Sunday, March 9, 2014

Applying Different Theories of the Gaze: bell hooks and Sturken & Cartwright

This week, we are reading bell hooks' "The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators" and Sturken & Cartwright's "Changing Concepts of the Gaze."  Each theorist provides a new insight and outlook on the gaze.  In bell hooks' article, she details the role of black women as spectators, both historically and in today's society.  Sturken and Cartwright's text examines a reversal of the gaze that occurs when men are portrayed as sexual objects.

Prompt 1:
Sturken & Cartwright's "Changing Concepts of the Gaze" states:
Contemporary visual culture involves a highly complex array not only of images and spectators but also of gazes.  Whereas many contemporary advertisements continue to sell products through traditional gender codes by portraying women in demure, seductive poses for a possessive male gaze, other ads play off these traditions by reversing them and showing both the pleasure of looking at men as objects and the power of women in action. (Sturken and Cartwright 133)
The text illustrates how modern media often reverses traditional roles of the gaze. Many films and advertisements turn men into sexualized objects and subsequently give women power as the gazers.
Figure 1: Movie Still from Magic Mike
Retrieved from: New York Times' Website 
Consider the film Magic Mike. One could argue that Magic Mike defies the concept of the traditional male gaze.  In the movie, Magic Mike's entire body is on display while he's dancing provocatively for the females surrounding him.  His character is ultimately subject to the gaze, as myriad women fawn over his physique. 

For this prompt, we propose that you find another example of a movie, commercial, or advertisement that contradicts the traditional concept of the male gaze. Please post your findings and discuss how they reverse the stereotypical male gaze.  You could also further examine Magic Mike as an example.

Figure 2: Magic Mike Film Trailer
Retrieved from: YouTube 

Prompt 2:
Figure 2: Man with Raw Steaks
Retrieved from: NY Daily News

This image is of a muscular man with multiple raw steaks on a plate looking directly at his viewers. In "Changing Concepts of the Gaze," it says that "contemporary theories that engage with issues of race, ethnicity, and sexuality as factors in the construction of the gaze allow for much more nuanced understandings of the processes of identification with the image and the complex ways in which images interpellate spectators" (Sturken and Cartwright 136).  This man's gaze can represent several things to many different people as suggested above.  Think from the perspective of either a vegetarian, an elderly woman, or a homosexual male.  What might his gaze mean?  Is it effective in advertising the meat?  How might this image be different if the gaze was on the meat instead of the viewer?

Citations:
bell hooks, “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators,” The Feminism and Visual 
Culture Reader, ed. Amelia Jones. London: Routledge, 2003. 94-105. Print.

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Changing Concepts of the Gaze.” Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2009. 130-136. Print.

Blog Post:
Brittany Andersen and Kayola Davis-Tabb

38 comments:

  1. Looking at prompt 1, "Magic Mike" is seemingly the perfect example of oppositiional gaze. These men are stripping and dancing provocatively, while women objectify them. The gazer is, in this case, the women, and those gazed upon are the men.

    Although this is true for a good portion of the film, oppositional gaze does not defy the traditional male gaze that is seen in many movies. The male gaze is very much present in this movie, depicting many scantily clad or otherwise nude women meant for men's pleasure.


    This brings several questions to mind. Are there any films that show only an oppositional gaze? If so, which? Why might these not exist?

    Another thing I noticed when watching this film was that the men still seem like the protagonists and that they are still the ones in control, even if they are being objectified by women.

    The women are fawning over these men and throwing themselves at the stage in hopes of being objectified by the male strippers, who thrust themselves into them and perform strip teases in order to make money.
    Outside of work, the men are still surrounded by women, who are often nude or otherwise scantily clad. They engage in one-night stands, threesomes, and other sexual activities with these male strippers.

    Even when the men are being objectified, they still seem to be the ones in power. Is this true of the film? Of our society?

