Posted: February 17th, 2022
Application of Laura Mulvey’s Theory to the Wolf of the Wall Street
Application of Laura Mulvey’s Theory to the Wolf of the Wall Street
Laura Mulvey’s work, The Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, assisted with the advancement of film theory towards psychoanalytic frameworks. Mulvey alleges that Hollywood cinema normally places spectators at a masculine position. Thus, psychoanalytic theory portrays the way patriarchal society’s unconsciousness has structured movies. The woman’s physical body appears as desirable objects. Martin Scorsese’s work, the Wolf of the Wall Street, shows the real-life scam trends involving Belfort Jordan. The story shows how Belfort begins as a small trader and eventually establishing Stratton Oakmont, which is Wall Street’s biggest brokerage companies. Belfort later starts practicing stock manipulation and money laundering, in which he uses the acquired money to participate in weird behaviors, sex, and drugs. The movie portrays females as sexual playful objects to indulge in sexual activities and entertain rich men such as Belfort. The work demonstrated how Mulvey’s arguments are relevant in the film’s male gaze. Mulvey interprets male gaze to mean the way movies reveal and reflect on the socially established notion of sexual variations between genders (melvey 6).
Females are perceived as the spectator’s erotic object and characters’ automatic sexual object. The film starts with the female being inferior, sexualized, and isolated. Nonetheless, when the females love the male, she starts to become part of the business properties. The female’s outwards glamorous features there after begins to fade out. The male protagonist’s dominant look changes to favor females’ image. The perception of the woman being a sexual object changes
Male gaze is seen in several forms. First, the gaze is perceived as psychoanalysis’ political use. Females are undermined in the entire film, creating a patriarchal community. The male uses the female to satisfy his obsessions and fantasies through commands. The narrative portrays men as being in control and in charge of key decisions in communities and depicts women as sexual objects, having to follow men’s orders (Mulvey, n.d.). The narrative does not consider women’s tribulations since if women take care of men, then society is perceived to be functioning well.
Second, male gaze is positioned as pleasure emerging from seeing women genitals, referred to as Scopophilia (Mulvey, n.d.). The ability to looking at women, in the film, is viewed as being selfish because it favors the rich, while neglecting the rights and morality of the women exposing their sexual body parts. Therefore, the film exposes the society’s sexual imbalance (Mulvey, n.d.). The woman is seen as a conventional exhibitionist and of less importance, hence a man should view her body. The phallocentrism concept is also viewed via the scene because of being demonstrated as a castrated female (Mulvey, n.d.). The symbolic depiction of Naomi’s high heels establishes that with her absence, there is creation of phallus, meaning that Naomi’s heels replace her inadequate power (The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013). Belfort is the dominant one, in the scene, hence acts upon Naomi’s calling to indulge sexually.
Females’ body language, body, and legs, not only creates sexual difference, but also one’s dressing. Naomi’s has blonde styled and long hair, which is her appearance’s significant feature. A majority of the men mostly love blonde women. Blonde and dumb women are ideological and known to serve people in power, especially the patriarchal society. The blonde female’s stereotype exemplifies that Jordan is superior and dominant that Naomi, his wife.
Wolf hardly says interesting comments regarding women. Hookers, Stripper, and Barbie-doll women becomes to satisfy males. The entire film portrays the marginalization of females on the trading floors because of the strippers’ parade and prostitutes’ scenes. The film’s male gaze overthrows Mulvey’s arguments because of being displaying barely clothed or naked women’s bodies, disclosing their waxed or shaven private parts. There is also the exposure of stilettos, shimmying bottoms, and breasts. Unlike Mulvey’s narration, the male gaze dominates the film.
Hollywood exploits visual pleasure. There is the depiction of the male gaze theory mostly during Naomi’s acting scenes. Naomi, one of the main actors, meets Jordan having worn a tight short dress, while revealing some portion of breasts. Stratton associates alert men to see her, creating anticipation among the men. One of the men confesses that he would not mind contacting AIDS to engage sexually with her. Another man would not mind engaging with her sexually, even if they were related. The camera’s wide-angled and side shot of Naomi’s legs, according to Mulvey, employs that looking at females’ bodies create pleasure (Mulvey, n.d.). Men feels satisfied having looked at the woman’s body.
Other female characters, similarly, are unable to isolate themselves from the gaze, whether it is seeking control, pleasure, or both. All female characters have become passive objects for the active men, willing to acquire financial resources to treat women in return (Mulvey, n.d.). Men are willing to give women money in exchange of using their bodies. Teresa, Jordan’s ex-girlfriend, at first is viewed as a strict character because of questioning if Jordan must be stealing from people though pyramid schemes. However, Teresa does not act in the entire film but she eventually cheers his deeds. Emma, Naomi’s aunt, is lured into the laundering business after Jordan flirts and charms with her. Another harrowing spectacle shows a Stratton worker willing to shave her head in return be give 10,000 dollars that she intended to use in breast implantation.
The narrative primarily concentrates on gender disparity, which still occurs in the community. Women are viewed as to not having specific responsibility because they follow men’s orders and create an enjoyable life for men. The narrative seeks to disclose the wrong stereotypes that the community acknowledges. The narrative attempts to assist people to eventually view facts. The film’s storyline is boring until when females emerge and prompt the audience that female actors have more talent than women (Mulvey, n.d.). Furthermore, females being more talented in acting should inform males that the former can perform better in several life aspects. Therefore, the narrative seeks to disclose the truth, while trying to persuade the society to alter their perceptions and attitudes regarding females. The continuous publishing of literature works which aim to enlighten women the society regarding gender equality, would eventually lead to changes in notion regarding women being sexual objects.
Mulvey, L. (n.d.). The Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.
The Wolf of Wall Street. (2013). [film] Hollywood: Martin Scorsese.
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