Thursday, 8 May 2008

“Well Tony, what about all the thousand other fucking pigs you had your dick in over the years? The strippers, the cocktail waitresses, were they all your best friends all of them too?”[1]

How does 'The Sopranos'[2] subvert stereotypical representations of women in the gangster genre?

The widely acclaimed “greatest pop-culture masterpiece of its day”[3], The Sopranos originated by David Chase, is a gangster genre television drama series which was aired by HBO. The gangster genre is renowned for its male dominated casts upon which storylines are fixated. Female characters have been “underrepresented...in fictional life”[4] throughout the history of this genre, they have undertaken passive character roles and been depicted as fetishized objects of the male gaze by the predominantly male directors and writers. In order to determine whether ‘The Sopranos’ reinforces the stereotypical representation of women in the contemporary gangster genre it is essential to look into detail the character roles of women in the programme and compare successful historical texts with it.
The media “is such a male dominated industry”
[5], and this implies that women’s views and representation of their gender are not put across fairly or accurately in the industry. This has resulted in a “glass ceiling”[6] as society is depicted through patriarchy and even though women are progressing they are aware of the higher stages men are already situated in the industry. Therefore, acting as ‘gatekeepers’ allowing some women to emerge into higher levels within the media industry. Moreover, the idea of more men directing exemplifies the stereotypical representations of women in films and dramas, this displays their constructed views of women and pleasing the male audience. This also creates a sense of patriarchal order in the media and film industry as the auteur and the writer constructs the representation of women a “bitch, mother or sex symbol”[7]. In addition to this, Naomie Harris states that “Everything starts in the writing...we don’t really see women as we see ourselves and as we really are because it’s only men writing for us”. This reinforces the ideologies of men playing the role of ‘puppet master’ in the film industry as women are forced to act as they are told to, and it exemplifies their inferiority in the media industry as they are moulded and conformed into stereotypical characterizations to create a sense of identification with audience and character.
Women are therefore labelled with distinct stereotypes such as “blonde bimbo” or a typical “housewife”. These stereotypes and representations support Mulvey’s theory of women either categorized as “whore”: seen as fetishized sexual objects of the “male gaze”
[8], fulfilling male audiences sexual and non-sexual pleasures; or as the “Madonna” when women are depicted as stereotypical housewives undertaking domestic chores to fulfil society’s ideals of suburban non-threatening women.
Carmela Soprano undertakes a stereotypical materialistic role in The Sopranos; she is depicted as a “Madonna”. The “social climbing Mafioso housewife...lives a comfortable middleclass existence partly paid for by prostitution”
[9], Carmela can be seen as the binary opposite of the strippers/whores that work for Tony. Due to the fact that Carmela is a housewife and Tony pays for her expenses it depicts her dependency of male race. Money symbolises Carmela’s inferiority in society as she fixated upon traditional family values of the man being the breadwinner, and herself undertaking a nurturing approach. Furthermore, “women [are seen] to be shown as ...in need of protection and direction”, this emphasises the reliance Carmela has on Tony.
On Tony’s birthday, however, Carmela is shown to be sexually pleasuring Tony; but the scene has been constructed by the director and editors to cut off Carmela from the screen and strictly focus on Tony’s facial expressions, and this highlights the emphasis on male pleasures within society. Additionally, as Carmela is cut off the screen this enforces her subservience to Tony, this reinforces Mulvey’s theory of women as passive characters. This visual conception of the role of women onscreen, Mulveys argues, consequently allows males to indulge in their voyeuristic pleasures. As the viewer we are encouraged to identify with the male protagonist; therefore as women are usually represented in films as objects of the male gaze/sex objects we as the audience are also positioned in a masculine role, and therefore influenced to think from a male perspective.
The wave of feminism during the First World War and the 1970’s was a way of liberating female freedom and opportunity for women. Women had already worked in munitions factories undertaking male gender role, and disrupting social order in the 1940’s the men came back from the war. Women were enlightened but continued to work as secretaries. In addition to this, the second wave of feminism struck in the 1970’s as women felt oppressed and restricted by patriarchy; therefore to break free from the bounds of men they burnt their bras as symbol of overcoming repression and subservience. Women could make their own money and therefore were not dependant on the male bread winner. Additionally, “women in many parts of the world have gained a whole range of legal rights, opportunities and protections, and many of these women have moved into areas of work previously monopolised by men”
[10].
The effect of feminism is depicted through the Grandmother/ Tony’s mother subverts from stereotypical representations of women and grandmothers in contemporary society. We as the audience link a grandmother to the ideas of them as sweet, feeble caring and especially a family member who gives gifts, however, Grandmother Livia Soprano- “...is in some ways tougher than [Tony] and even contracts a killer to murder [him]”
[11]. This portrays the physical “confidence in way that’s genuinely empowering”. Tony’s mother switches gender roles and is portrayed as masculine, she symbolises the strength in women today in the 21st century, enforcing the idea of a matriarchal society. The idea of the ‘Whore’ or Madonna’ is not evident in Livia’s character as she does not undertake any maternal characteristics and is broken away from the stereotypical depictions of “nice old granny’s”.
“Women were free from family...pressures”
[12], characters such as Dr Melfi depict that The Sopranos have “put successful professional women at the forefront”. Melfi is depicted as intelligent, independent women earning money from a working respectable job as psychiatrist; receiving a preferred reading from the female audience. “Tony Soprano has been able to confide in Melfi many things that he has told no one else”[13], this shows that a macho, sadistic dangerous man has been tamed by a women. However, it can be seen that Tony goes to Dr Melfi for comfort and solving emotional problems, this insinuates that Dr Melfi is only undertaking maternal instincts and nurturing Tony Soprano mentally back to health. Additionally, although Dr Melfi is an independent women working as a psychiatrist she is a single mother who undertakes roles of cooking at home and other domestic stereotypical roles and is a bread winner, enforcing the ideologies of the ‘double burden’ women face in contemporary society. This shows that feminism has given more opportunities however they have to be both “the perfect mother and the perfect lady”[14] and the “careless career women”.
In addition to this Melfi faces the issues of being raped in a underground car park, the low key lighting suggests her blindness of problems within society and her disilusions of her being independent and successful implying her gender equality. The rapist enforces the patriarchal society in which women live, “Tuchman asserts that those women who [are] shown to be working [are] portrayed as incompetents and inferiors, as victims”
[15]. This creates sadistic male audience pleasures as it connotes male dominance and the rapist empowered by committing this horrific act of mankind.
Women a depicted as “merely token females”
[16] in films and television programmes, there to fulfil male fantasies. The scene with a stripper asking to work in the V.I.P. section in the “Bada Bing”; she immediately sexually objectified by the doorman as she has to pay to work in room that will earn her more money than working on ‘the poles’. Additionally, the stripper is forced into giving the doorman a “blowjob” after her shift to work in the V.I.P room. The man acts as a “gate keeper”, this emphasises “the glass ceiling has been raised [as the stripper will be getting paid more, however] when they touch their head on it, they will look up and see men’s loafers”[17]. This “employs the concept of chauvinism which is applied to men who show no acknowledgement of the abilities of women”[18]. The dancer at the door is subjected to undertake an archetype role that does not push or make a difference to the storyline and make no effect to the narrative structure.
The stripper’s need of money “sees capitalism as the principal source of gender inequalities. In a capitalist class hierarchy, women are seen as being subordinate to men and serving the male workforce in terms of low-paid, low status employment and unpaid domestic labour”
