Thursday, 13 September 2012

HCT: Analysis of 'Where Have You Been' using Mulveys 'Male Gaze' Theory

Notoriously, Rihanna’s videos and meta-narrative are built on her ability to draw the ‘male-gaze’. Specifically, in her video ‘Where Have You Been’ there are many situation where the performer is shown in minimal clothing, acting very sexual. This conforms to Laura Mulvey’s theory on the male-gaze. In this case Rihanna is seen as a pleasurable act (voyeurism) upon which the male eye views her as something of an object, denying women agency. This is controversial as people feel this modern view on women and the sexualisation is very inconsiderate of their professional lives and we treat them as more of an advertisement, rather than a person with feelings/thoughts.

This leads on to Goffman et al’s theory of women in popular culture. Referring to his theory, specifically dismemberment, Rihanna is often shown revealing only particular body parts including legs, shoulders and face. This breaks up her overall image and creates a sense of an ‘artificial look’ because of her perfect skin and sexual movements. This clouds the ‘normal’ look of women and is not a true reflection of society. Although this may be damaging to female audiences, this technique may be used purely for the ‘male-gaze’ purposes and for their attraction. This effect is further achieved through her ‘feminine touch’-outlined by Goffman where Rihanna is caressing herself depicting her as desirable and precious.

Referring to Goodwin’s theory- Dancing in the distraction factory (1992 Routledge) specifically the first part of the theory, Rihanna is shown to be performing throughout the video through movement on her own or accompanied by others in a dance routine. This contrasts the view of Goffman where females are often led as she seems in control of the men by a ‘dominant male’. There is a relationship between music and visuals however it does seem quite unconventional in that the cutting rate does not represent the beat of the music but more the sexual slow movement of Rihanna in contrast to the fast paced ‘pop’ music.

1 comment: