Men are simple, darling

Queen of Outer Space is a work of pure hatred, and a bundle of contradictions. The film follows four astronauts crashed on Venus, who are there sentenced to death by the masked, man-hating Queen Yllana. They are aided in their escape by Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor) who looks to overthrow Yllana and reintroduce men to the now all-female planet. They succeed, and the men remain on Venus (until their rescue ship comes from Earth within a year). The film is stereotypically sexist. The astronauts call their armed captors “doll” and “baby,” they try to overthrow Yllana with “romance” (she is a woman, after all), and jokes are made about women being bad drivers. But this narrative is so poorly constructed that it cracks – it cannot be a strong image of how bad women are, because it is too dumb. Women in the film need to be made a threat, but to give them power undermines the sexism and the notion that women really are nothing but stupid objects who want love. This begs the question: what is wrong with men? Are they ok? Do they understand what they’re doing?

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The women villains in this film must be given power if they are going to be a threat, but by nature of their femininity, they must be weak. As a result the threat, and anger towards it, is unconvincing. While in captivity, the astronauts query how Venusian technology could have become so powerful if it is made by women. Talleah then explains that Yllana was able to take power as no one took her seriously because of her gender. From this point we see a confusion: we know that the main threat, a woman who lead a revolution and became queen of a planet, was not taken seriously. She is obviously capable, for if she was not, could she have achieved this? This is almost immediately backtracked – she’s still a woman, and can be defeated with romance. A smarter film might have worked with this. A powerful woman never taken seriously is once again reduced, only to reveal her power and strength. This film is not smart, however, and we find that, truly, all Yllana wants is “love,” and her frustrations over this are conflated with her crazed political power.  Her hatred of men stems from their violence, with war resulting in radiation burns scarring her face, hence her ever present mask. She still wants love, but she’s ugly, too ugly to be loved. The astronaut meant to seduce her cannot bear to kiss her for her ugliness, and is sent back to the prison room. Could it be a comment on men’s hatred, then? Men caused real damage, they caused wars, they harmed living beings, leaving permanent scars. Yllana’s anger towards men, and war, is by all means justified. And her trauma is met with a man who rejects her for her ugliness, something which is repeated humiliatingly throughout the film – when the astronauts return after their escape attempt, they rip her mask from her, exposing her face as she desperately tries to hide herself. She and her allies briefly regain power and she attempts to kiss the lead astronaut, only to have him recoil in repulsion. We are given a history of men concerned with only violence and conquest, and are given a present reality of men concerned with only a woman’s beauty, treating the non-beautiful with abhorrence. They should then be the villains.

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This potential subversion of the film’s misogyny is furthered by a love-scene during the escape, where the reversal of gender roles is played for light humour. One woman calls an astronaut pretty, and he calls her handsome. Another woman is blocked to be in a dominant position to the man she kisses, framed to be bigger, taller, and taking charge. Talleah affirms compliments and expresses what she wants: she knows she’s beautiful – perhaps she doesn’t need someone to tell her so?

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The confusion of this film is that the scenes undermining male dominance are then re-undermined to re-assert male dominance. Though Yllana’s ugliness, cause by men, is met by cruel rejection, she is maintained as irrational, violent, and incapable, fighting back till the very end despite being met with failure upon failure, concluding in her being roasted to a crisp in a final attempt to destroy Earth and kill all men.  As Earth spectators, and we must see ourselves as essentially good, peaceful people, and her anti-war attitude is nothing but emotional, foreign illogic.  While the romantic escape showcases untraditional sexual roles where the women can take control, this is met with excitement over the women’s honesty and willingness, which is so unlike Earth girls who connive to catch their men. You’re not like other girls, you’re a cool girl. But then again, these are undermined. The film opens with one of the astronauts bidding farewell to a woman before he departs for space: she clearly states that she is concerned for his safety (said breathily, “Spaceships are dangerous!”) and wouldn’t be able to go on without him. He tells her he must leave. On Venus he meets a new woman, who he is more than happy to stay with while they await their Earth rescue ship. She expresses that he had said that he loved her, which he does not necessarily confirm. In fact, when he joins his fellow astronauts he says “I was just being polite to her.” Then to the Earth message stating “I know you’re anxious to get home,” he responds, “Are you kidding?!” and goes back to aggressively kissing his Venusian girl: he is unwilling to give her what she wants (emotional connection) but will skirt the issue to get what he wants (sex). This character is the typical playboy, and it is his entire being, which makes sense within a film that does not look deeply at individual psychology. But at the same time, we are presented with the only person who actually does lie about his emotions to get what he wants, manipulating others and disregarding their feelings. And there is no afterthought for the Earth woman who’s left behind, who said she couldn’t go on without him.