[19]. Women with degrading or fetishized jobs outline their class in society, even though they may get paid high amounts.
Moreover, in the scene Tracee is dressed in a tight, revealing dress, the red dress connotes women as impure and reinforces the prejudices against so-called “white trash”. The mise en scene used in here imposes Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze as the two dimensional stripper character fulfils the male audience’s sexual fantasies and desires. This depicts that women are continuously restricted and bound to wear seductive clothing and seen as “a bit of skirt”
[20] for the male audiences’ visual pleasures. Implying that women are degraded through their tight attire and revealing bodies which is used in The Sopranos to gain higher viewer ratings. Whilst, at the same time, acting as a critique of patriarchy.
Furthermore, the strip club “The Bada Bing” is a symbol of the “male backlash”
[21] as the place is made for men to fulfil their sexual desires, the club undertakes the essence of pure misogyny, as women are treated and portrayed as sex slaves selling their body to entertain men. The club shapes the patriarchal order in society and acts as microcosm of male dominance in the macrocosm world. Therefore this depicts a less progressive world for women, influenced by traditional values in society, women either undertaking a ‘Madonna’ or ‘Whore’ role.
“Don’t kiss me, how many cocks you suck tonight”, Tracee is verbally abused by Ralph and is constantly entitled to as a “gumar” and seen as a woman whose only reason in life is to fulfil male pleasure. The derogatory names used towards Tracee emphasises her portrayal “as powerless and ineffectual”
[22]. This implies that the phallus is a symbol of male dominance over women and they are treated as sexual object only in the series for the male gaze and pleasure and not to drive the narrative. Additionally, Ralph slaps her back side; this demonstrates the ideologies of women as possessions and reinforcing the state of patriarchal order. The character of Tracee is dehumanised as she is treated as a sexual object. Outside the club there is a confrontation between Ralph and Tracee, Ralph beats up Tracee (Tracee replies) “does it make you feel like a man”, this exemplifies the issues in society as women are beaten up to empower the male gender. This suggests that if women “resist their placing” the consequences are fatal.
Furthermore, the scene uses close ups on the Ralph when Tracee is beaten up to death to exemplify his facial expressions. There are fewer shots of Tracee’s facial expressions, she is cut off the screen, and it is constructed to only depict Ralph’s emotions. This suggests to the audience that she is inferior, is of no importance and does not drive the narrative cycle. Moreover, the scene incorporates low angle shots to portray male dominance in the scene; Tracee is depicted as vulnerable and weak due to the high angle shots capturing her. Tracee's status and representation of whore seems to make her vulnerable to attack and is less deserving of safety and sexual freedom because she’s a stripper. “Domestic violence against women is seen to be the result of powerless male workforce exercising its frustration on the female sex rather than directing it at the class system”
[23]. Additionally, the low key lighting connotes danger and vulnerable atmosphere, fulfils the expectations of the audience.
Moreover Tracee is beaten to death on outside next to bin bags and trash and is left dead next to the trash connotes the representation of women such as Tracee is compared to “trash” in society and is worthless and demeaning to men. This shows that “women are ultimately refused a voice...and their desire is subjected to male desire”
[24]. The final long shot portrays her life as meaningless as the mise en scene depicts her class in society.
Furthermore, the scene with Janice Soprano having sex with Richie Aprile on the coach pointing a snub 38 revolver gun towards her head; the use of phallic the object by Richie (gun) exemplifies male dominance, additionally the penis let alone acts as a symbol of power and authority in society. Hence objectifying the passive female due to their sexual depiction as in Freudian terms they have no phallus creating penis envy for female audience; creating the audience to recognize them fethishistically .This therefore makes the male audience unconsciously perceive the female character as castrated enforcing Freud’s theory; imposing the idea of anxiety towards the male audience. Thus, the need for the female characters for a substitute fethisized/phallic objects to reduce the anxiety of the male audience who then gains narcissistic identification between the male character and the male audience. This “glamorizes men’s domination of women, and even the ultimate passivity...Faludi argued that this pushing of the idealization of weak and yielding women to its logical extreme represents a...backlash against feminism”.
However, McQuail states that “The female active role is represented as a controlling, active person upon whom the camera dwells not in order to display her sexual attractiveness, but to explore and convey the manner in which she is controlling the scene”
[25], this is clearly depicted in Goodfellas (by Martin Scorsese 1990); female empowerment is portrayed through a phallic object as the female Karen Hill has a gun pointed at James Conway’s head whilst he is awakening. The low angle shots portray her superiority and control of the situation, however due to her ignorance and dependency she is persuaded into handing the gun over to ‘Jimmy’. Similarly Janice Soprano is domestically abused by Richie Aprile however unlike Karen she does not stand for it; she shoots Richie Aprile in the chest twice. This depicts a more ruthless side of Janice, as the audience see a change in gender roles. The extensive use of guns in the Sopranos is mostly linked to male characters. However in another case a gun is used as a tool for women’s liberation and freedom. Guns are seen as objects resembling the phallus, relating to the ideologies of male patriarchy and repressors of female freedom. However in Janice Sopranos case with her violent relationship with Richie Aprile the gun is used to kill and penetrate the male character giving the idea of the female penetrating the male.
In contrast to this, HBO has released the official Sopranos console game; this creates personal relationships between the audience and the character game. However unlike most games such as ‘Tomb raider’ and other strong female characters the game revolves round a male protagonist, conforming to stereotypical representations of male heroic characters who “typically made decisions, which led the story, and were assertive, confident and dominant”
[26]. This reinforces proppian theory as male characters are depicted as heroes saving the damsels in distress and problem solving.
Scarface by
Howard Hawks (1932) is a film that depicts the zeitgeist of the period in which the film was produced in. The film depicts the social issues in America, the opening credits of the shows the purpose of the film “The picture is an indictment of gang rule in America and of the callous government to this constantly increasing menace to our safety and our liberty”. The opening credits straightforwardly outlines the problems America faces due to Gang control and violence in the 1930’s. The opening credits suggest the problems the people of America faced due to their economical issues, leading to gang crimes and violence.
The film glorifies the idea of being a gangster and enforces the ideologies of good versus evil. Furthermore the female characters are subordinate to the male characters and are made to be portrayed as female objects of the male gaze and perceived as ‘eye candy’.
The male character typically makes the “decisions which [lead] the story, and [are] assertive, confident and dominant”. The female characters undertook a more stereotypical role, they are “shown as frightened, in need of protection and direction and offering love and support to the male character”. However, Scarface’s sister is shown in the final seen to undertake a masculine role subverting from the stereotypical roles of women of the zeitgeist of the film. This similarly links to the Janice breaking away from the ‘shackles’ of domestic violence and inferiority. The film focused on the representations of real life gangsters of the period such as Al Capone.
In conclusion, despite the continuous categorized representations of women in the media as either ‘Whores’ or ‘Madonna’s’, women are breaking away from the restrictions patriarchy. Genre is “dynamic”
[27] , and ‘The Sopranos’ is a feminized television drama series of the gangster genre, as Nicholls clearly states that “genres become a mirror...to the social structure”[28] that arises during the decade or era in which a film is produced in, it is reflective of the zeitgeist. Due to feminism women character portrayal in movies and TV dramas are more liberated to as they wish and are more independent as well careerists. Kathi Maio noted “strong, victorious women exist in film, just not often enough, and generally not in movies that get much play”[29].