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  2. http://screenplayexplorer.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Brokeback-Mountain-heath-ledger-299763_1024_768.jpg



    To contradict the male gaze, what if there is no female in the movie to sexualize? This is why I chose to show Brokeback Mountain. It is a love story in its entirety, but it just replaces the woman that most movies have with another man. Instead of a heterosexual male looking at a female to dominate her, here, a heterosexual male has nothing to dominate. Maybe then it would be safe to say that a homosexual male would see this and invoke the same dominance heterosexual men declare over women?


    I'm not saying I know the answer, or if this is even answering your question. But it does change the male gaze. It doesn't necessarily follow the same path as Magic Mike however, because in that movie there is still a heterosexual attraction of women to Channing Tatum that is not relevant in Brokeback Mountain.
    Someone help me I guess I'm trying to say. I have been knocking this around in my head for a while, the male gaze and the oppositional gaze when it is a homosexual viewer, but it hasn't culminated into a full thought.

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  3. Brittany AndersenMarch 10, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Hi Max,


    I think you made a great point!


    Brokeback Mountain definitely contradicts the traditional male gaze by making a man the object of sexualization. I think your example of a homosexual couple emphasizes the concepts within "Changing Concepts of the Gaze." In this text, Sturken and Cartwright state, "Men can be looked on with pleasure and desire by men or women" (130). With this in mind, a homosexual male viewer can still defy Mulvey's theory of the male gaze.


    Is there a particular scene in the film that you think exemplifies this type of homosexual gaze?


    -Brittany

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  4. I would say (without going into graphic detail) that the tent scene is probably the best example of this homosexual gaze. It presents both characters at their most vulnerable, which almost begs for attention, and therefore to be looked upon in this way. Presenting unclothed bodies and in a very small setting makes them the center of attention as well, and gaze can only be put on them and nothing else.

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  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0-MMcIod68



    The Kraft Zesty guy is puts himself on display to viewers, but he also stays in control of the situation. Zesty guy also keeps friendly, yet suggestive eye contact with the camera throughout the commercial. The ad is pretty humorous as it over exaggerates the sexualizing of food in cultural. Zesty guy's purpose is to attract female viewers in order to promote a salad dressing. I am not saying eating salad is gender related; however, most commercials for healthy eating are targeted at women. I am sure if Kraft is aiming to parody sexual food ads to make a point of a double standard or the company is actually trying to push product onto straight women because they see a shirtless man. Of course watching this Kraft commercial no one is thinking of the salad dressing Zesty Guy is promoting, instead his body is subject to our judgement.

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  6. Prompt 1:

    Another example of an advertisement that contradicts the traditional concept of the male gaze are the three Kraft Zesty Italian salad dressing commercials that were aired. This one, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0-MMcIod68 , features the man slapping dough in a provocative manner, as slapping dough is not shaping it into an food. While he is speaking, he "pops" the lid off of the artichoke hearts with his words, possibly simulating an orgasm or erection. This reverses the traditional gaze because the male in focus is seen as very suave and fit, creating an ideal that is hard to match. Not only is his facial construction deemed handsome and attractive, but his shirt comes off near the end, revealing what would be seen as an in-shape body type.

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  7. Matthew HannafordMarch 11, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    For option 2:
    From the point of view of a homosexual male, the steak could be a symbol of manhood. In our society, steak is seen as the man's meat, and if I may be so bold, the steak could be a literal stand-in for the model's "man-meat" if you will, especially considering the amount of meat depicted. The amount of meat could be interpreted as a measure of his manhood. What do others think?

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  8. Kayola Davis-TabbMarch 11, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Thank you Erika!
    This is a great example. Zesty guy manages to display the male gaze but by what he is saying, he stays in control. In one part of the commercial he says, "look over there, now back at me" and I can't speak for everyone, but it works because he is in control of what he is doing and what the viewers are looking at. I think that it is good that the ad is comical but because of what is happening and not because of the fact that it is a man that is presenting the salad dressing.