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It’s hard to tell definitely how much of the men’s behaviour in Queen of Outer Space is meant to come off as rage-inducingly sexist, or average for the time. A contemporary review from Variety describes the film as “a good-natured attempt to put some honest sex into science-fiction,” which leads me to think it is the latter. Scenes of men referring to their captors as “dames,” discussing the bodies of women in power, legitimately thinking that women are simple-minded, seem to be nothing but straightforward: there is no irony, there is no subversion. Which is what is confusing about this film.  A film that is so intent on tearing down women repeatedly, degrading the ones who are wrong and reducing the ones who are acceptable, functions as a capsule of masculine hatred and stupidity. Despite the intent to show the threat of female power, it does a better job at showing just what men appreciate in women (submission, beauty), and just what they hate (ugliness, power), but not in a coherent way in the least. To look back on this film it is impossible to see it as anything other than the work of angry boys who don’t know how to hate properly without infecting their discourse with their own unavoidable violence, disgust, and ability to harm. For it is impossible to forget men’s cruelty and dismissal within this film, even when the focus is on how horrible women are, how they must be objects not agents, how their attempts to be agents will fail because they are not smart enough to be anything more than “woman.” The reduction of women in this way is in itself hateful and stupid, and this stupidity is enhanced by the inability to make men worthy heroes.

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The exploitation of men’s stupidity in this manner would become key to Zsa Zsa Gabor’s star persona. Known for her multiple marriages, she become more famous for one-liners about men and sex than her acting. This is exemplified in her workout tape It’s Simple, Darling (1993). Flanked by two absolutely enormous men, Gabor performs easy exercises while making non-sequitors about love, sex, and marriage. Advice to always give back the ring after breaking an engagement, but never the stone, or to keep your body trim to drive a man wild while undressing litter the video. She frequently discusses her past husbands. “Girls really dress for men…” [cut to a straight close up of Gabor] “…when they’re undressing!” The video seems less like a real workout than a showcase for Gabor and her persona. Doing standing push-ups (“my type of push-up”) off the backs of her “gorgeous guys,” this is obvious. Not really a push-up at all, it’s an excuse for her to touch men while discussing the other men you could touch: a husband, ex-husband, gardner, pool boy, lawyer, etc. “I like it!” she moans. This is not about exercise, but Gabor’s notorious relation to men. And this is where stupidity plays in again. The whole tape works off of the premise that it is very easy to seduce, and so manipulate, men through your body and appearance. The refrain of “it’s simple, darling” reflects this: not only is it simple to workout, but it’s simple to get a man. Then get his jewels, his house, his money. Then get another man, perhaps one like the “gorgeous” bodybuilders in the tape.

To argue that men’s inability to properly hate women, or that women needing to resort to using their bodies to get things, is empowering, is tenuous at best. But what is clear is that Gabor’s trajectory from the sexist Queen of Outer Space to her expression of sexual power in It’s Simple, Darling describes a specific problem of stupidity in the relation men have to women. Unable to view women as real people and reducing them to objects in incoherent ways, Gabor demonstrates a way to very easily manipulate this hatred and reduction (if you possess beauty, of course), getting what she wants in terms of sexual gain, financial gain, or general success. Gabor laughs in the face of fragile masculinity and stupidity, reflecting the line she spoke in Queen of Outer Space: “They didn’t take her seriously. After all, she was only a woman.” Not taken seriously and reduced to a ditzy glamour girl, Gabor gained her success and her men, culminating in her workout tape, a distillation of her persona. It is a necessity of survival when men cannot come to terms with women as people not in service of them to exploit this perceived servitude for personal gain.  And it speaks to the state of our society that women must navigate structures of oppression without outright destroying them in order to have anything.

