Female Fixation

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Jennifer Brigitte

“Usually when you see females in movies, they feel like they have these metallic structures around them, they are caged by male energy.”  Bjork

Here in this piece, a story will be told. It will be hidden from view inside an envelope of words, like a typographic centerpiece. The reader can choose to see what he can view with his naked eye or if he’s up for the challenge, the reader can very well take a step back at the following words on the paper and screen. He can see the clues are not just figments of a conspiracy theory but a more in depth view of an empire designed on top of the graves of the lost souls trapped inside the voyeurs’ chess game. Tread cautiously and may the world embrace you.

Halt the horse drawn carriages and let the somber peons mourn the loss of a tragic icon. Let her image of sex and sensuality bleed through our ever-evolving existence, forever embedded in our genetic DNA. Let the cultural appropriations become the tired cliches and let’s verbalize this woman into a grammatical denotation. Incorporate her image as a foundation to a home and in shrine her as a pop culture relic and entity. Her image shall be duplicated and posted all around the world for legions of fans to commemorate, celebrate, and crave. Let the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, so forth and so forth. Slowly but surely, the years start multiplying until it has become decades and half-centuries. Let the church bells ring as she robs you of your precious hours just so you can get lost in the image of her wonderland. Forever young, forever lost in the reverie of her smile, her body, her It. Immortalized in her mortal youth, you will die and she will live on like an inheritance to future generations until the day this Earth dies along with her. No longer is she a part of a Jungian id, an uninhibited barbarian collection of wants, desires, and needs. No longer is she the pleasure principle, an immediate psychic force compelling those with the utmost bodily gratification. Like a Madonna or a Mona Lisa, she flies above your ego, rises above all cognitive reasoning and the abilities to function with the reality principle. She has become the one entity closer to god in that she will be your mother, your sister, your aunt, your daughter, and your lover all in one. Didn’t you know but she’s also omnipresent. She lives in all of us, from the lens of a camera into a motion picture. Our job is to remaster her into all of her blonde ambition and glory.

In the seminal 1975 cult masterpiece, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Richard O’ Brien (Riff-Raff) sang while Patricia Quinn’s (Magenta) magnetic lips lip-synched these words that pulled the trigger, “Got caught in a celluloid jam.” Whatever it meant on film was forever altered when enhancing this phrase into the bigger scope of it all. Hollywood, the mecca of film, has simply become an isolated prison for insecure women caged inside. Long lost girls whom are transplanted from their homes come to the cattle calls of an animal farm where their bodies are caged for the world to prod and brand as their livestock. We, the viewer, are voyeurs who watch these women lose their sense of privacy on screen. For a moment in time, the Peeping Toms come and watch these women play with their follies. What lies ahead is the story of twisted dreams and for the wild bunch, a road down to an early grave.

The world was created by the old for the youth to inherit. It was always their domain to savagely rule in a land vastly created to be an exorbitant playground that fulfills those constant cravings for indulgences and self-mutilations. In reality, Hollywood is just a meat grinder for women obsessed with youth and plastic surgery. In the Valley of the Dolls, silicone are made for toys. The same can be said about Hollywood. There is nothing that surprises or shocks me anymore. All the turmoil and hard work are ripped away by sordid tales of lust and luster.

Hollywood is a monopolized assembly line known for manufacturing images and writing mythical fables of its most celebrated luminaries. This is an industry that seldom cherishes talent and brawn but focuses on how to retain the prism of beauty and youth for as long as they can. A girl doesn’t need to be talented to be successful. She is a by-product of a marketing team designed to brand the next big thing, the It Girl.

In our cultural lexicon, an It Girl is simply a beautifully stylish girl who is both timelessly modern and classic at the same time. She possesses sexuality and desirability without an overt flaunting of said quality. The first beauty to be donned with such a burden was famed flapper turned silent screen icon Clara Bow. In fact, in 1927, Hollywood bought the writes from Elinor Glyn to adapt her magazine editorial into a concept romantic comedy film. The story of spunky shopgirl Betty Lou Spence meets her employer and retail heir Cyrus Waltham Jr. After a series of unfortunate events, our heroine comes on top— the classic movie cliche represented in under 73 minutes. Boy meets girl, boy loses the girl, boy, and girl triumph over all.

In the land of motion capturing fabled stories, like Bow’s Betty Lou Spence, we root for the It girl to triumph over all adversary. In the new era, we find ourselves enamored with the likes of Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence. At just 26, Lawrence has four Oscar nominations and one win under her belt. She is the face of a multi-billion dollar movie and book franchise and has single-handedly reinvented the strong female action star, a seat that has been vacant since the days of sci-fi icons Sigourney Weaver (the Alien films) and Linda Hamilton (the Terminator films). Lawrence’s marketable persona and infallible charisma-powered by her manifestations and grit to create real persons with depth and punch is the reason she is the definition of the Girl on Fire. Jennifer Lawrence is undoubtedly the newest face of the Complex Muse movement.

