so. The film reinforces the importance of phallic power by portraying Rebecca's husband Raymond as absolutely pathetic, castrated even, in the face of his students after her allegiance to, for all intents and purposes, Daniel's motorcycle/phallus. Rebecca, despite her resilience, is under the effects of masculine power throughout the entire film. In the diner scene, the penetrating gazes of other men force her into daydreaming and unreality. Her tryst with Daniel (which could be more accurately described as his raping of her) is visually stylized much like her (apparently) drug-induced euphorias. Her eventual annihilation is framed as punishment in that her entire journey is under the pretense of Daniel's phallus. The film essentially argues for her death in that she is a castrated being only capable of succeeding through the giant phallic symbol she just happens to possess. In other words, The Girl on a Motorcycle is not liberating for women because none of Rebecca's achievements are really her own and she is killed for her, in the view of the film, foolishness.

NOT liberating for women.

Phallocentrism & the male gaze are maintained through the discourses of our ideas of women as the erotic/exotic, and by reinforcing these ideas through presenting women in these films as objects to look at. I do not feel this movie was liberating to women at all actually. I found it insulting. She plays off of her sexuality the entire time. I understand that she isn't happy in her marriage, but I feel her way of dealing with it is insulting to not only women but people in general- in the sense that she could've handled the situation a lot better. She wants Daniel to control her, and she feels that she needs a man who will boss her around, yell at her, and treat her with complete disrespect- only seeing her as a sex object, not a human being. The fact that she reinforces this frustrates me because she is allowing people to view her not as a human being, but as an object for the male gaze.

Men In Control

"The man controls the film fantasy and also emerges as the representative of power" (Kaplan). The male holds the power and controls the gaze of the audience, even in Girl On A Motorcycle, a film about a woman breaking free of the traditional female role by riding her motorcyle. The motorcycle, her mode of transportation, was controlled by a man. Her lover bought the motorcyle for her to come visit him. He maintained his control over her through his gift of the motorcycle.

Phallocentrism is characteristic of patriarchical systems which regard men as central and normal. This film embodies phallocentrism. The very fact that a woman is riding a motorcycle is regarded as abnormal in the film. A motorcycle is powerful and fast, which is normal for a man to use. Throughout the film, the camera focuses in on different parts of her body, causing the audience to focus on her body. Another way the male gaze is maintained is by having the audience look at a man, looking at her body. For example, the man at the gas station stares at her backside and we are staring at the man. The scene when Daniel squeezes her neck is a clear example of male dominance and power in the film. It showed that he was stronger and could hurt her. I think her comment near the end of the film sums the theme up well. She says, "I have no identity". Women are not liberated through this film. Women are shown that they remain in control of men, even when under the illusion of having freedom while on the road.

Girl on a Motor Cycle

Girl on a motor cycle uses the concepts of male gaze and phallocentrism throughout this movie. it is a story about woman who is not so happy with her marriage. She is constantly watched by this stranger which relates to the male gaze and eventually gets raped by this man one night and falls for him so much that she decides to ride her bike, and leave her husband to be with this rapist male gazer. Usually the concept of motor cycle is very much related with independence. At least, that's how the motor cycles are used when males are riding it. However, in this movie because a woman is riding the motorcycle- I don't perceive her as an independent women. Instead- her riding off her motorcyle to be with this stranger shows that she is very dependent upon the male- which is related to the phallocentrism concept. She is not independent because she left one phallus to be with another phallus. In a way, you could say that she is a hypocrite.

I don't think that all gazes are just males gaze. It can be a gaze of any one watching whoever. Yes, it is true that majority of the gazer might be a male. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is just male gaze. It can be a woman gaze. It can be a straight gaze or a gay gaze or whatever gaze.

In this movie, it was the male gaze.

Girl on a Motorcycle - phallocentrism at its finest

Girl on a Motorcycle centers a strong male gaze on a woman leaving her husband to pursue a purely sexual relationship with another man. Two strong ideas presented from class are seen clearly throughout he movie, those being phallocentrism and the male gaze.

Phallocentrism is strong in this film from start to finish, with Daniel (the man whom the woman is cheating with) representing the phallus. The main character Rebecca is driven (literally and figuratively) toward the phallus, and is under control of it throughout the film. Most everything she does is motivated by the sexual desire the phallus represents. Even her mobility is controlled by a phallic object, a motorcycle shooting out beneath her legs.

This is made even more prominent with a very strong, evident male gaze. The movie focuses on a woman wearing nothing but tight leather (or sometimes nothing). When she puts the leather on, her cleavage is pushed up to tease the audience. A scene at a gas station, when Rebecca first fills up her gas tank, the nozzle was slowly driven into the gas tank, as the movie took plenty of time to let the audience think of something besides a gas tank being penetrated. During sexual scenes, Rebecca is a dominant focus, her chest is often exposed. Meanwhile, Daniel is rarely given camera time - because straight men don't care about his body. The male gaze wants to see Rebecca, and Rebecca is fed very consistently to the camera.

This film is liberating for Rebecca, but not at all for the majority of women or any sort of female movement. Though Rebecca is controlled by one man, and trapped by another, it is exactly what she wants. She is very obviously a masochist, and even questions it herself at one point. She was not happy with her husband Raymond even before marriage, yet she committed to the painful relationship, and refuses to leave it. Rebecca seeks Daniel because of the way he uses her body, and the way he dominates the relationship. She craves the torment she puts herself through, and repeats her demeaning cycle (in several instances, she refers to herself as a silly bitch). At one point, Rebecca asks Daniel if he would ever marry her, and he says no. She isn't the least bit disappointed, and you must think at this point she already knew the answer. Rebecca wants that feeling of being dominated and helpless. When she first saw Daniel, she ran to him to simply fall in his lap and be groped by his hands.

Rebecca is free to have the sex she wants, drive a motorcycle at the speed she wants, abuse the drugs she wants. She is free to do anything, and takes advantage of that often.

In this respect, the Rebecca feels liberated by getting exactly what she wants, though what she wants is the polar opposite of liberation. It really is quite paradoxical.

On the other hand, women are nowhere near liberated by this film. The idea of a woman rebelling and doing exactly what she wants, cruising around on a motorcycle sounds great. However she is clearly under phallic control. This film shows a male domination and control over women. Every man is getting what they want by taking advantage of her and simply taking as they wish.

If a man were to do what Rebecca had done through this movie (see: Easy Rider), their actions would be seen as embracing their freedom and they wouldn't feel demeaned, nor would the public have much opposition. In a case of women seeking equality, Rebecca's actions should theoretically be liberating for women, but in reality (especially in reality of the 1960s), women have some "catching up" to do to achieve that equality - and Rebecca's actions encourage a general male domination.

Male Gaze and the Sex Appeal of Women

Girl on a Motorcycle did not present any new ideas as far as the male gaze and phallocentrism. Everything presented in this movie regarding these two ideas can be seen in more recently made movies. While this movie took place in the sixties, the ideas put forth by it have not changed or evolved as much as the cinematic special effects have. While watching this movie in class I kept being reminded of the Austin Powers movies. While the movies do not share much in common but the time period in which most of them were suppose to take place, the way the women are portrayed seemed blaringly similar. Not only because of the similar clothes and hair styles but in the way that these beautiful women in skin-tight leather, fawn over men who are nothing spectacular, physically, mentally or emotionally. Men that have done nothing to gain their love or even respect from the way that they treat them are revered as gods, people who will take care of them and protect them. The women in these films are treated purely as sex objects, to add something interesting to the films, maybe even to give men something that they really desire, something that is not available in real life, something that exists only to entertain men sexually, never mentally or emotionally. The women in these films appear to be lacking something; they lack the control that the men in the films have. This could represent the fear of castration, or the idea that because women lack a phallus, they also lack the ability to be in control of themselves and their emotions, which makes them weak and easy sexual prey.

active or passive? driver or rider?

In Girl on a Motorcycle the male gaze is maintained through the helplessness of the female who is torn between two men. Her road trip takes place not so much between two physical places as between two male protectors. Even on the road she is never free of the men in her life: her thoughts and internal monologue is always directed towards one or the other of them. She may be running away from her husband but she is running to another man which means she is never actually on her own. If anything the speed of her journey is indicative of the need for her new man and shows how she really is unable to cope with life on her own even during the short periods she is on the road alone. The introduction to the movie sets the stage for the male gaze that penetrates the entire movie. The dream montage depicts the internalized male gaze that haunts Rebecca's mind. Throughout the movie there are extended shots of this girl on her motorcycle speeding across the screen but no important shots of her view of the road. We are expected to admire her journey but not participate as if we were her, the rider, the woman. Rebecca is never without some sort of phallus dominating her journey. She leaves husband on a phallic motorcycle that is hers only through Daniel -- the man she is leaving her husband for. This movie is not a liberating film for women at all.


"Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive" is the first sentence in the movie that caught my attention. This sets the tone for the film and it's liberation for women. Women have learned that it is okay to not be happy with the "best thing that's ever happened to you", to find a way to love something other than the leading man in your life. Sometimes, the best thing that happens to you, is the in some ways the worst, leaving you objectified and all of your energy focusing around the male (phallocentrism). The male gaze is introduced as she sets off on her motorcycle, stopping for gas and the camera pans around to her backside as the nozzle of the pump slides into the gas tank. This theme continues on throughout the movie with sometimes voyaristic taste as men look at her while she is seemingly helpless, stasis, and unreactive to any advancement. We also see this when Daniel meets her in the bookstore and grazes her legs and then dominates her as a slave of free love. This is a road trip film which paves the way for women to advance into their own ways of life despite their husband, lovers, or any male which tries to take power of them.

