The Male Gaze in Disturbia
As an advanced representation system the cinema possesses questions of the ways the unconscious structure ways of seeing and pleasure in looking. Feminists have been using Freud’s psychoanalytical theory as a political weapon in order to deconstruct popular Hollywood cinema and how it stimulates the patriarchal culture. Even though we are more conscious about these structures nowadays, Hollywood cinema still uses the Male Gaze in order to control the identification processes of the spectator. A recent example is the thriller Disturbia (2007) by D.J. Caruso, seen as a modern interpretation of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. It’s a movie about a grounded teenager who starts spying on his neighbours out of boredom. After making a brief comparison between these two movies, I will mainly focus on the Male Gaze; how the protagonist, Kale Brecht, spends his days spying his new neighbour Ashley, a girl who just moved in the neighbourhood and becomes the object of desire of Kale.
Voyeurism is the main theme in Rear Window as well as in Disturbia, the spectator looks at the male protagonists looking at their neighbours. They are both bounded to their own house because of a limitation in their legs; Jeff’s leg is broken where Kale has an ankle monitor. Both characters get hooked on looking at the daily happenings of their neighbourhood and end up discovering a murderer that lives among them. Further they also have two sidekicks who help them investigate, going where the protagonists can’t go. While the object of desire usually is a helpless woman, subjected to the male protagonists, in these movies Lisa and Ashley are empowered women who choose to help Jeff and Kale, going further then they can and therefore have a certain power, dominance.
Hitchcock skilfully makes use of identification processes with a subjective camera from the point of view of the male protagonist. Drawing the spectator deeply into his position, making...