The Gendered Representation of Electroconvulsive Therapy

cw: for images of the depiction of medical torture

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Mental illness is rarely depicted in a sensitive way in film, and I can think of few examples of films that are both accurate and ethical, especially in terms of gender.  As a broad category, it is treated poorly in cinema.  A more specific sub-genre or -trope of mental illness in film is the depiction of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).  Supposedly it is so misrepresented in cinema that it necessitates articles such as About To Have ECT? Fine, but Don’t Watch It in the Movies: The Sorry Portrayal of ECT in Film.  Though it seems unanimous that the process is represented as a barbaric, violent, and ineffective one, the way this plays out can be categorized differently often by gender.  After viewing a large number of films which depict ECT, here are the basic tropes which seem to occur.

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Victim as Oppressed Man

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In these films, the victim of ECT is an intelligent, active man, often transgressive or radical in some way.  This type would be exemplified by Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller, 1963), Chattahoochee (Mick Johnson, 1989) or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Foreman, 1975).  In these films we have masculine protagonists who could be characterized by their near-hypermasculinity: displaying ambition, initiative, aggression, strong sexual appetite, rebellion, and so forth,  mental illness (if present at all), is associated more with either men other than the protagonist or criminality — in Chattahoochee, for instance, there are numerous comments on how many of the inpatients are overflow from prison.  Care is then feminized: either explicitly (such as in the case of Nurse Ratchet) or through generalization: care is something which is a feminine occupation, distributed by women nurses or by ineffective, relatively impotent men (they are often older, wear glasses, rarely seen doing anything but sitting and hiding behind a desk, with little knowledge of the ‘real’ world or the human/masculine pursuits of the victimized protagonist, and contrast strongly with the hypermasculine protagonist’s vitality), or care is attempted to be distributed by other women (such as the girlfriend in Shock Corridor or sister in Chattahoochee) – in all cases, care is given by a woman or someone without the virility of the victimized man, regardless of if this care is positive or negative.

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These films can be read as poisonously feminized institutions targeting a victimized masculinity, a masculinity which is threatened and threatening to encroaching femininity and feminine power.  When care is seen as positive, such as the love of the girlfriend in Shock Corridor, it is softer than that of the more powerful institution, and weaker as well.  Visually, these depictions will often focus on the face during ECT distorted in pain, violence, disdain, and anger, rather than fear.  In these films, the protagonist is almost never sick, it is society that is sick instead.

Victim as Girl/Child

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In these films, the ECT victim is either a fragile woman, a child, or a man so ‘emasculated’ that he becomes childlike.  In The Snake Pit (Anatole Litvak, 1948), the protagonist’s neuroses stem from trauma relating to her childhood, which drives her back to a childlike state wherein she cannot accept adult responsibility (namely, married life).  In Return to Oz (Walter Murch, 1986), the protagonist is a literal girl whose continued fantasies are at odds with her coming of age, and return her continuously to a childlike state where fantasy trumps reality and thus must be attacked through a form of ‘electric healing.’  In Shine (Scott Hicks, 1996), the protagonist’s mental illness renders him to be little more than a child in a man’s body, with almost no agency or coherence of his own, save flashes of brilliance which stem from his past, sane life and can only come to fruition under the hand of mother-figures.  His problems are attributed in part to issues with his father (so, childhood, and the already feminized ‘daddy-issues’ are present), and as an adult, post-ECT, he turns to the care of women who take of near-maternal roles, even when they are supposed to be romantic interests.

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ECT is used as an entirely ineffective treatment for people who have been rendered childlike through their mental illness, which emasculates them if they are men, or emphasizes girlishness if they are women or nearing womanhood.  The focus is more on the mental illness or perceived mental illness rendering the fragile protagonist a child, rather than the ECT which will never work and is simply a source of terror that cannot stop rampant illness’ mental regression: ECT is only part of the ineffective process which further fractures the broken person, but not necessarily a major focus of the treatment, like in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Whether the regression of the ill protagonist is seen as positive or negative (the exploration of the inner child’s fun and whimsy such as in Return to Oz or the emasculation of the adult man who cannot live in adult society without a mother-figure’s help as in Shine), ECT is without fail simply a torturous and misguided attempt to delay the regression, which will not work.  Usually these films will promote a different treatment as both more humane or more effective, treatments which can range from the more ‘scientific’ (such as nurturing and semi-romantic talk therapy in The Snake Pit), to love full-stop (as in Shine).  Depictions often place visual emphasis on the fear in the face or the mechanical apparatus which administers the shock, making the process inhumane in a scientific or mechanical emphasis, rather than focusing on the specifically malicious doctor who administers shocks as near-personal attack.  Additionally, in these films the protagonist is most definitely sick (even Dorothy Gale must learn to forget Oz in Return to Oz) but ECT is never a treatment that will help: the need is for something more nurturing.

