Feminist film theorists have been exploring the issue of the “male gaze” and its various nuances and
implications for decades. The term “male gaze” was first used in 1975 by Laura Mulvey– who is also a key
interviewee in Brainwashed. Nina Menkes builds on the vital work of Mulvey and other essential feminist
writers including Judith Butler, bell hooks and Angela Carter, bringing her own perspective as a working
director and cinematographer. Using almost 200 film clips from A-list and other notable movies, from 1896
through the present*, Menkes exposes specifically how shot design itself (POV, framing, camera
movement, lighting, and even sound design) has functioned to perpetuate the sexist binary throughout
cinematic history–and its serious implications for our real lives.
Although most users may never have read film theory, #malegaze is one of the most popular tags on
TIKTOK, currently at 290 million views and climbing. The term is often used in an amorphous way online,
but nevertheless reflects the widespread, popular intuition that “to-be-looked-at-ness” remains an ongoing
In addition to the prominent presence of Laura Mulvey, Brainwashed features interviews with numerous
significant film professionals including Julie Dash (director), Maya Montanez Smukler (author/historian),
Charlyne Yi (performer/comedian), Maria Giese (director/activist), Catherine Hardwicke (director), Dr.
Kathleen Tarr (attorney/educator, Stanford University); Amy Ziering (director/producer), Eliza Hittman
(director), Joey Soloway (producer/writer/director), Rosanna Arquette (actress/activist), May Hong
HaDuong (director, UCLA Film & Television Archives), and Penelope Spheeris (director).
Brainwashed is a visual journey through cinema’s sexist bloodstream and might forever change the way we
see and make movies.
- Original titleBrainwashed: Sex-camera-power
- DirectorsNina Menkes
- Time108 Minutes
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