Thursday, March 21, 2013
Spectatorship The issue of spectatorship was first addressed 'theoretically' in the early to mid-1970s as a result of the impact of semiotics and psychoanalysis on film theory. But until the 1970s that full consideration was given to the effect of the cinematic experience upon the spectator. In stage one, 1970s film theory, Jean-Louis Baudry, Raymond Bellour and Christian Metz wrote about cinema as an tool and an imaginary signifier to explain what happened to the spectator as he sat in the darkened theatre watching on to the screen. In stage two, post-1975 feminist film theory, the 'natural' assumption, implied in those first writings, that the masculine was the place from which the spectator looks and the 'natural' acceptance that each viewing was an unproblematic modernization of the Oedipal trajectory were strongly contested by the critic and film-maker Laura Mulvey. In stage three, 1980s (mostly feminist) film theory, Mulvey's writings motivated further examinations by theorists who sought to widen the debate by bringing in theoretical approaches other than psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. The three stages of the debate around spectator-positioning and identification show how there has been a shift away from the early massive view of the spectator, to a more heterogeneous one. Spectatorship has also been analyzed in relation to inter-textuality: an examination of all the texts surrounding the actual film text and their impact upon the viewer as reader and receiver.