World famous Dutch professor in visual culture and also the writer of the book “And the Mirror Cracked: Feminist Cinema and Film Theory” Anneke Smelik was in Istanbul for attending International Filmmor Women’s Film Festival on Wheel. She gave a panel presentation on “Women in Cinema: Angel or Devil, Innocent or Enticing or Nobody” on March, 13, Saturday which was very useful and also enjoyable.
As I mention about the panel very briefly; Smelik first pointed out woman’s body in Western Culture and in Hollywood movies which has no curve and which is hard with muscles nowadays. She gave some examples with Lara Croft and Kill Bill movies accompanied by short scenes. Women in these movies seem powerful more than any man in the world. They are pretty, sexy on the other hand and they are cold blood killers…
In visual culture, woman is able to watch man’s body approximately for 20 years. Man has to be beautiful in the metrosexual culture of today. They are giving feminine poses like Daniel Craig in Bond movie (similar pose in the sea was given by Ursula Andress in the Bond movie “Doctor No” in 1962) or David Beckham with underwear in ad whose legs are wide open with his hairless body.
Other subjects of the panel were; women in feminist movies since 80’s, women with camera as voyeur, looking at the mirror with a narcistic way (Lacan’s mirror phase: For Lacan, narcissism starts in the mirror phase, where the misrecognized ‘perfect’ image is loved. Narcissism becomes problematic when this stage is not fully navigated and the image is not realized as such and seeking after this impossible perfection becomes an obsessive and unending goal), unusual women characters with their sexuality, their relationships with their daughters and lovers in extra ordinary and wonderful movies directed by women directors such as “The Piano” by Jane Campion, or “Antonia’s Line” by Marleen Gorris.
I asked her what she was thinking about Ridley Scott’s movie “Thelma And Louise” which is considered one of the feminist movies produced by Hollywood. Especially when we think about the last scene, -from feminist point of view- if she found it optimistic. She replied that after she saw that movie she was really angry not only the end (due to these women were being punished and paying the prize of their freedom with dying) but also other aspects of the film. So she couldn’t consider it neither optimistic nor real feminist movie. Smelik added, the cinema art still needs some brave directors and especially women directors which can tell us new women stories rather than main stream movies or tv series such as “Sex and the City” or “Desperate Housewives”.