Friday, 27 March 2015




Snakes on a Plane is a 2006 thriller film starring Samuel L. Jackson in which hundreds of poisonous snakes are released on a passenger jet flying between Hawaii and Los Angeles. Prior to its release in theaters, its B-movie style title combined with Jackson’s casting resulted in much hype for the film online, resulting in a number of parody videos and fan art.

Create Meaning example 1

Create Meaning example 2

fan involvement, producers keep happy

Task: Apply concepts of specatorship to fandom and map out using your case study

- pleasures
- factors: why, who, what, how, with who, via what medium
- responses - emotional, visceral, intellectual,
- active and passive

use the brief links below to help you produce a mind map as per example (only better with more images from your case study)

Analyse Fandom's links to the Auteur Theory: how has it developed this?

Analyse - give reasons for the significance of fandom in discussing contemporary spectatorship.
Write your analysis using your case study, write 1 paragraph for each of the following points 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 from this list:

Justify the significance of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and technology to contemporary film spectatorship, refering to past and future

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Fandom example: Fan fiction doesn't have to be bad (or gay)

4.4 Final Critical Approach to Spectatorship: Fandom

D Grade: KeyTerms (Define)

Cine Literate
Fan fiction
Collpase of the boundary between audience and text (the film)
Film meaning is not inherant, but lies with the audience

C Grade: Apply to Examples

B Grade: Analyse the contemporary film Industry for the commercial success of this approach. Pick a Case Study & give reasons for purpose of targeting fandoms using spectatorship concepts:

Pleasures (
Factors & experiences
Readings (negotiated/preffered/oppositional)

A Grade: Explain how significant gender is to Fandom as a critical approach to spectatorship


In comparison with the early twentieth-century creation of movie fandom, the figure of the movie fan is perhaps less clearly gendered as feminine/feminized today, but this is because of a much changed cultural context, wherein both men and women are frequently targeted and imaged as consumers. 

This aspect of fandom moves closer to the scholarly appreciation of film, since treating film as art and dignifying certain directors with "authorial" or auteurist status is a strategy that has historically characterized film studies, and that still retains more than a foothold today. So-called "auteur theory" was initially employed solely by intellectuals and cinephiles seeking to value film as a medium, and although it carried cultural cachet, it was also accessible enough for nonacademic audiences to appreciate (Taylor, p. 87). Moving from being an exclusive/elitist view of film held by French cinéastes, auteurism entered the US scene and became popularized to the extent that Hollywood incorporated its discourse into its own publicity. Auteurism is no longer just a critical approach, but also a commercial strategy for organizing how audiences may respond to film texts.

One of the most significant cultural activities undertaken by film fans, then, is the way in which they seek to invest the work of their preferred performers and directors with cultural capital, setting their tastes against what they perceive and construct as mainstream cinema. However, such an apparent detachment from "the commercial" is itself commercial, since these fans are still placed within a specific market. Though this is related to the debate over fandom's resistant capability, it can also be viewed as a matter of film fans' cultural practices. Cult-film fans seek to defend and value their favored texts, but by doing so they also hope to reflect their own aesthetic taste, for they can see "true" artistic worth where general audiences cannot.  

Mark Kermode argues that horror fans actively perceive the genre's aesthetic value, whereas nonfans passively consume horror as if its representations are actual rather than aestheticized images of gore; he offers a convincing opposition between "active" fans who read horror films in relation to surreal genre precedents and "passive" nonfans who are characterized as reading horror films more naively.
In Kermode's account, horror fans are, crucially, "genre literate." Like fans of other genres or specific movie stars, they are expert consumers, able to trace generic histories and interpret new films in relation to countless preceding examples. This type of movie fan has a keen sense of intertextuality; thus, boundaries around "the text itself" tend to be partly dissolved by fans who, even while they carry out close readings of certain films, relate texts to others, either by generic category, in auteurist terms, or by focusing on a favored star. Organized fandoms, like those for cult movies or the horror genre, therefore challenge the idea that any film's meaning and significance are inherent. Rather, it is by reading films in relation to, and through, other texts that fans can convert "the film" into those meanings and values that characterize their fandom as a kind of interpretive community.
Fans read films not only through official publicity texts such as DVD extras, but also in relation to fan-produced texts (fan fiction). Henry Jenkins proffers the example of one fan who wrote an alternative ending to the film Thelma and Louise (1991) in which these female characters transform themselves into bats (Jenkins, 2000, p. 177). Recontextualizing the film as a lesbian vampire tale, this creative fan interpretation (and production) of meaning indicates how generic identities and textual boundaries can be reinscribed by film fans.

