Psychoanalytic Theory and Film and Pleasure Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Mulvey and the Cinema

Laura Mulvey uses psychoanalytic theory to discuss the appeal of the erotic in narrative cinema and how the images projected on screen play upon "pre-existing patterns of fascination" within the audience (6). The point of reading is that such images have a political use, which has been appropriated by studios, which a feminist audience can readily identify as a "phallocentric order" (6). From the feminist perspective, the psychoanalytic theory offers a substantial insight into the social constructs that are used to engineer films for mass audiences, already saturated by a form of social-engineering from the various socio-political platforms erected on televisions, personal computers, phones, etc.

The reading continues with a run-down the of the different pleasures that cinema affords the viewer -- whether "scopophilia" or narcissism (10). The cinema projects images of superstars but at the same time allows the viewer to project an image of himself in his own mind afterwards, based on what he has seen. Thus, the cinema reinforces the narcissistic behaviors of the audience. This contributes to a general muddiness about what sexual: is woman merely an image for the male gaze? According to cinema, the answer is affirmative: the psychoanalytic reading suggests that men are conditioned to view women on the screen as eye candy, the pleasure principle in force for the paying public. From a philosophical perspective, it might be stated that such viewing does more to effect akrasia, or softness, in the character of the audience than it does anything, because it is based on pleasing the appetite, of stimulating the libido -- though it does not offer much in terms of satisfying said libido. This may be viewed as a danger, too, for if the passions are stimulated but not satisfied, this could lead to psycho-sexual trends in public, such as have been seen on the rise since the 1960s, when cinema opened its doors more widely to sex-themed films and the pornographic film industry came into wider, more mainstream existence.

Mulvey's article is interesting for a number of reasons: it raises issues such as sexuality in cinema and its purpose -- an idea that might otherwise go completely ignored otherwise; it discusses the psychoanalytical interpretations of cinema, looking at various films and filmmakers, such as Hitchcock, notorious for exploiting the male gaze by splashing eye candy across the screen for the viewer and his voyeuristic enthrallment. The…

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Works Cited

Mulvey, Laura. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." Screen, vol. 16, no. 3 (Autumn

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