Phallocentrism in "Girl on a Motorcycle"

Girl on a Motorcycle hypothetically sounds liberating. A defiant, rebel woman takes off in the night to reunite with her lover, strong and powerful on her motorcycle. Sadly this is not the case. This film is steeped in phallocentrism from the very beginning. Rebecca is fetishized by the male gaze from the moment she climbs out of bed naked (in stark contrast to Raymond who is sleeping cozily in his pajamas) and zips up her black leather suit. The camera, which coincides with the male gaze, take on a voyeuristic position, watching in the middle of the night, as they zoom in on her curvacious female parts being squeezed into her leather outfit. Phallocentrism is maintained soon after as she climbs atop her motorcycle that she is only capable of driving because Daniel has taught her, as well as bought for her. Without his instruction and gift she would be immobile. Thus the male figure, " is free to command the stage...of spatial illusion in which he articulates the look and creates the action" (Kaplan 128). The rest of her journey is continuously fraught with male oppression and reassertion of the female character as passive, unable to move the narrative along. In an almost anamalistic dominance, as if she is the prey, Rebecca instructs Daniel, "skin me." He possess the power, he provides the action, he takes away her identity. She recognizes this and to no avail, he treats me like a slave; he knows i'm not free." Nevertheless, "the sexualization and objectification of women is not simply for the purposes of eroticism; from a psychoanalytic point of view, it is designed to annihilate the threat that women (as castrated, and possessing a sinister genital organ) poses (Kaplan 121). By positioning the male gaze as dominant, the threat of the castrated woman, the "other", is removed. By allowing females, and particularly Rebecca, to have no identity, the fear of castration is no more.

Phallocentrism and the Male Gaze

“Our culture is deeply committed to clearly demarcated sex differences, called masculine and feminine, that revolve on, first, a complex gaze-apparatus; and second, dominance-submission patterns.? (Kaplan, 129)

The film Girl on a Motorcycle is a highly phallocentric film, despite the fact that it follows a woman traveling alone on a motorcycle. One way in which this movie maintains a high level of phallocentrism is that Rebecca, the main character, is completely dominated by the men she is involved with. Her thoughts constantly revolve around what they say, what they do, and how it relates to her. For example, one of her thoughts is “I think I only come to life when he touches me?. This shows how the male characters move the story along; they control the action. The aspects of the movie that may lead some people to believe that it is liberating for women, such as the fact that she learns to ride motorcycle and then travels alone, are actually creating a false sense of liberation. Her lover, Daniel, teaches her to ride the motorcycle and then buys her one so that she is able to visit him, therefore he exerts a sort of control over her freedom. The structure of the film also maintains the male gaze. One example of this technique is found in the scene in which she zips up her body suit and the camera follows the zipper, and in a later scene when she unzips it. Scenes such as these further establish the high level of phallocentrism in this early road film.

Why Would a Strong, Opinionated Woman Need a Man to Form her Identity?

"The paradox of phallocentrism in all its manifestations is that it depends on the image of the castrated women to give order and meaning to its world. An idea of woman stands as a linchpin to the system. It is her lack that produces the phallus as a symbolic presence, it is her desire to make good the lack that the phallus signifies," (Mulvy 34). The Girl and the Mororcycle should be a somewhat empowering female film, with Rebecca being a rebelious and opinionated woman for her time, but it is not. It is a movie that rests on phallocentrism where the male is considered the superior being and the female is seen as the inferior being. Rebecca leaves the security of her home and her husband to hit the road to meet up with her lover on the motorcycle he purchased for her. Even the source of freedom she is riding on was given and provided to her by a man. Rebecca rides around Europe with a tight, black unitard on which shows that the movie is centered around what the man wants to see. Phallocentrism, the make gaze, and voyerism are all a part of this movie. When Rebecca is in the hotel restaurant with her boyfriend and friends, Daniel is constantly staring at her, even though it is not socially accepted. This film is not liberating for women. Rebecca is looking for validation from men to form her identity. She is not seen as a unique and strong woman, she is seen as a weak and dominated woman. She is dominated by her lover and even when she thinks she is free, she is not. She is portrayed as a sex symbol with no identity of her own.

February 9, 2008

Bondage on a Motocycle?

Phallocentricism seems to be the star of Girl on a Motorcycle rather than the heroine herself or even the road or the motorcycle. This can be obviously seen in the attire of Rebecca while she is on the road: the black leather cat suit, perhaps the ancestor of Britney Spears' red one-piece ensemble in her "Oops..." music video. The fact that Rebecca elects to wear this (and only this) on a road journey where she is exposed to the elements is ridiculous; there is no way a real woman would have chosen to wear something like this (made completely of tight, black leather, thus causing a person to heat up and constricting one's movement) on a trip by herself, and so it seems as though the film's male creators picked something that they would have liked to see on a woman, particularly one with Marianne Faithfull's assets. It is obviously designed for a man's pleasure and not a woman's comfort, thereby prompting the viewer to view Rebecca through a man's eyes. The presence of black leather directly on nude flesh, complete with silver zipper and a ring-like zipper-pull that resembles a cock-ring, brings to mind bondage and S/M, thus fetishizing and objectifying Rebecca. (Continued...)

The male gaze is further brought up through the cat suit by shots of Rebecca when she is either dressing or undressing. This can be seen in one of the very first scenes in the film: Rebecca dresses in the leather suit for the first time while the camera is close up and follows erotically the zipper as it closes the suit, complete with a gratuitous upward-heave of breasts and a look on Rebecca's face that makes her appear to be orgasming. Could she be more like a blow-up doll?

Conversely, when Rebecca offers herself up to Daniel in Germany for the first time in the film, she flops down like a rag-doll waiting to be undressed like a plaything for her male possessor. The scene could very well have been that of a boy undressing his sister's Barbie to see what is underneath the clothes.

The very act of undressing is itself an example of phallocentricism and a heterosexist view that a woman must be penetrated to be subdued or pleased. As I pointed out earlier, the zipper-pull is a circle of metal that is just the correct size for a finger to penetrate completely. In a sensuous scene between Daniel and Rebecca the viewer can blatantly see this as Daniel inserts his finger and the pulls down in the process of undressing her for sex. It's nearly as bad is an earlier scene wherein the pump attendant fills Rebecca's gas tank in a shot that seems like it would have fit nicely into a 1970's porno. Again, the cat suit fetishizes Rebecca and portrays her as a sexual object for both Daniel and the "male" gaze of the external viewer.

Full of Phallocentrism

In the beginning of "The Girl on a Motorcycle" it may seem that Rebecca, as a female, is central to the film. But through the phallocentric examples that exist Rebecca is actually portrayed to have many limitations. Rebecca's motorbike is a symbol of freedom and escape which makes her seem in control and powerful, she is traveling alone at high speed and she narrates the film through her thoughts. The film begins with Rebecca dreaming in bed next to Raymond. The dream involves a sexy woman on a horse for all to see at a circus. The woman is crying which shows female vulnerability. While riding the horse and doing tricks, Daniel, as the ringmaster, whips her clothes off until she is topless infront of the crowd. Daniel is laughing as the woman is crying, showing that males are insensitive to woman in need of help. It also shows the male view of women as objects to show and control and there is no regard for female sexuality. Daniel (the ringmaster) is shown as a voyeur. Rebecca wakes dresses in her leather riding suit without undergarments and hops on her bike which she refers to as a male, seeming that she won't be free without a male. The second sign of female vulnerability is the fact that Rebecca has to keep reminding herself not to feel guilty, she almost has to convince herself that she is doing the right thing by leaving Raymond. She seems a bit defensive, as if she isn't allowed to have her own opinion. Continued....

I do not see this film as a liberating film for women. Rebecca only gained freedom from her motorbike. The motorbike was given to her by Daniel, without his gift Rebecca would still be trapped. He gave her the go ahead to breakloose, she didn't do it on her own. We see Raymond treat Rebecca with respect and concideration unlike Daniel who takes control of her. At one point she says to Raymond, "You ought to tell me to shut up and tell me to do what you want to do." The film suggests that both the females and males are subject to phallocentrism. Another characteristic of phallocentrism is seen in the male gaze, this is previlent many times when men are looking at Rebecca. The men that greet her at the borders are excited to see that it is a woman who has rode up, they are flirtatious and one even touches her sexually. This example can also be seen as an example of fetishism of the female body. The men in the bar all stare at her, Daniel stares at her from across the restuarant at the ski lodge, and even her father in the bookstore sees her with a male gaze. Rebecca is surprised when one of the gaurds doesn't touch her or make a sexist remark, she is unconsciously conforming to phallocentrist ways of the men that surround her. Rebecca is so madly in love with Daniel that she races to get to him across country. She claims that she has no identity when she is away from him. The fact that Daniel doesn't love her back shows that Rebecca lacks something. She is not good enough. Daniel was heartbroken, or "castrated" in the past, and now he is defensive and doesn't allow himself to love. He treats Rebecca as nothing more than a sexual object to bring him pleasure. In the end, Rebecca dies. Her death is a symbol of the phallus being protected.