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  9. Kayola Davis-TabbMarch 11, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Thanks for the image Justin.
    If you really think about it, all of the man's necessary parts are covered. This advertisement would not have been as controversial, I think, if it was a woman with her necessary parts covered with a salad, or three. Kraft really stepped out of the box here with using a man, but at the same time he is still being objectified since he is clothe less. I do think that their statement, if they were trying to make one, is lost however and also the product itself. The product is probably not the first thing that people look at.

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  10. Kayola Davis-TabbMarch 11, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    Thanks Matthew,
    I can understand why the steak would be a measure of manhood for a homosexual male. You made a good point that steak is culturally considered a man's meat, but mostly a heterosexual male's meat to be specific. What do you think about the man looking directly at the viewer? Is he judging or maybe accusing the homosexual male that may be looking at the image of not being man enough?

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  11. Brittany AndersenMarch 11, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Hi Kayola and Justin,

    Great points! In this advertisement, the traditional male gaze is completely reversed.

    Do you think this type of gaze is effective in Kraft's advertisements?

    One could argue that, since a male is being objectified, the advertisement is out of the "norm" and therefore eye-catching. Kraft's advertisement commands the audience's attention by sexualizing a male figure. Heterosexual women and homosexual males could be intrigued by the advertisement and tempted to purchase the salad dressing if they found the man attractive.

    However, could this use of the gaze in "Zesty Guy" actually be detrimental to salad dressing sales? If a heterosexual male or homosexual female were to see this ad, how might they react? I'm not sure they would be prompted to purchase a salad dressing so closely associated with the male physique.

    -Brittany

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  12. Looking at Option 2 from a vegetarian perspective, the image may at first be disturbing, but then seems almost challenging.
    The man is staring down the viewer, who in this case is a vegetarian. He is stabbing what appears to be raw meat on his plate and giving a smirk that may imply "yeah, I'm going to eat this. And it's going to be delicious."
    What I thought was interesting was the fact that he was stabbing the steak with a knife, rather than a fork. This may indicate that he isn't necessarily just going to eat the steak, but that he killed it.
    If this were seen by vegetarian viewers, they may not only be upset, seeing this man in a violent, inhumane manner, but they may also feel like their views are being challenged. This would be even more convincing in the case of a male who practices vegetarianism, as this may also represent what a "real man" is. A "real man" eats meat and a "real man" would also kill for the meat that he eats.


    By looking at this same image in different perspectives, it is interesting to see how many different things it can represent and how different the feelings may be towards this image and all images. Even if they are not seen as outrightly controversial, people of different backgrounds and beliefs are going to have different reactions to images such as this one.

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  13. I had posted a response to prompt 1 on Monday, but for some reason it isn't here now, so I will do my best to reiterate what I had said before.


    Looking at prompt 1, I am torn between the movie "Magic Mike" going against the traditional male gaze and not quite falling under oppositional gaze.
    While the film does feature conventionally attractive, male strippers who are dancing provocatively and taking their clothes off for the women, who in this case are the gazers, there are many scenes in the movie that still follow the male gaze.
    The women are fawning over these male strippers, throwing money at them as they dance around. The women nearly faint as the men perform strip teases and flirt with them. Clearly, the men are still the ones that hold the power, even if they become the ones that are gazed upon, rather than the gazers.
    Outside of work, women are still swooning over these male strippers.
    The women that are shown are usually nude or scantily clad and throwing themselves at the men. They engage in sexual activities, including one-night stands and threesomes.
    Although the men are the ones that are the performers, there is more nudity shown from women in the movie than there is from the men, even though they are the "strippers." These scenes follow the traditional male gaze, not the oppositional gaze.


    This brings to mind the question if the oppositional gaze can exist without incorporating the male gaze. Are there examples where the oppositional gaze stands alone in films or otherwise?

