Monday, May 9, 2011

Williams - Film Bodies

Williams, Linda. “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess.” From Braudy, Leo, and Marshall Cohen. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 727-741.

Originally Published in 1991

Williams examines the excess qualities in pornography, slasher horror films, and melodramatic weepies, placing them together as "body genres."

Features of body genres include:
1. spectacle of a body caught in the grip of intense sensation or emotion
2. focus on what could probably be best called a form of ecstasy: pleasure, fear, or sadness.
3. The bodies of women function as the primary embodiments of pleasure, fear, and pain

Williams turns to psychoanalysis to further explain these body genres. Feminists have described pornography as fundamentally sadistic, weepies as masochistic, and horror films as oscillating between masochistic and sadist poles. Williams offers a more complicated structure of Film Bodies:
Bodily excess - sex
Ecstasy - orgasm
Presumed audience - men
Perversion - sadism
Originary fantasy - seduction
Temporality of fantasy - "on time!" - subject and object meet each other at perfect time

Bodily excess - violence
Ecstasy - shudder
Presumed audience - adolescent boys
Perversion - sadomasichism
Originary fantasy - castration
Temporality of fantasy - "too early!" - female victim expects lover but is caught by slayer

Bodily excess - emotio
Ecstasy - tears
Presumed audiene - girls, women
Perversion - masochism
Originary fantasy - origin
Temporality of fantasy - "too late!" - quest to return to origin of self, desire to possess ideal connection is tinged with melancholy of loss



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