Bibliography
Books Cited
1)Reading The Sopranos (2007) by
David Lavery - This book explores how "The Sopranos" has rewritten the rules of television drama and changed attitudes about television itself. Contributors present fresh perspectives on psychotherapy and dreams; racism and the Italian-American community; Carmela and post-feminism. the book will be useful to my study as there is a section thatfocuses on women representations and thier power.2)Violence an the Media (2003) by Cynthia Carter, C.Kay Weaver - "Violence and the Media" is a introduction to current issues about media violence and its potential influence on audiences. Carter and Weaver engage with a host of pressing issues around violence in different media contexts - including news, film, television, pornography, advertising and cyberspace. Also it covers key points such as desensitization and victims of violence such as women.3)Duttin, Rayner and Sullivan, (2003) Studying the Media – This is a generalised book on the media; it contains theory of genre and various other aspects such as narrative theory.
4)Bignell, Jonathan - Introduction to Television Studies (2004) – This book provides specific information on the television show ‘The Sopranos’.
5)Anne Kaplan (1990) Psychoanalysis & Cinema – The Book informs me on relevant feminist and women’s theory in cinema.

6)McQuail, Denis (2000): McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory
7)Faludi, Susan – (1991) Introduction to Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
8)Beddoe, Deirdre - Discovering Women's History: A Practical Guide to Researching the Lives of Women Since 1800 (1993)
9)Tuchman, Gaye - Hearth and Home: Images of Women in the Mass Media (1978)
10)Bryson, Valerie (1999): Feminist Debates – An in depth study into feminist theory. This essential towards my coursework as it has historical and wider contextual information, linking to SHEP.
12)Mulvey, Laura - Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) – The Book focuses on audience theory and representation of women in the media
13)Bartley, Paula - The Changing Role of Women (1996)

14)Media, Gender and Identity: An Introduction (2002) by
David Gauntlett - It provides an in depth look into the different ways in which gender and identity and focuses on the media's influence on gender and sexuality. David Gauntlett explores the gender of contemporary media and draws on recent theories of gender and identity. This is one book in particular is relevant to my study as it outlines key theorists and theories and looks into SHEP.

Books Read
1)Film Thoery An Introduction (1999) by
Robert Stam -It examines issues common to both subjects such as realism, narration, point of view, style, semiotics, Feminism and The Feminist Intervention and multiculturalism. It also includes coverage of theorists common to both, Barthes, Lacan and Bakhtin among others such as Laura Mulvey and thoeries such as the Male Gaze.
2)Feminist Theorists (1983) by by
Dale Spender - The book focuses on theory and thoerists around the 80's and even back to the late 1600's E.g. Mary Astell. This will aid my study as this book focuses on the historical side of SHEP.3)The meaning of wife (2004) by Anne Kingston - Canadian journalist and social commentator Anne Kingston provides a fresh perspective on the role and how it affects the perception of women. This book: Explains the alternating currents of 'wifelash' and 'wifelust' Introduces the concept of the 'wife gap' that emerged in the wake of the twentieth-century women's movement Analyses the married woman's relationship to female power, sexuality and worth. The book will greatly coinside with my study as i will be looking at the representation of houswives such as Carmela as well as fetishists. It will outline the representation of houswives and the social issues.4)Race and Gender (1985) by Madeleine Arno - The book outlines the representations of women as well as racial issues, additionally it contains theories. The book is contains in-depth on these two key social issues in society; coveing one aspect of SHEP.5)Media Studies: The Essential Introduction (2001) by Phillip Rayner, Peter Wall and Steohen - Krugar - Explains the media concepts, cultural terms and theoretical perspectives. The book offers deeper insights to representation and gender also it looks in more depth with media theories and debates.
6)The Media Student's Book (2003) by
Gill Branston, Roy Stafford - The chapters of the book are supported by case studies which cover every key topic in the area. The book is divided into four parts studying key concepts; media practices; media debates; and provides resources in the final reference section also definitions, references and thoeries. This will help my study as it focuses on representations and stereotypes also it contains many theories and key terms.
8)The Cinema Book (1985) by Pam Cook & Mieke Bernink - It provides comprehensive coverage of seven major areas: Hollywood Cinema and Beyond; Stars; Technologies; World Cinemas; Genre; Authorship; and Developments in Theory. New topics include Global Hollywood; Contemporary Women Directors; Queer Theory; and Postmodernism. All sections are supported by in-depth analyses of films and genres from the earliest days to the present. This will be specifically important as it has in detailed pages on the gangster genre.
Websites
1.
http://www.genderit.org/en/index.shtml?w=a&x=91365
2. http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/women_and_girls/women_coverage.cfm
3. http://www.medialit.org/focus/ster1_articles.html
4. http://www.barnard.edu/sfonline/hbo/johnson_01.htm
5. http://www1.medialiteracy.com/representation.jsp
6. http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Modules/MC30820/represent.html
7. http://www.genderads.com/
8. http://www.kidulthoodlife.blogspot.com/
9. http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/gaze/gaze09.html
10. http://www.allisonmedia.net/downloads/Year_12/Representation.pdf
11. http://mediaknowall.com/gender.html
12. http://www.answers.com/carmela%20soprano
13. http://www.answers.com/topic/tony-soprano
14. http://www.answers.com/topic/meadow-soprano
15. http://www.answers.com/dr%20melfi
16. http://www.answers.com/topic/the-sopranos?cat=technology
17. http://www.answers.com/topic/masculism
18. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_causes_someone_to_become_an_abuser
19. http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article443.html
20. http://www.answers.com/topic/sexual-objectification
21. http://talentdevelop.com.wifip.html
22. http://www.guardian.co.uk
23. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sopranos
Articles
Mediamagazine (2007) – The Sopranos
Mediamagazine (2007) – A beginners’ guide to Laura Mulvey
Moving Image
The Series season 1-6 by David Lavery (1999 – 2007) - HBO, USA
Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese (1990) – Warner Bros. - USA
Scarface by
Howard Hawks (1932) – United Artists, USA
[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0705294/quotes
[2] Director – Chase, David (1999-2007)
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sopranos
[4] Tuchman, Gaye - Hearth and Home: Images of Women in the Mass Media (1978)
[5]http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,1432155,00.html – Why are women directors such as rare sight?
[6] Bartley, Paula - The Changing Role of Women (1996)
[7] http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,1432155,00.html - Why are women directors such as rare sight? – Harris, Naomie

