The Gaze & Media Critique



Tier 1

  • Use psychoanalysis to discover where and how the fascination of film is reinforced by pre-existing patterns of fascination already at work within the individual subject and the social formations that have moulderd him > understanding fetish to learn about fetish in film

  • Woman is symbolic because she cannot produce phallus

  • Function of woman in forming the patriarchal unconscious is 2x = symbolises the castration threat by her real absence of apnis, and second thereby raises her child into the symbolic

  • Woman’s desire is subjected to her image as bearer of the bleeding wound, she can exist only in relation to castration and cannot transcend it

  • Spectator identifies with main male protagonist = screen surrogate = erotic look twofold = satisfaction

  • Male movie star glamourous features = ideal image in the mirror

  • When screen surrogate “gets the girl”, spectator feel the same feelings of possession > movies are like softcore pornography minus the fornication bit

  • Lack of penis = threat of castration and unpleasure. First avenue of escape: Voyeurism associated with sadism; asserting control and subjecting guilty person through punishment or forgiveness. Second: fetishistic scopophilia

Tier 2

  • Scopophilia, anice word for voyeurism, is a form of pleasure at the cinema

    • Contrast of the darkness in the auditorium and motion picture generate the illusion of voyeuristic separation > as if looking through a pinhole camera (Sexual pleasure)

  • The cinema satisfies a primordial wish for pleasurable looking AND goes beyond narcissistic aspect. Identification with the image seen. (ego libido)

  • Women setup according to-be-looked at-ness; sexual object, pin-ups, striptease

    • She is a spectacle but her visual presence works against the development of a storyline, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation (eg. Megan Fox in Transformer)

    • Serves as erotic object for characters within the movie, and for the spectator in the cinema

  • Ultimate fetish by Sternberg = powerful look of the male protagonist is broke in favour of the image in direct erotic rapport with the spectator. Female as a the perfect product.

  • True perversion is barely concealed under a shallow mask of ideological correctness - man is right, woman is wrong

  • Rear window - Jeffries is the audience, apartment block as the screen. Lisa on spectator side not interesting but an erotic dimension increase when she is on the other side. Jefferies puts him squarely in the phantasy position of the cinema audience.


  • 3 different looks associated with cinema: that of the camera as it records the pro-filmic event, that of an audience as it watches the final product, and that of the characters at each other within the screen illusion. Yet the first two are denied and subordinate to the third. Camera has become the medium to produce an illusion of Renaissance space. Camera’s look is disavowed to create a convincing world in which spectator’s surrogate can perform with verisimilitude.

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