Thus, whether it is the interpretive activities of individual fans, or the socially organized, communal practices of fandom, fans and fandom have been as important to film studies as to the film industry.
How does being a fan add a level of depth to passive consumers (non-fans)
How does being a fan or fandom help producers target this commercial market for 'cult films'. What examples of cult films can you find?
Find an example of fan-produced texts (fan fiction) for film on Youtube, how does this change your understanding of the Gazes, identity and alignment from your spectatorship studies?
What is a fandom and example of active spectatorship - explain with reference to a specific fandom around a film.
If fans can convert "the film" into those meanings and values that characterize their fandom as a kind of interpretive community. Find evidence to back this up
What does the article mean by the 'boundaries around "the text itself" tend to be partly dissolved by fans' - how does fan culture accomplish this, find an example.
What does it mean by the 2 impacts of fandom, 'interpretive activities of individual fans, or the socially organized, communal practices of fandom'? Find an example of this.

Does Fandom have academic/scholarly value as an approach to film spectatorship - what previous critical appraoich/theory does it return to and how does it develop it?

Conclusion - how does the concept of fandoms and the response of the film industry to this type of specatatorship develop our response to the question?
Which would you categorise the pleasures of Fandom?
Is Fandom Active or Passive Spectatorship? 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Of Mulvey, Butler, and the Homosexual Gaze

Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze has been received by feminists and queer theorists as highly influential in the fields of both cinema and photography, and has been used by feminists as a starting point to female body disturbance caused by men and advertising representation.  Mulvey’s theory from Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, however, focuses on strictly the heterosexual role in visual pleasure, scopophilia, not looking into the homosexual male gaze at all.  It is then necessary to use Mulvey’s work, along with Judith Butler’s gender conformativity theory, to analyze how homosexual males view heterosexual, homosexual, and transsexual films.  I argue that looking at films from the homosexual male view with the lens of Mulvey and Butler can we see that the homosexual male gaze is quite different from its straight counterpart.  Using Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Judith Butler’s gender performance and conformativity theories, the homosexual male role in watching the films XXX, Latter Days, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch objectifies the men in heterosexual target audience films because of the male character’s desire for the female, while in the homosexual films, desire is mixed with empathy because of the coming out process.

Mulvey and Visual Pleasure
Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure essay describes a theory in which the male gaze of women removes their human identity and views her as a sexual object.  This is in part because of a Freudian viewpoint that because women do not have a phallus, men are afraid of the castrated human form and must objectify her in order to compensate for her lack of a phallus.  “Freud isolated scopophilia as one of the component instincts of sexuality which exist as drives quite independently of the erotogenic zones. At this point he associated scopophilia with taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze (Mulvey, 3.)”  Scopophilia is the “love of looking” that creates sexual objects of those human forms that we are looking at.  Her essay further states that the male gaze is so overpowering, that women cannot be represented in movies as anything more than foils for these scopophilic tendency male viewers have.  So the women, mentally to watch the movie, must become a man in order to view films.  This already becomes a gender displacement in that she must objectify another woman, whom she may have no sexual desire for, because of the overwhelming pressure and presence the male gaze holds.  Her compliance with this dominant male gaze creates a situation where she can no longer watch a movie as a sexual woman, but become a man in order to associate her in male dominated cinema.
Q. So what if you are a homosexual man?

Gender Conformativity
It is necessary when analyzing Mulvey’s theory to think how roles in homosexual culture are referred and applied to a theory that is largely heterosexually dominant.  To do this we must understand the gender roles homosexual men must reside on, and Judith Butler’s Imitation and Gender Insubordination essay outlines her theory that gender is all performative, resulting from constant repetition of what is masculine and what is feminine is society’s eyes in order to solidify these roles.  It becomes a binary, where men and women are polarized to opposite ends of what defines a man and a woman.  When it comes to gender identity of gays and lesbians, Butler states “[c]compulsory heterosexuality sets itself as the original, the true, the authentic; the norm that determines the real and implies that ‘being’ a lesbian is always a kind of miming, a vain effort to participate in the phantasmatic plenitude of naturalized heterosexuality which will always and only fail (Butler, 312.)”  Butler is arguing that homosexuality imitates heterosexuality’s defining gender roles.  That a butch lesbian is imitating a man because of her masculine qualities that only belong to a man, so she must be a fake in order be in the gender realm.  The same goes for feminine gay men and even butch gay men whose hyper masculinity is a play on heterosexual masculinity pushed to the edges.  So gender must be a societal construct that constantly emulates the heterosexual definitions of masculinity and femininity in order to differentiate between the sexes.  When homosexual people enter the gender binary, they must imitate these norms in their relationship, but will always fail.  Butler goes on to state that drag is the only way to show the performativity of gender, but more on that later.
Q. How does this apply to ‘Gay Culture’ films like Brokeback Mountain and Priscilla Queen of the Desert?