[8] Mulvey, Laura - Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975)
[9] Lavery, David - Reading The Sopranos (2007) pg 39
[10] Bryson, Valerie (1999): Feminist Debates
[11] Bignell, Jonathan - Introduction to Television Studies (2004)
[12] Elasmar, Hasegawa & Brain (1999) pg 33
[13] http://www.answers.com/dr%20melfi
[14] Beddoe, Deirdre - Discovering Women's History: A Practical Guide to Researching the Lives of Women Since 1800
[15] Gauntlett, David Media, Gender & Identity (2002) - Representations of gender in the past
[16] Gauntlett, David Media, Gender & Identity (2002) - Representations of gender in the past
[17] http://talentdevelop.com.wifip.html
[18] Angela, and Joyce, Mark and Rivers, Danny (1999): Advanced Level Media. Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton Educational pg 11
[19] Media Dictionary – Marxist Capitalism
[20] Duttin, Rayner and Sullivan, (2003) Studying the Media pg 115
[21] Faludi, Susan – (1991) Introduction to Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
[22] Maio, Kathi, (1983) Media, Gender & Identity – Representation of gender in the past
[23] Weaver, Kay Weaver - Violence in the Media (2003) by Cynthia Carter
[24] Kaplan, Anne (1972) pg 13 – Media Gender & Identity, Representation of Gender in the Past/ Kaplan,
Anne (1990)Psychoanalysis & Cinema
[25] McQuail, Denis (2000): McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory
[26] Gauntlett, David Media Gender & Identity (2002) - Representation of gender in the past
[27] Steve Neale (1990)
[28] Bill Nicholls – Movies and Methods
[29] Maio, Kathi (1990

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Attainment: 2 - i mean i do the work thats due with no excuses so far... and produced the independant study, but my minds been everywhere with three c/w's.

Effort: 2 - i try my best at this very time with all the work im set in the time im given to do it whether its in class or homework. but i know i can definatley try harder

Punctuality: 2 - i've been late to lessons at some point like today, i guess i will try harder to be punctual...i will by sleeping earlier in the morinings for first period but on thursdays im sure i'll come to school on time before luch ends. also it will get better as i was off at uni open days and interviews, thats the end of that now.

Submission and quality of homework: 1 - works always on time, Independant study on time and blog work is also done.

Ability to work independently: 1 - the independant study proves this, but these tasks you set like goodness gracious me clips and other blof work, shows i work well independantly.

Quality of writing: 2.5 - needs major improvement, i know i want to say but don't word it write, probably because it's rushed sometimes. but this was certainly not the point with the independant study!

Organisation of Media folder: 1 - the folder is all gooooood, all hand outs ar placed neatly and locatable.

Oral contributions in class: 2 - i contribute at certain times however i should more often, sometimes it's just the case who speaks fisrt or if the points already said.

Contribution to the debate team: 1 - seeming as i'm one of the speaker i think i'm doing contributing alot as well researching.

Extra-curricular work (film projects etc.): 2 - i mean i've been workin on my own video clips from the trip to blackpool with the boys.. try make a teen trailer out of it and also helped jagjeet with the school music video.

Standard of Module 5 blog: 1 - its pretty good as it has all my research for the media independant study, also its titled sufficiently.

Standard of Module 6 blog: 2 - it gets updated with media news often but need to keep up sometimes i forget.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

How does 'The Sopranos' by David Chase (1999-2007) subvert stereotypical representations of women in the gangster genre?

The widely acclaimed “greatest pop-culture masterpiece of its day”[1], The Sopranos originated by David Chase (1999-2007) is a gangster genre series which was aired by HBO. The gangster genre is renowned for its male dominated casts to whom storylines are fixated upon. Female characters have been “underrepresented...in fictional life”[2] throughout the history of this genre, they have undertaken passive character roles and been depicted as fetishized objects of the male gaze by the predominantly male directors’ and writers'. In order to determine whether The Sopranos by David Chase (1999-2007) reinforces the stereotypical representation of women in the contemporary gangster genre it is essential to look into detail the character roles of women in The Sopranos and compare historical texts with The Sopranos.

The media “is such a male dominated industry”[3], this implies that women’s views and representation of their gender are not put across realistic in the industry. This is resulted through the glass ceiling as society is depicted through patriarchy and even though women are progressing they are aware of the higher stages men are already situated in the industry. Therefore, acting as ‘gatekeepers’ allowing some women to emerge into higher levels within the media industry. Moreover, the idea of more men directing exemplifies the stereotypical representations of women in films and dramas, this displays their constructed views of women and pleasing the male audience. This also creates a sense of patriarchal order in the media and film industry as the auteur and the writer constructs the representation of women a “bitch, mother or sex symbol” [3]. In addition to this Naomie Harris states that “Everything starts in the writing...we don’t really see women as we see ourselves and as we really are because it’s only men writing for us”. This re-enforces the ideologies of men playing the role of ‘puppet master’ in the film industry as women are forced to act as they are told to, this exemplifies their inferiority in the media industry as they are moulded and conformed into stereotypical characterizations to create a sense of identification with audience and character.

Women are therefore labelled with distinct stereotypes such as “blonde bimbo” or a typical housewife. These stereotypes and representations enhance Mulveys’ theory of women either categorized as “whore”: seen as fetishized sexual objects of the male gaze, fulfilling male audience sexual pleasures. Whereas the “Madonna” is women depicted as stereotypical housewives undertaking domestic chores to fulfil society’s ideals of suburban women.
Carmela Soprano undertakes a stereotypical materialistic role in The Sopranos; she is depicted as a “Madonna”. The “social climbing Mafioso housewife...lives a comfortable middleclass existence partly paid for by prostitution”
[4], Carmela can be seen as the binary opposite of the strippers/whores that work for Tony. Due to the fact that Carmela is a housewife and Tony pays for her expenses it depicts her dependency of male race. Money symbolises Carmela’s inferiority in society as sticks to traditional family values of the man being the breadwinner, and herself undertaking a nurturing approach. Furthermore, “women [are seen] to be shown as ...in need of protection and direction”, this emphasises the reliance Carmela has on Tony.

