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Studying Feminist Film Theory$
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Terri Murray

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781911325802

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325802.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Censorship and Patriarchal Ideology

Censorship and Patriarchal Ideology

Chapter:
(p.45) Chapter 3 Censorship and Patriarchal Ideology
Source:
Studying Feminist Film Theory
Author(s):

Terri Murray

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781911325802.003.0003

This chapter begins by examining theoretical models for the study of narrative provided by anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and Tzvetan Todorov. For a period from the early 1930s until the mid-1950s, Hollywood films were subject to regulation by censors who had the power to alter the cause–effect logic of the narrative in order to make it comply with their patriarchal moral ideology. This included the rule of ‘compensating moral values’, which assured that a character who committed an immoral action had to be either punished or redeemed within the narrative. Melodramas position the central female character as a victim, and are narrated from her perspective. The melodrama narrates a female predicament and offers female viewers a lesson in how (or how not) to behave. Meanwhile, films noir are typically narrated from the male perspective and position the male detective/hero as a victim of female manipulation or betrayal. The ‘femme fatale’ is a male construct; she represents male anxieties about women's changing roles in society, especially her sexual and economic independence. Neo-noir films deliberately subvert the rule of ‘compensating moral values’ and offer female viewers a rare opportunity to derive pleasure from narcissistic identification with the femme fatale.

Keywords:   Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tzvetan Todorov, censorship, patriarchal moral ideology, melodramas, female character, female viewers, films noir, femme fatale, neo-noir films

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