Gender Norms in Films
Male and female relationships in cinema: How much has changed since the 1970s?
Powers, Stephen, David J. Rothman, & Stanley Rothman. (2003). Transformation of gender roles in Hollywood movies: 1946-1990. Political Communication, 10 (93): 259-283
Some film scholars have suggested that the ways in which women are conceptualized in cinema has undergone a profound shift in recent decades. According to Stephen Powers, David J. Rothman, & Stanley Rothman’s article entitled “Transformation of gender roles in Hollywood movies: 1946-1990” the ideology of mainstream Hollywood films has changed from one which views women who succeed in traditionally male occupations as unnatural to an aesthetic which is far more accepting (Powers, Rothman & Rothman, 2003, p. 268).
Powers and Rothman argue against the thesis of voyeuristic cinema, the most notable proponent of which is Laura Mulvey. Mulvey wrote a seminal essay arguing that eroticization of the feminine subject was built into the voyeuristic nature of cinema itself: Mulvey argued that both men and women as viewers are forced to adopt a male, objectifying gaze and are forced to see the female body as an object of desire. This view of women has defined the visual evolution of the cinematic medium (Powers, Rothman & Rothman, 2003, p. 216). The authors argue that such a perspective is overly simplistic, and that Mulvey’s mise en scene approach ignores the wider narrative of contemporary American films, which allows for a wider range of roles for women in films than in previous decades. Moreover, women are no longer punished by the screenwriter for seeking a purpose in life other than marriage.
Article Review II
No Oscar for gender balance in Academy Award ‘Best Pictures.’ (2008, Spring). Media Report
to Women, 36(2): 1-2.
According to 2009 Media Report article “No Oscar for gender balance in Academy Award ‘Best Pictures” there are three speaking roles for males for every one female speaking role in prestigious, Oscar-caliber films in the present era. These images of women also tend to be more highly sexualized than male roles: a scant 28% of characters in G-rated films are female and women are more than five times more likely to remove their clothes than their male counterparts on-screen.
Thus, while some changes have occurred in terms of the ways that the genders comport themselves on film, much has remained the same in terms of how the media portrays women. Perhaps the most telling statistic in the Media Report article is the fact that women’s roles in films directed by women dramatically increase: the number of female speaking characters jumps from 27% to 47% in female-directed films, indicating that so long as the film industry continues to remain dominated by males behind the camera, changes in screen images of women will be less flexible than one might expect, even given the changes in society. Until women begin to penetrate the film industry’s upper echelons and gain more control of the medium as directors and screenwriters, women’s narratives and voices will be rendered subordinate to the male gaze, particularly in the large-budget, high-quality Hollywood films that receive more financing and exposure in theaters.
Article review III
Mularczyk, Ewa. (2006). Review of America on Film. By Harry Benshoff & Sean Griffin.
Media Magazine. 144.
According to Ewa Mularczyk’s review of America on Film, by Harry Benshoff & Sean Griffin, while gender roles may be socially constructed, they can still exercise a powerful bias in terms of the way the media renders such images. Furthermore,
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