Victim as Sexy

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The patient in these films will usually have an illness which is based around rebellion, but a feminized one: anti-authoritarianism, alcohol or drug abuse, even political challenge, is added to a rampant sexuality, which is fetishized on screen, and often portrayed by sex-symbol actresses.  In Frances, Frances Farmer (Jessica Lange) endures her first course of ECT after her numerous sexual affairs, nude scenes, and generally inappropriate desires for love and affection, while the depiction of the treatment itself focuses on her shaved, arched legs rather than the face distorted in pain or fear.  The usual distortion of facial features is avoided by the skillful placing of nurses around her body, so that un-beautiful look of pain is hidden, and the fragmented body is the focus.

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Another example of this would be Angelina Jolie’s character in Girl, Interrupted: playing the sexy Lisa who is institutionalized for her wildness and lack of restraint, she is given shock treatments off-screen which are the catalyst for her escape with Winona Ryder’s protagonist Susanna: an escape which involves a kiss between the two women as well as a party where each girl has a hook up, thus attaching the mental illness (and punishment by ECT) to both casual sex and queer feminine sexuality.  In From Beyond, an incident with a machine which excites human sexuality leaves an incapacitated Dr. Katharine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) in the hands of a less sexy woman doctor who threatens her with ECT.  This happens, of course, after the effect of the machine influences her to don bondage gear and red lipstick, and attempt to initiate sex with her co-worker, so the grotesqueness and horror of her treatment is balanced by the previous eroticization of her character, while the emphasis on leather, gag, and straps in the ECT sequence become mirrors of her bondage gear.   In these films additionally, despite an element of rebellion or transgression, the characters are most definitely sick, but again, ECT will not cure them.  In the cases Frances and Girl, Interrupted, this is perhaps because nothing will cure those who receive shocks, while even the insanity-characterized-by-nymphomania in From Beyond is a confirmed insanity which simply could not be changed by ECT as it is derived from an outside source (the villain/monster’s machine): which is to say, that again, her illness would not be curable by medicine.

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When looking into ECT in film, the basic message seems to be that the procedure is presented as a torturous one, which is vastly different from reality.  Doctors don’t distribute it as personalized punishment, muscle relaxants and anesthesia are administered with care to attempt to create the most comfortable experience possible, the treatments are generally done with patient consent, and there are no leather straps or gags jammed into the victim’s mouth.  But a lot of this rhetoric is about saving the image of the doctors and nurses who administer ECT, and the process itself, with little concern to how it involves the patients, especially in terms of gender.  In these examples of ECT in film, one can see that ECT is used to characterize the worst way to treat mental illness, and so can tell us more about mental illness in these films than the ECT itself.  And it tells us that: only white people are really mentally ill.  There might be one or two men of colour present, but they are never the focus, or are much more ‘insane’ than their white counterparts, suggesting a hierarchy where the white man is least deserving of ECT as he is the most sane.  White men who are mentally ill are either castrated children in need of a mother, or just not actually ill, because illness is emasculating, it is stupid, it is weak, and men are not these things.  And women who are mentally ill are also either children, often in need of daddy to save them, or they are nymphomaniacs, with an insanity that leads to sexual inhibition and visual pleasure.  It will not lead to anything truly transgressive, like the non-ill men are capable of, and even sexually it will be strict: interracial relationships never happen, queer relationships are chaste kisses when compared to wilder sex scenes.

The problem with the representation of ECT in film is that it becomes a marker of severity in illness and ‘treatment.’  Rather than focusing on only how this impacts doctors, nurses, and treatments, it is important to look to how these markers are attached to mental illness and that which it attempts to cure, and the gendered ways this manifests itself.  In this manner, ECT films become a microcosm of how mental illness is depicted on-screen, and should be given more attention as such, rather than just for deterring patients from seeking ECT in real life, for this is a basis for general stigma which must be abolished.

 

On Beauty

Can any part of mass culture not be for men, and is it possible for alternative aesthetics of beauty to ever be radical?

