Summary of Linda Williams’ “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and

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In the essay “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess,” Linda William critiques the three genres of films with the fundamental elements of sex, violence, and emotion. She analyzes the cultures of past and present, which lead to the three genres of films that came from the pleasures and values of the society. There are certain types of pleasure that are achieved with each type of element in pornography, horror, and melodrama. She associates that women are the main figures that are used to portray these elements, in which she says “…women figured on the screen have functioned traditionally as the primary embodiments of pleasure, fear, and pain” (373). The pleasures are the convulsion or spasm in porn, the screams of fear in horror, and the sobs of anguish in melodrama. Within the three genres, the significant feature is the excess of the body. In pornography, melodrama and horror films, the body is shown as being the spectacle to the pleasures previously informed. It is not just a regular body that becomes the object of spectacle, but the female body and it is through “the sexual saturation of the female body that audiences of all sorts have received some of their most powerful sensations” (373). These type of f Continue...


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In pornographic films, the sex is the problem and the ways the sex is performed would be the solution. In these films, the masculine audience seeks pleasure by seeing "oscillation" of the perversion between masochistic and sadistic in female role. This means that the fantasies are a point in time of a lost event that took place in the past and an imaginary event that never took place. This event can never be located to its real origin which creates the fantasy. Williams also talks about how it has been a cliche that women make the best victims, and the feminist critics agree by saying that "" the image of the sexually ecstatic woman so important to the genre is a celebration of female victimization and a prelude to female victimization in real life" (374). In pornography the meeting is "on time," in horror films the meeting is "too early," and in melodrama films the meeting is "too late" (382). These genres of films portray "sensations that are on the edge of being respectable" (370) and these shows the raw emotions that are not acceptable by the typical society. In each genre, there is a repetition of the fantasy, but there it is not fixed or endless. The similarity of the problems in the films and the culture is the main reason for the success of these genres. There are also bisexual pornography which challenges the once thought unthinkable to be a norm in today"tms society. This simplicity can also be translated a validity, but it does not have to do well for the normal critical praise. These types of films become successful based on how extreme that audience sensation imitates on what is being seen on the screen. These perversions are quite different in each type of film. The timing in each genre is very different.

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