hi folks and welcome to the second uh video lesson in our series on race and the oppositional gays this time we’re going to transition from montia diora to bell hooks think about what she’s doing as a response to spectatorship theory and as a response to diawara her essay is entitled the oppositional gaze which should remind you of diora’s essay with the notion of resistance spectatorship they’re very much parallel theories but hooks will make a point and say that when she says oppositional she means oppositional which she thinks is a stronger term than merely resists and it’s actually a nice comparison to resist something is much different than to oppose something there’s a lot more activity there in opposing there’s a lot more constructedness going on there so i want us to think about that a little bit as we get into the connections between diora and hook so what what do they overlap on i think there’s a really important point one of the points that i dwelled on in diora is this distinction he makes between spectators being socially and historically constituted as well as psychically constituted hook says something very very similar and why this is important is because it’s important for our class these figures are not simply adding race to the equation of spectatorship they’re reflecting upon the blind spots of spectatorship as a set of theories more generally i think that’s super useful for us which part of the goal of the class is to think about the patterns that are going on and how thinkers in film theory are theorizing and hooks and diora are doing that very thing hook says much like diawara the concept woman faces the difference between women in specific socio-historical contexts right remember that social and historical between women defined precisely as historical subjects rather than as a psychic subject or non-subject it is only as one imagines quote unquote woman in the abstract when woman becomes fiction or fantasy can race not be seen as significant so she’s very much saying something similar to diawara basically it is a critique of the universality of these sets of theories the tension between freudian and leukemian psychoanalysis as a theory for how we operate in the world does not have room for things like race as socially and historically constituted parts of who we are and i think the fact that both diawara and hooks make this claim should give us at least one way to think about the difference between gender and race as it applies to these identity-centric theories of spectatorship there are many ways gender and race do not operate in the same way but one of the important ways at least for diawara and hooks is that the major theories that are guiding film theory at the time remember that term slav so sure le con alta ser bart or just think of the two larger figures that loom over them karl marx sigmund freud none of them bring race into the equation of how they explain subjectivity not in a significant way of course there are marxist and freudian and lacanian thinkers who talk about race diora and hooks are very much part of those camps but they’re responding to the lack of attention to race because things like gender have been so focused on the freudian and likanian emphasis okay so that’s a brief acknowledgement of how diora and hooks are agreeing with each other but how does hooks respond to dor remember that the awara is going to say something like cinema makes you a white subject not just a not just a male subject um if he’s responding to moldy but hooks will respond to diawara and say cinema addresses you as a white male subject black female spectators are completely out of the equation that’s me paraphrasing her so what do i mean by out of the equation well i’m referring to this bit that she rehearses throughout the essay i think it’s very useful to repeat so she’ll say something like this those black female spectators who attest to the oppositionality of their gaze deconstruct theories of female spectatorship that have relied heavily on the assumption that quote and she’s quoting fellow film theorist marianne doan woman can only assume a position defined by the penis phallus as the supreme arbiter of lack identifying with neither the phallocentric gaze nor the construction of white womanhood as lack critical black female spectators construct a theory of looking relations where cinematic visual delight is the pleasure of interrogation if i had to find a couple sentences that really captures the grandest part of the thesis of hook’s uh essay i’d say it was was these sentences what i think is crucial is that hooks is responding to laura moldy here and she’s responding to the laura molvean thinkers that would follow mulvey who would repeat very much the way in which she talks about sex and gender in a freudian lacanian way why is it so important that black female spectators neither occupy the phallocentric gaze nor the construction of white womanhood as lac well remember that hooks in a very brief aside will say that black male spectators can at the very least feel addressed by the patriarchal structure of hollywood film that if hollywood film if laura mulvey is right does play for the objectification of women by imagining a male heterosexual spectator black men can at least fulfill that role under the cover of the anonymity of being a spectator and she invokes the violence that has been done at black men casting a look upon white women and at the very least hook says in film or in the space of the theater there’s a kind of safety or a feeling of but hooks is saying that black women black female spectators do not have that same possibility nor are they even automatically positioned as the object of the white male gaze for a number of reasons the reasons having to do with representation the lack of representation but more so the kind of specific ways in which black women figure in the history of hollywood cinema which she details throughout her essay but i just want to take this point that she’s making and think of what we would do with this if we were to to say look again at laura mulvey’s individual points about the objectification of women so remember this point that laura mulvey will make where she’ll say classical films often have moments and this is me paraphrasing like these where the narrative is suspended so we can appreciate the spectacle of a woman performing consider this scene from gilda so it’s a moment where we have the uh invocation of a male looker um looking at uh the character gilda perform and it’s also a bit of a striptease act as she’s singing now consider the way in which this kind of scene which movie talks about in her essay is invoked in a film by julie dash and we have this moment that in this fictional you know fake hollywood film from the 1940s a musical that molvely would say is a perfect example of stopping the narrative for the sake of male visual pleasure right we have these glowing close-ups of this white singer now what dash is partly trying to do and she’s doing quite a bit with this extraordinary sequence she’s trying to make us think about the other kind of subjugation that’s happening if for this if for moldy this scene would be a perfect instance of the objectification of women that works to kind of structure the relationship between spectacle and narrative in hollywood cinema julie dash is trying to show us that within the institution of cinema a sequence like this could have a hidden subjugation behind it that is the fact that the voice that is emanating from this white movie star’s mouth is not her own and is in fact the voice of a young black woman who will not have her name in the credits that this woman’s talents her voice are going to be used instrumentalized and that the apparatus of cinema which always has a detachment between sound and image baked into its very materiality allows for this kind of subjugation to happen so hooks will remind us just as in this film illusions part of the problem is the lack of representation of black women on screen and the instrumentalization of black women behind the screen um hooks will will make that point clear here she’ll say most of the black women i talked with were adamant that they never went to movies expecting to see compelling representations of black femaleness they were all acutely aware of cinematic racism it’s violent erasure of black womanhood in friedberg’s essay a denial of difference she stresses that quote identification can only be made through recognition and all recognition is itself and all recognition is itself an implicit confirmation of the ideology of the status quo even when representations of black women were present in film our bodies and being were there to serve to enhance and maintain white womanhood as object of the phallocentric gaze so that’s a perfect example that sentence is a perfect example of what’s going on here to enhance and maintain white womanhood as object of the phallocentric gaze what else is going on in this sequence other than the use of a black woman to enhance and maintain white womanhood as this perfect idealistic unreal figure of feminine beauty and charm it uses the illusory qualities of cinema to give her qualities that are not part of who of who she is as an actual person that is the white actress her voice is enhanced by taking the voice of this black woman right and this idea of appropriation of taking of admiring and then objectifying and having admiration and objectification fold into each other is very much the theme of how black men are appropriated in the film get out so in our next video we’ll be looking at a couple questions that bell host asks with respect to the specificity of the film could get out primarily we’ll be asking what about the black female characters and get out how would hooks respond to them and secondly what about the theme of looking and the gays which is so central to hooks and so central i think to get out we’ll see you next time