Wooley wrote: ↑
Sat May 09, 2020 8:24 pm
Yeah, I don't know if you read it before or after I realized I hadn't included the last paragraph of the write-up which discusses the male-gazery of the film. Like I said, I don't defend it but because it is in fact made for me, it is hard for me to get too mad at it when I'm home alone and there's no judgement of the fact that I do actually like the nude female form. I would like to say that the way the guy smirks when asked to leave by the woman he walks in on naked reinforces my point about how I like that the movie really has no good people in it, the "hero" is definitely not a good guy, none of the male or female characters are really good people, but it's really hard to say if that was the point of that moment or if it was just male entitlement. I suspect I know which you feel it is and I wouldn't argue much. But as I say in the last paragraph, I have to admit that I simply enjoy danger and eroticism mixed so if I don't have to apologize to my female friends for the fact that the movie is clearly not made with their agency in mind because I'm watching it alone, well, it's made for me, right?
No one has to apologize for liking certain bodies or sexual scenarios or any of that. I think that genuinely erotic content can be really fun in a horror film (as in, say, Fascination
) and can enhance the themes. But I have to say I didn't find anything in Forbidden World
erotic. It felt like a very juvenile imagination of sex and sexuality. I mean, two female best friends and they wash each other's hair in the shower? They go to confront a genetic monster wearing little bathrobes? Two super hot women are both all over the very average looking male protagonist? Puh-lease. I can enjoy films where sex and eroticism are presented in a creative way, even when the gaze is strongly male (again, Fascination
). In this film with the tracking butt shots and nonsensical nude scenes it just felt like the movie going "Here, have some tits". It undermines suspension of disbelief. It wasn't organically a part of the narrative. To use a gender-reversed example, this is the same way that I felt about the out of place penis shot in American Mary
. It was not a natural part of the story, and even if it could have been, the way that it was shot made it clear that it was there to be there.
And that's when it hit me. Oh! This is how women feel in movies all the time. Women, the women I know and care about, have spent their whole lives sitting through movies where the most significant female character acts exactly however the script needs her to for the motivations of the male lead. Even in movies where there's supposedly a male and female LEAD, it is the exception rather than the rule that the woman's motivations and actions are as genuine, as deeply written as the man's. But in most Hollywood movies, even really good actresses are just there to propel the main male character through his arc, if they're even given that much to do.
But it's one step further than that, because while there are throwaway or underdeveloped character of both genders in plenty of films, female characters are also much more often used as a vehicle for sex and nudity and/or to be threatened/harmed to motivate male characters. And beyond that is the cultural obsession with certain female bodies and a sensibility that men *deserve* access to those bodies. Think about how many people were more than happy to look at the leaked female nudes that came out years ago. I don't even want to ask the men I know if they looked at them. To me, if you looked at those images, you are a party to a sex crime. Looking at someone's naked body without consent is WRONG. I bet you most men would agree with this statement, and yet their desire to see Jennifer Lawrence nude was somehow more important than this basic standard of decency. Or everyone else was doing it, so it was okay? I literally do not understand. So it's never about one specific film, but more about the larger cultural context.
And that brought us to a question, if more or less an equal number and quality of movies were made legitimately for women as men, would it be ok if those movies catered to the desires of those audiences?
I think that the idea of making movies "for men" or "for women" is perhaps a flawed dichotomy. Every film has its own objectives, and the content of the film should be directed by those objectives.
I guess maybe a good question would be whether a male audience is capable of watching a film in which the sexual gaze is neither male nor female. I feel as though there's an element of homophobia that often accompanies the "traditional male gaze" that goes along with why male nudity is rarely presented in a genuinely sexy way, but more often as comedy or gross-out stuff.
And if we're going to address the gender disparity here, why not also the racial disparity? How many black, Asian, or hispanic heroes are there in horror films? A big problem with the male gaze stuff is that it's about the people making the movies just as much as it is the market they are aiming at.
If you had a wider diversity of filmmakers, you would naturally get a wider diversity of on-screen portrayals and gazes. I'll never forget the director's commentary for Freeway
when the director, talking about a female character with huge scars on her face, said "I just love women with scars. It's so hot." And you're like, yup. People take the things they find sexy (or thrilling, or funny, or whatever) and that's what they put on screen.
But to come all the way back around, this diversity of gazes would take away the problem I spoke about earlier: the culture that is created around female nudity when most horror movies operate from the same point of view. If you had a wide range of perspective, there would not always be the expectation that the female characters get naked. It would shake up the template (and there is definitely a hetero-white-male-centric template for a lot of horror). Would I still find Forbidden World
juvenile and cringey in this alternate cinematic universe? Yes, absolutely. It would still not be for me. But it also wouldn't be the 500th film I've where the top IMDb review focuses on the nude scenes as a main point of recommendation. It wouldn't be the 500th time I've seen women's bodies used that way. It wouldn't be the 500th time I watched the hero hook up with a woman more than 15 years his junior and so on. It would be not for me, but less annoyingly so. And it would also be easier for me to find things that ARE for me, which would lessen the sting.