Friday, 29 January 2016
How does Sherlock represent gender?
Sherlock Holmes is a very well-known television program that is watched by millions more female viewers than male but this just seems to mean it is more to the liking of a female viewer. A number of other reasons for this is that some of the female audience watching may think that Sherlock or another one of the featured characters are very attractive but there is not an easy way to find this out without doing a survey on the actual viewers of Sherlock Holmes.
Within this specific episode of Sherlock, it showed the viewers a good example of femme fatale. This is an attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately cause distress to a man who becomes involved with her. This is shown within this specific episode by Sherlock for the first time meeting Irene Adler and unlike any other introduction of themselves she appears naked which also conforms to the male gaze theory which is very similar to femme fatale and is basically someone on television that looks very beautiful to look good in front of others and stereotypically men and very pretty women. Personally I think that Sherlock has represented Irene as a character that conforms to the male gaze theory purely because she is nude on television and the camera angles makes a lot of flesh exposed to the audience to see making it follow along with the male gaze theory.
1: within this specific episode: a scandal in Belgravia from series 2 episode 1 there is the scene where Sherlock meets Irene Adler for the first time and strangely he meets her while she is nude this makes Sherlock a bit sceptical and shocked at the fact she is not covering herself up.
But moving on to the camera angles used there is a lot of either close ups or long shots because the producer is trying to cover up the rude parts of Irene’s body and in doing this they use close ups to only allow the very top half of her body so no rude parts are shown and when long shots are used they are used so objects are perfectly in place covering the central part of Irene’s body.
During this scene in the film there is a lot of "over shoulder shots" from over Sherlock’s shoulder so you can get a very good feel for what Sherlock’s emotions at this moment in time are like due to our being able to see what he is seeing. Another technique used within this film with the camera is that there is a lot of blurred shots to cover up most of Irene Adler’s body to prevent you from seeing nudity on a very popular TV program. By doing this in the film it shows she is very devious in this Sherlock episode. From the way the camera movement and angles are used it makes Irene Adler look taller due to the camera angle being down low over Sherlock’s shoulder and because he is sitting down she looks taller meaning he is over powered by Irene by doing this it makes the woman of the scene the most dominant because she is looking down on the male(s) that are sitting down.
2: In these few scenes where Sherlock meets Irene Adler, Sherlock is wearing the very stereotypical long jacket called a trench coat which in most detective crime dramas the main detective wears one, for example in Vera and Luther they both wear a trench coat which makes people think of a detective due to it being very stereotypical clothing for this certain genre but Irene on the other hand is not wearing anything at all which catches Sherlock off guard.
By Irene in this specific scene not wearing anything it is very different in comparison to other crime dramas where the suspected villain is normally wearing either casual clothes or clothes that cover up more of your body so your identity is more hidden. By this being done in Sherlock it makes it very different because it challenges the stereotype of suspects/villains but in doing this it represents the female of the scene quite an open character by her showing of more flesh than your average female character also by her doing this makes her the centre of attention a little bit because she is the character that everybody would focus on because it is not “normal” to be nude in those circumstances.
The lighting in this scene is mainly on the side of Irene’s face that is shown to the camera more this means she is a little brighter this also makes her even harder to miss or take your eyes off of because she stands out a lot. By doing this it make the female the eye target for the audience.
3: The sound of this scene in Sherlock where he meets Irene Adler for the first time is pretty unnoticeable but it makes a big impact on the scene for example before Irene even walks in the room you can hear her high heeled footsteps slowly getting louder as she gets closer and closer by doing this it makes you instantly think of a female character is about to walk through the door due to the noise of the footsteps. By doing this it enforces the sexualisation factor because she is naked while wearing high heels. At first thoughts Sherlock probably assumes by the footsteps an orangery woman wearing a dress or something along those lines and it catches Sherlock by surprise a little by her being nude.
