Genderrepresentation in MildredPierce(1945) and ZeroDark Thirty(2012)
Overthe years, the film industry has evolved into an important aspect ofculture. It is one of the core channels through which culture iscommunicated and preserved. Through audiovisual technologies,cultural ideas and information are circulated (Sturken, Douglas, andCartwright, 2015). In all human societies, gender roles, especiallythe role of women, has been an important cultural issue. This isevident from how they are represented in the media or film industry.Since the golden age of American cinema, the depiction of women haschanged from the submissive wife or secretary in the office toconquerors and superwomen. This is influenced by changing genderroles in the American society. In many films, social, political andeconomic power and conflicts are used to illustrate socialresponsibilities. For example, patterns in an audiovisual art can beassociated with gender stereotypes, behaviors, and expectations in aparticular culture (Radner, 2012). This paper compared how women arerepresented in two movies from different historical periods, MildredPierce(1945) and ZeroDark Thirty(2012). After watching them, it is evident that the depiction ofwomen roles in American cinema has changed from that of housewives tochampions in the society.
TheMildredPierce(1945) is one of the most famed American films in the 1940s. It is adrama which involves a wife being interrogated by crime sceneinvestigators after her second husband is murdered. She uses herfeminist characteristics as defense, arguing that she is too gentleto commit a crime of that magnitude. The film illustrates thesubmissive housewife of the early 20th century. For example, theduties of a woman in the society are portrayed as taking care of thefamily. This includes preparing food in the kitchen and nursingchildren. The main female character, Mildred, is always in an apron,which emphasizes the cultural stereotypes and expectations of awoman. Conversely, men cultural and social duties in the film involvemanual work, mainly outside the house (Curtiz and Wald, 1945).
Thesocial and cultural powers of men and women in the society are alsorepresented in the film. They are portrayed through the visualappearance, sequence of events and conversations. The apparentauthority of the male gender is evident when Mildred engages herhusband in a disagreement. For example, she does not look at himduring an argument, illustrating the domination of men in thesociety. Additionally, it demonstrated the fact that women had aninferior personality. Monty Beragon, Mildred husband, is a male bigotwho believes that men have dominion. The fact that she is willing tosubmit to him is an important stereotypical illustration of women inthe film. The gender stereotypes of a traditional society are alsoconveyed by the domesticated character of the woman. The setting andplot of the movie exemplify that a lady of the house should alwaysconform to the domesticated duties. For instance, Mildred is trappedand confined within the house, while chores outside are theresponsibilities of her husband. Despite her attempts to have afulfilling life, it is dependent on a man, due to cultural and socialstatus (Curtiz and Wald, 1945).
Asthe cultural and social fabric changes, the representation of men andwomen in the American films have revolutionized. This can also beattributed to the advent of modern production technologies. The womanhas changed from the domesticated and submissive housewife in the1940s to a superwoman who can track the most dangerous men inunstable regions in the world. This is the sort of female characterrepresented in the movie ZeroDark Thirty(2012). The plot of the story is based on a decade-long manhunt forthe leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, by CIA and the Americanforces. The main character in the film is Maya, a female CIA analystwho is supported by several male officers. She is a young detectivewho is engaged in intelligence analysis related to al-Qaeda andterrorism before she is sent to Pakistan. While in the Middle East,she is involved in collection of data and information throughinterrogation and use of various technologies (Bigelow et al., 2012).
Themovie is one of the many contemporary audiovisual arts whichillustrates the role of women in the society is changing. Althoughviolence and the fight against terrorism are the prominent themes ofthe motion pictures, the role of the tough female agent, Maya, in the‘boys club’ cannot be ignored. Traditionally, the battlegroundand fight against international terrorism were viewed as theresponsibility of male officers. However, the manhunt centers on awoman, highlighting her role in the fight against terrorism. Whilethis is viewed as a representation of the shifting gender roles inthe American society, where women are no longer confined to homechores, it also underpins their roles in an ideal the socialstructure. Mostly, the female agent is portrayed to have equalauthority, determination, and intelligence to complete the taskcompared to her male colleagues. The plot demystifies the negativestereotypes about the abilities of women. Despite this, hard andmanual jobs are depicted as the role of men, signifying that herfeminism is maintained. For example, the male officer is responsiblefor the use of violence to extract information from the detaineeswhile the Maya task is interrogations (Bigelow et al., 2012).
Inconclusion, positions of women in the society are clearly representedin movies and dramas. The two films, Mildred Pierce (1945) and ZeroDark Thirty (2012) were produced in two different periods in historyand illustrate the changing stereotypes and cultural roles of women.Whereas the roles of women in the 1940s society were at home, in themodern society, they can assume responsibilities that weretraditionally male dominated.
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