February 8, 2008

A Free Woman Does Not Have To Be A Slut

"In practice, this masochism is rarely reflected in more than a tendency for women to be passive in sexual relations; but in the realm of myth, masochism is often prominent." (Is the Gaze Male? Laura Kaplan) This feature is quite true in this movie.

A married woman who mounts her motorcycle and takes off on a road trip to see her lover is not a form of liberty. For example, in this particular movie, the woman is being a pet to be controlled by her man, offering her body as his cum dumpster, pardoning my language. Her adultery could be attributed to her stale husband and her filthy lust. Phallocentrism in this movie is simply grotesque and quite telling of the Western cultures of womens etiquette. The theme of phallocentrism is not as driven by the strange male lover in this movie as it is by the trashy female tramp. The woman in this movie is the willing participant in this example of male-over-female dominance as she keeps coming back for more. The female is like an animal who motivated by hunger and need, instead is motivated by sordid back-of-the-woods, ten-minute sexual innuendos. The male gaze in this movie is shown by the strange lover who stares at the woman when she is sleeping with little regard for her need for privacy. It is quite simply a grotesque combination of the themes of phallocentrism and the male gaze.

How can this be liberating for a female to watch? This movie is an insult to a female's sensibilities and her own sense of control over her body. A female should have liberty of her own body yet instead as portrayed in this movie, the female is noted to being completely dependent on the male for survival. She is infatuated by the thoughts of the man and eventually gets killed for it. In real life, some women are like this, just watch Dr. Phil or Jerry springer. The women who appear on many episodes of those shows are complete mindless individuals who kind of deserve to be treated like gum stuck to the bottom of a show as they keep coming back to their men who treat them badly.

It is quite obvious that these blogs are not really read by anyone as they are just an assignment. However, to the large majority of women in this class, find your power and only be with someone who will treat you with dignity, not just the first person who tells you that you look good.

You all should watch this movie clip instead as it shows what real feminism should represent. You have to watch the whole thing to understand it.


February 7, 2008

Unlikeable and Without Agency on a Motorcycle

“Girl on a Motorcycle? was not liberating from the male gaze, nor was it liberating from traditional femininity. The film continued on a traditional phallocentric path, with male actions driving the plot forward and shaping the character’s life. The film also employed use of language and visual cues to reinforce normative ideas of feminity and what it means to be a woman. The main character’s thoughts that she was “like and animal?, “following her instincts?, and controlled by her sexual desires only served to reinforce the concept that women are hyper-sexual beings that must be controlled by men. Her death at the end is something of a punishment for her stupidity in following her sex drive, as the last words she utters relate to her need for sex. The frame of the film and the way she’s treated by the men around her (there are almost no other women in the film) are continually objectifying, as is the character’s view of herself. She almost entirely lacks agency, other than to follow her vagina to another country, adding insult to death as she passionately careens into traffic, insults from her lover ringing in her ears.

Additionally, the film’s characterization of men places them in an unfortunate binary in which they can either be weak and accommodating, not controlling and therefore not a viable sexual partner, or they can be strong, virile, rude, and cruel (the ultimate man).

On the whole, “Girl on a Motorcycle? may have placed a woman at the drivers seat, but it otherwise served the purpose of protecting the phallus in cinema. Also, it’s demeaning that she’s called a “girl? rather than “woman? considering that she is an adult.

February 6, 2008

"Woman on a Motorcycle"

Phallocentrism is maintained in this film by having the narrative and spectacle (the woman) be the center of all of the action in the fim. The woman is the narrator in the film and the narration is the center of the film making it phallocentrism. The woman is the spectacle in the film and the center of all of the action (phallocentrism). She is a spectacle because of the way she is viewed by men in the film. She is always the center of attention in every scene. If men aren't talking to her, they are looking at her or touching her. This is where the male gaze comes in. The male gaze is what makes the woman the spectacle because they are looking at her throughout the whole film. She is the center of the male's mind which causes the male to gaze at her. In one scene, there is a sense of voyerism when a man gazes at the woman (the spectacle) through the window (frame). This "Peeping Tom" action is known as voyerism.
I believe this film is liberating for women because it was one of the very first road films that focused on a woman rebelling, escaping freedom and finding her adventure. This was unusual for the time because it was the one of the first of its kind. Usually men were featured in road films and women were only in the background with little to say or do.

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.

February 5, 2008

Looking For America

At one point in Easy Riders, there is "a series of gorgeous desert evening shots...with the hitchhiker on Wyatt's bike pointing to the landscape and describing it. Though we never hear his words, we can presume he is helping Wyatt to rediscover America's beauty" (Laderman 71).

I think that in Easy Rider, America is defined by the people and society. Nature, and the actual earth that makes up America represents the "outside" of the culture. Wyatt and Billy find their freedom and their America in the land itself. They mostly only find hatred and misunderstanding with other people. The only thing that really accepts them is the land and those living strictly off of the land (hippie commune). When the man in the hotel closes his doors on the two pals, they stay outside.

However, as the movie rolls along, nature and society begin to mix. Their friend George is killed when some city men come into their camp and bludgeon them with bats. It is at that point when things begin to go really downhill for Billy and Wyatt. They have a horrible trip on acid with their prostitute buddies and then get shot when they are on the road. America for them is the open road and nature, but when society and nature collide, is when the problems show up. George warns them that “[Society] is scared of what you represent to them.? He goes on to say that “talking about [freedom] and being in it are two different things.? I think that that was what was confusing Wyatt and Billy. They were looking for freedom and found it in nature and on the road, but then they didn't know when to just stay put. They didn't know how to fit into society. They never knew what their place was, so they kept moving and kept going until they were forced to stop.

This is America.

". . .Easy Rider and other movies of the 1960's carried a certain message about America during a time when the nation's identity was contested. . ." (Klinger 181)

In Easy Rider, they seemed to be on a trip to find freedom, love, acceptance, happiness, and to escape from the authorities and straight-laced people who did not accept them. The scene when both characters were in the graveyard with the two girls was a perfect example of what America represents- freedom, faith, sadness and loss, and respect for the past and those who are no longer with us. In the other scene when both Hopper and Fonda were waiting for prostitues to come into their room, this represented being able to do whatever you want whenever you want and unofficially, this is what America is all about- REAL freedom. I believe the thing that is not there is happiness no matter how free they actually were, which leads us to believe that they weren't really looking for freedom very much in the first place. Their happiness is not there in the end because they were still not accepted by the majority of society around them. And I suppose they were shot down by narrow-minded people. Now when it comes to how this film was framed by white masculinities, well, I don't know what to say. I see very little "white male dominance" in this movie. As a matter of fact I think that if America was still like that today, we would be a better place. Hopper and Fonda's characters rarely talked down to females or minorities, they treated them like their equal, as if they were one of the guys. I see no "bad" behavior regarding the treatment of others in this movie so I guess I cannot answer the question of how this movie is framed by "white masculinities".

Catch up: Road Movie

I just got added to the blog and got my computer configured to allow to do this...so here is the first assignment.

My favorite road movie is MONSTER with Charlize Theron. I like this movie because I was never sure whether I can sympathize with the main character or not. I like movies that give the back-story of a murderer and you can tell how they arrived at the unstable mental place they are at when they kill. That way, I can understand them, not condone their actions, but at least understand why they are making the choices they make. MONSTER does a good job with this.

February 4, 2008

Easy Rider & A Search for America

"The scene sketches how their bikes are a part of the two riders (they never get off their bikes, their motors still running), but also how the bikes symbolize something "different" and threatening for mainstream America." (Driving Visions p. 69)

Easy Rider advertises "A man went looking for America but couldn't find it anywhere," which was made prominent in several scenes during the film. The film even opens in Mexico, where Wyatt and Billy buy the drugs that fuel an American drug culture. Right away, this shows an example of some roots of the "American culture" that aren't even cultivated in the United States.

The quest these men set out for had to do with making the most of their freedom. And they found out in their journey that the freedom that mainstream America sought is much more talk than action. These men were about exercising their rights freely, and though they weren't causing any harm, they were rejected for simply living a free life. Wyatt and Billy were denied vacancy at a motel, and the likely reason they were turned away was because they were on motorcycles. The motorcycles, like Wyatt and Billy, were unconventional - and therefore frowned upon.

By embracing their freedom, Wyatt and Billy only found rejection. Others who were also free from societal norms were in the same position. After picking up a hitch-hiker and staying at a commune for a few days, you can clearly see how difficult life is when you're not melding with the rest of society. The people living there are struggling to grow their own crops. In a community prayer, they ask for a chance "to make a stand." They are non-conformists, and struggling to live because of it. They seek to make a stand, but don't have the resources to merely support themselves.

Much of this quest to "find America" was framed because Wyatt and Billy were white men. There was nothing for them to rebel against, because they were given freedom just for being the majority in power. When they spent a night in prison, and a lawyer helped to get them out, he told the guys that he could get them out in a hurry, if they haven't killed anybody..."least anybody white." White people had far more rights and were held in a higher position through society during this period. They had privilege and respect, they couldn't reach a higher point. Women and other ethnic groups had something to fight for, but these men were fighting for something they supposedly had already.

Early in the film, the men are getting their motorcycles repaired by a farmer. In this scene, the wife takes care of dinner and the dishes, and makes sure everyone is happy. The woman doesn't have a single line, though she does all of the work seen through that duration.

