It is important to understand the implicit meaning of every film. This is because it is difficult to determine what the film portrays in a direct manner. I will analyze “Sucker punch”, an American thriller action film, as well as a Pakistani film called “Cake” to examine the subtext of feminism. Both films deal with gender stereotypes, which are prevalent in both our society and around the world if we look at its global perception. Gender stereotypes develop when behaviors and their psychological characteristics are generalized by sexes, which are then seen as permanent, intrinsic characteristics of each sexe. People believe women who are primarily involved in household work or jobs that require a high level of social interaction are caring, warm and skilled. People believe men who are in roles that require strength and are in roles of high status are dominant, assertive and forceful.
Sucker Punch has a subtext that is based on Feminism. The belief in gender equality is feminism. It is the belief of equal rights for men and woman. It’s a movement organized around the belief. Several well-known female theorists have stressed that it is important to show women in films. These feminist theorists have used their theories to demonstrate that historically, men have remained in control and have dominated women while showing them as subordinates. The feminist theory includes Laura Mulvey, with her Thegaze theory. Claire Johnston talks about Freud’s Psycho-sexual Theory and the ideological picture of women. This film depicts many feminist issues indirectly, such as the objectification or females and their position within society. Also, it shows their ability in fighting back against a hostile world. The film tells the story of a young Girl, Baby Doll, who was sexually abused. After her mother’s death, she and her younger sibling are left with him. She escapes from the locked room in which her stepfather had her, to protect her sister. Her sister is killed when she accidentally misfires the gun that she has in hand to try to save her. As she cries, she points her gun towards her stepfather without shooting him. She is then sent to a mental hospital by her stepfather when she’s no longer wanted or needed. Claire Johnston is a well-known feminist critic and feminist theorist. She was one of first feminists to analyze stereotypes from a linguistic perspective. She explained how the classical cinema creates an ideological image of woman. According to her, Sucker Pun is a film where the males are shown as superior. Her stepfather for example takes her into the mental institution to control her future by paying Blue the person who runs the facility to admit her. Claire Johnston argues that the male character in Sucker Punch is powerful and active. Blue is strong as he leads the metal institution. According to Baby doll, the other patients are prostitutes. He is the one in charge of the institution where the men are sexually and physical abused by women. This film’s subtext is not less than the reality that women are mistreated and the female character becomes passive. This reality isn’t portrayed in its true form, but connotations suggest that Baby Doll dances in order to imagine herself as strong enough in her locked-up situation. It also shows how weak she is, because she and other female characters, such as Blondie and Sweet pea are powerless to escape. The male dominance in our society has led to women being treated as inferiors. Blue believes that he is the owner of the girls and that they must obey him at all costs. This is unacceptable as both men and women should have equal rights. Laura Mulvey’s theory states that Sucker Punch is the epitome of the Objectification and exploitation of women, not only in terms of their physical appearance but also their mental state. Let me give you a few examples to support my claim. Laura Mulvey’s The Gaze, a theory that describes the gaze of characters in visual texts and images, is applied to camera angles, camera moves, and frames which draw the males towards the females. The film’s close-ups or extreme closeups, as well the mid shots, each angle depicts a message that helps to connect the shots and scenes. The Male gaze is evident in the film. The protagonist, Baby doll, has been dressed with a stylish high school ensemble and two ponytails. Laura Mulvey has analyzed that the male audience is attracted to the fact that the male characters in the story are usually shown gazing and lusting for female characters. It may be the lens that lingers in the movie on the woman, who is dressed with cleavage showing outfits or wearing transparent skin-tights. The women in the Bordello are dressed provocatively. It gets more intense when the girls are trying to escape and are perceived as objects by the men. The girls are dressed well and they are prostitutes. Their body is not objectified by close-ups. However, at certain places females are manipulated to get men’s attention. For instance, Baby doll began to dance before a wealthy client wearing a small top that showed cleavage and underwear. Laura Mulvey’s theory on visual pleasure is a desire by male viewers to gaze at beautiful women and experience their fantasies. This film’s main subtext is that the women in the film are treated as a commodity, which customers use and discard, as though they were without dreams and life. They stare at their bodies and objectify them. The men see women only as objects that satisfy the desire of the males to stare at a female character. Because of the way this story was written, women are shown to be inferior. However, certain scenes in the film show women to have a lot of power. When Baby doll is made to dance in public for the very first time, she becomes extremely stressed, and refuses to accept being sexually gazed. A female leader who is shown to be dominant grooms and encourages the girl to prove herself. Baby doll has her close her vision and take her to a fantasy land where she appears as a strong woman with weapons, fighting evil. The subtext here is that women will accomplish a goal no matter how difficult it may be. She is a woman with a strong soul. The way Baby doll leads Blondie and her friends to the escape plan shows that she has leadership skills. However, social observations are complicated at this fantasy level. I think that the men are telling the women what to do, and where they can get the escape elements. These women are in control of their lives. In some scenes, women are shown hypnotizing men and allowing them stare at them. They do this to control their minds, which is how they gain all of the escape elements. Baby doll, who stabs Blue as he tries to get close to her when he’s helpless, is also