male gaze and sexualisation in film and tv

Horrible fact of our society: The male gaze and sexualisation of women on screen is so prevalent that you actually get the jolt of noticing when a film or tv show *doesn’t* do it.

Wonder Woman and Mad Max were… female bodies in motion, female bodies doing action and not once did the camera linger on tits or arse or legs.  The difference between how the Amazons were filmed during their action scenes and how Black Widow is filmed in Avengers is huge.  Look where the focus rests, where the centre of the frame is.  How it lingers or doesn’t.  Whether their hair is perfect, how far the zipper goes down.  Where the bruises are painted on by makeup.  Are they artfully placed to highlight bone structure?  How much muscle is shown?  Is it enough muscle to actually believably do the job or is it just enough to be ‘aesthetically pleasing’? (seriously.  Look at Scarlett Johansson, who by all accounts worked out like mad, and then look at the Amazons)

Then we go to the violent crime/horror shows.  We’ve got long experience of crime and horror focussing around dead and tortured bodies of young women and how the camera lingers on their naked and half-dressed corpses.  And then you get the weird, random ones like Hannibal, where they made the commitment that there would be no sexual violence.  Naked bodies in sick and twisted art formations but it wasn’t voyeuristic (you can always tell).  The Exorcist, rebooted as a tv show. (priests still battling to save a girl’s soul from a demon) In this case it’s a pretty blonde girl in her late teens, and we know how those get filmed in horror. Except… not.  Huh.  Camera always very careful not to show skin, or have her self-harming on camera, and when there was a female corpse on a gurney we got a foot and a shoulder and her jawline.  It’s vomit and bile and blood and tears and hair pulled out during the exorcism scenes and not once does it highlight her cheekbones, or have that tear in her shirt pulling to get a glimpse of her unmarred skin.

And you notice because it’s so different that it’s out of place in the glossy entertainment of Hollywood.

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heels and superheroes (or not)

Twitter discussions I can’t believe I waded into: wonder woman’s heels.

It started with a costume designer talking about how pleasing it was that Wonder Woman’s costume in the 2017 film is obviously based on Roman armour vs the old lingerie it used to be based on in the old tv series. In comics there’s been a gradual trend since… the 80s?  early 90s? to draw Diana’s serious battle armour as Greek Hoplite based, complete with strip skirt, especially after Xena aired on tv, which segued into a 2000s trend for pretty much any time you were drawing AU Diana you went with a leather strip skirt and made the top look a  bit more sturdy, sometimes with *gasp* shoulder straps.  In the current version this has become her actual costume, bathing suit ditched. (the original Wonder Woman costume is based off a Worlds’ Fair bathing suit)

Then came the boots discussion.  The costume designer was pointing out how much better the film boots were, complete with greaves and armoured kneepads, á la Hoplite armour again (which she mistakenly labelled as Roman again – most Roman soldiers were just wearing sandals, only the top lot got the leg and knee greaves).  However, as is right, people started talking about heels.  Because they gave her wedge heels.

Yeah.  Heels.  Not great for fighting and running in, but Hollywood being what it is, they wanted her to be taller.  See Scarlett Johanssen as Black Widow.

Cue a bit of a discussion of history of heels, and people asking about the riding boot bit. With some saying nobles wore them to stay out of the muck. Me: *twitchtwitchtwitch* *not an expert, just read a fair bit about history of fashion, including ex-pony girl youth*

Okay. Settling this.  Heels were developed so you could stand up in your stirrups for better shooting of arrows and throwing spears.  The separation of heel and sole enables this so your foot doesn’t slip.  Originally they were higher like cowboy boots, but current riding heels are about an inch.

The Wonder Woman film boots are wedges.  USELESS FOR STANDING UP IN STIRRUPS.  They’re still just decorative.

In the 1500s, the heel was adopted by noblemen in North Europe after the Persians came to visit as a military fashion so they were of course *manly*.  Plus the fact that heels back then didn’t have a last that enabled you to walk in them without turning your feet out, so you couldn’t walk very far in them.  Like taxi shoes – heels so high the most walking you’re going to be doing in them is from the cab to the door.  Which was the mark of a noble, someone who wouldn’t dream of walking any distance at all.  Women adopted heels when there was a trend to ape men’s fashions, including jackets.  Heels went out for a long while with all things noble and frivolous due to the French Revolution and Puritan movement.

Heels had been worn prior to this and for other purposes than riding, but it was normally ceremonial.  Butchers and prostitutes and the Japanese had worn heels to keep their clothes and feet out of the muck, but please note these were normally platforms.  There’s no point in keeping your heels out of the muck when you’re not keeping your toes out of it too. (prostitutes wore ridiculous height ones to stand out of the crowd, often so tall they had to have someone on either side of them to hold on to)