The Homosexual Male Gaze
Utilizing these two theories can we form a theory on how homosexual men view cinema.  Now two theories can apply when looking at cinema through the homosexual perspective.  The first is a direct reflection of Butler’s gender conformativity applied to Mulvey’s theory.  It would state that homosexuals must either align themselves with straight women in their viewing of cinema.  To do so, homosexual men must become transsexuals themselves, becoming a woman and being subjugated to a dominant heterosexual, scopophilic gaze that a woman undergoes.  The homosexual gaze then must have another sex change and undergo the woman’s transsexualism in their mind as well.  This seems to have too many transitions, so we can simplify it to a homosexual converting to a heterosexual male.  Homosexuals would lose all their desire for the same sex and view women in a degrading way.  One would, as straight men do, objectify and strip the woman of identity, regarding her as nothing more than a commodity; a body designed to fulfill that scolophilic gaze.
Q. But how does this relate to female film characters that Gay Culture celebrates? Where is the alignment/identification if they are merely reduced to hetero sex objects?

This theory seems to rely too much on the power of the heterosexual male gaze and ignores the desires of the homosexual male.  I propose that an entirely new gaze is created when a gay man looks at film.  First, in accordance with Judith Butler’s gender performativity, he still retains scopophilic tendencies, especially when looking at another man.  When in a film geared toward a heterosexual male audience writer Derek P. Rucas writes in his essay The Male Gaze, Homosexualization, and James Bond Films:
“In Goldfinger, the audience never takes on the gaze or the [point of view] of a female spectator.  We notice that characters such as Pussy Galore and Miss Moneypenny are attracted to Bond, but different conventions are used to articulate this sense of attraction.  For instance, the change of intonation in both the voices of Galore and Moneypenny signify an interest in Bond while Bond’s active gaze is the signifier of his female interest.  Sociologically speaking, the reason for the subdued female gaze could be a result of prominent ideologies present in the early 1960s.  Since the male figure was the dominant of the two sexes, his gaze will be active over the passive one of the female.
Although the female gaze is present in Goldfinger, there is also a gaze cast upon Bond from the male spectator.  This is not necessarily a homosexual gaze, nor a heterosexual gaze.  It is a gaze that could potentially meet both standards in the sense that both homosexual and heterosexual audiences can identify with the Bond character.  For instance, males will tend to idolize Bond because of his smooth McIveresque nature, whereas females will find sexual appeal in Bond.  When Bond is tied to the table with the threat of laser castration, the focus is on Bond’s groin area.  As we can see, according to Mulvey, Freud’s analysis of the threat of castration is a literal obstacle that Bond must overcome.  Although perhaps not consciously intended to be a homosexualized focal point, a gay audience who reads into the Bond films could interpret this scene from a fetishistic standpoint. …[T]he Bond crotch shot has the potential to appeal to both a female and gay audience, sexualizing the Bond character.”
Rucas is claiming that the homosexual male gaze can only come through the female perspective in cinema that our gaze, because it is a male one, overpowers her and her desire becomes our desire. The homosexual gaze is not transsvestivism, but rather a channeling through an outlet of the female desire for the male character, thus objectifying him while he is objectifying her.  Because the homosexual gaze overpowers the female gaze, we are essentially turning her into a commodity to look at heterosexual men with.  A kaleidoscope, if you will, that alters the perception of the film in our favour to turn a sexual being whose gaze is stronger than the female counterpart and meeting that gaze with an equally strong gaze through the woman.
I feel this is channeling through a woman’s perspective to, while it does have its merit, be a bit of a copout in that Rucas is searching for a way to channel his desire for Bond through a way he can get away with.  Women are indeed needed to bring out the sexuality in men, but I propose we are not using them as a lens that we can see through, but when the heterosexual man looks at her with desire, we only see his desire and do not use the woman in the film to express our own.  The character’s gaze and desire are enough to elicit a strong enough response so that the homosexual audience or viewer can objectify him through his own sexuality.  Our gaze is as strong as a heterosexual man’s that it will be met equally when we look upon him alone or when he is transplanting his own desire onto a woman.  