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  14. Prompt 1:
    This discussion of the reversal of the male gaze in modern reminded me of a commercial that I had been seeing on television recently, the Gevalia coffee commercial. It features a group of women having a book club discussion when a European man enters the room to introduce the coffee product. Throughout the entire commercial, the women make little if any eye contact with the actually coffee product and fixate on the male with an unbroken stare. In contrast to Magic Mike, the male is clothed throughout the clip but still garners a similar sense of attention/demonstration of the female gaze that the women give Mike in the movie. The commercial seems to make the male figure an object in the same sense that the coffee bag is through the female gaze. Do you think there are any parts of the reading that could relate to this commercial?


    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cafatIIF6vw)

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  15. I totally agree with you on this one. He does manage to keep the viewers' eyes on him. When I watched the commercial again I never stopped staring at his eyes until the camera shifted positions to parts of his body. I understand that people were offended by this ad, but honestly I just found it to be great that for a moment it felt like I was living in a female-centric society !

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  16. Brittany CaldwellMarch 12, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Instantly when I read prompt #1, I thought of an experience I had while I was at the Grove in L.A. There were three Abercrombie models in boxer briefs outside of the store, trying to lure customers to take pictures with them and then buy a product from the store. I believe this is a prime example of an advertisement that contradicts the male gaze. I have never seen female models half naked outside of an Abercrombie, only males. Even at the North Shore mall in Peabody, male models are often present and half naked. The picture that I have attached is from a store opening in Singapore. Nearly 250 male models were outside for the grand opening, but not one female model. Contradictions of the male gaze are obviously all over the world, not just in America. This is another example of how Abercrombie and Fitch expects a male to look in order to wear their clothing.

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  17. Brittany AndersenMarch 12, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for the information and for the link to the article! Patrick O’Neill’s success in engaging a female audience is very interesting!

    I also think you bring up a great point with the Old Spice commercials. While Isaiah Mustafa talks directly to the heterosexual female audience, he subsequently sends a message to the heterosexual males out there. Mustafa appears shirtless, shows off his toned physique, and constantly says, “You wish your man could look like me.” In this commercial, Mustafa is the apparent “ideal” that men should look (and smell!) like.

    Do you think Old Spice’s tagline also sends a message to the male audience? The photo you posted says, “Smell like a man, man.” Could the second use of “man” in the statement imply that Old Spice is actually directing its advertisements to men?

    Here’s a link to the commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE

    -Brittany

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  18. Brittany AndersenMarch 12, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Hi Alexia,

    Great analysis! I really liked your observation of the knife and its connection to threats and violence, too.

    What would happen if the man were to slightly alter his gaze? How might a vegetarian’s perspective change if the man in the photo did not stare intensely at the viewer?

    Photo retrieved from a Google search: http://images.sodahead.com/polls/002689163/man-eating-meat-78320991209_xlarge.jpeg

    -Brittany

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  19. Brittany AndersenMarch 12, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for sharing the video! I think the Gevalia commercial definitely contradicts the stereotypical male gaze. The women have their eyes glued to the man with coffee, longingly gazing and fawning over him. The male, although completely clothed, is objectified and portrayed as a sexual object.

    I think the female gaze in this commercial relates back to “Changing Concepts of the Gaze.” In this text, Sturken and Cartwright state, “One of the most powerful set of claims in spectatorship theory of the 1990s was the proposition that looking practices and pleasure in looking for any human subject are not tied to the spectator’s biological sex or social gender position” (130). The women in the Gevalia commercial are prime examples of this theory in spectatorship. Although they are not men (or gazing sexually at women), the women in the commercial still gain pleasure from looking at the Gevalia coffee man.

    Do you think this type of female gaze is effective in the commercial? Could it be similar to the Kraft “Zesty Guy” commercial and gain success by going outside the “norm” of male gaze advertising?

    -Brittany

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  20. Reading through the fun and exciting examples you have posted in this blog discussion prompted me to wonder:

    Is replacing a woman with a man a way to challenge the "male gaze"?

