Full Looking at Films Anew Gender, sexuality and racism have always been a part of films not only because they are interesting topics that give color to stories but because they are real social issues people encounter daily. In films, they are oftentimes explicitly shown through the characters and their conversations however there are also times wherein such issues are subtly portrayed. For instance, the TV series entitled “Empire” uses several techniques in order to magnify real-life issues through the circumstances of the characters. “Empire” is about a family of talented singers who rose from poverty to stardom and wealth. It deals with issues that most Black Americans encounter such as racism and prejudice. Such focus on the Black American culture does not simply inform viewers but they somehow build similar perceptions on the minds of viewers who ultimately make their own generalizations about the Blacks. Before taking the class, this never crossed my mind but after considering what modern media does to the creation of perceptions, I now have gained more understanding about the techniques used in films in order to convey messages that are not very obvious.
In the aforementioned series, there are several scenes which show common issues on gender wherein men are perceived to be the strong and powerful gender so that they are supposed to be ruling the family. This is seen in the fight of the couple, Lucius and Cookie over the empire. It also portrays the common female concern of having a complete family so that the woman tries to forgive her husband despite his many atrocities toward her. As a long playing drama, the film also deals with the issue on the use of the female as a material not only in the movie but in real life situations. For instance, in trying to get back to Lucius, his son, Hakeem develops a sexual relationship with his father’s former fiancée, Anika. In this scene, Lucius finds Hakeem and Anika in an intimate situation. Knowing that Lucius was there, looking at them, Anika pulls Hakeem who slowly turns his face from his father to Anika’s breasts. The scenes are shown on close-up shots, capturing the facial expressions of the characters and also letting the viewers focus on the sexual implications of the scenes.
The aforementioned scenes bring Laura Mulvey’s theory of the “Male Gaze” to mind. The close-up shot on Anika does keep the male viewer’s focus on her as a sexual material and not just concentrate on what was going on in the story. The series also covers the issue on sexuality through the person of Jamal. Even during these days, homosexuality is still strongly opposed by many people regardless of race. As expected, Lucius, was not happy about his son’s sexuality and this affected his treatment toward his son. However, because of his health issues, the older man is forced to choose the next manager of his empire from his three sons. Although he did not appreciate Jamal’s sexuality, he had to come to terms with his perceptions of him because he had to admit the potentials of Jamal as his heir. With the extensive scope of the series in terms of social issues, I have learned that the techniques used in film-making and the use of characters are effective in relaying messages in a different light.