A Black Feminist Roundtable

As a fan of Beyoncé myself, I found Bell Hook’s argument in relation to Beyoncé’s Lemonade video incredibly interesting. Hook’s explains that though she acknowledges that the video constructs an image of a “powerfully symbolic black female sisterhood” she ultimately believes that the video is in a way promoting the idea of violence as sexy. In my personal opinion, there is something incredibly powerful in the anger that is portrayed through these women that could be seen as violence. Though I do agree with Hook’s claim that women will not seize power, create self-love, and build self-esteem through the act of violence, I feel that there is a form of authority in women deciding to inflict violence. Wade Davis’s comment, which explains that Beyoncé’s lyrics in Hold Up; “I’m too perfect to ever feel this worthless” articulates what both Beyoncé and Hooks aim to understand, and that is the concept behind the Lemonade album to find humanity, on the journey of self love. In my opinion that is what both women try to promote. The idea of learning to live and accept yourself no matter what that may mean is a message both these women encourage. I agree with many of the commenters in the article that explain Beyoncé’s use of anger reminds us that the feeling is essential in our journeys to self realization. As a commenter states, “Black feminism should be celebrating one woman’s work to portray her journey and her experience through her voice, her music, and her vision as a filmmaker.”

The Beauty of Moonlight

As I still try to wrap my head around how absolutely wonderful the film Moonlight was, I can’t help but think about all of the vibrant colors, and incredible use of camera movement that helped make this film so different and so impactful. The use of handheld cameras that evoke a feeling of movement in such a silent film, along with the constant use of colors that signify the protagonist feelings make this film visually distinctive and charming. I absolutely loved the way the film presented the characters three stages of growth and change.

Moonlight does something that I feel I haven’t seen before; it depicts the being poor and black in America in a different way than I am use to witnessing. As Farihah Zaman and Nicolas Rapold point out,“Moonlight takes back these shared points of human experience so that they might reside in black communities and be borne out by black bodies, in a time when such depictions are still rare in independent cinema.” The idea of being black and gay in a tough community has many times been depicted, but this film is less about the consequences and actions of that but more about the experience of growing up and being in love. Jenkins is able to make the story about being different and finding your place as time goes on, and the effects your surroundings could have on your life. Overall, I feel Moonlight was incredibly powerful and did a fantastic job of depicting so many peoples untold story.

David Bowie Across the Universe

Will Booker’s compilation of commentaries related to David Bowie, made me realize the sheer importance Bowie’s image to the LGBTQ community. I loved the way Vaniety Fair described him as “gender bending,” explaining Bowie’s significance in encouraging freedom of experession as well as gender fluidity. The idea of gender fluidity is often enough not explored, as we are held to specific standards society sets out for us. I find it truly inspiring how Bowie decided to bend all of those rules, and make his own. He wore glittery make up, and flamboyant clothing yet was married to a woman. He made it okay to look past certain set rules, and challenging them. As David Buckley summarizes, “Bowie’s gender bending was a direct affront to straight society, a society which was still, in general unwelcoming and intolerant of homesexuality.” Though I believe much has changed in the past thirty years, I still question that amount of tolerance that does exist for the LGBTQ community.

I find it incredibly interesting how David Bowie’s persona, was created in many ways due to the time. During a 1972 interview with Melody Maker, Bowie declared himself as gay. Yet in in an interview with Playboy set about four years later, he instead said he was bisexual. Bowie later revealed that though he does not ultimately regret that comments he had made, in America especially they meant something different. He became a representative of a group, something he never really wanted. He wanted to be a musician, an artist, and to ultimately be known for his art rather than his sexuality. It’s almost funny how some things seem to happen by accident. Bowie became the face of a movement, and even if it was not fully his intention the affect he had on the music industry, on art, on individuals all around the world will last forever. We have learned to love and accept David Bowie, not only for the fantastic music he had created, but for his persona, his passion, and his fearlessness.

 

Mulvey’s Male Gaze

After reading Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” for the second-time, I felt I better understood the idea of the male gaze as it not only pertains to film, but to most of the media we consume. In completing our close analysis assignment, I realized just how easy it was to find content that overstated gender norms, and were offensive to both men and women. The interesting thing is that we accept these advertisements, films, and television shows as the standard. Mulvey makes an incredibly important point in the article when she explains that this mindset won’t just go away. It’s imperative to recognize that media follows a patriarchal structure, dominated by the male gaze. Film and television further function to follow and create a narrative that emphasizes the male as the protagonist. In researching media to analyze I realized how even when a female plays the lead, whether it be a music video or a commercial, the male gaze was still present. The way the camera moves, as if analyzing the female form as well as the characterization of these women as either too promiscuous, too sexual, too dumb is all constructed by and for the male spectator.