    If the camera angles are the same and the objectifying practices are the same (unfeasibly fit, beautiful bodies being focused on for our voyeuristic pleasure) doesn't it still support an ideological belief that to sexually desire or feel intimate someone you must have them as your object?

    Perhaps I am not phrasing this clearly. What I mean to point out is that Mulvey's theory of the male gaze stems from her understanding that this kind of looking practice supports/reflects a larger ideology: patriarchy--an ideology that reinforces a 2-gender social structure and suggests that one sex (male) is inherently superior to another.

    Do these examples that focus on male bodies challenge an ideological structure that positions one sex as either superior to or needing to serve the other?

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  21. From the examples posted in this discussion, there certainly does seem a growing trend in positioning a male in the center of the shot, connoting his "too-be-looked-at-ness" (Mulvey 837) for the (implied or explicitly stated) heterosexual female viewer.
    It was interesting to read the comments posted on the Youtube video of this commercial. Some people were upset at the portrayal of the women's group as easily interrupted and gullible to the man's attentions. They fawn over his reading of the coffee package (even clapping for him).
    Yet others appreciated the chance to look at a handsome man and hear his "sexy" reading voice (read: foreign--exoticizing the other anyone?). To apply Mulvey's theory for a moment, I would say that it might be important to think about the action of the commercial plot. Women are discussing books, the man enters, the man speaks, the women listen, the women drink what the man says they should drink. The action is changed by the man's actions.
    Mulvey writes, "The presence of woman is an indispensable element of spectacle in normal narrative film [meaning there always seems to be a need for a woman to look at], yet her visual presence tends to work against the development of a story line, to freeze the flow of action in the moments of erotic contemplation" (837). In other words, the woman-on-spectacle isn't integral to the plot and, in fact, the story seems to pause just to look at her (dance, sing, undress, etc.) before moving on with man-driven action. Now Mulvey is not theorizing about commercials here, so maybe this does not apply because the commercial storyline is so brief, but the man-on-spectacle does drive the plot here, right? Wrong?

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  22. Great example Brittany! He looks much less "threatening" or "powerful" to me. Instead, this model looks almost childish--totally amazed by the stuff on his plate and ready to eat his food.
    What a difference a change in gaze makes!

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  23. I see his straight-on gaze as kind of a "sexy smirk." From the position of a homosexual male, perhaps we think he is enticing us with his smile (among other things?).
    I do not mean to essentialize homosexual male viewing though. That is hard right? One of the points made by Sturken and Cartwright (in their review of critiques of Mulvey's theory) is that there is no one "female" view or "male" view or "white" view or "young" view. While people's viewing practices are certainly influenced by their cultural and personal backgrounds, we can look in multiple ways. That is why this prompt is so much fun to think about!

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  24. I was going to post about the Old Spice commercials too! This was SUCH a big hit for a while.
    The commercial and tagline denotes that he is a man asking women to look at him and imagine their men looking like that. This connotes that men and women are (and should be) very different genders and are, naturally, sexually oriented to each other. At one point he even states that "your man should smell like a man, not a lady."

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  25. Hey Brittany!


    I somehow hadn't seen the Zesty Kraft Guy commercial on TV until this blog post, but I think it works perfectly with the type of structure the Gevalia commercial sets up where the man is the object of viewing pleasure. I think both commercials find success in going outside the "norm" of the male gaze by objectifying the male character of the commercial.
    Referring to Professor Vinson's comment below, she made two good points about the commercials. In the one that I posted, she mentioned how despite the male being objectified, he was still a leader in the action of the commercial's plotline. This is also true of the "Zesty Guy" commercial, as he guides the viewer from beginning to end despite his prime purpose of being a sexualized object. Yet in the "Zesty" commercial there are no women physically displayed as there are in the Gevalia commercial (the book club women). I also noticed that in the Gevalia commercial, the camera hones in on the women to literally show their unbreaking gaze at the sexualized male object. Do you think there was a reason behind the commercial choosing to demonstrate the women objectifying a man while another (the "Zesty") simply implied it? Do you think one was more effective or powerful than the other? Or perhaps could be related more to the theories we've been reviewing in class?


