Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Prostitution in the Movies



Look at any given movie, magazine, or T.V. show and you are exposed to an influential array of overt sexuality, unhealthy dieting, and much more. Unfortunately, this combines to create a world constructed of a working Hollywood utopia and a realistic nightmare, and every woman is at risk. This blog's goal is to point out the inferential racism that is so prevalent in today's Hollywood. Since the glamour of Hollywood is so appeasing to the media, every female is suceptible to the stereotypes that come with it.

When one looks through the history of Academy Award winners, the proof of degrading female representations only increases. "A large number of actresses have also won (or been nominated for) the top acting (and supporting) awards for portraying hookers (girls of the night, party girls, whores, call girls, madams, etc.) or loose women (mistresses, promiscuous ladies, etc.)" (Dirks). The largest group of females to win an academy award was this genre. It cannot be completely condoned that women are winning awards for their roles as prostitutes and hookers. Perhaps it is only a movie and women aren't being influenced by these movies, but how can one be sure? I am sure girls all over are taking these roles more seriously than expected.

One popular motion picture that comes to mind is "Pretty Woman". Of course you might argue that this is a movie that liberates women and shows that anyone can prevail. In a sense, this is true as the leading role goes from rags to riches in mere weeks. However, once you view this movie in a deeper manner, what seems very obvious changes quickly. In the movie, "Vivian" rises up and rids herself of her prostitute career, but how did she get there? She does it by prostituting for a rich man and "falling in love with him". This movie certainly does challenge hegemonic norms by telling the story of a prevailing prostitute but at what cost? It also reinforces the stereotype that she would only have been able to do this with the help of a rich man.

What kind of message is this sending out to the world? On the surface it may seem utopic and a true heroin story, but not everyone may interpret it this way. Doesn't this movie tell young girls that the only way to succeed is through the help of a man? Or maybe it reinforces the idea that the only way to get a man's love is the flaunt their stuff? Some people may only dismiss this as "just a movie" but it is much more than that. This movie, along with many others, along with many other sources of Hollywood, reinforce these stereotypes daily.

In almost every home across the nation the television is a staple when it comes to necessities. Vulnerable children and distressed teenage girls watch movies and T.V. shows daily and sexism is prevalent in both forms. However, the dangerous part about it is the fact that it is inferential sexism. You won't see a television show where a husband demands a woman for his dinner, but you will see actress after actress win awards for their roles as housewives. The sexism out in the world is becoming more and more subtle which makes it much more difficult to stop.

Dirks, Tim. "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". "Best Actess". http://www.filmsite.org/bestactress.html. 1996-2007.

36 comments:

Dennis Smith said...

Katelyn - it's obvious that you like to write. And you should write more - you've got a good knack for asking smart questions and making people think.

I've been following Prof Jessie's class and what the students are doing with their blogs - and it's been very cool.

My only critique of your blog? Write more. You've got something that deserves a little more attention.

Dennis

Carol Fortunato said...

You have an interesting blog, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts. To extend your scope, an excellent book you can read on this subject is, "From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in Movies" by Molly Haskell

It is a thought provoking, honest work which analyzes women's roles in movies from the 40's to the 80's. My favorite line: "A woman's intelligence was the equivalent of a man's penis: something to be kept out of sight." I look forward to your thoughts on this work.

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Jessie said...

Hi Katelyn-
Wow- it looks like you have quite a following here! I am so sorry you got lost in the "middle of the alphabet."
You're doing a great job with the posts and clearly have a grasp on the analysis of gender in celebrity-focused pop culture. I think that you can expand the questioning of the influence of the hegemonic reinforcement of social norms through the seemingly counter-hegemonic norms (i.e. Vivian as empowering in "Pretty Woman"). The (ab)use of women and the (rather counter-hegemonic notion of) empowerment through films such as Pretty Woman is akin to Dines' argument about subversive depictions of racist ideologies. The use of empowerment (because it seems counter-hegemonic) is so subversive here because it serves to reinforce the normative ideal...very insidious these hegemonic powers :oP hmmmm :o).
Overall, nice work yet again!
-Jessie

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