The essay "Visual pleasure and Narrative Cinema" explores the construction of gender, race, and/or sexuality in media and culture through focusing on psychoanalysis. Fascination in film is generally reinforced by patterns of fascination which are already in existence and already active within an individual and the social constructions that have molded them.
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In regard to psychoanalysis phallocentrism presents a paradox in that it derives meaning and order to its world depending on the castrated image of women. The woman's idea hence stands as essential phallocentric system. This means that her lack gives a symbolic presence to the phallus and hence it is the women's desire to what the phallus signifies look good. The woman's function in constructing the patriarchal unconscious can therefore be summarized in two folds; First she is a symbol of the threat of castration by simply lacking a penis while secondly she raises a child to become the symbolic. The desire of a woman is subjugation to her own image as the one who bears the bleeding wound. Her existence is only in relation
A film offers a number of fascinations to the human form. The first one is the pleasure in looking which is known as scopophilia. Humans derive pleasure in looking whereas being looked at is also another source of pleasure. According to Sigmoid Freud scopophilia forms one of sexuality's instinct components. In this regard people are viewed in terms of objects which are subjected to curious and controlling gazes. The example presented for this is children's voyeuristic activities where they develop a kind of desire to look at and explore forbidden and private organs.
That is they are curious in regard to the genitals of others, their bodily functions, the presence and absence of these organs as well as the primal scene. The cinema provides satisfaction for primordial wishes to look but also goes ahead in developing scopophilia within its narcissistic aspects. Main stream film conventions focus their attention to human forms. In this case image consists the imaginary matrix in regard to identification and recognition.
In another construction the image of a woman is viewed as a sexual object which presents an erotic spectacle. The woman is hence looked at in terms of an image whereas the man is considered the one that bears the look. The male is the active viewer while the woman is just a passive posture hence the man can project his gaze on the woman's figure and project his fantasies. Traditionally the display of a woman had its functions at two levels; an erotic object displayed for the co-actors within a story and also for the audience viewing the story from the auditorium. For example the show girl's device creates an allowance for the technical unification of the two looks without any apparent breakage in regard to the verisimilitude.
The narrative structure has also similarly been controlled by the heterosexual divisions either passive or active. The male figure in this case never bears the sexual objectification burden. The man's role is active in controlling the film's fantasy and represents power in actual sense. This is achieved by structuring the film around a male figure with which the spectators can identify with. Male characters are seen as the one who control events making to things happen.
The presence of a female character is considered a n element of the story but only in this sense. For instance a heroine only provokes only what she is a representative of. She is the fear or the love that she inspires in the characters who poses as a hero. This means that she is the concern that the hero feels towards her making the hero act in the way that he dies. In herself the woman hence bears little or no importance.