I wouldn’t say that we are homosexualizing him, as Rucas would say, because he is being objectified by his own sex appeal and sexuality.  The woman then becomes a foil, which we being to sympathize with through her femininity, and not just a sexual object that we objectify.  Using Ricas’s own argument, in Goldfinger when Bond first meets Pussy Galore, he immediately beings to try to charm her and stares at her assistance butt as if he were taking in the sights of the women.  The gay audience would want James Bond to look at them like that and try to charm them.  So far this is following Rucas’s proposal, but when Galore shoots Bond down, we secretly cheer her on and retain a small delusion that he ultimately would charm us.  His sex appeal and charm are what we desire, so when he stares at a woman, we stare at his appeal, but as an audience and not through the lens of a woman’s gaze, with equal strength, though he cannot see it.  It is complicated by the fact that there is a woman present, but Rucas’s argument is not pushed far enough to show our own scopophilia in the presence of such a man.  It is not channeled; it is imposed through our own gaze as an audience member and does not require the commoditization of a woman to make him a sexual object.  Bond already is.
We are also attracted to Bond’s “machoness” because we secretly idealize partners to be like him: sexy, charming, courageous, suave, and intelligent.  His character traits are what turn us on to him, even when alone, so we continue our scopophilia even when women are not present at all.  We sexualize him through out the movie and not just when a woman is present, though it is much more subdued when she is not there.  His actions and words are enough to have this response come from the homosexual male perspective.
But when the film is designed for a gay male audience, the situation becomes even more complex is our view of the characters.  In this case, the scopophilia and objectifying nature of the male gaze is met with empathy from a common ground.  Laura Mulvey’s argument, that, when a woman is looked at by a man, her human identity is cast off and a purely commodifiable identity, where she needs no personality because of her lack of a phallus, is necessary to the male ego to compensate for the lack of the penis, cannot be applied to gay characters because they have a phallus, but are still the object of desire from the audience.  Through their desire and sexual encounters do we objectify them into the identity lacking sexual object.  But, since most gay films are about the coming out process, the characters can retain their humanity by way of a common experience that binds all out gay men together: the coming out process.  The depression, the denial, the family reaction, the church’s reaction, the suicide attempts; all of these experiences come rushing back to the forefront of memory in the gay audience because it has happened to them.  This creates an empathetic and sympathetic connection to the characters, giving back their own humanity while still desiring them.  It creates a middle ground between objectification and seeing them as a person, which creates both tension and an ability to keep the audience’s attention so a larger message can be conveyed to them.  The heterosexual gaze cannot do this in the same effectiveness as the homosexual gaze can.

Q. What aspects would the Gay community empathise with from their experiences that may develop identification and alignment?
Q. How then is the Queer Gaze not merely a sexual reversal of the Male Gaze?

Using Mulvey and Butler’s two theories can we see how the homosexual gaze is both similar and different in heterosexual, homosexual, and transsexual films.  Through a different emotional capacity, the homosexual gaze is not transformed into either a heterosexual male gaze that objectifies women or a heterosexual woman gaze that becomes overpowered by the heterosexual male gaze, but something entirely new with different desires and complications that emerges from reliability or pure desire an combines them into a new gaze entirely.  While true there is a similarity between certain points of the heterosexual and homosexual gaze, it becomes imperative to see how the heterosexual male gaze overlaps with the homosexual gaze when viewing homosexual target audience films.  Do they hold to Mulvey and Butler’s theory that they are repulsed because of clear gender deviancy from heteronormative practices?  Or does the fact that neither person is castrated negate the necessary need to objectify a woman?  Does the liberal heterosexual gaze match up with the more conservative?  What complications arise in the lesbian or bisexual gaze?  I can only theorize and cannot truly say, but it does open up another goal to see how all of the gazes interact, overlap, and deviate from each other in our viewing of cinematic narrative.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Essay Plan Black Swan 1 hr

Essay Plan

"How far does a spectator’s gender affect their viewing experience in contemporary cinema?"