Moreover, on Tony’s birthday Carmela is shown to be sexually pleasuring Tony; however the scene has been constructed by the director and editors to cut off Carmela from the screen and strictly focus on Tony’s facial expressions, this highlight the emphasis on male pleasures within society. Additionally the as Carmela is cut off the screen this enforces her subservience to the Tony, this re-enforces Mulvey’s theory of women as passive character. This visual conception of the role of women onscreen, Mulveys argues, consequently allows males to indulge in their voyeuristic pleasures. The viewer we are encouraged to identify with the male protagonist; therefore as women are usually presented in films as objects of the male gaze/sex objects we as the audience are also positioned in a masculine role, and therefore influenced to think from a male perspective.

In contrast, the Grandmother/ Tony’s mother subverts from stereotypical representations women and grandmothers in contemporary society. We as the audience link a grandmother to the ideas of them as sweet, feeble caring and especially a family member who gives money to their grandchildren, however, Grandmother Livia Soprano- “...is in some ways tougher than [Tony] and even contracts a killer to murder [him]”[5]. This portrays the physical “confidence in way that’s genuinely empowering”. Tony’s mother switches gender roles and is portrayed masculine this, Livia symbolises the strength in women today in the 21st century. The idea of the ‘Whore’ or’ Madonna’ is not evident as she doesn’t undertake any maternal characteristics or and is broken away from the stereotypical depictions of “nice old granny’s”.

The wave of feminism during the world and the 1970’s was a way of liberating female freedom and opportunity for women. Women worked in munitions factories undertaking male gender role, disrupting social order when the men came back from the war. Women were enlightened and continued to work as secretaries. In addition to this the second wave of feminism struck in the 1970’s as women felt oppressed and restricted by patriarchy, therefore to break free from the bounds of men they burnt their bras as symbol of overcoming repression and subservience. Women could work in offices become doctors and so on. Women could make their own money and therefore were not dependant on the male bread winner. “A significant decrease from the 1970’s; only 3 percent of women were represented as housewives as their main occupation”[6].

“Women were free from family...pressures”, characters such as Dr Melfi depict that The Sopranos have “put successful professional women at the forefront”. Melfi is depicted as intelligent independent women earning money from a working respectable job as physiatrist. “Tony Soprano has been able to confide in Melfi many things that he has told no one else”[7], this shows that a macho, sadistic dangerous man has been tamed by a women (Tony Soprano). However it can be seen that Tony goes to Dr Melfi for comfort and solving emotional problems, this insinuates that Dr Melfi is only undertaking maternal instincts and nurturing Tony Soprano mentally back to health. Additionally, although Dr Melfi is an independent women working as a psychiatrist she is a single mother who undertakes roles of cooking at home and other domestic stereotypical roles and is a bread winner, enforcing the ideologies of the ‘double burden’ women face in contemporary society. This shows that feminism has given more opportunities however women have more work.

In addition to this Melfi faces the issues of being raped in a underground car park, the low key lighting suggests her blindness of problems within society and her disillusions of her being independent and successful implying her gender equality. The rapist enforces the patriarchal society in which women live in, “Tuchman asserts that those women who [are] shown to be working [are] portrayed as incompetents and inferiors, as victims”[8]. This creates sadistic male audience pleasures as it connotes male dominance and the rapist empowered by committing this horrific act of mankind.

The scene with a stripper asking to work in the V.I.P. section in the “Bada Bing”; she immediately sexually objectified by the doorman as she has to pay to work in room that will earn her more money than working on ‘the poles’. Additionally, the stripper is forced into giving the doorman a “blowjob” after her shift to work in the V.I.P room. The man acts as a “gate keeper”, this emphasises “the glass ceiling has been raised [as the stripper will be getting paid more, however] when they touch their head on it, they will look up and see men’s loafers”[9]. This “employs the concept of chauvinism which is applied to men who show no acknowledgement of the abilities of women”[10]. The dancer at the door is subjected to undertake an archetype role that does not push or make a difference to the storyline and make no effect to the narrative structure.

The stripper’s need of money “sees capitalism as the principal source of gender inequalities. In a capitalist class hierarchy, women are seen as being subordinate to men and serving the male workforce in terms of low-paid, low status employment and unpaid domestic labour”[11]. Women with degrading or fetishized jobs outline their class in society, even though they may get paid high amounts.

Moreover in the scene Tracee is dressed in a tight, revealing dress, the red dress connotes women as impure and reinforces the ideologies of “white trash”. The mise en scene used in the scene imposes Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze as the archetype stripper characters the male audience’s sexual fantasies and desires. This depicts that women are continuously restricted and bound to wear seductive clothing and seen as “a bit of skirt”[12] for the male audiences’ visual pleasures. Implying that women are degraded through their tight attire and revealing bodies which is used in The Sopranos to sell and gain high viewer ratings.
Furthermore the strip club “The Bada Bing” is a symbol of male backlash as the place is made for men to fulfil their sexual desires, the club undertakes the essence of pure misogyny, as women are treated and portrayed as sex slaves selling their body to entertain men. The club shapes the patriarchal order in society and acts as microcosm of male dominance in the macrocosm world.

“Don’t kiss me, how many cocks you suck tonight”, Tracee is verbally abused by Ralph and is constantly stated to as a “gumar” and seen as a woman whose only reason in life is to fulfil male pleasure. The derogatory names used towards Tracee emphasises her portrayal “as powerless and ineffectual”[13]. This implies that the phallic is a symbol of male dominance over women and are treated as sexual object only in the series for the male gaze and pleasure and not to drive the narrative. Additionally Ralph slaps her back side; this enforces the ideologies of women as possessions and reinforcing the views of patriarchal order. The character of Tracee is dehumanised as she is treated as a sexual object. Outside the club there is a confrontation between Ralph and Tracee, Ralph beats up Tracee “does it make you feel like a man”, this exemplifies the issues in society as women are beaten up to empower the male gender. This suggests that if women “resist their placing” the consequences are fatal.

Furthermore the scene uses close ups on the Ralph when Tracee is beaten up to death to exemplify his facial expressions. There are fewer shots of Tracee facial expressions, she is cut off the screen, and the scene is constructed to only depict Ralph’s emotions. This implicates to the audience that she is inferior, is of no importance and does not drive the narrative cycle. Moreover the scene incorporates low angle shots to portray male dominance in the scene; Tracee is depicted as vulnerable and weak due to the high angle shots towards her. Tracee's status representation of whore seems to make her vulnerable to attack and is less deserving of safety and sexual freedom because she’s a stripper. “Domestic violence against women is seen to be the result of powerless male workforce exercising its frustration on the female sex rather than directing it at the class system”.Additionally the low key lighting connote danger and vulnerable atmosphere, the low key lighting sets the aerie atmosphere and fulfil the expectations of the audience.

