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Hollywood Representation of Women in 1930 Film - Research Paper Example

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Hollywood Representation of Women in 1930 Film

3). Moreover, despite certain female stars’ legendary statuses, the roles they played often reinforced traditional gender roles. The purpose of this research paper is to document how Hollywood portrayed women in film, with a particular focus on the 1930s, using the Gold diggers of 1933 (1933) as a framework. The Depression era of the 1930s provides an interesting backdrop to explore how women are portrayed, due to the changing morals and also because early 1930s is considered to be ‘pre-code’ (Doherty 1999, p. 3). This refers to the Hays Code, instituted in 1931 but not enforced until 1934, meaning that, during the early 1930s, studios had freer reign to portray women in a lurid fashion. The post-code era also relied less on showing women as sex objects and more on showing women as equals to men (Doherty 1999, p. 5). In this paper, the following themes will be discussed: the representation of women in early 1930 film, the role of women and the criticism of s their roles in these films. Representation of Women in 1930s Film Hollywood cinematography often objectified women for men’s pleasure (Kaplan 1994, p. 3). According to Mulvey (1989, p. 56), female characters in Hollywood were presented as being worth looking at but not worth listening to. As such, in this era, men viewed women in different dimensions, often known as the Madonna/whore complex (Kaplan 1994, p. 103). This means that women were stereotyped either as sexually active whores, or pristine and powerless Madonnas (housewives). Gates (2011, p. 23) argues that most Hollywood films present women images with the purpose of gratifying male viewers. In Gold diggers of 1933, the 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 was not stereotyped as sex objects like Rogers, Blondell and Keeler and perhaps had the best lines of all the women in the film. Her role among the showgirls was a comedienne that uses her wit and humour more than her sexuality. MacMahon aside, the women in Gold diggers embody the dichotomy of the Madonna/whore. They are portrayed as liberated whose morals are viewed negatively by Lawrence Bradford, the wealthy older brother of Brad Roberts aka Robert Bradford. Lawrence Bradford embodied the elite of the 1930s who portrayed how his class viewed with condescension what they perceived as the women in the film’s lack of morals. Interestingly, by the end of the film, the women all become Madonnas, in the sense that they are transformed from showgirls—independent with loose morals—into wives. Trixie marries Lawrence’s lawyer, Carol marries Lawrence himself and Polly marries Brad. Their transformation from whores to Madonnas is thus complete. In short, women’s roles in the 1930s were often stereotypical, with women portrayed in a sexualised manner for the benefit of men. Another way that women were stereotyped was that they were often portrayed in movies as choosing love over a career which is the focus of the next section. Portrayal of Women in 1930s Film Film reinforces and reflects a society’ ...Show more
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Hollywood Representation of Women in 1930 Film 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 Representation of Women in 1930 Film
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