i may not have a creative bone in my body but I know for sure that your bones are all i need for the framework of this house.
i can hardly believe everything you say
it must be true.
so i made you a treasure chest out of old lumber and topped it off with a pipe.
you can put anything inside of it,
except for someone else
The Male Gaze in Suddenly, Last Summer
Suddenly, Last Summer, a film based off of the Tennessee Williams play by the same name was released in 1959 and displays the male gaze. The film centers around a young woman named Catherine who knows the truth about the death of her cousin Sebastian, a mysterious character who is not shown until the very end. Catherine is institutionalized and is seen as a threat to her aunt Violet. For this reason Violet arranges a lobotomy to be performed on Catherine in attempts to silence her. This conflict introduces Dr. John Cukrowicz, a man who is bribed with money to lobotomize Catherine. Dr. Cukrowicz is intent on figuring out the truth about Sebastian’s passing. The film deals with controversial themes of repressed homosexuality, mental illness and cannibalism. Suddenly, Last Summer displays Laura Mulvey’s concept of the male gaze in an interesting way through each of the main characters.
The male gaze is a concept which considers unbalanced gendered relations of power. A key aspect of the male gaze is the binary of the active male and the passive female. Female characters are displayed as objects of desire while the male characters portray the storytellers and the protagonists. Furthermore, these female characters are typically sexualized and work against the plot – often distracting the male characters from their overarching goal in the film. Mulvey points out in her essay that these female characters pause the action of the story and provide a visual spectacle.
The first leading female character that is seen is Violet, played by Katherine Hepburn. Her character is of high status and she introduces herself with a grandiose entrance that symbolizes higher power. Violet is given lengthy monologues and is constantly in the frame. Dr. Cukrowicz asks Violet leading questions and she has no trouble taking away his agency and making it her own story. Elizabeth Taylor plays the character of Catherine who is spoken about prior to her first entrance. Female characters within the framework of the male gaze are said to have no agency but Catherine does as much as she can to advance the plot. She is institutionalized for knowing too much. Knowledge and discovery are classically reserved for the male protagonists but Catherine is an active character within her own narrative. When Catherine is gone from the institution, she states that she is “free of being watched” and is clearly relieved about it. This illustrates gaze as being invasive and as we see in other scenes in the mental institution, the women housed there are completely objectified and passive characters strictly demonstrating the tone of the institution in the film.
The first scene of the film explores the inside of Lion’s View Mental Institution. The camera pans a room full of institutionalized women who are extremely passive. A woman is taken and used to demonstrate a lobotomy to male students. This instance is a literal demonstration of the ‘male gaze’. The male students are observing a woman who is being displayed for their education rather than as a character who furthers the plot. This woman is used to inform the viewer of the tone of the film, explain the location, and to introduce Dr. Cukrowicz. His character is different from the typical male protagonist due to his lack of character development within the film. He does have a goal in the story but ultimately Suddenly, Last Summer is a film that tells a story that he is discovering just as the viewer is. As mentioned previously, Dr. Cukrowicz is constantly asking leading questions to both Violet and Catherine. He takes a backseat within the story and acts as the viewer by asking the questions viewers most want answers to. This connects to the concept of narcissistic scopophilia which is commonly used to explain the viewer’s identification with the main character – typically a dominant one. It could be argued that the audience of the film would identify with Dr. Cukrowicz and his curiousity about what happened last summer. Dr. Cukrowicz watches these two women in an attempt to discover the truth but both women take action and look back at Dr. Cukrowicz and by doing so the male gaze is challenged. The film does linger on the women and only has shots of Dr. Cukrowicz when it’s absolutely essential to the story. In this way, the characters within the story challenge the male gaze but it seems as though the filmmaker utilized the gaze to bring in an audience to a somewhat offensive film.
The mysterious character of Sebastian raises many questions. Firstly, is the theme of cannibalism a symbol for his sexuality? If so, does the violence enacted on him that ultimately results in his death elude to homosexuality and the cultural resistance toward it? The film is purposely extremely vague in regards to Sebastian’s sexuality but it is coded through signifiers both in the language used by Catherine and the footage we see of the death scene. Another instance of hinting to homosexuality is when we see Catherine in her see-through bathing suit which coincides with footage of Sebastian’s scantily clad lower body. Catherine is used to entice the viewers but Sebastian is the one who wants to be gazed at from the villagers of the town. Ultimately Suddenly, Last Summer displays the male gaze at the same time as Violet and Catherine challenge it.
this was taken almost three years ago and I look the same if not better
Before turning to icicles, our tears will blur the lines between reality and compassion.
This sums up a few nights ago.
I wrote this a while ago.
But it is still relevant.
Long distance love, I have not arrived yet, but know that when I do, I will forget about the insignificance I have in this world. The timeline of my life has been black and white, but when we reunite it will be colourful like Dorothy and Toto when they finally leave Kansas. Man, this sucks. The sun nudges me to wake up in the morning but I stay asleep for a while longer because you’re still sleeping a few thousand miles away. Muscle memory tends to get the better of me and my half-asleep self searches for you in my single bed that seems monstrous. I figure that if I’m tangled in these sheets long enough, maybe, just maybe I’ll fall asleep and find you in a lucid dream. Long distance love, when I arrive I will cover your cold skin with every message we exchanged since we’ve last seen each other. You will whisper directions to the moon in my ear. That’s where we will be visiting, come fall. Come, fall in love with me again in person. It’s been far too long. I crave the sparkle in your eyes when you laugh and the way your arms are always welcoming. When I arrive we will become insomniacs, spending all of our time in a bed, but never sleeping. We will finally fill all of the negative space between us. Romance is nothing and everything when distance pulls on our heartstrings. Patience is tough when life is in 4/4 time and we are dancing in ¾ time. I will hold your hand until the very last moment because I’m proud of us. Your fingers will grasp mine like a Chinese finger trap but we won’t struggle because that’s all we’ve been doing. Long distance love, you are the glove that I reach for each winter. You fit me perfectly even after black and white summers with clear blue skies that I enjoy with open hands and a wandering heart. Long distance love, step outside on a cool night bundled up in my favourite sweater and look up. Each star in the sky holds possibilities that I cannot fathom. And though I cannot be there to see your black and white world turn to colour I will always be stretching my hand up to the stars so I can pull one down and let them know that I believe in you more than anything else in the world. And if the moon ever wakes you up in the middle of the night and reminds you how lonely you are, that star will be there shining brighter than anything else in the galaxy.
arts and crafts with your BFFs
throwback to co-hosting the CIG in MB last year
I’m excited for school to start again. Also this picture is from last winter.
why does this make me upset
it isn’t even in english
i miss you
my throat is burning but i’m not even crying
it is moments like these where I am lonely
One of the best things I’ve ever drawn.