I want you to see the world as I see it through my male gaze.

Its no secret that Hollywood is dominated by the male gender. Its also no secret the the female gender is fifty percent of the movie going audience. Woman have been unfairly misrepresented in most aspects of life, while the male gatekeepers have been dictating what they seem is the view of the world since the beginning of time. From the Bible to Transformers movies, the male point of view dominates all aspects of opinions by trying to persuade others in their patriarchal view of life. Men are strong, women are weak. And if you disagree, you are a feminazi socialist.

If there was a director that represents the male gaze better than anyone else, it would be Alfred Hitchcock. His fascination of voyeurism in his films like Rear Window, Vertigo, and Psycho, has captivated his audiences, giving everyone a peek into his perverted misogynistic mind, a great example would be the movie Psycho, and from the beginning of the movie the female lead is doomed. Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, is one of many female character leads in Hitchcock movies who either is a thief or a liar, in which it is the duty of the male protagonist must try to save, sometimes through an intervention of some sort including rape, ex: Frenzy, Suspicion.

Psycho is a perfect example of the male gaze gone awry. One cannot comment on the classic without bringing up “the peek through the peephole before Marion getting into the shower” scene, but the scene that interests me the most is when Marion tries to trade in her car for another one to allude a policeman that is following her.

Here we see Marion driving away from the police officer that woke her up in her car after see was driving away from her town after stealing $40,000 from her boss. She was behaving suspiciously when she was being questioned for pulling over to the side and taking a nap. Her face in the frame has guilt written all over it. This makes the audience assume that women cannot keep a secret. Then she pulls into a used car lot unbeknownst that the same police officer has u-turned his vehicle across the street, gets out of the car and stands outside his door to observe Marion talking to the dealer. The male gaze from a distance.

Unaware the shes being observed, Marion and the car dealer discuss the terms of the trade in and when told of the terms, she doesn’t even try to negotiate and wants the deal to go through as soon as possible. This of course even surprises the dealer and makes her look like a terrible negotiator and thus making her more suspicious.

Marion and the dealer both realize that the policeman is across the street and Marion wants to make this happen soon. The dealer suggests that she test drives the car first and Marion refuses on the basis that she is in a rush to reach her destination. We then follow her into the bathroom, where she pulls out $700 dollars cash out her purse and goes outside to pay for the car. While this is happening, the police officer pulls into the dealership and while he gets out, she pays the dealer and rushes to the car. Before she can pull out, a mechanic runs out to give her bags that left in her previous vehicle and puts it in her car. As the police officer approaches the car, she drives away.

The view from above gives the audience the perspective that we are a fly on the wall watching her without her suspecting.

One could argue that if you replaced Marion with a male character, there wouldn’t be an argument on the male gaze philosophy.While that may be true, its the fact that many of the female lead characters in Hitchcock’s movies are portrayed with troubled, broken, and inept personalities that must be kept in check by the male protagonists. Its also clear in this particular that Marion must not only be kept in check by a man but a police officer as well. And whats worse is that it took a sociopathic transvestite to “teach her a lesson” in the shower scene which left many wondering if they should have been more sympathetic to her in the first place. While that scene is particularly brutal, one might argue that is Marion was a good submissive woman, the audience reaction might have been different.

In conclusion, I believe in some way that Laura Mulvey’s argument about the fear that men feel threatened of being symbolically castrated by strong female characters in movies. This can be seen in everything from movies to videogames, but I also believe the tide is slowly turning as they slowly start to lose grip of their power of opinion making.

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One Response to I want you to see the world as I see it through my male gaze.

  1. Amy Herzog says:

    So glad you took on this scene, as the function of the gaze here is more subtle, and less sexualized than the famous shower scene. But as you point out, the authoritative gaze of the officer reduces Marion to a hysterical bundle of nerves. As you point out, this reinforces some pretty base, negative stereotypes. On the other hand, like most Hitchcock films, the impact is more complex and ambiguous. We’ve already seen Marion defying many stereotypes, and while she is punished for her crimes and for her independence, she’s also a very compelling, sympathetic character. I feel, during this scene, that we are being encouraged to identify with Marion– the cop seems threatening, he stares straight at US, and we (or at least I) was anxious for her to get away. I think it’s that ambiguity that makes Hitchcock such a powerful director– even when we feel uncomfortable or disagree with the politics, there’s something quite profound to continue thinking about…. Excellent work.

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