Monday, 3 November 2014

The Depiction of Gender in "500 Days of Summer" Presentation 05/11/2014

Using two or three examples of your choice, explore ways in which film and/or television have depicted issues related to modern society.

·       Successfully flips the stereotypical film about a heterosexual relationship on its head: it is usually the male character who is distant, afraid of commitment, and wanting to keep things casual rather than adopt the label of a relationship; and it is usually the woman who expects all of these qualities from him. Laura Mulvey “The narrative structure of traditional cinema establishes the male character as active and powerful: he is the agent around whom the dramatic action unfolds and the look gets organized. The female character is passive and powerless: she is the object of desire for the male character(s).”

·       The story is told entirely from the male perspective, about male expectations of females and ultimately the aim is for the male audience to view Summer as a heartless monster.
·       Summer was completely honest with Tom from the start that she didn’t want a relationship – adopting the male role in the partnership – but Tom is still presented as a victim of this strong, independent and heart-breaking woman. Again, flipping the classic rom-com/romantic genre on its head; countless times it is the female characters presented as victims of male ideas about love.

·       Towards the end of the film Summer is shown crying at a marriage scene in the cinema, clearly this is the turning point for her when she realises that the only reason she has enjoyed not being tied down is just because she’s not met the right person. This realisation is something pop culture suggests is engrained in every woman; the desire to get married and settle down and adopt the domestic personality in exchange for your young and unruly one.

·       As the film is from the male perspective (written by men, produced by men, directed by a man) the message the male audience would take from it is that if you are friendly to a woman, or if you give her sex or spend any quality time with her, that she owes you something regardless of whether she specified when you met her that she didn’t want a relationship. Laura Mulvey: “Representation of 'the more perfect, more complete, more powerful ideal ego' of the male hero stands in stark opposition to the distorted image of the passive and powerless female character. Hence the spectator is actively made to identify with the male rather than with the female character in film.”

·       Summer changes her mind about wanting to be tied down when she meets who she thinks is her soul mate, and Tom is hurt that she has found someone else. What she explains is that she “woke up one day and she knew she felt differently” and the male perspective the film is written in portrays this change of mind as something horrific and hurtful. Anneke Smelik: “The woman's 'guilt' will be sealed by either punishment or salvation and the film story is then resolved through the two traditional endings which are made available to women: she must either die (as in e.g. Psycho (1960)) or marry (as in e.g. Marnie (1964)).”

·       The modern and misogynistic ideology of the “friend zone” is effectively represented in the whole plot line. The whole concept of this idea, as explained rather disdainfully by countless feminist writers, is that it is the duty of the woman to return any affection shown by the male otherwise she is at fault. This term used frequently in pop culture is said to have originated from an episode of Friends. Agusta Christensen: “The insidious problem with these 'nice guys' is that they certainly don’t respect these women. Instead, they stew bitterly in a sense of their own entitlement, waiting indignantly for something that was never promised to them."

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, just wondering if you could tell me where you found the quote by Agusta Christensen? and if you had a page number! thanks