The Female Gaze: Charli XCX
Entertainment, most evident within film, serves as an escape from reality. However, many are unaware that this depart from one’s daily life subliminally reinforces pre-existing patterns within our current society. Feminist film theorist, Laura Mulvey in Visual Pleasure and Narritive Cinema calls attention to female portrayals and interactions within film as there appears vast sexual difference. Within Mulvey’s analysis, she defines scopophilia, pleasure generated by observing, where females within film are subjected to the active male gaze, serving as mere passive objects for male pleasure. This imbalance of power within film is evident as women are shown well-kept and desire to be possessed, rather than direct controls of the plot. Mulvey also remarks that scopophilia within film maintains two dimensions, where it serves as a detachment from reality through the pleasurable entertainment value as well as reinvigorates narcissistic tendencies, attracting audiences that can identify with female objectification. Thus, one can view a film as a detachment, while also connecting aspects to their reality. This male dominance and active male gaze is also evident within the production of film. Females reside in the minority of directors and producers, thus female characters are created in the minds of men, instilling gender inequality in all aspects of the film industry.
Currently, women refuse to continuously accept these gender inequalities within film and are invigorated to promote change. One artist in particular, Charli XCX, challenges the norms of film as she directed the music video for her song Boys, showcasing various recognizable men as the subject of the active female gaze. The men are shown acting in manners similar to females traditionally in film. This role reversal places the power in the hands of females as they are free to portray the male cast in their desired manner. Charli XCX, however, does not only empower women within this project, she also empowers men by selecting a diverse cast, revealing that there does not exist one ideal type of man. Charli XCX, thus celebrates various men as desirable in a playful manner, poking fun at film’s objectification. Through the creation of this music video, she rejects the patriarchal structure within the film industry, while also empowering all those involved through the innocence and diversity of the cast.