4: The editing in the specific scene where Sherlock meets Irene Adler for the first time is rather subtle but makes a big change to the scene especially when the camera zooms on her face as Sherlock tries to “read her” it shows a bunch of question marks to show that Sherlock is truly confused but as well as that the face of Irene Adler is slightly brightened. it looks as if the colour saturation has been changed because her face goes a little more tanned and her lip stick shows up louder more vibrant, this makes her look a more like a model in the sense of the airbrush in magazines of female models being shown more tanned than they really are this makes the close up of her show her as more sexually appealing to the audience, as well as that in the same scene when the camera is doing an over shoulder shot of Sherlock you can see that all you can see is Irene’s face because the rest of her body is blocked by Sherlock’s head. But finally one of the least noticed edits in this scene is the cutting from camera to camera making sure that Irene’s body is not exposed as much as necessary this is shown in the scene from going from and over shoulder from Sherlock point of view to a shot from behind Irene showing the back of her torso and through the door sherlock’s shocked face by doing this it doesn’t show the inappropriate parts of her body but it shows enough for you to know why Sherlock’s reaction is as shown.
Conclusion: in this scene it is clear in my own opinion that this scene does conform to the male gaze theory but it is done in such a way that it’s not just the look of the character the whole way through unlike super woman where a lot of flesh is showing the whole way through just for her to look good where as in this there is a reason behind this A: her having the job she has and another reason is not that its necessary it just fits the scene because nothing else would make Sherlock crumble like that. In this scene I also think that she is stereotyped a little because the job that she has you would think a bit on the loads of flesh showing side of her clothing choice and this scene just adds that stereotype.
How is the concept of gender represented in Sherlock? By Tobyn Naylor
The target audience for the TV crime drama Sherlock is teenagers to adults. It is scheduled just after the national watershed so nothing too explicit in content may be shown. Sherlock appeals to a broad demographic (See 'Lynnette Porter – Sherlock by the numbers') but perhaps those in demographic category A – C2 most, as Sherlock is known for his intellect not his physical skills. The series appeals to both male and female audiences, however there is a large female fan-base for the lead character of Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Perhaps introducing a female lead to this episode was a conscious decision made by the programme makers to appeal to a male audience without alienating the existing female fans.
When this episode of Sherlock opens, the audience is left in no doubt that the central female character, Irene Adler, is deliberately playing the role of the Femme Fatale. This archetype is found commonly throughout popular culture. The word 'femme' refers to women and femininity, while the word 'fatale' means danger and can be translated to 'fatal'. This gives us the term Femme Fatale, which means a female who is an attractive seductress, often leading the men she seduces into danger or a compromising situation. Her character uses gender as a weapon against Sherlock Holmes.
The setting is a luxury apartment/ hotel suite. The room is furnished expensively and the colour scheme is light. To the right hand side of the opening shot, sits Sherlock on a sofa. He appears out of place as he sits awkwardly, although the surroundings are more than comfortable. He also appears out of place due to his attire. He is wearing a black suit and dog collar - the clothes of a vicar and nursing a (staged) wound on his cheek. His dark clothes contrast with the otherwise light scene. The director has used Sherlock’s body language and clothing and the setting’s lighting and colour scheme as symbolic code to create the instant impression on the viewers that Sherlock is 'out of place'.
At the beginning of the scene, the director plays with the audience’s expectations, we hear Irene’s high heels as she walks towards the room where Sherlock is sitting. We hear her offer an ordinary welcome in a reassuring tone of voice and Sherlock begins to reply but is cut short when Irene enters the room - naked. The narrative now switches to the power play between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler as she uses her sexuality to dominate the scene before Sherlock regains control at the end. The music played during the conflict between them emphasizes Sherlock’s reactions, for example music starts up as the camera zooms towards Sherlock’s face when Irene first appears naked.
The camera code in this Sherlock scene follows the 'male gaze' theory, which is where the camera shows the images that would usually be seen through the perspective of a heterosexual man. The male gaze theory is a common technique that directors use to try and capture the attention of the male audience who are watching the program. It usually applies to scenes where an attractive female is involved to try and portray them in a sexualised manner. In the scene introducing Irene Adler, it is used to show her nude. The director has tried to show as much of Irene’s body as possible without exposing anything explicit before the national watershed.
The camera shots also focus on Sherlock’s reaction to Irene Adler. There is a zoom-shot to Sherlock’s face when Irene is revealed and cuts to close-ups and mid-shots of him throughout their conversation. Sherlock’s reaction challenges the stereotype of the hot-blooded male as he appears almost completely neutral to Irene’s charms throughout. He is clearly unnerved but not necessarily aroused by her. She is frustrated by her inability to read him.