shown as confident and authoritative. Sucker Punch focuses on all feminist themes that Freud also mentions in his psychosexual theories. Freud’s view is seen in the films. Women who become powerful, sexually aggressive or want a job are punished if they step outside of the boundaries set by the patriarchy. The film Sucker Punch shows this because Blue, who is the patriarchal leader, warned Baby doll, her other teammates and their wealthy client to stop misplacing the lighter, the cooks’ knife and the map. He also threatened them with death. Blue was the dominant personality in this film and when Blondie, Amber, and their team didn’t listen to him they were killed one by another. In this male-dominated culture, there is no questioning of males for any wrongdoing. The male is always viewed in a superior light and as being right. Women are not punished when they threaten or oppress women. Women may appear to be in charge in some films but at a certain point, stereotypical images of women being passive and low in status are highlighted. Psychosexual theory reinforces patriarchal beliefs that men should have the upper hand and be in control. When women compete against men, they are perceived by patriarchy as a danger because not only do the women want power for themselves, but also to take power away from men. Sucker Punch’s subtext, as I have shown in all my analyses, is very important from a feminist standpoint. Each theorist has expressed their opinion about films, the stereotypical images of male power and female objectification through their theories. Their analysis is based on the Classic Cinema narrative constructed by men. Women are therefore viewed from a man’s perspective. Suckerpun is not the only film to break stereotypes. The film portrays a message of female empowerment and management of the environment. Pakistan has a high rate of male dominance, too. The misc-enscene, cinematography, and sound have all been designed to reflect the gender element of the film Cake. The film “Cake”, which is set in Karachi in the present day, revolves a dysfunctional, five-person family. Zareen’s (Aamina Shiek), the middle one, left her dreams and moved to the UK, Zara’s (Sanam Saeed), a youngster who has lived there for a while, and Zain’s (Faris Khlid) oldest child who lives in New York City with his partner and child. After the parents’ health begins to deteriorate, the family comes together. The family must now face each other after their reunion and resolve their differences, grievances and laments. This film is a perfect blend of humor and mind, with the right amount of disaster. The central theme of “Cake” concerns the passage of time as seen by one family. The film offers a realistic look at the various decisions, results and substances that make up life. The film’s cinematography, as well as its aesthetics, are a representation of gender in the context of countering stereotypical views. The composition, framing and way it portrays Zareen as dominant and in charge of workers and household chores creates a narrative that complements the feminine gender. The background score, camera movements, and diegetic/non-diegetic sound were all used to help build the momentum. Cake’s audience can enjoy realistic set designs, strong performances by the actors and a screenplay that makes goals, motivations and success Zareen’s top priority. Zara is a role model for other women to have faith in themselves. Patricia Collins (1999) in her book Black Feminist Thought, discusses the Mammy-image which portrays Black women as loyal domestic servants and only fit for household chores and childcare. This image has caused Black women to endure this because society still views the woman as someone who is dedicated to their identity and only thinks about family and children. Next, the Matriarch was defined as a Black woman taking on the man’s role in the family rather than being the nurturing mother she should. It is a form of intersectional abuse, which Black women continue to suffer because they are expected to be both mother and father for their children. Most fathers today do not spend time with their children. Black women have more lucrative careers and will be able to provide the majority of income to the family instead of Black men. In the movie Zareen, the oldest daughter is both “Mammy” (mother) and “Matriarch” (matriarch), as she looks out for her parents at home and takes care of their land from which they make a living. Zareen takes on the role of both son and daughter as well as caretaker to their home. Zara has been portrayed, according to Patricia Collins, as a Black woman educated who has chosen a professional career over a family life. Zara spends most of her time working in the UK while spending very little with her Pakistani relatives. There is little information about Zara’s romantic life. However, she lies her parents by telling them she has a partner. Zara as well as Zareen have been created as control images to help the audience know what they should do with them. Zara is portrayed as an unreliable woman who doesn’t know how to be in a relationship. Men are told not to approach her. Zareen is the emasculated ‘Mammy and Matriarch’, she has a fatherly and domestic role and goes to her lands to do work. Zareen felt uncomfortable at the party Zara took her to, and she wanted to leave. Cake broke the stereotypes of Zareen’s father by having her work in Sindhi-speaking lands in England while Zara remained in Britain and worked independently. People with strong views on gender roles tend to be more traditional than those who can adapt to the gender roles. Entity scholars, who rely heavily on generalizations for sorting out and deciphering data from social sources, have a tendency to assign women the role of “Caretakers”, while men assume the role of “Breadwinners”. Cake shattered the stereotype of men being breadwinners by having Romeo play a male role and take care of Zara, Zareen and their parents. Zara was also working. Zara’s and Zareens’ brother Zain married a woman called Sana. Contrary to the stereotype of a male, Zain listened to Sana and followed her wishes. It is possible that emotional vulnerability can be a major factor in romantic relationships, as people are trying to keep the relationship going, meet their needs, and not be hurt by their partner. Gender role expectations are the result of preconceived notions of society. Males tend to dominate and order their female counterparts around and be in control while females take care of the home and kids. Zain’s counterpart, ‘Cake,’ does not dictate to Zain what to do. Romeo is also more patriarchal in the sense that he is responsible for the parents and cleans up after them.