The America these men found had nothing to do with liberty. Those trying to grasp an idea of being free were the ones struggling, and the people who were well off and safe in the film were those who used their freedom to fit societal molds. This was a very disturbing realization, and by the time it was encountered, their lives came to a very disturbing finish.

White Males on the Road

"Sexism and racism serve as an access point to conservatinve ideological framework, because these views reinforce and derive from its other inperialist/capitalist values, which can be summarized as freedom to roam for the priviledged white male; mobility and opportunism; and gloried individuality and conquest" (43, Laderman). Being white and male, both Captian American and Billy took the road very easily. They left in search of something beyond the conservative society that surrounded them back home. They road which took them away from it all became very rural and showed little to no signs of human interaction. The little human interaction they got was from a mixed white and indian family and a pack of hippies. They family that they ran into had a wonderfully stable farm and were settled in the rural area. Captian America kept commenting on what a nice situation they had...away from it all...from all other people. The people that they meet along the way are very symbolic of the American views of the time. The mixed white and Idian family were settled, they weren't on the road, showing that the road primarily a masculine place and dominated by white culture. The two men also run into many women on the way. They way they treat the women is sybolic as well. They take out their sexual frustrations and they end up becoming ditractions for the men on the road. They two men set out in search of an alternative lifestyle but end up supporting many American ideologies instead.

A Created America

On one level, for Wyatt and Billy the acid adventure is a complementary extension of their travels. But given the narrative context preceding the acid trip (George's murder, the inescapable oppression of society), and the trip's overall dark tone (it is a bummer), I see the sequence more as a displacement than a development of their mobility. (Laderman, 77)

The film Easy Rider is a film created on the ideals and disposition of counter cultural America. The film took the viewer on a trip on the conditions of seeing a relationship between what is considered abnormal and what is "normal," which it created by showing an overtly negative reaction from "mainstream" culture and a vying plea for acceptance from the counter cultural folks.

Billy and Wyatt (and subsequently their friends) set out on a journey to explore and understand the strange and uneasy relationship counter culture has with mainstream America, which became the idea of finding the true America. The trip is created on the idea of mobility and of being free and able to travel without constraints. In it's initial form, the trip did in fact help Billy and Wyatt discover the true America, it just happened they didn't appreciate what they found. With that said, their trip became a displacement, every town they left became a running away sequence rather than a moving on sequence. They were no longer enjoying mobility, but using for necessity.

For example, at the beginning of the film, when Billy and Wyatt were still optimistic and naive, the two pulled up to a motel. The attendant of the motel refused the two service, which led to a series of camping scenes, making the two displaced. They were forced to leave, and the journey was no longer pleasurable, the two could no longer be optimistic.

As far as finding the real America is concerned, the two were unable to find what they thought America would be. An ideal and fair country that maintained it's moral ability to accept differences. What the two found were forceful, opinionated folks who maintained stereotypes on counter culture. When the three men were at the diner a table of men used slurs to address Billy, Wyatt and George calling them homosexual and denied them of their human rights.

Billy and Wyatt did not find America, or not the America they lived in.

Conclusion: America is full of vigilantes.

America the Ugly

Two men went out searching for America and couldn't find it anywhere. America the beautiful, the land of the free and home of the brave. This is not what these two men found on their journey. They found an ugly America, where they experienced violence, discrimination and what seemed like no freedom at all. These are not the things we want to/or think to attribute to a "free country."
"The 'search for America'...is not geographical, it is literally a quest to find out where America's head is at. The people and places represented in that quest are evocative of different states of conciousness co-existing unpeacefully in this country and all over the world. Each stop on the road is an encounter with a different awareness of what is real and what is of value" (Klinger 181).
This movie depicted "where America's head was at" in the late 1960's. When Wyatt and Billy were in the southern town, they were highly discriminated by the "dominant culture" because they were part of the counter-culture. They had long hair and dressed differently, and for that reason they were not served at a local diner, and experienced extreme violence which lead to the death of George. These men were not experiencing the American Dream, they were having a difficult time surviving because of their treatment by other groups of people who did not share their same exact views on life. They did nothing to deserve this treatment and this type of discrimination was happening to many different races, ethnic groups, religious groups etc, at this time. They did not find America, because America was not what they had imagined it would be. America's cultures were not all beautiful, and they were not free.

Easy Rider Quest

“Easy Rider establishes the quest as its basic plot structure.? (Laderman 66) Both characters throughout the film Wyatt and Billy are riding around America trying to experience America and live “freewheeling mobility? where they can have and look for a full appreciation for the beauty of America. In the scene where Wyatt picks up a hitchhiker and they are both riding on the road Wyatt is discovering America. As the scene shows the hitchhiker is pointing around the untouched landscape showing Wyatt the beauty of America and he seems to be admiring the scenery. Another scene where the characters: Wyatt, Billy, and George seem to be experiencing and discovering themselves by releasing their inner child by imagining that they are flying.
Another scene where the men are pushed outside of society unwillingly when a motel receptionist sees them as also trouble makers and kicks them outside so they are forced to camp outside. This seem like a time where the guys would sit and contemplate on their day and what they accomplished as in finding what they were looking for.
In the end it seems like Wyatt and Billy were unsatisfied with their quest, so they make it out on the road again. I thought it seem like the idea of finding America was inside the two characters all a long. They both were different from society and that can cause judgment in society. One scene that goes along with this idea is when the two characters were at the diner with the encounter of a group of guys who assume that they are trouble makers. These guys were rude and made the most outrages racist remarks. Then there were a group of females that seem to be very amazed and flirtatious towards them. This shows how different society can be. Basically that society can have two sides.

America the Free?

"As [Easy Rider] rewrites the landscape according to the youth and Civil Rights movements of the time, it seems only to document and embrace a transitional nationalism that attacks the presuppositions of a formerly stable Americanism." (Klinger 182)

Along their quest to find America and the freedom that is inherently associated with it, Billy and Wyatt find that this presupposed notion of America is undergoing substantial changes. Not only is the freedom of America and one's ability to safely take to the road diminishing, Billy and Wyatt--the new face of white masculinity-- clash with the old and outgoing stereotypical white American male. It seems that the only place where they are actually freed from societal constrictions is while they are riding, especially through wilderness, places that are still wild and free from man themselves. They are more at ease and at home while on the road and camping and cannot find their place in society. Although they are the "new" masculine male, society at large has not come to grips with this image, and in places like the diner, the women have more quickly grasped this image, but the Southern men defend their position as most masculine, poking fun at these long-haired hippies. Wyatt and Billy can't quite find their niche within the new upheaval of American masculinity. Are they cowboys, outlaws, hippies? One could call them the new cowboy/outlaw, as they are juxtaposed with the cowboys of the West, such as when they are changing a tire and the cowboys are changing a horseshoe. It seems that throughout the entire movie, these dualities of masculinity come into conflict and cannot coexist, ultimately leading to Billy and Wyatt's death.

Easy Rider and Disillusionment

It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding on a variety of levels. (Laderman, 76)

Through their journey to find an America worth discovering, the riders, Fonda and Hopper, are disillusioned by the image they find. "We blew it", the reflection on the achievement of their goals, describes how not only did they fail to find America on their trip, but they themselves have also misrepresented America or at the very least have missed the point. The journey to find America and the freedom and persuit of happiness that it claims to represent, disillusioned the men and forced the to realize the captivity that they were in. Even though they were on the road, traveling easy, the road got more difficult and and threatening.

Easy Rider

"The spectacle of their mobility can provoke fear and rage for some specators within the film; yet it often seems to elict admiration from those they pass by or fleetingly meet." (Laderman, pg 72).
As this quote suggests, Wyatt and Billy are far from the norm in American culture at the time. As outsiders and wanderers, they "provoke fear" or "admiration" from those they pass because they have rejected the standard American life to take to the road. This fear can be seen throughout the movie, such as in the beginning with the inn keeper turning them away, or the small town men who shoot them at the end. It is because of this alienation from society that they are not able to "find America" as they set out to do. Since those who are considered normal in the traditional American sense reject them, they are left to spend time with the outcasts of society. In being with these people, they discover an America which is without the traditional people and ideas which would be expected. White masculinities certainly play a part in the film, particularly in their portrayal of women. These women are shown to be only interested in being with the men, and have no true character development of their own.

Looking for America

It [the film] is critical of a certain America, but it can also be read as merely enacting the fundamental principle of capitalist America-the freedom of the market, which is in some respects metaphorized as the freedom of the open road. The primary cmoplaint against America in the film is that it is not American enough.
When Billy and Wyatt set out on the road looking for America, I think that what they are looking for is the America where they would fit in. They are clearly not what society would have considered normal at the time. They were everything that the people of that time feared. The two guys had long hair, rode motorcycles, and sold and did drugs. We can see in the movie that as they travel to their destination of New Orleans, they are shunned by many different people. They get pushed away from the hotel when the hotel manager sees what they look like and makes judgements based on that even though they had the money to pay for a room. As they drive farther south towards New Orleans we begin to see that their lifestyle is even more out of place here than it would have been in Los Angeles. Nobody appreciates that they are around except for the young girls because they view Billy and Wyatt's ways as attractive because they are so wild. I think that the only time throughout the entire movie that Wyatt could have found a little of what he was looking for is when they take their hitchhiker friend back home. Here they meet a group of individuals who were similar to Wyatt that had found their own refuge in building their own little community. I think that Wyatt contemplated whether or not he could have been happy in this place but Billy was eager to get back on the road. Overall they just wanted to be able to to be free and be whomever they wanted. After all that is what America is supposed to be all about; freedom. They never found that America because they met their end. However had they continued back to LA I don't think they would have ever found that freedom. They were happiest on the road, just the two of them, where they were free from everything.

