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Hollywood Representations of Women in 1930s Films - Research Paper Example

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3). Moreover, despite certain female stars’ legendary status, the roles they played often reinforced traditional gender roles. Thus, the purpose of this research paper is to document how Hollywood portrayed women in film, with a particular focus on the 1930s, using the 1933 movie The Golddiggers of 1933 as a framework for exploring the roles and portrayals of women in 1930s Hollywood. The 1930s is an important era to explore the role and portrayal of women because the Depression era lends an interesting backdrop to explore how women are portrayed, due to the changing morals and increasing cynicism of the country, and also because the early 1930s is considered to be “pre-code” (Doherty, 1999, p. 3). This refers to the Hays Code, which was instituted in 1931, but not enforced until 1934, and this meant that, during the early 1930s, studios had more free reign to portray women in a lurid fashion. Additionally, the pre-code era portrayed women differently than in the post code era, as the post code era relied less on showing women as sex objects and more on showing women as equals to men (Doherty, 1999, p. 5). ...
As such, in this era, men viewed women in different dimensions, often known as the Madonna/Whore (Kaplan, 1994, p. 103). This means that women were stereotyped either as sexually active whores, or pristine and powerless Madonnas (housewives). According to Gates (2011, p. 23), most Hollywood films present women images with the purpose of gratifying male viewers. In the 1933 film The Gold Diggers of 1933, this ethos, that women are sex objects, is on full display. The core group of women, played by Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell, and Ruby Keeler are the stereotypical bombshells – slender and beautiful, and often dressed in very skimpy costumes. Rogers and Blondell are both platinum blonde, which is another way that a woman is stereotypically portrayed as sexy in the cinema. The single exception in this core group of women is Aline MacMahon, who is not stereotypically pretty, and, perhaps not coincidentally, has the best lines of any of the women. MacMahon is the sole voice of cynicism and hard-boiled attitude, which prevailed during the early 1930s, because of the Great Depression. MacMahon is also clearly portrayed as having a superior intellect than the other girls. That said, the girls embodied the dichotomy of the Madonna/Whore. That is to say that they were portrayed as independent, and their morals are looked at negatively by Lawrence Bradford, the wealthy older brother of Brad Roberts AKA Robert Bradford. Lawrence Bradford is the embodiment of the elite in the 1930s, and gives voice to how the elite viewed women like the core group in this film – with disdain and with the implication that these girls lacked morals. Interestingly, by the end of the film, the girls all become Madonnas. This is because they were all transformed from showgirls ...Show more
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HOLLYWOOD REPRESENTATIONS OF WOMEN IN 1930S FILMS Name Name of Institution Introduction Since the inception of the film industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, women have played a central role in the industry’s growth…
Hollywood Representations of Women in 1930s Films
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