There are no traditional narrative roles in the scene as Propps theory defied, Ralph undertakes the role of the villain however every mob member takes the role of an anti-hero or a villain, however Tracee cannot relate to a specific role as she is depicted as a archetype whore by the audience and her character is mediated in this way buy the director. The audience is only left to sympathise for Tracee.

Moreover Tracee is beaten to death on outside next to bin bags and trash and is left dead next to the trash connotes the representation of women such as Tracee is compared to “trash” in society and is worthless and demeaning to men. This shows that “women are ultimately refused a voice...and their desire is subjected to male desire”[14]. The long shot portrays her life as meaningless as the mise en scene depicts her class in society.

Furthermore, the scene with Janice Soprano having sex with Richie Aprile on the coach pointing a snub 38 revolver gun towards her head; the use of phallic the object by Richie (gun) exemplifies male dominance, additionally the penis let alone acts as a symbol of power and authority in society. Hence objectifying the passive female due to their sexual depiction as they have no phallic creating penis envy for the very little female audience; creating the audience to recognize them fethishistically .This therefore makes the male audience unconsciously perceive the female character as castrated enforcing Freud’s theory; imposing the idea of anxiety towards the male audience. Thus, the need for the female characters for a substitute fethisized/phallic objects to reduce the anxiety of the male audience who then gains narcissistic identification between the male character and the male audience. This “glamorizes men’s domination of women, and even the ultimate passivity...Faludi argued that this pushing of the idealization of weak and yielding women to its logical extreme represents a...backlash against feminism”.

Goodfellas (by Martin Scorsese 1990) depicts female empowerment through phallic object as the female Karen Hill has a gun pointed at James Conway’s head whilst he is awakening. The low angle shots portray her superiority and control of the situation, however due to her ignorance and dependency she is persuaded into handing the gun over to “Jimmy”. Similarly Janice Soprano is domestically abused by Richie Aprile however unlike Karen she doesn’t stand for it; she shoots Richie Aprile in the chest twice. This depicts a more ruthless side of Janice, as the audience see a change in gender roles. The extensive use of guns in the Sopranos is mostly linked to male characters. However in another case a gun is used as a tool for women’s liberation and freedom. Guns are seen as objects resembling the phallic, relating to the ideologies of male patriarchy and repressors of female freedom. However in Janice Sopranos case with her violent relationship with Richie Aprile the gun is used to kill and penetrate the male character giving the idea of the female penetrating the male.

Furthermore HBO has released the official Sopranos console game, this creates personal relationships between the audience and the character game. However unlike most games such as ‘Tomb raider’ the game revolves round a male protagonist, conforming to stereotypical representations of male heroic characters who “typically made decisions, which led the story, and were assertive, confident and dominant”[15].

Scareface by Howard Hawks (1932) is a film that depicts the zeitgeist of the period in which the film was mad in. The film depicts the social issues in America, the opening credits of the shows the purpose of the film “The picture is an indictment of gang rule in America and of the callous government to this constantly increasing menace to our safety and our liberty”. The opening credits straightforwardly outlines the problems America faces due to Gang control and violence in the 1930’s. The opening credits suggest the problems the people of America faced due to their economical issues, leading to gang crimes and violence.

The film glorifies the idea of being a gangster and enforces the ideologies of good versus evil. Furthermore the female characters are subordinate to the male characters and are mad to be portrayed as female objects of the male gaze and perceived as ‘eye candy’.

The male character typically the “decisions which [lead] the story, and [are] assertive, confident and dominant”. The female characters undertook a more stereotypical role, they are “shown as frightened, in need of protection and direction and offering love and support to the male character”. However Scarface’s sister is shown in the final seen to undertake a masculine role subverting from the stereotypical roles of women of the zeitgeist of the film. This similarly links to the Janice breaking away from the ‘shackles’ of domestic violence and inferiority. The film focused on the representations of real life gangsters of the period such as Al Capone.

In conclusion, despite the continuous categorized representations of women in the media as either ‘Whores’ or ‘Madonna’s’, women are breaking away from the restrictions patriarchy. Due to feminism women character portrayal in movies and TV dramas are more liberated to as they wish and are more independent as well careerists. Kathi Maio noted “strong, victorious women exist in film, just not often enough, and generally not in movies that get much play”[16].




Bibliography
Books
1) Reading The Sopranos (2007) by
David Lavery - This book explores how "The Sopranos" has rewritten the rules of television drama and changed attitudes about television itself. Contributors present fresh perspectives on psychotherapy and dreams; racism and the Italian-American community; Carmela and post-feminism. the book will be useful to my study as there is a section thatfocuses on women representations and thier power.

2) Violence an the Media (2003) by Cynthia Carter, C.Kay Weaver - "Violence and the Media" is a introduction to current issues about media violence and its potential influence on audiences. Carter and Weaver engage with a host of pressing issues around violence in different media contexts - including news, film, television, pornography, advertising and cyberspace. Also it covers key points such as desensitization and victims of violence such as women.

3) Film Thoery An Introduction (1999) by Robert Stam -It examines issues common to both subjects such as realism, narration, point of view, style, semiotics, Feminism and The Feminist Intervention and multiculturalism. It also includes coverage of theorists common to both, Barthes, Lacan and Bakhtin among others such as Laura Mulvey and thoeries such as the Male Gaze.

4) Feminist Theorists (1983) by by Dale Spender - The book focuses on theory and thoerists around the 80's and even back to the late 1600's E.g. Mary Astell. This will aid my study as this book focuses on the historical side of SHEP.

5) The meaning of wife (2004) by Anne Kingston - Canadian journalist and social commentator Anne Kingston provides a fresh perspective on the role and how it affects the perception of women. This book: Explains the alternating currents of 'wifelash' and 'wifelust' Introduces the concept of the 'wife gap' that emerged in the wake of the twentieth-century women's movement Analyses the married woman's relationship to female power, sexuality and worth. The book will greatly coinside with my study as i will be looking at the representation of houswives such as Carmela as well as fetishists. It will outline the representation of houswives and the social issues.

6) Race and Gender (1985) by Madeleine Arno - The book outlines the representations of women as well as racial issues, additionally it contains theories. The book is contains in-depth on these two key social issues in society; coveing one aspect of SHEP.

7) Media Studies: The Essential Introduction (2001) by Phillip Rayner, Peter Wall and Steohen - Krugar - Explains the media concepts, cultural terms and theoretical perspectives. The book offers deeper insights to representation and gender also it looks in more depth with media theories and debates.