Futility and Masculinity

"Along with its more affirmative cultural commentary on the sate of the nation Easy Rider also partakes of apocalyptic, disaster-filled predictions on the future of the country" (Klinger 193).

I think this is an important distinction to make when considering the film. Although there is a positive aspect in parts of the plot, there is definitely also a foreboding end-of-the-world/end of culture type of subtext to the movie. Maybe it is not even a subtext, but an obvious textual reading. I think the quest for a new masculinity is shown in this light as both something needed, but something also very dangerous. We see in scenes like the farm sequence and when Billy and Wyatt have to patch their tire a sense of an old masculinity via western cowboys. Coupled with this, there is definitely a new masculine approach as well, in the vein of Rebel Without a Cause and On the Waterfront. We see this in the scene where they are tripping and allows for Wyatt's emotions to come through. Although this is a drug induced weakening of the masculine, it still shows the inner representations of these characters. I think the fact that there is such tension between the two masculine entities and what ends up happening to our easy riders, shows that there is something very futile and terminal in these actions.

"A man went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere"

" The automobile- and of course the Harley Davidson- serves both as an extension of male potency and an intoxicant. In continually moving forward, and presenting a moving target, one escapes the boredom and the demands of that other life, at the same time as movement itself offers a sense of change as well as of nothingness."
-Eyerman & Lofgren, 65

Building off this quotation, Wyatt and Billy set out to defy culture, to find a better America, and to find themselves. They are looking for societal as well as individual rejuvination and redemption, a blast from the past so to speak, when times weren't as crazy as they were in the sixties. They begin by taking to the road, finding the purity and simplicity in American wilderness. Two particular scenes illustrate the various sides of America at the time and ways in which Wyatt and Billy search for this better America: the ranchers and family, as well as the hippie compound. The scene with the ranchers correlates and compares traditional static society, living off the land, with the subservient wife and children, compared to the counterculture that Wyatt and Billy represent. Although Billy remains aloof, Wyatt seems considerate of the ideals they hold. Secondly the hippie commune illustrates the opposite, left winged, free spirited rebellious society. Nevertheless they are not without their problems. Wyatt and Billy must keep moving, they haven't found the perfect balance, and only mobility holds promise. Yet after they pick up George the mood drastically changes and Wyatt begins to see that stability will eventually trump mobility.
This film is male dominated. The only reference of women include the subservient ranchers wife, the hippie women, and the prostitutes who serve only as objects of desire for men. White masculinity climaxes when the white rednecks, representing oppressive society, kill Wyatt and Billy, solidifying that oppression and conservative ways of society cannot be escaped from simply by taking to the road.

america, woo.

"As it rewrites the landscape according to the youth and civil rights movements of the time, it seems only to document and embrace a transitional nationalism that attacks the presuppositions of a formerly stable Americanism" (Klinger 182).

Wyatt and Billy's search was not only for America, but it was also for themselves. A search for their identity through what was a life changing journey. I actually feel like they found America in many ways. One way was through the people that they met. They met a family who worked hard to live off of the land. They met young adults who weren't satisfied with their lives in the cities, so they moved together to start a new life. They met social outcasts, and women who were selling their bodies to survive. I feel like all of those things are what make up America. Maybe not the traditional America with our thought on freedom and individuality, maybe not the side of America that they were hoping to find, but a definite part of our society. What they didn't find on this journey was self-worth, their identities. They were still the same people through everything and failed to find that mobility on the open road empowered them. Wyatt and Billy started off as outcasts, and they ended up dead because they were outcasts.

Quest for America

"[...]The scene sketches how their bikes are a part of the two riders (they never get off their bikes, their motors still running), but also how the bikes symbolize something "different" and threatening for mainstream America" (p. 69, Driving Visions).

While the tag line of the film states, "A man went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere," I think Wyatt and Billy found America, but it wasn't quite the America that they expected to find.

Beginning with Wyatt himself, he symbolized the duality of his quest: a yearning for a degree of mobility while having a degree of acceptance of the primacy of the mainstream lifestyle. With his American flag bike and jacket, Wyatt is decked out as 'Captain America' -- symbolizing both a certain acceptance of the free Capitalist market (having just made lots of money through a drug deal & the money being stored in the tank painted like the flag) and the freedom of rebellion against the more conservative facets of society (being able to take to an open road and not be held down by the clock -- shown by the tossing of Wyatt's watch).

The scene at the motel, where Billy and Wyatt are rejected and forced to camp out instead of getting a room depicts the conservative America's unwillingness to accept anyone or anything that does not conform -- their money is just as good as anyone else's, but it is refused because they are 'too different'. This rejection due to difference is a long-standing American tradition that is still present today (see the treatment of anyone of middle-eastern background).

In the sequence at the farm, Wyatt appears to be appreciative of the lifestyle of the farmer, who, while stationary (verse roaming like Wyatt), lives off the land and does his own thing at his own pace (symbolizing a certain harmony with both life and the land). However, even in this seemingly idyllic lifestyle, there is yearning -- the farmer wishes for mobility and more money.

Jumping forward to the camp scene with the ill-fated and prophetic George, he states how America used to be a good country and that people are scared of what Wyatt and Billy represent (freedom), but that people don't realize that they aren't really free and will kill to preserve their illusion of freedom. This sums up the quest for America in just a few sentences -- a people who are seemingly free, but who are also slaves to the capitalist and mainstream system; who yearn for difference and mobility, but are static and complacent. So, George is both complimentary and critical of America -- that we have the potential and possibility to be free, but we are too caught up in the mainstream lifestyle to fully embrace what that for which we yearn.
This view, however, is framed by white masculinities, as the ability to shrug off the mainstream capitalist view and embrace the freedom of difference and mobility was a luxury that could only be afforded to the members of the dominant culture. At this point in American history, neither racial minorities nor women (en masse) could have afforded to turn their backs on mainstream culture, as they had yet to be embraced by mainstream culture to begin with -- one cannot make a conscious effort to turn one's back on something if one wasn't accepted in the first place. Therefore, for the era in which the film was made, the film's overall message (embracing of true freedom) could only have come from the perspective of a white male.

On the Road Again

Thus, the plot pretext invokes more of a quest for spiritual and cultural identity...Easy Rider constitutes a certain On the Road, an explicit attempt to rediscover America.
(Laderman 46,47).

In the most simplistic terms I think Wyatt and Billy turned to the road in search for the America that first began and is founded on exploration, escape, and discovering a place where one has freedom. I think they specifically take to the road to find what they are looking for because they feel the most comfortable in the transition from one place to the other. The long sequences of landscape shots accompanied by music demonstrates how the road and nature does not judge them or discriminate, it is tolerant and treats everyone they same.

Unfortunately not all the people that Wyatt and Billy encounter on their trip are like the road. Instead of finding an America that is excepting of who they are and embraces individual differences they find and America that won't let them sleep in hotels, eat in restaurants, or even ride their motorcycles down their inhabited streets.

(Re)discovering America

"...[S]uch appreciation of the environment [as we see in Easy Rider] becomes a way to rediscover one's self" (Laderman 71). Easy Rider's latter-day cowboy heroes, Wyatt and Billy, spend their time on the road traveling east not just "looking for America," as the ad copy reads, but in search of a version of America that fit with (and accepted) their modern version of masculinity. The scene in which our protagonists stop to patch a tire juxtaposes the traditional and new versions of the western hero--the cowboy versus the long-haired biker--but Wyatt and Billy look out of place with their motorcycle, since they haven't found their America yet. Everywhere they go, they encounter opposition to their way of life and their new take on the American lifestyle, from the motel owner who refused to give them a room to the gun-toting rednecks who ultimately destroy the heroes, but the criticism intensifies as they move from the Southwest into the South proper, as Klinger notes, saying,

"In the Southwest, the protagonists enjoy the freedom of the road, the hospitality of those they encounter, and the beauty and mystery of the region's wilderness. Conversely, the South, the small-town South in particular, is demonized in Easy Rider as the region most identified in the 1960s with militant racism, ignorance, and violence" (183)
Though most of the characters, sympathetic or no, are white men, Dennis Hopper's directorial choices encourage us to identify with the motorcyclists by putting the viewers on the road with Wyatt and Billy, as though we are taking the same trip and searching for the same things. In the driving montages, we get frequent point-of-view shots that let us see what the characters see as they move across the country, as well as shots of the men themselves, as though we are on a third bike, looking over at our companions, watching them bring the new masculine into new territory. The efforts to make us connect with Wyatt and Billy make the abrupt and violent end to their journey that much more disappointing and tragic--the long-haird, drug-dealing bikers never got the chance to find their America.

