Visual Pleasure Essay Research Paper Visual pleasure

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Visual Pleasure Essay, Research Paper Visual pleasure, derived from images on film, is dominated by sexual imbalance. The pleasure in looking is split between active/male and passive/female. In her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Laura Mulvey asserts the fact that in mainstream films, women are simultaneously looked at and displayed. That is to say, the woman is both an object of desire and a spectacle for the male voyeuristic gaze. The male’s function is active; he advances the story and controls the gaze onto the women. Interestingly, the spectator identifies with the male through camera technique and style. In an effort to reproduce the so-called natural conditions of human perception, male point-of-view shots are often used along with deep focus. In

addition, camera movements are usually determined by the actions of the male protagonist. Consequently, the gaze is dominated by the active male while the passive female exists to support desire within the film. In an attempt to change this structure, Mulvey stresses the importance of challenging the “look.” One way this is accomplished, is in the film Reassemblage, where the look of the camera is free from male perspective and dominated more by passionate detachment. In doing this, the filmmaker, Trinh Minh-Ha attempts to destroy the satisfaction and pleasure derived from images of women in film, by highlighting the ways Hollywood depends on voyeuristic and fetishist mechanisms. Thus, it can be argued that the film Reassemblage asks the spectator to challenge the

relationship between women and visual pleasure. First, female perspective dominates subject-positioning in Reassemblage. The male is not the possessor of knowledge and he lacks omnipotence. The shortage of male images in the film attests this point. Consequently, the spectator does not identify with him. Instead, Minh-Ha herself reads the voice-over narration on the soundtrack. She, as a female, is the possessor of knowledge. Also, at many points in the film, Minh-Ha manipulates and controls how much knowledge the audience has. For example, Trinh-Ha translates the Senegalese language for us at certain points, while at other times she does not. Also, she tells us that women are the possessor of fire and truth. Constant images of women working, laughing and talking, force the

spectator to identify with these women who are active and knowledgeable–the equivalent of the male in Hollywood films. Both on screen and off (by way of the soundtrack), female knowledge and activity dominate in Reassemblage. However, it can be argued that the images of women in the film are not all active. Indeed, many shots show women sitting in a static position while the camera looks at them. The snapshots seem to play upon Hollywood’s style of voyeurism and fetishism, with extreme close-ups of the face, breasts, eyes, lips and mouth. Yet, there are differences between Trinh-Ha’s film and a Hollywood film. First, she does not restrict the female to this passive position, as Hollywood does. In Vertigo, Madeline exists in the film as an object that Scottie pursues in the

search of truth. She is just a spectacle in the film–obvious from the modeling scene and the fact that Scottie is constantly spying on her. In Reassemblage, the women are not restricted to only being spectacles. They work in the fields, mash corn, and weave. Secondly, it is necessary for Trinh-Ha to show static images of women in order to challenge the stereotypical Hollywood system. It is as though she is saying–look at how you are use to seeing women portrayed–then look at these other shots. In the latter, the woman is not controlled by the male gaze. Trinh-Ha show us passive shots to emphasize the active ones and to challenge the stereotypes. Lastly, Reassemblage refuses to create the images of women into an erotic experience for the narrative. When she tells us about a