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Film theory’s biggest Freud stan Laura Mulvey foregrounded the “male gaze” in the early 70s; essentially, she proposed that golden-age Hollywood continuity editing (straightforward compositions, definitive story arcs) sutured the audience seamlessly into the male protagonist’s perspective, so slickly they’d never realize they were looking through Cary Grant’s eye sockets like a miniature mecha pilot, lusting after Grace Kelly.

It’s tough to transpose Mulvey’s theories to videogames, mostly because I’ve never seen a videogame cutscene that approximates the level of visual intelligence of even the most remedial filmmakers. But we know quite well that videogames have been mistakenly targeted at young men for a long time, and thus when a barebones dialogue scene is framed in a medium shot of the female character’s lovingly sculpted buttcheeks it comes as no surprise.

But that sort of weird voyeuristic bullshit is not what Bayonetta 2 offers. No, Bayonetta herself is in control of the camera. Like Orson Welles, she both acts and directs.

The camera contorts itself to follow Bayonetta’s acrobatic lead; she winks at it, blows it kisses. She toys with it. She dominates; it submits. Indeed, the game is dominated by women: men appear as buffoons, massive pallid dogma-spewing seraphim, or annoying sidekicks.

Perhaps for the first time, we have a female character who consents to, and sketches the boundaries of, her sexualization.

counterpoint to That Bayonetta Review + stealth “citizen kane of videogames” reference

i reviewed bayonetta 2; it is bugfuck crazy. i was only following its lead.


Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), dir. Michael Bay

balls-out. these compositions are geometrical madness. this is why bay shows up; his interest in the plot is minimal, as it should be. in fact, the narrative wraps up so sloppily and abruptly that you sense he didn’t “finish” so much as “got bored” and went on a 50-state strip club tour while the interns pulled together a final edit.