Email Writer
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)
Feminist Film Theorists: Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, Teresa de Lauretis, Barbara Creed

Whether you agree with any of the major feminist film theorists or not, the new book Feminist Film Theorists: Laura Mulvey, Kara Silverman, Teresa De Lauretis, Barbara Creed written by Shohini Chaudhuri (2006) spurs discussion on a wide range of issues in film. From Mulvey’s “male gaze” to Silverman’s “masculinity in crisis,” Chaudhuri boldly brings up topics that in today’s dominant fiction world are taboo. She examines how the feminist debate has evolved and not shifted or backpedalled by exposing how the feminist film is growing from its early roots in the major feminist film theorists to some of the films people actually know about on-screen today. Yet even these films have a long way to go.

One of Chaudhuri’s major discussion areas is on the science fiction-horror film Alien. In Chaudhuri’s chapter entitled The Mounstrous Feminine, the discussion stems around the idea of how the maternal female body is used as a symbol of the things society fears most, or what symbolically in film is the “monster” and what major film theorists term the abject. According to Chaudhuri’s analysis of Creed’s book Powers of Horror (1980), the monster is that part of ourselves we reject and expel considering it “not me.” In short, the abject is the symbol of the repressed or our “other.” As Chaudhuri reminds us, Freud already established how what is repressed into the subconscious always returns disguised in symbolic form, or in the case of the film Alien, the form of the female monster alien.

Chaudhuri also examines Mulvey’s groundbreaking essay Visual Pleasure And Narrative Cinema, written in 1973 and published in 1975 in Screen. Mulvey’s work was a major breakthrough for feminism due to its analysis of what she termed the “male gaze” and what has come to be known as the “dominant fiction” in film - Dominant fiction might better be known today to some as the Hollywood film versus the independent or foreign film. The camera, audience and male characters in works that use the dominant fiction formula manipulate all elements at the disposal of cinema, including narrative and auteur, to create female characters that are “objects of spectacle through mechanisms of voyeurism and fetishism. . .imposing a masculine view on the audience.” Mulvey’s essay has been the subject of much exposition and criticism.

In the last chapter, Chaudhuri admits “the key concepts that these theorists discuss are in many ways no less pertinent and fraught with complexity than when they were first placed in the agenda.” Chaudhuri discusses that in Mulvey’s new work, Death 24 x a Second (2005), she examines “the changing conditions under which audiences view films, no longer always collectively but often at home on video and DVD, [which] also calls for new theories of spectatorship and reflections.” Mulvey exposes how these new technologies allow for “pensive” or “possessive” spectators, and how the “flow of film [can be] halted and favorite images or scenes repeated” creating a “cinema of delay.” Mulvey highlights how new technology undermines the traditional idea of cause-and-effect which creates more of an avante garde style of film that is available to the people now instead of just the elite.

As Chaudhuri points out, “many people assume we are more ‘progressive’ about gender issues now than we ever have been in the past. . .However, backlashes against feminism show societies have a tendency to move back as well as forward.” Femoinist Film Theorissts: Laura Mulvey, Kara Silverman, Teresa De Lauretis, Barbara Creed is an open re-discussion as well as new discussion on feminist film theory. Just the fact the text is so active in Chaudhuri’s analysis is evidence to the need for further and ever more explorative discourse in feminist film theory.

Author Bio
Kriss Perras
Author: Kriss PerrasWebsite: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Publisher & Editor
Kriss Perras owns Ruptured Media where she publishes Malibu Arts Journal. Ruptured Media is also a story development company. Kriss has been tenacious and fought authority from the very start of her career in journalism. Kriss' first story as a journalist was for her college newspaper covering George W. Bush and Steve Forbes in the Iowa Caucuses during the 2000 election. She showed up at the hotel where Bush was to speak with her editor's letter of assignment in hand. She credentialed at the press desk like every other press person. She had questions in hand she had prepared to ask the Presidential candidate. She walked into the speaking room to find the press was roped off from the candidate. Being new to election coverage, and journalism, she was disappointed. She stood next to a seasoned AP photographer on the press platform. She asked the AP photographer if she could get out from behind the ropes and ask Bush her questions. The AP photographer said, "Well, you can try." So she did. She stepped out from behind the ropes and waited in line behind the people seeking the candidate's autograph. When it was her turn, she introduced herself to Bush as a college journalist and started to ask her questions. Bush said, " Wait, are you a journalist?" She said, "Yes." Bush nodded to his Secret Service team. They promptly came over on each side of her. She was 5'6" tall and weighed 127 pounds. The Secret Service men were well over a foot taller than her and obviously guys who worked out often. They could pick her up with their pinky fingers. They quickly picked her up by her arms, carried her over the ropes and plopped her back down on the press platform as she was still asking Bush her questions. Bush to his credit said, "Please give her one of my books. The answers to her questions are in my book." So she had to read his entire book, but she indeed found the answers to her questions. She also drew political cartoons for her college newspaper and still does today. Her next big break came in 2002, still as a student, with an interview with former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinski. Kriss went on in 2006 to found PCH Press, Malibu's daily newspaper. With PCH Press, she had extensive coverage of the battle against LNG and the fight against the placement of an LNG port being placed off the coast of Malibu and Oxnard, among other local news. She has covered Olara Otunnu, former United Nations Undersecretary General and Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict when he spoke in Los Angeles in 2006. She covered Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman when she spoke in Los Angeles in 2006. She has interviewed Progressive David Swanson and numerous Malibu Mayors. In 2007, She founded Malibu Arts Journal magazine. Kriss built Malibu Arts Journal from the ground up. She has taken the magazine from an unknown dot com to a respected title. She earned the magazine digital distribution through Magzter and the iTunes App Store where it now enjoys broad based readership across the globe. She is a member of the national honor society Who's Who In American Universities And Colleges. Her photogrpahy has aired on CMTV channel 14 Spokane, Washington. *Photo Copyright 2017: Alan Weissman
Other Articles By This Author