Searching for Freedom

"Typically one passes through the landscape, as a means, toward destination; but in Easy Rider movement through the landscape becomes an end in itself..." (Laderman 71). Billy and Wyatt search for freedom while on their way from Los Angeles to New Orleans. But what happens is that we realize that their road to freedom is really a road to the end. On their way to Mardi Gras, Wyatt and Billy take a few detours, first at the ranch to fix Wyatt's tire, then at the commune, they are put in jail, and then their final stop is at the brothel in New Orleans. In these scenes, Billy and Wyatt face discrimination because of their search for freedom. They are shunned from the motel, and they are put in jail because they are so "free." They are punished because they are not what white males are "supposed" be.

In the end Wyatt gives his infamous speech of "we blew it." I took it to mean that they were not able to find their freedom because wherever they went, there were means to tie them down, whether it was women, or discrimination from the norm.

Quest for Freedom

“Once again they are camped out, forced out of society…George makes his infamous speech - perhaps the film’s message, if it has one - about how America used to be a great country, but that people have become scared of people.? (Laderman 74). In the movie Easy Rider; Wyatt and Billy set out on a journey to look for “America? and “freedom?. After leaving their chaotic lives in Los Angeles they set out on the road on a quest for a new beginning. What they begin to realize is that the freedom they are seeking is not an easy find, if it possible to exist at all. Despite attempts at finding freedom and a “new America? they have not escaped the hardships and stress of everyday life. Wyatt and Billy are not your typical looking characters, they are considered “outlaws? which enables much discrimination and ultimately being outcasts in the societies they passed through. Easy Rider was framed in a very white masculinities view point- Wyatt and Billy chose to be different and in turn were “outcasts? but it displayed women and those of different minorities as outcasts already (without trying). They are treated poorly because they are not considered to be the norm like white males are. This movie although based in the 1960’s portrays many difficulties that we here in America are still dealing with, such as; finding ourselves in this crazy world, racism, sexism, and much more…

Purple Mountain Majesty

Thus Easy Rider moves beyond Bonnie and Clyde and is a more explicit rebel road film; it celebrates road travel aesthetically as much as narratively...

I was really struck with the amount of scenery the camera shows us while the men are traveling. This focus on the outdoors and the land implies that this is a big part of what America is. The diversity of the landscapes exceeds what a pair traveling from LA to New Orleans would find, as they travel through desert, forest, mountains, and what looks like the Badlands. This tie to the land was commented on earlier by someone as well, bringing up comments like "there's not many men that can do that [live off the land]".

We are even shown a success story of living off the land in the beginning of the film, when Captain America gets a flat and they stop off at the ranch. He comments that the farmer has a really nice life there, he seems to envy it but understands he wouldn't survive there. I think they couldn't find America because they couldn't settle down. Their constant need to be on the move led them to believe they hadn't found America yet, but as the camera shows, it's actually all around them.

An Easy Rider's Ultimate Fate

"Around the campfire, George makes his famous speech-perhaps the film's mesage, if it has one-about how America used to be a great country, but that people have become scared of freedom." (Laderman, 74)

When discussing scenes in which Wyatt and Billy go looking for something, the sequence that sticks out to me the most is towards the very end at the brothel and in the cemetary. I find it to be fascinating that these men look for women and a certain sense of closure from the female form in their last contact with urban civilization before they are both murdered. There is a scene in which Wyatt is using heavy profanity and crying while he clings to a female staue in the gravemyard (I've read the Peter Fonda was actually triping on acid and allowed the cameras to roll as he wept while thinking about his own relationship with his real mother who had committed suicide). This shows both a sadness and lack of affection he feels within towards females. In the larger context of the whole film, what they went looking for (an Idea of America) turns out to actually be a fraud as they are unable to find a place where freedom is accepted rather than feared. The diner scene in the south is an interesting study as the two different tables of men and younger girls look upon Wyatt, Billy, and George with the same curiousity but that curiosity leads to two different emotions in each table. The road is really the one place they are able to be themselves, but it is still restricting as it has already been paved and wherever it leads them, they are not creating their own path, but rather following the path that others have already be on. As with the journey of life where a human beings destiny is death, so too are the destiny's of Wyatt, Billy, and George as the road that was at once their bridge to metaphoric utopia ends up being a place where the restricting hands end their quest.

-Matt Morosky

Uneasy Rider

"The film immediately follows its credit sequence glorifying road travel with a brief dramatic episode emphasizing society’s rejection of their alternative values and mobile lifestyle" (Laderman 69). This quest is framed by white masculinities in the fact that the movie opens with Billy and Wyatt speaking Spanish, selling cocaine to Mexicans. This deal allows Billy and Wyatt to set out on their journey to find freedom. This transaction between white and non white allows the whites to be mobile, to move easily throughout America. They are searching for freedom through the exact things they are trying to escape. They are trying to get away from conformity and the comfort of everyday life. They (two white men) take off on motorcycles, carrying everything they need, which happens to be very little. This mobile lifestyle alone shows the privilege yet mobility of a male in America.

This adventure is to find more than that, to discover themselves as nonconformists, what that means in a country where it is so frowned upon. What they encounter on their trip are numerous discontented people, fearing their nonconformity. They are on this adventure across America to get to Mardi Gras though, where there, they would find other nonconformists. The long open road in the beginning and the end of the film represents the fact that they never really found the America that they were looking for. When Wyatt mentions that they blew it, Billy mentioning their riches is not enough to convince Wyatt otherwise. Maybe they embodied all they needed when they set off, and were on the adventure to find that it was within them all along. Their death on their return journey is symbolic of an eternal searching, this searching of what it means to be an American, to be free.

February 3, 2008

Where Is Freedom?

It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding on a variety of levels (Laderman, 76)

Wyatt and Billy flee across the country on their motorcycles in search of freedom on their way to Mardi Gras. Along their trip they encounter people living in different environments. The people living in the commune appear to be free from mainstream society, but they have not escaped stress and hardship. They struggle to have enough food to eat and to find privacy in their open community. George seems to flee society and find freedom, but discrimination and hatred are part of society that cannot be escaped. His death exemplifies the fact that the discriminatory beliefs that society has bestowed upon ignorant people will follow you, even on your freedom quest. Wyatt and Billy finally made it to Mardi Gras. They had women and drugs and the good time they set out for. Yet Wyatt still felt unsettled afterward.

I think the problem with setting out on a journey for freedom, to find America, is assuming that you will approach a destination with the answer. Americans are diverse. Freedom in this country is the ability to be whomever you wish to be. If you want to farm and live off your land you can do so. If you want to work and live in the city you can. I think you find freedom when you figure out what it is that you love and will make you happy and you work until you get it. I think freedom can be a state of mind. It can be the feeling that you have accomplished what you wanted and have few regrets.

Looking for....America?

"The primary complaint against America in the film is that it is not American enough"
(Laderman 81).

In the film Easy Rider, Wyatt, Billy, and George seem to be searching for an old version of America. I would venture to say that what they are searching for is a pre-industrialization America, that still retains the freedoms and values of the frontier. This is exemplified by Wyatt's line "It's not every man who can live off the land." "Living off the land," or the agrarian lifestyle has become less common. The American sense of individualism and ambition seems to have been lost amid the industiralization of the country. Though the men find refuge in the counterculture of the West and perhaps a vestige of the "old America," they continue on, embodying this sense of individualism and ambition they are searching for, as dictated by Wyatt's statements of "I never wanted to be anybody else," and "I just gotta go."

As the men move into the South, they confront the "new America." Anyone who is different is assailed with insults and driven out of town (it can be assumed that this is why the African American population lives so far out of town). In the end, the men did not find this individualism and ambition that characterized America at one point in it's existence.

The film is framed by the white male; the three or four main characters are white men. The story revolves around these men and any other racial group or gender is seen as secondary to the plot. The women in the film are mostly seen as sex objects - women in the "free love" commune or prostitutes. Billy grows concerned the Wyatt is becoming too involved with a woman from the commune, with distracts Wyatt from their goal to attend Marti Gras. The relative absence of minority groups, other than the poverty scene, almost speaks for itself. Both women and minorities were seen as secondary or invaluable in Easy Rider.

Spiritual Quest

On page 66 of Driving Visions David Laderman writes "The quest as spiritual and cultural in Easy Rider, however, appears explicitly on the surface of the film's narrative. [...] the film attempts like that novel to integrate the search for self with a rediscovery of America by traveling across (and into) it." Wyatt and Bill begin their journey with a destination in mind but this destination is less the physical place, New Orleans, than an event and date for their arrival, Mardi Gras. The fact that the journey's destination is a period of days during a festival makes the entire quest to get there less of a literal journey through America. This highlights a subtext of the movie that America is not a place but a people and a movement. While camping out one night Billy and Wyatt discuss their destination saying "It's a long way to Mardi Gras man." "It won't take a week to get there...We have a week." If the destination was the point of the journey then the sooner they arrive the better and all the stops along the way would be shorter and less meaningful. In the same way the America that Wyatt and Billy (or the "one man" as the ad cover states) is looking for is not a physical place but a period of time and a collection of people. This means that every moment of the journey is part of the discovery of America because America is a time, a setting, and a space enclosed by the beginning and ending and Billy and Wyatt's journey.

Terror On the Road

Bonnie and Clyde is my favorite road movie. While the film lacks cinematic excellence, the film was a fantastical (for the time) journey of death and deception. While the film followed a rather patriarchal form, Bonnie was allowed a gun and helped create a means of terror in her own right.

