Throughout recent decades, the graphic violence of slasher films has become increasingly controversial. The horror slasher genre has become one of the most controversial film categories, receiving attention for the skillful and artful way these movies become emotion roller coasters (poised between fear, relief, empathy and anger), as well as for their graphic violence. Another aspect that has received a remarkable level of attention of commentators among commentators is the sexual aspect of these films, especially with regards to gender differences. This account will evaluate gender representation in this film genre, in order to determine whether the image of women portrayed in horror slashers. To examine the issue, this document will use two specific motion pictures: The first of this films will be The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), probably the first commercially successful slasher film in history, and Through the analysis of both films, we will intend to ascertain whether the slasher genre has an empowering effect on female viewers or not.
The representation of women in films has received widespread attention from scholars and social commentators. Sexuality has played an important role in the entertainment throughout centuries, and cinema is not an exception. As Mulvey (1975) indicates, the portrayal of women in films have proved to be demeaning since the start of the movie industry. In this respects, the objectification of women has been carried out in two different ways: as an erotic object for the story's other characters and as an erotic object for the viewer. Nevertheless, this argument can be questioned by carrying out a detailed examination of the film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which offers a wide range of characters to the viewer.
[...] The analysis of more modern slasher movies like the remake of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre shows very powerful, intelligent and heroic female characters. Nevertheless, these characters are tomboyish and more masculine than those in earlier movies. It is possible to argue that while early slasher films would not empower female viewers, as they contain the same Victorian stereotypes presented in other media forms and movies of other kind, which present women as defenseless, more modern slasher films can, at least to some extent, empower women. [...]
[...] In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Sally intelligently escapes and survives to tell the tale, but she is not able to fight her abuser in the same way as Halloween's Laurie. In another slasher movie. Prom Night (1980), the female character takes the shape of the hero that saves the day, rather than the victim role omnipresent in uncountable films, or the role of a strong woman unable to become an avenger (Sally in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). Prom Night's character Kim is able to become the story's hero, killing the villain. [...]
[...] This increases the difficulty of generating a single argument or theory that can explain why female roles are portrayed by scriptwriters and directors in specific ways. For this reason, it is difficult to generalize in order to determine whether female viewers to react to exposure to these films by being empowered, or whether the opposite effect would take place. Nevertheless, it is possible to arrive to certain conclusions: - Females are portrayed as sexual objects. A common feature of slasher films is their objectification of women. The majority of slasher film depict women as sexual objects. [...]
[...] This reinforces the idea that viewers of slasher film are constantly subjected to stereotypes. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to this (in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Sally is an intelligent character who is able to control her emotions and lead the search to find her friends). In later remakes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and other movies, - Females portrayed as defenseless victims vs. Strong independent women portrayed as avengers. Female characters in early slasher films tend not to engage in physical fighting, as seen from analyzing The Texas Chain Saw massacre where Sally escapes and does not engage in continued fighting with the movie's killer. [...]
[...] In the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, women are certainly portrayed like victims. Victims of the violence of a serial killer, and the depiction of the cruel conduct of the villain is very graphically reflected. They are humiliated by the killer's actions. For example, in the movie the character Sally appears covered in blood at times, being humiliated as a cause of the aberrant behavior of the maniac. This is in clear contrast with other films, where female characters are occasionally allowed to remain beautiful even after receiving fatal attacks, being portrayed as sex objects even in death scenes (Mulvey, 1975). [...]
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