When working with appropriated footage, there are only so many changes, edits, tweaks and subversions one can make to the narrative; the camera angle cannot be altered. Yet it is a male gaze that moves and controls the camera. So how do you make something feminist when your source footage is inherently patriarchal? This is one of the limitations of remix. I can’t subvert the male gaze. And that’s a problem, a common one, central to understanding women’s stories, perspectives and position in society.
Females seldom find themselves in the role of spectator; the camera almost always assumes the view point of the male characters and it seems to constantly watch, follow and pan women and their bodies. I’m not arguing for an objectification of men, just a female perspective as complex.
As Laura Mulvey explains it in the psychological thriller Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, women are the “bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning”. This question of perspective and meaning was raised by Holly Willis after my USC talk on Monday night and as I work my way through the thickets of Mad Men, I’m realizing the ideal answer would be a Male Gaze Filter in Final Cut that allows the editor to flip the camera angle and see from the female characters’ perspective. This ‘filter’ is obviously dependent upon additional footage but it would change the narrative so drastically that it’s fun to think about how powerfully different our stories would be if there really was a such an add-on.
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