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In Gaylyn Studlar’s ‘Oh, “doll divine”: Mary Pickford, masquerade, and the pedophilic gaze,’ she describes how Mary Pickford playing a little girl was powerful not simply as a site of semi-pedophilic enjoyment for men who craved representations of safely traditional girlish femininity as well as the ethical sexual consumption of the girl-who-is-actually-a-woman, but for women and girls who felt dissatisfied and oppressed by adult feminine life.  The girl supposedly is without the same threat from men — the woman has to deal with compulsory (hetero)sexuality, and all the stigma that comes with it.  Particularly in relation to the contemporary rise of the flapper, the ‘sexless’ girl could be comforting.  The adult woman also has to manage family life (children and childbirth, as well as finances, housekeeping, and care-giving to offspring, the husband, and elderly parents); there’s no leisure time, there’s no way to be carefree.  The girl, by contrast, is not restricted so heavily and has the freedom to take up many (often ‘unladylike’) roles.

Regardless of how empowering Mary Pickford could be to women and girls, men were also consuming this image.  Studlar writes:

The idea that Pickford had anything to do with pedophilia would have scandalized her admirers in the 1910s and 1920s. Yet, how often is an “aesthetic” response to an inscription of femininity […] completely unconnected to a sexual one? I do not wish to argue that Pickford appealed to male admirers who were actual pedophiles. What I do wish to suggest is that Pickford appealed to and through a kind of cultural pedophilia that looked to the innocent child-woman to personify nostalgic ideals of femininity.

Little Mary appealed to women in her freedom and charm, but she still appealed to men who praised her beauty and, significantly, her ‘cuteness’ while  enjoying her return to Victorian ideals of femininity and girlhood.  She may have been a comforting alternative for women audiences to the more obviously sexualized feminine roles of the time, but she was not without implication within patriarchal structures of gender and sexuality, and in turn still sexualized by men who equally found her characterization quite comfortable.

Today we have aesthetics like radical softness or bbhoodz which are, supposedly, not about being sexy and consumable for men.  They’re amplifications of personal vulnerability and a reveling in that which is described as ‘unattractive’ (babyish cuteness, expressions of feelings over stoicism — often accompanied by flowers, toys, pastels, gems, and a nostalgic 1990’s look) for individual pleasure.  But it’s not unattractive.  There will always be a pedophilic gaze, and although these aesthetics are not supposed to be ‘sexy,’ they are still popularized as a lot of pretty, soft women, thin and able-bodied, playing at being girls.  There is a reason why the  tropes of the barely legal college student, the sexy schoolgirl, the cheerleader, innocent college girl with her older professor, the ‘teach me daddy,’ the lolita, all exist.  On the level of the individual this is for the singular woman who engages with it.  On the level of mass representation and reproduction (like Mary Pickford) there is nothing about it which would deter a male gaze.

By contrast there is ‘weaponized femininity.’  Long nails, red lips, heavy contour, dark brows — makeup that’s noticeable and unnatural.  Again, this is not necessarily unattractive, even if  it’s not necessarily for consumption by the male gaze: it’s an amplification of femininity usually placed onto the body of the cis, able-bodied, thin young woman, often following certain traditional feminine aesthetics.  It goes against the more popular conception of the natural girl, who is always seen as the ideal: the base of the ‘beautiful girl’ (constructed by society through her visual signifiers of privilege which manifest upon her body) but who doesn’t interest herself in the frivolities of femininity, and doesn’t need to — she’s so pretty she doesn’t need makeup, she’s so naturally thin she can eat pizza and never worry about a diet.  But difference from the natural-girl does not mean unattractive.  Perhaps unattractive to some men, but not unattractive.  And when this is based on a mass level in terms of media representation, is there actually  anything oppositional about these looks, or are they just comfortable alternatives, comfortable for both the women who seek escape from patriarchal oppression, as well as comfortable for the men who consume them?

Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak, 1944)

These aesthetics are an unapologetic enjoyment of ‘feminine’ passtimes (beauty, makeup, hair, clothes, emotions, childhood games rather than adult sex or sex for pleasure rather than shamed heterosexual monogamous servitude) in the face of men who want you to be a void who’s favourite activities are watching him play video games and giving blow jobs.  But it’s not ugly, and it’s readily consumable, even if the point is that you’re doing it for yourself (you’re not defined by a man’s interests and tastes) and that in doing it for yourself you’re free to go as excessive as you like (excess only being given meaning by the men who define what ‘natural’ is).  But it’s not ugly — it’s amplifications of what’s desirable.  Perhaps these amplifications go too far for some tastes; often they do not.  Even if the intent is that it’s for you, not for men (no one is supposed to be getting off on it, and men are certainly criticizing it), it’s still consumed by men on a broader level: when something is made for the masses there is no “you,” there is not the same “personal,” and so it cannot be viewed as what makes the single woman feel empowered or good about herself as it is no longer about the single woman.  By no stretch of the imagination are these aesthetics, in the present or in the past, rejected by or attacking masculine consumption of women, even if they seem to try to present themselves as such, even if they seem to try to create safe spaces for feminine expression and pleasure — this expression and pleasure is only valid when men can partake as well.  One cannot escape from patriarchy by hiding within it.

The problem is that these aesthetics are so easily consumable, and even traditional: they go back to, as referenced above, earlier models of femininity.  And they are never ugly.  When one thinks of alternate beauty in cinema, for instance Mary Pickford’s child-woman, one can see how it is, or was, empowering.  Yet it is not detached from how consumable it was by the male gaze.  It is different, and it is comfortable for women, but is just as comfortable for men to consume.  By the same token, the looks that might be considered an excess of femininity (such as Dorothy Malone’s alcoholic nymphomaniac in Written on the Wind, or Ella Raines’ trashy masquerade as she seduces a jazz drummer in Phantom Lady) are still attractive.  They are denigrated, often contrasted with a more natural and manageable woman (Lauren Bacall’s level-headed secretary in Written on the Wind, or Ella Raines’ also level-headed secretary in Phantom Lady), but they aren’t ugly.  Being too sexy, being too cute does not distance a woman from the consumption of the male gaze.

Ugliness is different.  Ugliness is represented in the form of usually older women, fatter women, women of colour, queer women, disabled women.  Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, Hatty McDaniel as Mammy in Gone With The Wind, Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?: often made monstrous, the ugly woman cannot be consumed by men who have no desire for her and she is punished by a lack of humanity, spit out like something sour and rotting.  Her character is constructed to be rejected by the gaze and she is meant to disgust if she registers as vaguely human at all, but she has no power to reject the gaze herself, and could never of her own accord take up a weaponized femininity or extended girlhood to ‘challenge’ how she is being consumed.  Which begs the question: if you are still being consumed, can you be consumed in a way that is more radical?  The beautiful woman character or figure flaunts her beauty in ways that don’t destroy it; the ugly woman character or figure is not allowed to be human as the male gaze cannot digest her for disgust.

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radical softness vs ugliness!!!!; Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)

For women characters, beauty is power.  Beauty is how the male lead notices you, finds value in you.  Beauty is what allows you to have agency within the story.  Beauty is also predicated on systems of oppression: it is about how thin you are, how white you look, if you’re able-bodied, if you’re cis, if you’re straight, if you have the money to keep up your beauty, if you’ve fit into the window of youth which is acceptably beautiful.  Beauty is a small box that many women do not fit into.  So can amplifications of beauty which may make some men uncomfortable be empowering acts of resistance when presented on a mass level?  Can aesthetics which work within consumable standards of femininity and exclude ugly women be broadly empowering?  No.  This is just another way for women to be eaten.  Within media, ugliness in women is debilitating.  It makes women subhuman, makes them worthy of death, and this is well known — why else would we cling to beauty and lie to ourselves that slight differences and emphasis on things which are not ugly (such as youth, innocence, sexiness, or adornment) would give beautiful women agency and power?  When you’ve moved beyond the individual woman’s aesthetic choices to the star (the Mary Pickford, the Dorothy Malone), you are no longer discussing personal empowerment of the singular woman, but about the white supremacist heteropatriarchal capitalist industry that is cinema (and media) and how this industry desires and devours women.  Beauty is a product of patriarchy and will never be a blanket of safety from it or a tool of attack against it.

My Top & Bottom Films of 2015

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I probably did not see enough new films to have a totally complete list, and living in Canada means that we often get much later release dates on films.  I made  these lists according to which films I thought were most disappointing to me, and which ones I enjoyed the most.  The ones which were disappointing were often not bad but did not meet up to my expectations and were overall not great, which can sometimes be worse than the films which you know are going to be terrible.  The ones I liked best include new releases but also re-releases and Canadian release dates which can be later than the original dates.  So with that in mind, here are my lists for most disappointing, and best, films of the year. Continue reading