1. Dominant approach has prioritised exclusively the Male spaectator's position - Freud, Lacan & Mulvey - so Gender has been considered the  most significant aspect.
Is this still true or the most significant?

2. Which film, year of release, director & style, critical response to the film

3. What pleasures was the Director intending to offer to the audience - Intellectual, Spectacle or Emotional?

4. How significant is it in this film? Balanced against Oppositional Gazes, Preferred and Negotiated Readings

Paragrah 1:
Outline Freudian/Psychoanalysis and the meaning produces in the film
Examples & analysis of:
1. Subconscious Suppressed Desires (Animalistic: Sex & Violent Drives) The 'ID'

2. Parental 'Modelling' or (lack of) & effect on Childhood (Nurturing Mother, Daddy's little girl)
Alignment - textual evidence (MICRO) camera, editing hallucinations

Pleasure - Spectacle & Visceral Sexual desire/empathy
Conclusion: so what significance to gender of the spectator - Freud = Male psyche?

Paragraph 2:
Outline Lacanian analysis of the film (Mirror Stage) and the meaning produces in the film
1. Mirrors - broken or distorted - identity and self-awareness
2. Fantasy - hallucinations, lesbian desires, turns into a Black Swan (innocence death/ 'ID' is taking over)
3. God-like perspective for the spectator - omnipresent and omniscient = camera & continuity 'invisible' editing (jump cuts) 
Alignment - Lacan is identity - Identifying with based on Gender?

Conclusion: gender Spectacle Freud waqs basis for this and again Male studies

Paragraph 3:
Outline The Male Gaze, summarise the meaning it produces in the film
1. Voyeurism - CUs = objectification
2. The active 'Look' of male characters, particulalry at women = Power (audience in the film?)
Alignment - Men
Pleasure - sexual pleasure, intellectual

Paragraph 4:
Outline the definition of Oppositional Gazes (power and challenging dominance of male-centric readings)
1. Female Gaze
2. Queer Gaze
Readings - Preferred, Negotiated, Oppositional
Conclusion - directly challenging the question?

Emotional Responses - how does adopting this 'Gaze' make you feel?
Factors that affect adopting this Gaze -  experiences, not being representative of the dominant group/approach

Paragraph 5:
Conclusion: what does it offer to our response to the question - is Gender the most significant factor?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

3.4 Lesson Plan

Warm up


Make notes on the Key Definintion Terms referred to in the video

Level 3: C
Articles & Analysis

Level 2: D/E
Read and identify significant quotes/content and in what Historical order

1. Mulvey
2. Doanne
3. Dyer
4. Foucault
5. Bright
6. Stacey
7. Lacan
8. Metz
9. Berger

Level 3: Lower (C)
Summaries how the following Theorists have developed The Gaze Theory in your own words
Identify 3 key scenes from any Case Study, and apply the relevant theorist(s)

Level 3: Higher (B)
Discuss how these Theories offer different meaning to Magic Mike or Black Swan or Django Unchained
Analyse 3 key scenes for MES: casting/performance/nudity, CAM: use of close-up, EDIT: positioning within the Narrative

Level 4:
Explain these Theories and synthesise your own argument:
How useful/limited is the traditional focus on Gender in Gaze Theory in understanding Spectatorship of all audiences 

This is the goal of what we will produce

Academic Article

Article 1 Intro (some thoughts on Queer Gaze)

Article 1 Intro (some thoughts on Queer Gaze)

Level 2: D/E
Read and identify significant quotes/content and in what Historical order

1. Mulvey
2. Doanne
3. Dyer
4. Foucault
5. Bright
6. Stacey
7. Lacan
8. Metz
9. Berger

Level 3: Lower (C)
Summaries how the following Theorists have developed The Gaze Theory in your own words
Identify 3 key scenes from any Case Study, and apply the relevant theorist(s)

Level 3: Higher (B)
Discuss how these Theories offer different meaning to Magic Mike or Black Swan or Django Unchained
Analyse 3 key scenes for MES: casting/performance/nudity, CAM: use of close-up, EDIT: positioning within the Narrative

Level 4:
Explain these Theories and synthesise your own argument:
How useful/limited is the traditional focus on Gender in Gaze Theory in understanding Spectatorship of all audiences