Sherlock does know that Irene is a high-class escort, so his decision to wear a vicar’s outfit is particularly symbolic. Irene herself refers to this when she says "a disguise is always a self-portrait". This is another example of her provoking him. But despite her best efforts to seduce him, Sherlock remains the cool detective that he is. Sherlock even appears to feel uncomfortable, a feeling that Watson shares in a more obvious way. However, unlike Sherlock, Watson expresses his discomfort and requests that Irene puts on "anything at all". Sherlock then stands, offering Irene both his coat and his seat; this symbolises a change in power as Sherlock takes the stage and robs Irene of her dominance. Only once does Sherlock stumble and hint at what his true feelings may be: after Irene says "brainy is the new sexy" he trips on his words before correcting himself and returning to his usual quick delivery.
In a scene from the TV crime-drama, Luther ('Do You Believe in Evil?'), there is the same pattern of verbal sparing between the male detective and female criminal lead. In this scene, the setting is Alice’s apartment. Luther has accepted Alice’s suggestively made invitation to come in. Once in the apartment, his body posture and clothing symbolizes that he is quite at ease: hands in pockets, loosened tie, unbuttoned jacket with turned up collar. In this way his body language is very different to Sherlock’s: like Sherlock, Luther is in professional mode, however he is quite relaxed. The medium shots of his facial expression suggest he is wary of Alice’s provocative manner, however he is not unnerved in the way that Sherlock is. Luther’s reaction here conforms more closely to the male gender stereotype.
Alice is portrayed as a (delusional) femme fatale through the use of symbolic code: she uses a seductive breathless manner of speaking. which is emphasized through close ups on her lips, which have bright red lipstick. The way that she is dressed and stereotype of the seductress.
Just as in the Sherlock scene, the femme fatale dominates the conversation at first. She accuses Luther of wanting to interrogate her (playing the gender role of the weak defenseless female) but really it is her that is interrogating him. She asks him personal questions about his marriage, trying to unnerve him. In this way she is like Irene, but not as subtle. Luther takes a stereotypical 'strong male' response. He removes his coat and then walks right up to her saying 'You’ll never understand love Alice'. At this point the camera shots lead viewers to expect a screen kiss. Although it appears as if he will kiss her, he pulls away at the last minute. She is a femme fatale but he is able to resist (playing the gender role of the male hero). The verbal sparring continues.
There are many parallels between the two crime dramas and their use of the femme fatale versus the male hero detective. In the Luther scene, the male and female gender roles are more conventional: Alice is bad and Luther is good. She is weak (due to her craziness) and he is strong. In the Sherlock piece the gender roles are not so clear: Irene is strong and vulnerable at the same time, Sherlock is weak and strong and Watson stands between them. Irene and Sherlock appear more equal than Luther and Alice. Sherlock is always looking for an adversary who can match him; perhaps in the character of Irene Adler he will find it.
Investigate how far the poster for The Woman in Black conforms to or challenges the genre conventions of horror.
The poster for The Woman in Black was released in 2012. The genre of the film is horror and the sub-genre is supernatural. The conventions of horror include: pathetic fallacy and the theme of death. A typical horror viewer depends on the sub-genre of the film. For example, a slasher horror would generally be viewed by men. The Woman in Black is produced by Hammer films, Cross creek pictures and Exclusive media group, all of which specialise in making horror films. This should mean that the film will conform to the genre conventions of Horror. The poster however may not as it is not distributed by the same company (who do not specialise in horror), so the poster may not conform to the conventions of horror. The audience expect the poster to make you feel scared- a stereotype that people have of all horror posters. The title of this poster does signify that this is horror and the tagline being: “fear her curse” conforms to this stereotype. But the rest of the poster doesn’t appear to from first impressions. I think that this poster will conform to the conventions of horror in most mays but in some it will challenge them.
The shot type of this poster is a medium close up of Daniel Radcliffe, with the background of the poster being a wide shot, showing all of the different elements of the set. Daniel Radcliffe has been put at the front of the shot to make sure that he is seen, attracting people to see the film who are interested in him. The poster conforms to many conventions of horror. The layout of the poster shows lots of different elements of the poster; the setting, the scary person and the main character are all positioned so that they can all be seen. This also adds to the theme of isolation, a classic convention of horror, leaving the protagonist vulnerable. The typography of the poster is very ghost-like due to the very bright white colour and no clear stroke to the text. This alongside the dark, creaky house and the Woman in Black in the background, shows us that this is of the gothic horror sub-genre. Another convention that this poster conforms to is the theme of death and religion. This is represented by the cross in the background. This alerts to an active audience that there might be death within the plot.