    - Chris


    Thanks for the feedback!

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  26. Brittany AndersenMarch 13, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Hi Brittany,

    That's a great example! Abercrombie, along with Hollister, sexualizes men in order to gain customers, subsequently contradicting the male gaze.

    It's interesting that Abercrombie only features male models outside of their stores. It's as if they're telling men, "You must look like us to enter."

    What would happen if Abercrombie reversed their marketing tactic? If the store used partially clothed women outside of their stores instead of men, would it be considered too "promiscuous" for the general public?

    -Brittany

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  27. Brittany AndersenMarch 13, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Hi Professor Vinson,

    After watching the commercial again with Mulvey's theories in mind, the Gevalia coffee man seems to be driving the action of the entire video. In the clip, there also seems to be evidence of patriarchy. While the women are reading, the Gevalia man walks in and commands attention. He completely interrupts their discussion, implying what he has to say is more important. The coffee man then tells Susan to "turn the page on her cup of Joe" and drink the Gevalia coffee. He takes her Starbucks cup, without asking, and hands her a mug full of Gevalia. The women in the video do not protest or stand up for their coffee selections, but simply follow the man's orders. The women are in awe of the Gevalia man and follow his suggestions blindly.

    With this in mind, could you say that the women are only present to support the man's advertisement and the man-on-spectacle?

    -Brittany

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  28. Definitely. Ads like these promote heteronormativity and perpetuate the notion that we must place people into one of the two distinct boxes called 'gender.' When it is in fact a lot more diverse and complex than that. The line, "your man should smell like a man, not a lady" reminds me our discussion during peer view, Professor Vinson, about the Dr. Pepper commercial that attempted to sell its diet drink to men by outright discriminating against women--"not for women"--and endorsing hypermasculinity.

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  29. Yes, exactly Brittany! I'm glad you pointed this out, Professor Vinson. After I watched the commercial, I couldn't help but think the women were just props to the Gevalia man, existing simply to be used in his argument. I also got the feeling that they were just waiting for him, or any man, to show up. You see it a lot in music videos... Women waiting around the house( in their beds usually) not being able to function without a man present. Not sure if this makes sense, but the film Killing Us Softly 4 examines this idea. Also, how funny is it that the book they're reading ends with "as though he had never left…the end" Can we assume this is a romance novel, ending with a man and a woman, happily-ever-after? Maybe this is reading too far into it, but I think it quietly feeds into the assumption that all women read are romance novels, where the definition of a happy ending is a man and a woman finally ending up together. What do you guys think?

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  30. In response to asking if replacing a woman with a man is a way to challenge the "male gaze", it very well could be seen as the oppositional gaze.

    It gives the other perspective of things and finally puts men in the same situation they've put women in, and sometimes it's fun to witness experiments that do this. The cynical part is schadenfreude, finding pleasure in the misfortune of others. With this term in mind, watching men be uncomfortable under the scrutiny and gaze of a woman is rather comical and most of the time it ends with, "How does it feel to be on the opposing side?".

    But a contrast to this is that some men utilize the double standard and the ingrained sense of power men receive in American society to feel more important when they are the object of the female gaze. It turns into a pompous/cocky thing sometimes where a man overvalues his worth simply because he received the gaze of a female.

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  31. I would agree that the men in the examples posted for this week are seen in a different manner than the women from previous weeks. While the women from the previous ads were intended to be viewed in a somewhat voyeuristic manner, the men in these commercials are in on the joke that they are beefcakes. They know they are good looking and use this in an almost arrogant way to appeal to the women in the commercials. While both ads are appealing to the opposite sex, the women in the ads we watched were viewed as sexual objects, while the men in the ads are viewed as some kind of sexual superior by the way they command a room and the women's attention.