Inspired by famed New York author Francine Prose who wrote the acclaimed novel Blue Angel, a satirical novel detailing sexual harassment on college campuses, a complex muse is about the everyday heroine who defies any histrionic attempts to define her into a box. Instead, the muse is a chameleon, forever churning out effortless performances and appearances to the delight of her admirers. Her strength at the height of her vulnerability is an entrance to realness. Her abilities to tap into our deepest and darkest secrets is the reason she can live beyond the passages of time and space. From the beginning of time, women have been the faces of some of the most iconic images ever produced and they have been the catalyst for the rise of their men. Whether it was Mary Magdalene as the wife of Jesus Christ or Edie Sedgwick as the face of Andy Warhol, our landscape has been bombarded with visages of immortalized women in pop culture. Icons like Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy, Mona Lisa (Da Vinci’s muse), and the Girl with a Pearl Earring (Johannes Vermeer’s muse) have become the complex muses forever etched into the memories of the pursuits and connoisseurs. With this been said, the idea is that our fascination with these iconographic actresses is because they represent the modernity of the complex creatures that are stimulatingly intelligent, nurturing mothers, combative warriors, assurant activists, and everything in between.

The difference between an It Girl and a Complex Muse is that an It Girl is a temporary moment in which one girl is the cornerstone of its time. Whether it’s the 90’s supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista as the faces of Versace during the reign of it’s creator Gianni Versace or the pseudo-subversive counter-culture of  Heroin Chic, defined by waif supermodel Kate Moss, It girls represent a glimpse into the social branding and trends of our times. They were manufacturing of the era, designed by corporations to connect with their psychographics and give an indention to the parallels of the movies, styles, and music. Cindy and Naomi were all about cosmetics, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Kennedy, wealth, and Pepsi Cola endorsement deals while Kate Moss was vintage Johnny Depp’s rebound chick and the face of minimalist fashion guru, Calvin Klein. A complex muse is a woman who has transcended time, not only fads and eras bound her. Instead, like Pollock married with abstract expressionism and Warhol with pop art, these muses are an institution in it of themselves. The commercialization of the images induce consumerism and individual economic supply and demand paradigm.

In short, if we line up the top it girls and complex muses in the history of Hollywood into one infographic, we notice Hollywood’s female fixation at the core of its gender bias dilemma. The Female Fixation is about the corruption of the female celebrity image and how the media labels all the images under four categories: The Diva, The Vamp, The Virgin, and The Flapper. Female Fixation chronicles the lives of the it girls and the complex muses as they live out their chaotic lives in the press. Some women are completely lost, unbeknownst to them that they are being used as a sexual objects for the media and those who want to see them fail and some fight to be remembered even if they gain a notoriety that lives on in infamy.

Names like Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, and Miley Cyrus may be new in this 21st century but not much has changed from the days in which Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Lana Turner, and Elizabeth Taylor used to conquer.

In a society that is extremely hostile to the female physique, the gendered double standards become alarmingly clear: females need to create a persona and a mystic to differentiate themselves from the world and even then, they are pressured to eradicate any anomalies that make them different.

Girls are trained from their earliest days to see themselves as ugly. From the moment a young female child hits puberty, society (starting with their parental guidance and peers) expect the girls to cover their face with makeup in order mask their natural face. The female face, unlike her male counterparts, is considered ugly and vile, therefore, whenever a “brave” woman fronts her hideous mug to the outside world, the shock is relentless. Women are expected to be dolls or locked up jewels inside a glass case in some archaic museum. They are trained monkeys with cymbals, not thinking hard working women. They are designed to wear pounds of makeup and front a disguise and so it goes. As they age, the scrutiny intensifies. Women are shamed into hating themselves for being the way the way they were naturally designed to be. Hollywood is not about “being who you are” but about “being who they intend you to be.”  

A true naturalistic woman would not be desirable for men, no matter how much they protest and attest that will always love us for being perfect despite our flaws. But flaw is that? Forgetting to shave armpits, vagina, and legs for a few weeks or maybe not wearing a stitch of makeup to work is really that repulsive? Does our hair have to be put up in such a manner everyday to be considered beautiful, a term by its very definition that is subjective and quixotic. Makeup is only the beginning. In this industry, the smaller you are, the more roles and endorsements you will get. Just as long as you are not a liability and punchline for the media, the world is salad bowl. As long as they never reveal the real woman, the fixation will live on. It is a sick cycle carousel, from beginning to end, and at this rate, Hollywood’s manipulation of celebrity sex tapes, catcalls, casting couches, and more will spell the end of this mecca. Every empire falls, starting with Rome.

The supply and demand curve is the most fundamental piece in the world of finance and economics. It is the survivalist code to understanding the Return of Investment and if one understands Hollywood, production companies, screenwriters, directors, and actors’ careers nearly fall apart when the product or service’s ROI’s is far less or breaks even to the initial investment. For an  actress in this day and age, the roles for a strong character driven female in a movie that makes money, are few and in between. It is the reason why when an actress of Shailene Woodley, Dakota Fanning, Evan Rachel Wood, Chloe Grace Mortez, or Scarlett Johansson’s caliber rises to the top with heavy hitting numbers in the box office, we propel them to stardom in a grand fashion. Film, as an art form, needs actresses with talents like Woodley, Johansson, Fanning, Wood, Mortez, Lawrence, and Stone to be the new faces of a postmodern era where they take over such greats like Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, Helen Mirren, and Glenn Close.

In economics terminology, demand means how much of a product is the market desiring to by. This gateway helps a team of economists and financial marketers gage out just how much this product may be in demand and what is the selling price for it. Supply, on the other hand, is how much of the product will go into production. The law of demand indicates that the higher the price of the product, the lower the masses will demand the product because it would mean a certain group of people (those living according to their means) would have to be willing to forego the consumption of another product they may not want to let go. For that reason, products of a middle price range (especially in the children’s entertainment industry) sell more because these products are far more accessible to the general public without necessarily compromising the product’s quality.

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