America The Beautiful

"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, 71). In the film, Easy Rider, it seems that both Wyatt and Billy were searching for the beauty that once was America. As the two men ride across the country on their motorcycles there are countless shots of the landscape that is America. It is interesting when examing the landscape at the beginning of the film to the landscape at the end. The first scene takes place in Los Angeles and it is dirty and busy, this is best shown at the airport. Whereas the last scene takes place in the middle of nowhere and the land is nothing but natural.
One of my favorite lines from the film is when Wyatt is talking at the lunch table to the owner of the house where he was able to fix his bike and he says to him, "No, I mean it, you've got a nice place. It's not every man that can live off the land, you know. You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud." Along with finding the beauty in America's landscape, I think this line explains that Wyatt is also searching for a simplier life outside of the big city. He wants to enjoy the land and live off of it in the easiest way possible. Unfortunately, once he begins to understand himself and his desires his life is taken away from him in a flash and he never really does get to live that simple life.

Looking for America in America

“Placed within the visual discourses on nationhood of the time, Easy Rider emerges as a film of conflicted historical and ideological identity? (Klinger 181). In this road movie the sceneries that Wyatt and Billy pass represent the open lands of America. The land holds traces of the American history along with the identity of those that have lived and or passed by. Wyatt and Billy were on a quest for America but were not successful. They placed their money into their gas tanks and off they go on their journey from Las Vegas to New Orleans. They were looking for deeper meaning and how people lived in the other parts of this massive land called America. First they found a placed occupied by a farmer and his Mexican family; Wyatt was impressed by this farmer and saw how he could make use of the land he lived on. Even with the great land and the great way to live displayed by the farmer, it was not what Wyatt and Billy were looking for. They were looking for the meaning of America, where they could find a place for their differences. Billy wore buckskin representing the older days, compared to Wyatt’s leather representing the modernization of America. They eventually picked up a hitchhiker that led them to the hippie commune, where they enjoyed their stay but it still did not fit. What I found interesting was on their way to the hitchhikers place they were filling their tank at a gas station and a young girl was shown through the window the gas station very briefly; it sent a message of a woman’s place in the society was to be inside and not on the open road. I could see the curiosity in the girl’s eyes, the wanting to explore but was contained. The two men’s progress on the road just brought increasingly amount of hostility towards them. They met their next companion at a town where they were arrested and later on were ignored at a diner, all because of their different appearance (long hair) and rebel way of life. This to them was a disappointment because this was not what they were looking for but unfortunately what they ended up finding. I think this increased their drug use because they still wanted an optimistic outlook. The sceneries they passed also depicted the white masculinities because there were parts of the land that showed the African American poverty; they were not living in the same environment as the white Americans. Overall the movie had so many hidden realities of living during the late 1960s.

Easy Rider

"Most obviously, one could point to Easy Rider's concentration on hippie life and its twin social themes of freedom and repression."--Barbara Klinger

In Easy Rider, the quest for self-discovery is challenged by the overtly enforced social roles of white American males. The character Wyatt is symbolic of this conflict, or more aptly, this confusion between the internal and the external. There are three prominent American flag motifs that accompany Wyatt throughout the film: on his helmet, on the back of his leather jacket, and on the chassis of his motorcycle. These are highly suggestive of a unified theme of America that specifically riffs on the ideas of the mind, the body, and the journey. If Wyatt "went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere,? then this is because he metaphorically failed to examine himself. Likewise, if hippie culture represents a straying from traditional American values, then the congratulatory righteousness displayed by Wyatt's American flags represents a failure to understand that the American ethos is not something to physically search for, but is located within oneself. In several scenes, Wyatt's lack of comprehension in this matter is subtly hinted at by his helmet's position not on his head, but on the back of his motorcycle. The open road is a free place to roam, but despite Wyatt's, Billy's, and George's white masculinities, they are, for example, driven out of a local diner because of their perceived counter-American hippie status. Their ideals are repressed, and they continue their partially misguided outward journey. One of the film's most distinguishing features is the occasional use of rapid crosscutting between two scenes, serving as a bewildering form of transition. Is the previous scene being freed by the next, or is the next scene being held back by the previous? It seems to be both, and is therefore the paramount manifestation of Easy Rider's focus: the nature of the journey is to overcome contradiction itself. America is "found" within the mind, the body, and the journey. Without any of the three--the spirit, the flesh, and the road trip--Wyatt, and thus the film, must end.

Easy Rider

Wyatt and Billy are bike riders. They ride away from LA into all parts of other places in America. "...their bikes are a part of the two riders, but also how the bikes symbolize something different and threatening for mainstream America". We know this because when Billy, Wyatt, and their guest (lawyer) goes into a restaurant..all girls like them. however, the guys don't like them. The group is looked upon as a threat to the society. And the lawyer also explains this to them in one scene. America is what Billy and Wyatt represents. They don't care what others think about them. They are different from the rest. They don't follow laws- they ride without license. They make their own rules. Live on their own terms,etc. Basically, they are what true freedom represents and what true America- the land of freedom-should represent. Therefore, they are looking for America that truly represents the land of freedom and not the look-alike of freedom.

Favorite Road Movie

Hey All --

My computer crashed 10 days ago and I finally got everything up and running. Better late than never, I guess.

My favorite road movie has to be Little Miss Sunshine. While it is a fairly paint-by-numbers dysfunctional family comedy (all the dysfunctional family member archetypes are present -- loser father, uptight mother, odd kids, gay brother, outspoken eccentric grandfather), there is something so genuine about its portrayal about how the road effects family dynamics (first making things more dysfunctional, and then eventually finding some sort of function within the dysfunction) that the charm of the film cannot be denied. I was so taken by the film that it became one of the handful of films that I saw multiple times in the movie theater (granted, they were 3 free advanced screenings put out by Fox Searchlight...but I did attend multiple screenings).


Easy Rider

"[T]hier journey, and its eventual lack of fulfillment, comes to mirror ironically the unfulfilled desires proffered by the consumer/materialist culture they take flight from." I believe that the scenes that aptly embody Easy Rider's tag line ("A man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere.") would be the scenes where the redneck townsfolk are featured and play a part. These people are the antithesis of some of the tenets of America (freedom for all people, specifically). America used to the be the place where people could escape oppression and bigotry when it was originally founded, and here are American citizens shunning, shaming, and even murdering their fellow citizens. These people are far removed from the America of the past and the America that Wyatt and Billy seem to be searching for.

It is evident that they fled LA because they were not satisfied with the America there, and set out and failed to find it. There was no more simplicity, friendliness, and freedom in civilized areas: the closest they found to these aspects were when they dined with the rancher and his family and while they were on their own on the road. To find what they were looking forward, they would have to be completely cut-off from "civilization".

"A man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere.?

"As if to drive a nail into the coffin of this confessed failure of counterculture," (Laderman 77) Billy and Wyatt are searching for something, but as Wyatt put's it they "blew it". This is left purposely vague for the audience to decide exactly what it is they blew but it seems apparent that these two men out on a quest have failed . In this movie they are not only looking for what America is but they are also hiding from what America seems to be. "This used to be a hell of a country," proclaims George, annoucing the downturn of America. They look all over for what America could mean, at a commune where they discover they are still not free of the same problems of America, they turn to drugs in hope of a new perspective, they even find themselves in a parade on their motorcycles- a strange attempt to find their place. Bob Dylan's "It's Alright Ma" casts even more light upon the subject, seeing to outline the whole film from the "shadow of the silver spoon" that seemed to affect Wyatt and Geoge to the talk of fear and hatred. While these boys search for America to mean something still, it seems that America- the crime, the hate and the contempt for all differences that was so prevelent during the 1960's- catches up with them and kills them, they have not found America, they have no found themselves, in short, Wyatt was right, they did blow it.

Theee Trip Through Ignorance, Racism and Violence

Billy and Wyatt cruising into the horizon, looking for a form of identity. Searching for a personal way to connect in this nation where apparently everyone is free, the two men cross paths with multiple kinds of people who have different ideals of what life should be. In truth, that's all they really do is cross paths. Because of the fact that Billy and Wyatt are constantly on the move, the audience gets the feeling that the farther they go and the more 'long-hair outcast' they become, the less willing they are to discover something-anything along the way. What started off as a quest for identity has now become a disconnected dazed trip. The viewer witnesses the way the original intent of the riders changes steadily throughout the film.

As far as quests go they are often thought of as a trip that signifies a journey of discovery. Sometimes it means overcoming obstacles to reach a goal (specified or not). The way "Easy Rider" delevops the quest is different in that you never really know what Billy and Wyatt were hoping to find. What does become apparent though, is that the more they see, the more they distance themselves from ever reaching some sort of fulfillment. A notable scene would be when the now three-some stop in at a diner to grab something to eat along their journey. Eating in film can mean a lot more than just a hungry impulse. It can mean that the diners are choosing to come together as a form of communion. The fact that they were ignored by the staff of this road-side, local buzz eatery shows that the riders really aren't accepted. Furthermore, when they decide to play along with the game, shows a level of acceptance on their end; and they decide they don't want to try to be a part anymore. And it's back to the freedom provided by the cycles--and another opportunity for a potential discovery.

