Week 4 – Boys Don’t Cry

1) Repertoires of masculinity:
Take one of two key scenes and make notes on the signs of masculinity displayed through the representations of the characters Brandon Teena and John Lotter. Create a set of bullet points to address this question: What actions, clothing, language, signs and ways of looking demonstrate or act out their masculinity?

1:01:33 – 1:02:35
Late Night Birthday Scene…
Lana’s Mother and Brandon are sitting on the sofa, Lana and her friend are dancing, John comes in and sits down next to Brandon.

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Actions

  • Brandon Teena
    • Legs spread
    • Wide posture
    • Beer between legs
    • Face shows a dominant tension
    • Looks withdrawn after talking to John
  • John Lotter
    • Legs also spread
    • Also keeps a wide posture, as he sit next to Brandon and they both have a wide posture, neither submit hence causing their arms to over lap each other
    • He puts his arm around Brandon to show his dominance over him
    • He also expresses dominance with light-rough physical contact
  • Lana’s Mother
    • She has crossed legs
    • Beer in hand
    • Tight posture
    • She shows the opposite actions to Brandon and John, which is a great contrast to the masculinity on the other side of the sofa

Clothing

  • Brandon Teena
    • Loose jeans, legs are not bare
    • Baggy hoodie, hides his figure and covers arms
    • Dark coloured clothes, masculine colours
    • Short hair, masculine style
  • John Lotter
    • Also wearing loose jeans
    • T-shirt and an open long sleeved shirt, arms are not bare either
    • Also sporting dark coloured clothes, masculine colours
    • His hair is long but unkept and he has styled facial hair
  • Lana’s Mother
    • She wears light grey skirt which leave her legs bare
    • She also wears a blue t-shirt that leave her arms bare
    • Her clothes are feminine which again contrasts heavily with John and Brandon

Language

  • John refers to Brandon as man
  • John is protective over Lana and warns Brandon off, this is John attempting to show Brandon that he is the Alpha-Male
  • He always mentions that Brandon is staying in his house, which again implies that John is the Alpha-Male
  • John talks about Lana in terms of looks and hint towards sexual stories, objectifying the women as an object for Brandon and John to look at

Signs

  • John and Brandon sitting and over lapping each other, not in a sexual way but it shows that John doesn’t feel uncomfortable in the situation and accepts Brandon as a man.
  • John sees Brandon as a “sexual threat” because he has a relationship with Lana, which is why he chooses to prove to Brandon that he is the Alpha-Male

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Ways of Looking

  • We see John and Brandon from a bystander perspective
  • We see Lana from John’s gaze as he talks about her. She is there to be looked at in the scene

 

2) A pattern of looks
Take one scene involving John or Brandon and identify a patterns of looks in the way that Mulvey does: This might include identifying who looks at John and Brandon – and who do they look at and how? Whose gaze is the audience directed towards? Do we look with certain characters and not with others? Whose eyes does the audience watch John or Brandon through? Do we see other characters through John or Brandon’e eyes? Are we offered a separate gaze or do we take up the gaze of other characters in the film?

1:17:40-1:20:30
Unveiling of Brandon

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At the start of the scene we are looking at Lana who see’s Brandon as neither male nor female, but accepts him for who he is. They are in a close up shot symbolising an intimate moment together. We are looking at them in unison.
The duologue between the two at the start of the scene is also abstract from the rest of the scene, only they are involved and can hear each other, until Lana addresses the off-screen cast, we then become lookers from their point-of-view.

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Lana pronounces that Brandon is a man but she is not believed, the mother lashes out towards Brandon and we are left looking at Lana who is looking upset towards Brandon.

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Once Lana leaves the scene we are given the gaze of a bystander upon John who is clutching Brandon aggressively, and who has the control in the scene. We see him as the alpha male.

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Brandon is dragged into the bathroom and we are still looking inward upon the scene from a bystanders perspective, as if the events were a spectacle. The actions John takes upon Brandon by un-clothing him is a spectacle for John, and once it’s been revealed he opens the door and forces Lana to see Brandon as a girl but Lana still refuses to accept Johns gaze. We are shown Brandon through Lana’s point-of-view during this and we are looking at Lana as she gazes upon Brandon and his sexual identity.

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Once Brandon’s identity has been revealed to Lana, Brandon is no longer Brandon but Teena, and Brandon through Teena’s eyes looking back at Teena, the two sexual identities are shown as comparatively different during this scene. When we see Teena through Brandon’s eyes it is clear she has been stripped over her Brandon identity, The blue shirt Brandon is wearing, it dangling next to Teena, this is a clear symbol for the transformation between Brandon and Teena.

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