Monday, November 30, 2009

Frank Miller's Gaze

I'm sure you're all familiar with the stereotype that girls don't read comics and how totally inaccurate it is. So if girls are reading comics just as much as boys, then why is that the majority of comic book writer and illustrators are still writing/drawing comics according to the male gaze. In Practices of Looking, Sturken and Cartwright speak of the male gaze (first introduced by Laura Mulvey in 1975). The male gaze is described as "the patriarachal unconcious, positioning women represented in films as objects (124). The male gaze is one of power and works to "disempower those before its look" (125). When applied to comic books, the artist makes the assumption, consciously or not, that everyone looking at the image is a heterosexual man,who objectifies women just like him. So, what we see in comics is presented through the man's view.

Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All Star Batman and Robin is the perfect example. Here's the cover of the third issue, showing how Batman is seen and how Black Canary is seen:

In another issue of the comic, we are graced with the lovely presence of Vikki Vale's butt:

Looking at this image and the script Frank Miller sent to co-writer Jim Lee (see below) it's easy to see how the male gaze is employed in comics.

When Frank Miller says, “We can’t take our eyes off her” he is speaking directly of an audience that he presumes to be male, and the following “Especially since she’s got one fine ass” says loud and clear that her sexualized portrayal is for the pleasure of that heterosexual male viewer. Viki Vale is the quintessential example of being watched by male watchers: the writer/director (Frank Miller), his artist, and the presumed male audience that buys the book.

1 comment:

  1. So true.. Especially since comic books rely on pictures just as much as words, it's very obvious the writers/illustrators have a hetero male point of view. I was going to suggest Y: The Last Man as an opposition, but no, not even that.