Recently the TruTV program “I’m sorry.” began promoting its second season by posting the following ad all about the subway stations. But I can’t help the feeling that the image is actually subtly asserting the primacy and “right” of male gaze.
Ostensibly the illustration advances the message that Savage’s character is “the thinking mom (bath toys) who curses (bar of soap) and says what’s on her mind — while in suburbia.” But there was something about it, the vacant stare, the gaping mouth, that felt a bit too designed for the scoptophilic pleasure of the heterosexual, male viewer.
I was surprised to see this in a show that seems so focused on showing how the gender-role boxes we stuff women into are dated, tired, and irrelevant.
But then I watched, under the poor guidance of a suggestion from the book “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” Polanski’s “Bitter Moon” (speaking of dated, tired, and irrelevant portrayals of women)1.
In this film, Emmanuelle Seigner plays “Mimi” who is, through the entire film, the scoptophilic lust object of two men engaged in a voyeuristic psychosexual transference pas-de-deux. Perhaps uglier yet, bordering on Lars von Trier territory, is that the design of the film is to make the viewer complicit in the scoptophilic objectification of Mimi. It’s an ugly little film designed to make viewers participate in Mimi’s objectification.2
In any case, early in her dehumanization to erotic fetish, we have this scene:
Which to me seems to be a pretty clear precursor to the “I’m sorry.” ad.
I have to wonder, did the “I’m sorry.” art crew wittingly design this ad to serve male gaze? And what does it say that Andrea can be funny and witty and, yes, attractive, but we (those entitled to male gaze) still have to be assured that she can be our scoptophilic object too.
Once you realize that the world you live in has been built to serve your gaze, you gaze which gladly objectifies with utter casualness, you can’t help but get a little grossed out by it.
That said, Andrea is hilarious and in the one episode I did watch of the show Judith Light’s dressing her down for being a tourist who expected a cake-walk at Ms. Light’s character’s fitness for seniors is truly inspired.
- This film and the slapping as plot-element essential to “Chinatown” leave me to conclude many of Polanski’s movies have a real jubilation in misogyny.
- Similarly ugly: von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves,” “Dancer in the Dark”; Gaspar Noë’s “Irreversible”