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“She’s Gazing like the Man”: Parallels between Laura Mulvey’s and John Berger’s Feminist Film Theory in Andy Flickman’s She’s the Man


This essay explores how director Andy Flickman both captures, indulges, subverts and parodies Laura Mulvey’s notion of the Gaze in his 2006 Romantic Comedy film, She’s the Man, based on Shakespeare’s comedic play Twelfth Night. After defining the Gaze, how this camera technique is achieved in film, and John Berger’s link between the Gaze and female self-objectification, my essay illustrates how She’s the Man parallels the female experience of adopting the heterosexual male perspective since, in order to escape the sexist gender role forced upon her, protagonist Viola Hastings disguises herself as her brother, a heterosexual male, so she can play for his school’s male soccer team. In doing so, Viola must (feign to) adopt the heterosexual male perspective, which ironically, entails treating and Gazing at women as sexual objects. Interestingly, adopting the heterosexual male perspective ultimately influences Viola to train a sexualizing Gaze on women even in her own mind. Still, after demonstrating Mulvey’s observation that women are often subjected to—and made to adopt—objectifying and sexualizing gazes, She’s the Man plays with Mulvey’s and Berger’s theories about the Gaze by parodying and subverting viewers’ expectations of the camera technique. In doing so, Flickman brilliantly proves that just as the Gaze camera technique can turn viewers to voyeurs, so can it be used to alert viewers to its manipulative power.

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