8) The Media Student's Book (2003) by Gill Branston, Roy Stafford - The chapters of the book are supported by case studies which cover every key topic in the area. The book is divided into four parts studying key concepts; media practices; media debates; and provides resources in the final reference section also definitions, references and thoeries. This will help my study as it focuses on representations and stereotypes also it contains many theories and key terms.

9) Media, Gender and Identity: An Introduction (2002) by David Gauntlett - It provides an in depth look into the different ways in which gender and identity and focuses on the media's influence on gender and sexuality. David Gauntlett explores the gender of contemporary media and draws on recent theories of gender and identity. This is one book in particular is relevant to my study as it outlines key theorists and theories and looks into SHEP.

10) The Cinema Book (1985) by Pam Cook & Mieke Bernink

11) Duttin, Rayner and Sullivan, (2003) Studying the Media

12) Angela, and Joyce, Mark and Rivers, Danny (1999): Advanced Level Media. Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton Educational

13) Bignell, Jonathan - Introduction to Television Studies (2004)
Websites
1.
http://www.genderit.org/en/index.shtml?w=a&x=91365
2. http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/women_and_girls/women_coverage.cfm
3. http://www.medialit.org/focus/ster1_articles.html
4. http://www.barnard.edu/sfonline/hbo/johnson_01.htm
5. http://www1.medialiteracy.com/representation.jsp
6. http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Modules/MC30820/represent.html
7. http://www.genderads.com/
8. http://www.kidulthoodlife.blogspot.com/
9. http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/gaze/gaze09.html
10. http://www.allisonmedia.net/downloads/Year_12/Representation.pdf
11. http://mediaknowall.com/gender.html
12. http://www.answers.com/carmela%20soprano
13. http://www.answers.com/topic/tony-soprano
14. http://www.answers.com/topic/meadow-soprano
15. http://www.answers.com/dr%20melfi
16. http://www.answers.com/topic/the-sopranos?cat=technology
17. http://www.answers.com/topic/masculism
18. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_causes_someone_to_become_an_abuser
19. http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article443.html
20. http://www.answers.com/topic/sexual-objectification
21. http://talentdevelop.com.wifip.html
22. http://www.guardian.co.uk
23. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sopranos

Articles
Mediamagazine (2007) – The Sopranos
Mediamagazine (2007) – A beginners’ guide to Laura Mulvey

Other Texts
The Series season 1-6 by David Lavery (1999 – 2007)
Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese (1990)
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sopranos

[2] Tuchman, Gaye

[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk – Why are women directors such as rare sight?
[4] Lavery, David - Reading The Sopranos (2007) pg 39
[5] Bignell, Jonathan - Introduction to Television Studies (2004)
[6] Gauntlett, David Media, Gender & Identity (2002) - Representations of gender today
[7] http://www.answers.com/dr%20melfi
[8] Gauntlett, David Media, Gender & Identity (2002) - Representations of gender in the past
[9] http://talentdevelop.com.wifip.html
[10] Angela, and Joyce, Mark and Rivers, Danny (1999): Advanced Level Media. Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton Educational pg 11
[11] Media Dictionary
[12] Duttin, Rayner and Sullivan, (2003) Studying the Media pg 115
[13] Maio, Kathi, (1983) Media, Gender & Identity – Representation of gender in the past
[14] Kaplan, Anne (1972) pg 13 – Media Gender & Identity, Representation of gender in the past
[15] Gauntlett, David Media Gender & Identity (2002) - Representation of gender in the past
[16] Maio, Kathi (1990

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Opening Paragraph

Has does 'The Sopranos' by David Chase (1999-2007) subvert stereotypical representations of women in the gangster genre?

The widely acclaimed “greatest pop-culture masterpiece of its day” [1], The Sopranos originated by David Chase (1999-2007) is a gangster genre series which was aired by HBO. The gangster genre is renowned for its male dominated casts to whom storylines are fixated upon. Female characters have been “underrepresented...in fictional life” [2] throughout the history of this genre, they have undertaken passive character roles and been depicted as fetishized objects of the male gaze by the predominantly male directors’and wiriters'. In order to determine whether The Sopranos by David Chase (1999-2007) reinforces the stereotypical representation of women in the contemporary gangster genre it is essential to compare historical texts with The Sopranos.

Vanity Fair [1]
Gaye Tuchman [2]
Essay Plan

-Introduction

· Outlining the vast popularity of American gangster films, now progressing to series such as The Sopranos by HBO, Brotherhood by FX.
· How the director portrays characters through narrative, proppian theory-Gaye Tuchman – women “symbolically annihilated”.
· Women in the gangster genre are more and more being portrayed as fetishized objects of the male gaze. A brief outline the change in portrayal of women from past gangster films and contemporary. Reference to films such as Little Ceaser, Scarface 1932/1983 Goodfellas 1990’s-comparison to-The Sopranos.
· Directors and writers being Male or representation of women being biased, films being portrayed through male perspective so issues of patriarchy in society.

· Seperate paragraph - Add theory of representation and stereotypes (constructed), meaning of stereotypes how they work and purpose ~ audience pleasures also negative impact link to The Sopranos scene; when Dr Melfi’s family are discussing the issues of Italian stereotypes.

Topics: Topic is Housewives/Mothers

· Women such as Carmela is forced undertake the family burden and made to “nurture”- Nature Nurture theory, whilst Tony run runs the organization. The series focuses more on the male characters and the main protagonist forcing the audience to identify with Tony Soprano whether the audience is male or female. The housewives are portrayed as subordinated and are dumb down by the blood money made through killings and extortion.
· Carmela is a “central female role in a genre infamous for it s relegation of women as minor characters – in many ways The Sopranos is at its best when looking at Carmela’s complicity in Tony’s criminal world.
· Additionally the Grandmother/ Tony’s mother subverts from stereotypical representations women and grandmothers in contemporary society. We as the audience link a grandmother to the ideas of them as sweet, feeble caring and especially a family member who gives money to their grandchildren however key quote from “Introduction to Television Studies by Jonathan Bignell” Grandmother Livia Soprano- “she is in some ways tougher than [Tony] and even contracts a killer to murder [him]”
· Theory of Gaye Tuchman from Gauntlet’s - Media Gender & Identity. Women are “Symbolically annihilated” as they are “underrepresented in television fiction life”.
· Representations of housewives have altered from historical gangster texts such as Scarface 1932 as women such as Carmela and Tony’s Mother fight back and rebel against suppression and patriarchy, through having money buying their own properties.