Road Movies

"Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the World starts closing in, the only real cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas." The scenes in "Easy Rider" that address the quest the men went on include the scenes when the men are shown driving cross country. Also when the men stop and various places along the way to their destination and meet people, talk to people, adapt to their surroundings and form relationships with the people they meet. The men are looking for an adventure in the movie. Their life in Los Angeles was complicated and chaotic which caused them to pick up, leave and hit the road, on a quest for adventure across America. The men didn't seem to find a satisfying sense of completion when they reached their destination. It felt like the men were still searching for every sense of freedom and adventure American has to offer. Their quest/adventure is framed by white masculinities such as; how white men interpret one another, how social geography affects interpretations of white men, what stereotypes men put on each other and more.

Billy and Wyatt are America

The driving force propelling most road movies [...] is an embrace of the journey as a means of cultural critique. (Laderman)
Billy and Wyatt seem to physically represent aspects of America. Billy, with his cowboy outfit, represents the past of America, while Wyatt is surrounded by the American flag, on his bike, on his jacket and helmet. The journey in road movies usually is accompanied by the characters growing and changing, learning about themselves, their friendship and their views of the world. Yet Billy and Wyatt are the same people throughout the movie, without changing clothes, or changing their habbits (they use drugs throughout, for example) and without forming any new permanent friendship bonds.

Billy and Wyatt travel oustide the city, through the countryside of the US. In their travel, they meet new people, at a special commune. Though they see these people live a different life, separate from the urban area, with their own rules and way of life, the men leave it, not having become part of that community. These men also meet several people from a more typical small town environment. These rural individuals do not accept the men, their dress, their bikes or their drugs. These is no communication, no acceptance and no unity.

The men don't find acceptance in hotels, or in restaurants in the countryside. They are also taken away, put in jail, from a parade in a city. So in the rural and urban areas do not accept their presence. When they do find a friend in George, their friendship is cut short by the hatred of others. So, through their long travel through most of the United States, the men find no friendship, find no diversity, and they do not change at all.

The two white men, interact with other white men, use white women and do not interact with anyone else on the road. At the end of the movie, their metaphoric search for America is completely destroyed. The critique of America or the flaws in America are visually represented through the killing of the cowboy, and the destruction of the American flag, along with the explosion of the bikes. In the end, the men did not find themselves, and they did not find anything within America that they could integrate into.

" On a quest to find America"

"Revolution and liberation taste too sweet, the abyss beckons. suddenly the car speeds over the edge-into a glorious white light"Laderman). In the movie Easy rider Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper), two friends leave the urban Los Angeles to look for "America"; an America they couldn`t relate to anymore. Like their new friend George (Jack Nicholson) said:"You know, this used to be a hell of a good country; I don`t know what`s going on..".
The other America they were looking for was supposed to be a land of FREEDOM and a leader-free world, where each man is his own leader and could have total control over his destiny. Their clothes, their hair, their way of life distinguished them from the majority, therefore they were considered outlaws. And because they did not live by doing the things people considered to be "normal', their lives were not secured. People were afraid of what they represent, and the best way of keeping themselves safe was to take the outlaws' lives away
It was almost surreal for them at that time to look for such an America. This world is ruled by ideas the majority of its people accept and live by. It is always difficult, quite impossible to reverse that possibility.

February 2, 2008

"A Many Went Looking For America and Couldn't Find it Anywhere"

"In the Reagan-Bush era, reference to Easy Rider instantly conjured up demonic images of the hippie counter-culture with its long hair, experimentation with drugs and sex, and violent social protests." (Klinger) In this movie Wyatt, aka Captain America, and Billy set out from Los Angeles in search of the American Ideal. They are looking for the ideal that we as Americans always picture our culture and society to be, but it rarely actually is. When they are sitting around the campfire with their new friend George, discussing UFO's and aliens, interbreeding with the human race they are discussing the inhabitility of the human race to met their expectations. The ideal of the American life, or the American society is something that is always trying to be found, not just by Wyatt and Billy, but by many others from many walks of life . This ideal is something that we can not seem to reach on our own, we need to breed with aliens in order to reach this ideal. One of the reasons that this ideal is so difficult to reach is that is different for each person. For the rednecks that see Wyatt and Billy traveling together, they are not part of the American ideal for them. Whereas Wyatt and Billy's American ideal involves merily being tolerated, or meeting a group of people that do not judge them for their outward apperience, or way of life.

Does freedom exist anywhere in our society?

"The film immediately follows its credit sequence glorifying road travel with a brief dramatic episode emphasizing society's rejection of their alternative values and mobile lifestyle," (Laderman 69). Billy and Captain America go out in search of a freedom and an America that they cannot find in Los Angeles. They think that if they go out on the road they will be able to find the freedom they were lacking, they were sorely mistaken. Billy and Captain America found out that the only way that they could ever truely be free was to not have any contact with the rest of society. They were treated poorly when they were driving through town and ran into a parade, they were treated poorly when they were in the diner being heckled, and they were treated poorly when they were ultimately killed because of their appearance. Billy and Captain America have no idea how truely lucky they really are. They are white males growing up in a white, male-dominated society. They chose to be who they were. They chose to grow out their hair and do things that were not "normal". Women and people of different races could not choose to be outcasts, they were outcasts. They were treated poorly because society deemed them and continues to deem them inferior to their white, male counterparts. This is unfortuante but true and continues to be true to this day.

Renegade Cowboys

After the final frontier had been discovered, there was no more west to be explored and discovered. Since this was over and done, there was nothing more for people to search for. In "Easy Rider", Wyatt and Billy are searching for something indescribable and they are not positive what it is. The feeling of emptiness lies within many people who are trapped within societal constraints looking for alternative form of expression. The new age cowboy, as represented by Wyatt and Billy, take off on their motorcycles, encountering people of all different ethnicities, backgrounds and ideals. But we learn that "no matter how regionally or individually distinct one's lifestyle may be, one is a citizen of the United States of America, an identity which transcends the particulars of regional and individual loyalties." (Klinger 184). This was discovered on their quest when they pick up the hitchhiker and return to his dwelling. Everyone was happy to meet new people and discover the way of life that others have. Also, one knows that people are all the same, despite differences in belief, when Wyatt's motorcycle breaks down and they ask the farmer if they can use his barn to fix it and in turn, the farmer asks them to join for dinner. However, it is difficult to look past that all of the main characters and people that the renegade cowboys come in contact with are white males. The other people in the movie, women, people of other races, are typically set in the back, not talking, and submissive to the men of the movie. In some way, this could be why Wyatt and Billy never found what they were looking for. They were trying to find something different from the normal constraints of the white male society and since everywhere they go was dominated by these same people, it would be unimaginable to find an America that they were looking for.

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson..

The Graduate has to be my favorite road film. Although a lot of it is not based solely on the road, Benjamin Braddock is on a journey to find what is missing within him. Confused on what to do after graduating from college, he finds himself in an affair with Mrs. Robinson, a family friend, only to find out he is in love with her daughter. The road is a major part of this movie seeing as the daughter, Elaine, moves away to go to school and Benjamin must do what is in his heart and follow her across the country. Despite many set backs (Elaine finding out about the affair, her father banning Benjamin from seeing her, Mrs. Robinson sending threats his way), Benjamin travels worlds away to confess his love to Elaine in hopes of marriage. The final scene in the movie consists of Benjamin driving his red convertible quickly down the road in hopes of stopping Elaine from marrying someone else. When he finally arrives, after some turmoil, he and Elaine hop on a bus and ride their way out of town with no one to stop them from being together and starting their life together, on the road.

February 1, 2008

United States: Arrogance, Bigotry, and Conformist

"In 1988 George Bush proudly noted that the United States had made a successful recovery from the excesses of the "Easy Rider Society" of the 1960s. (The Road To Dystopia, Barbara Klinger) George Bush is obviously referring to the social innovation and unrelenting pursuit for social equality of that time era. The 1960's was a time era where people were willing to take risks and allow themselves to be the experimental guinea pigs for the noble cause of taking down the wall of arrogance, bigotry, and ignorance that made equality for all a statement of empty promise.

In the film, Easy Rider, the characters were searching for a form of spiritual freedom through rebellion against the societal norms by living their life as they saw fit. The people of the time were of conformist and corrupt ideals where those who dared to challenge the norms were met with paranoia and violence. The freedom of individual and self were not available in that sort of society. People were bothered into submission by the narrow minded old fashioned morons of the society. The way this quest was framed through white masculinity was through their rather unnecessary bad boy image of riding a motorcycle, typically chauvinist flirtation, and so on, not that it was particularly masculine as it was obnoxious.

Examples of this can be noted in these scenes:
1. The men are often stared at and whispered at when making any sort of contact with people, especially when entering the restaurant with the patrons.

2. The truck drivers are idiots in the manner they try to kill the men for being different.

This is a serious problem in this society. Note that I am not from this society as I am from another country. Try to guess. In America, often people who are different are stared at and bothered for being different. Anybody who looks a little bit different is more likely than not to be right in the eye of the storm of this conformist society. As a society, we should show each other mutual respect to one another and fight the ignorance and bigotry of the people who dare to treat any other human being as less than worthy of respect. How dare this bigoted society call itself a free country when people who strive for personal freedom are treated with less than respect. This society needs to learn what tolerance, coexistence, and respect is. We should all live in harmony.



Favorite Road Film

My favorite road film is Almost Famous. This movie shows an evolution of relationships, life and ones self within the characters. The shared sense of adventure among the characters allowed for a bonding experience to happen. There was also a realization among characters that the people in their adventures could be more important than the adventure itself.