Daniel Radcliffe is the main attention for this poster much like the clown on the front of the poster for stitches is the main focus too. The lighting for this is a cool white/ blue tint, signifying that this is a rather ghostly and spooky film. This also improves the fog that appears in the background, making it seem even spookier. A passive audience would see these colours as only to make it scarier. Whereas an active audience would see behind this and realise that they show the story ends well. When they see the mysterious character standing in the background a death may occur within the plot. A denotation from the poster is the fog talking up the majority of the right of the poster. This connotes that the character will be left vulnerable due to the reduction of their field of vision. The fog also is a use of pathetic fallacy, a subtle warning to both active and passive audiences that something bad is going to happen. This is very typical of the horror genre.
The poster conforms to Todorov’s theorem. The house creates the state of equilibrium, with everything looking as it should do. The disruption is shown by the woman in black herself. She is standing there, dressed in black, appearing to be trying to upset the original equilibrium. Unfortunately there isn’t a clear recognition, this could have been someone realising that the woman in black is there, perhaps looking in horror at her. The repair is combined with the restoration of the equilibrium, in the form of the light coming through the clouds, showing that there is hope for them. To an active audience, this shows that the film could conform to the todorov theory. Not everything is represented as scary, which challenges the norm of horror posters. On the poster for Stitches, everything that is on the poster is supposed to scare you, just like it would in the film. Archetypes have been used on the poster for the woman in black. The Woman in black herself is dressed in a very typical person of the horror genre. A cloak is generally associated with the “baddie” in the story. Daniel Radcliffe is linked with the target audience of a young audience due to his appearance in Harry Potter, a film seen by this audience, attracting them to this new film. This is a negotiated reading of the film, people would need to know about Harry Potter in order to get some ideas about who Daniel Radcliffe is. In many ways this would be an ambiguity as previously we have associated him with being a good guy, but seeing him in this dark, gloomy state gives viewers an oppositional reading. It also conforms to Propp’s theory of character types. The main character is in the foreground, implying he is a good character, allowing the audience to empathise with him as there are bad characters in the background. This challenges the conventions of horror.
The Stitches poster included the colour red which contrasts with the background, symbolising death and violence. This is also shown by the blood on the character’s face. Both give a warning to the audience that death could occur during the film. Red also suggests a male target audience due to the death and violence that comes across. The colour scheme in this poster is different to that of The Woman in Black as they are of another horror sub-genre.
Similar to The Woman in Black, The Exorcist includes a religious theme (a typical convention of horror), as an exorcist is a person who rids evil. The use of spotlighting on the character, illuminating him, insinuating he is a good character. Moreover, both posters use dark colours which conforms to horror conventions.
I think that this would fall under the demographic group E to C2. I think it is E because of students who are going to watch it because Daniel Radcliffe stars in it and they will be attracted to the film because of him. His name being the only name featured at the top of the poster implies that he is used as a selling point. This aims to get people who would not normally watch a horror to watch it. It is also C2 because it is still a scary film that people of this demographic would enjoy. I don’t think that it would be any higher demographic groups because these people do not enjoy horror films as much as people in lower demographic groups. Also they prefer “upper class” actors and Daniel Radcliffe is not what they want to see. They prefer people such as Leonardo De Caprio. It also doesn’t have a sophisticated enough narrative for them. The poster was made by Hammer films, who specialise in horror films, because of this they have lots of knowledge about these kind of posters. This allows them to conform and challenge the conventions of horror, attracting a wider audience.
I think that this poster highlights its genre very well. Most of the features used do conform to those of the horror genre, but I think the main character has been used too much to attract the audience. Normally the main character is only put there to show who it is. In The Woman in Black the main character has been used as “eye candy”, attracting people to watch the film because of him, not the thing that make it a horror film. This is how I think that it challenges the horror genre. Linking back to my hypothesis, it does conform to most of the conventions of horror, things such as the lighting, positioning of objects and pathetic fallacy. But challenges it when it tries to gain audiences with the use of the star playing the main character. Overall I think that this definitely shows that the film is horror and the typical conventions allow viewers to see what sub-genre it falls into.