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In the first scene of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, a recent college graduate named Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is getting ready to go to an interview with a successful businessman named Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) at his private company. Later, the two develop a love relationship, and Ana is introduced to Christian's world of promiscuous activities. Anastasia engages in BDSM, also known as bondage, dominance, submission, and masochism, as her preferred methods of sex. Despite being heavily emphasized in the film, sexual practices and intense encounters were largely ignored. I will use the film Fifty Shades of Grey to demonstrate the concepts of Pleasure in looking and the concept of Male Gaze from the theory of Laura Mulvey& "Male Gaze" critique. My film will also demonstrate the concept of Woman as Image and the concept of Man as the bearer of the Look from the theory Oversights of Mulvey's "Male Gaze" Critique.
Laura Mulvey& "Male Gaze" Critique Theory
In theory, Mulvey describes Christian as gaining pleasure from looking at another object of passionate desire. As a character in a fictional perspective, he has derived his status from having sexual desires from several women. Considering the leading attributes of a man which includes his good looks, power, status, wealth and style, the introduction of Christian Grey as a character increased passion in the film (Laura 836). The movie focuses on lip-biting, wide-eyed Anastasia who in this film acts as a narrator with a physical sketch of a virgin maiden who has never been exposed to any relationship but is awakened by the dominant and influential Christian.
Criticisms have emerged from the theory in which a woman is described as a spectacle and man as a spectator. The film is criticized in theory for its simplification of describing a scopophiliac person, and lack of involvement with the female motion. Mulvey's theory has received various critiques for reproducing straight thinking. The concept of Pleasure in looking also describe the female spectator as either not able to identify herself with the hero on the male on-screen or the female gender is unconsciously and secretly enjoying the pleasure received from the looks of the spectator (Sturken& Cartwright 329).
The concept of the Male Gaze, in theory, is described by Mulvey as a psychoanalytic idea of a scopophiliac person. Hence, it is the passion of gaining pleasure by looking at the other person as a passionate object just by gazing at her (Laura 841). It may go beyond extreme by revealing an obsessive nature of the spectator. Mulvey explains that Hollywood cinema is mostly designed for the purposes of satisfying the male desires. Additionally, the appearance of women is viewed and displayed for erotic and visual impact. Therefore, in most of Mulvey's articles that correspond to this theory, he reveals that male gaze exists in most of Hollywood cinemas.
Oversights of Mulvey's "Male Gaze" Critique Theory
In spite of all the politics that surrounds the film, the stakes of Fifty Shades of Grey have increased on the discussion revolving around female pleasure, erotic and sexuality. The film has revealed female pleasure and has portrayed the woman as an image of sexual desires. In this theory, Mulvey argues that the film indicates a long-standing idea that sex sells when a woman is considered an image and the man a bearer of the look (Sturken& Cartwright 351). In the film, sex scenes show Christian performing oral sex and the excitement achieved does not seem to be from a female overview point. Christian Grey may be described as a seductor hence the man bearing the look, but Anastasia reveals her image and nudity. Such an act is criticized by this theory as biasedness by the male chauvinist in the film industry who believe that female sexuality should not be experienced but should be gazed at (Sturken& Cartwright 356).
The theory portrays Fifty Shades as a less corrective measure to the introduction of sex in most of current Hollywood films. Mulvey is uncertain about the Golden Age of Hollywood and states, "Great Hollywood of the past is no more, but Masturbation has taken over in full flood." According to Mulvey, it is only the heterosexual men who are allowed to masturbate hence Fifty Shades engages the spectator in identifying with Christian (Sturken& Cartwright 381). The theory criticizes Fifty Shades for using romance to illustrate traditional notions about anti-feminist gender.
In summary, Laura Mulvey represents women and the female as spectacles dominating visual culture. The idea is evident in Anastasia as a character in Fifty Shades despite the cinema being a target to a female audience who are heterosexual. Although the film pictures Christian as an object of Ana's desires, with the romance described through her point of view, the adaptation of the film falls on the visual pleasures that involve the male gaze (Laura 843). In both theories, Mulvey insists that Hollywood films should deliver complex sexuality on-screen because it enables most women to reclaim their sexuality.
Laura, Mulvey. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford UP,1999: 833-844.
Sturken, Marita.,& Cartwright, Lisa. "Practices of Looking: an introduction to Visual Culture." Oxford; New York Oxford University Press, 1957: 306-385.
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