International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Gender Politics and the Critical Gaze: Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin-Feminin
Judith R. Halasz

In Masculin-Feminin (1966), avant-garde filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard uses innovative aesthetic strategies to critique gender politics in mainstream cinema and everyday life. By focusing on 1960s youth culture, Godard examines the role leftist politics and late capitalist culture play in gender identities and sexual desire. Adding to Laura Mulvey’s concept of the erotic male gaze, this analysis reveals an alternative gaze on gender—a critical gaze—produced by Godard’s aesthetic strategies. These strategies include replacing shot-counter shot editing with a journalistic quasi-interrogation interview and a using Deleuzian repetition of differential scenes and characters in lieu of narrative continuity. As a result, Godard subverts the conventional objectification of women as passive screen icons and forces the audience out of an innocent voyeurism into an uncomfortable complicity with the film, actors, and filmmaker. In doing so, Godard invites the viewer to arrive at their own understanding of gender politics.

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