Topic: Working women


· The wave of feminism was a way of liberating female freedom and opportunity for women. Women could work in offices become doctors and so on. Women could make their own money and therefore were not dependant on the male bread winner.
· The sopranos, women such as Dr Melfi and Tony Sopranos daughter Meadow are depicted as intelligent independent women either earning money or working respectable job or are in education being paediatricians or lawyers. This shows how society has changed as an odd 50 years ago science and Law would be perceived as a male profession. This just shows the opportunities women have in contemporary society. Quote - Angela, and Joyce, Mark and Rivers, Danny (1999): Advanced Level Media. Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton Educational“McGuigan employs the concept of chauvinism which is applied to men who show no acknowledgement of the abilities of women””pg11. Dr Melfi is the emotional support for Tony Sopranos who is portrayed as a tough guy persona as made to cry and release his feelings to a women.
· “Double burden”- although Dr Melfi is an independent women workin as a psychiatrist she is a single mother who undertakes roles of cooking at home and other domestic stereotypical roles and is a bread winner. This shows that feminism has given more opportunities however women have more work.
· Gaye Tuchman-“asserts that those women who were shown to be working were portrayed as incompetents and inferiors, as victims or having trivial interests”. This supports the portrayal of the overly fetishized depictions of the strippers that work at the club and in on scene a secretary who works at Tony’s waste management office whos has sex with him.
· Male Backlash in the 90’s The Bada Bing is Symbol of the male backlash in society and a symbol of female annihilation. Women are depicted as the ‘seducer’ or ‘provocateur’.
· Talk about narrative theory how female housewives/independent career women/fetishized objects and male characters are positioned in The Sopranos.

Topic: Women & guns/sex/sexual & domestic Violence

· Whilst Janice and Richie Aprile are have sex Richie Aprile Puts a gun to Janice’s head as form of sexual empowerment, this enforces the ideologies female repression and patriarchy. The male character feels the Janice is castrated and feels anxiety, so even though Janice is not holding the gun it is pointed at her head resolving the anxiety.
· The extensive use of guns in the Sopranos is mostly linked to male characters. However in another case a gun is used as a tool for women’s liberation and freedom. Guns are seen as objects resembling the phallic, relating to the ideologies of male patriarchy and repressors of female freedom. However in Janice Sopranos case with her violent relationship with Richie Aprile the gun is used to kill and penetrate the male character giving the idea of the female penetrating the male.
· Tracee is beaten to death on outside next to bin bags and trash and is left dead next to the trash connotes the representation women as Tracee is compared to “white trash” in society and is worthless and demeaning to men. The long shot portrays her life as meaningless as the mise en scene depicts her class in society.
· Link to Marxism and social class theory.
· Use key quotes from “Violence and the Media” by Cynthia Carter & C. Kay Weaver.

Topic: Male characters also seen by a female gaze

· The Sopranos challenges the ideologies of the series only depicting female objects and enforcing the male gaze as younger male characters such as Jackie Aprile jr and other characters such as Meadow’s previous half Jewish half Afro Caribbean boyfriend, casted by HBO are much more good looking than the older generation of mobsters in The Sopranos.
· This enforces Cortese’s theory of society and the media/film industry employing and women wanting good looking men with “muscular bodies”/“perfectly chiselled abs”. This shows that society and the gangster genre has significantly changed as characters such as Scarface chiselled with deformities and scars are no longer appealing to audiences or the film industry.
· Also link to advertisements in the media.

Topic: Historical Gangster Texts and The Sopranos

· Open with the history of the genre linking to the beginning the change with use of quotes from the Cinema Book.
· Discuss the change in women’s roles and representation in the genre through the 20th century leading to The Sopranos. Add historical texts such as Goodfellas (early 90’s), Godfather trilogy, Scareface 1932.

· Last bullet point also links to this section - Cortese’s theory of society and the media/film industry employing and women wanting good looking men with “muscular bodies”/“perfectly chiselled abs”...
· Texts such as Scarface 1932 portray significant dissimilar issues, debates and society. Women are portrayed as inferior and “more likely than men to be shown as frightened, in need of protection and direction, and offering love and support to the male lead character(s)” from Representation of gender in the past by David Gauntlet.
· Women are greatly fetishized in contemporary texts due especially series or other TV programmes due to Ofcom and laws being passed for a higher degree of sexual content to be aired in the late 20th century and 21st century.
· Moreover women are portrayed either as housewives or sexual objects rather than independent women with recognisable professions.


Historical Text




http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-674642252626441552&q=scarface+1932&total=15&start=10&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

Scareface 1932
Scareface by
Howard Hawks (1932) is a film that depicts the zeitgeist of the period in which the film was mad in. The film depicts the social issues in America, the opening credits of the shows the purpose of the film “The picture is an indictment of gang rule in America and of the callous government to this constantly increasing menace to our safety and our liberty”. The opening credits straightforwardly outlines the problems America faces due to Gang control and violence in the 1930’s. The opening credits suggest the problems the poeple of America faced due to their economical issues, leading to gang crimes and violence.

The film glorifies the idea of being a gangster and enforces the ideologies of good vs evil. Furthermore the female characters are subordinate to the male characters and are mad to be portrayed as female objects of the male gaze and perceived as ‘eye candy’.

The male character typically the “decisions which [lead] the story, and [are] assertive, confident and dominant”. The female characters undertook a more stereotypical role, they are “shown as frightened, in need of protection and direction and offering love and support to the male character”. However Scarface’s sister is shown in the final seen to undertake a masculine role subverting from the stereotypical roles of women of the zeitgeist of the film. The film focused on the representations of real life gangsters of the period such as Al Capone.

The film showcases proppian theory as the police/law is seen as not hero but as good and Mobsters such as Scarface are seen as bad or rebellious to law. Therefore the film demotes the representation of a gangster and the lifestyle it portrays, as the ending of the film depicts the protagonist in its weakest hour as a coward scared of the consequences of his actions. Furthermore the use of low angle shot of Scarface on the stair case leading to his bloody death in the final high angle shot shows the demise of the persona and demise of the glorified gangster lifestyle.

Moreover due to the period in which the film was shot the there were strict censorship laws meaning that blood was not actually shown neither were bullet wounds. This shows how the film industry in the 1930’s was technically less advanced. Additionally the strict censorship laws show how the audience are not prepared for bloody or gory scenes in contrast to the 21st century audience who are desensitised with minor killings and bloodshed.

Similarities

·Deaths of gang members and gang rivalry.
·Stereotypical of Italians as mostly gangsters, however The Sopranos tries to challenge this stereotype.
·Women as subordinate characters to the male characters.
·Male protagonists who drive the narrative.
·The use of women undertaking male roles such as shooting and killing (Scareface’s sister at the end and Tony Sopranos sister Janice killing Richie Aprile). Subverting from the ideologies of women as frightened and nurturers.
·Both texts reflect the zeitgeist of the period in which the text is produced in e.g. The Sopranos target key issues such as terrorism or homosexuality.

Differences

·The Sopranos has storylines based on the female characters that as well drive some of the narrative.
·Female characters in The Sopranos are portrayed as independent career women with respectable professions as well as fetishized objects.