Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Women are indispensable. They are deemed as an important element in the spectacle of illusionistic narrative films making
them a big part in mainstream films which we see every day. We see the structure of representation at play where we live
in a patriarchal society making the men the dominant feature in where women subdue to the male ego libido. The women’s
“looked-at-ness” is what is created by our patriarchal society where it is prominent in cinema due to the immense realistic
portrayal which brings about this illusion of having that “reality” present in our everyday life.

Not only do we see this evident in films but as well as particular advertisements or gossip columns where they show women
in a sexual manner. We not only see phallocentrism in film but in our own existence of everyday things that demonstrate the
unconsciousness of how our society operates. Advertisements such as that of the series Gossip Girl is publicized in a very
sexual manner that it was heavily criticized in the United States but was still allowed to be exposed showing the structure of their society.


We see in the movie of American Pie where cinema is used in depicting women as a “bearer of meaning” and not the
“maker of meaning” because there is the silent form of imposing what men desire on to the woman. We see how
mainstream film, unchallenged, continues to manipulate us in films such as American Pie where erotic language and scenes
is inserted in part of what we think is reality because of the many “realistic” features the film holds. We as the audience,
most especially men, find such films fascinating because they relate their subject to the objects (characters) of the film
where they identify themselves with such specifically in erotic identity this is known as active scopophilia. We see the
identification of the male erotic ego, where the “glamorous impersonates the ordinary” allowing male viewers to have the
fascination of attaining a particular woman because of the portrayal of the character as an ordinary person. Examples of
such in the film is like the character of Jason Biggs where an ordinary college student is able to get “hot” girls that are not
in his league. It’s a vicious cycle where majority of mainstream films depend on this type of portrayal of women as given by society.

Scopophilia is also evident in American Pie because there are a lot of teaser scenes where the characters in the film are
used to arouse the male audiences in particular. Such as the many nude scenes present in all the series of American Pie.
The characters do not necessarily have to be fully nude but show enough skin to bring about the erotic pleasure in male
audiences. We see the traditional sense of how women are viewed as objects and are simply displayed by the various male
characters in the film where characters such as “Stifler” sees all these women as objects he wants to conquer. He views them as skin deep.

Each American Pie series represent women in different manners such as the “dumb blonde” or the “sexy cheerleader”
where each male in direct scopophilic contact with the female form can fantasize with the woman of his choice. Not only does
it remain to be a shallow film but relationships form where the male character and his counterpart fall in love making it more
realistic for the spectator where he indirectly possesses the female character as well in relation to how “realistic” the film is portrayed.
We see that not only in the movie American Pie where we see the woman being dehumanized but in many other films as well.
The representation of a woman as an object where they are suppressed by the male desire is not only dehumanizing to woman but to our culture in general.

“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” by Laura Mulvey in the Sexual Subject. A Screen Reader in Sexuality, pp.22-34. New York and London: Routledge, 1992

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