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  32. Brittany CaldwellMarch 14, 2014 at 3:36 AM

    Hi Brittany!
    I believe that Abercrombie doesn't put half naked women outside of their stores because they probably see it as "unsafe". Where Abercrombie is a very narrowed company, it seems as though they think women cannot protect themselves, but these "big and fit" men can. I think that if they were to have female models in bikinis, bodyguards would have to be present. I feel as though Abercrombie is a very sexist company to begin with, so half naked women probably will never exist outside of there stores.
    -Brittany

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  33. Hey Brittany and Brittany,
    I think Abercrombie also is going for a certain image. Masculinity is associated with power, and they want to be seen as a powerful company. One that can take charge and show people exactly what they want to buy. Women aren't normally associated with the idea of power.
    I also agree with you Brittany C. I definitely think that they would think it was unsafe and that it is a sexist company.

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  34. I don't think you are reading too much into it. That's the fun part about visual cultural critique! The producers' "intentions" don't necessarily matter. Instead, we have to think: "Considering the cultural context, what would this visual communicate to an audience"? We do often see the stereotype of woman-waiting-for-man (and some of us have experienced the social/familiar expectations that further support that social belief) in our culture so a logical argument can be made that this is another instance of this. If there are many visuals that communicate this, then we can assume that there is a larger ideology underlying the representation.
    I wonder, if they had added another scene where the women commence the action of the book group, would it change the message? The man comes in, the action pauses, but then the literary discussion continues. This might better align with the female-spectacle Mulvey theorizes (wherein the objectification of the female adds nothing to the plot) and suggest a true role-reversal.
    To argue with myself, I wonder, aren't there commercials where the woman's presence completely changes the action of the commercial? Where she is not only "sexy" but commands audience (and male character) responses?

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  35. Interesting discussion Justin and Cole. You have really complicated (in a good way) my thinking about these ads. Your responses demonstrate the importance of thinking not only about the denoted image (that there is a sexy guy in focus this time) but the connotative meaning (that the men seem pompously or arrogantly in on the joke).
    Justin, I like that you consider the both/and. On the one hand, this is an instance of an "oppositional gaze" because it is circulated in a social context where women are the ones who are typically sexualized, but on the other hand, the representation does seem to function differently.

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  36. Great discussion! This makes me think of the Magic Mike trailer and Matthew McConaughey's line "It is against the law to touch [at strip clubs], but I think I see a lot of lawbreakers here tonight." Why can men put themselves on display and welcome the "touch" of the female viewers at the strip club? Why can the men stand outside at Abercrombie and not be fearful?
    What pressure does this put on men? Or what real social problem does it reflect?

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  37. Hi Max,
    Great example! I have been thinking about it a lot and although it has been a while since I watched the movie, I might be able to support an argument that this is an example of what bell hooks calls an "oppositional gaze" because the film offers audiences a look at something that is not often depicted in mainstream Hollywood and--in doing so--prompts us to interrogate heteronormative films.
    Furthermore, the film explicitly highlights the scrutiny and power relations gay men must negotiate as well as the very real pressure men face to act heterosexual (and the consequences this has for their female partners). One of the reasons I only viewed this movie once is because I found it so incredibly sad. The heart wrenching scenes with the wives and the physical violence the male characters face/enact are so hard to watch.

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  38. Brittany AndersenMarch 14, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Hi everyone,

    Do you think Abercrombie and Magic Mike are supporting traditional stereotypes for men and women? They seem to adhere to the ideas that men are the "strong" protectors, while women are the demure sex in need of constant protection.

    I think it's interesting that women are portrayed more sexually in the media, while men seem to be objectified more in public places (strip clubs, malls). Perhaps this also emphasizes protection and safety for women?

    -Brittany

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