American Postfeminist Cinema

American Postfeminist Cinema: Women, Romance and Contemporary Culture

Michele Schreiber
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt9qdqwx
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    American Postfeminist Cinema
    Book Description:

    Examines a cycle of postfeminist films that adopt the conventions of romance In light of their tremendous gains in the political and professional sphere, and their ever expanding options, why do most contemporary American films aimed at women still focus almost exclusively on their pursuit of a heterosexual romantic relationship? American Postfeminist Cinema explores this question and is the first book to examine the symbiotic relationship between heterosexual romance and postfeminist culture. The book argues that since 1980, postfeminism’s most salient tensions and anxieties have been reflected in the American romance film. Case studies of a broad range of Hollywood and independent films reveal how the postfeminist romance cycle is intertwined with contemporary women's ambivalence and broader cultural anxieties about women's changing social and political status. Key Features:Offers a new perspective on both popular American romance films and postfeminist cultural criticism by examining the symbiotic relationship between romance and postfeminism.Analyses the recurring narrative and discursive patterns of postfeminist cinema.Includes 13 case studies of popular postfeminist films and other media texts, including television programmes.Continues the tradition of feminist analysis of romance as a significant media genre for women .

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-9337-5
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. iv-v)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: WOMEN, POSTFEMINISM AND ROMANCE
    (pp. 1-26)

    Half a century separates the publication of Betty Friedan’sThe Feminine Mystique, the book commonly credited with igniting the second wave of the women’s movement, and Facebook Chief Executive Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 best-sellerLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which assesses the challenges that American working women continue to face today. Reading the two volumes side by side, one cannot help being struck by the dramatically different cultural landscapes they describe. Socially and professionally, American women have soared to unprecedented heights in this fifty-year period, yet the elevated terrain they occupy today is something of a...

  6. 1. ‘BOTH GLAD AND SORRY’: ROMANCE CYCLES AND WOMEN’S POLITICS
    (pp. 27-54)

    As we have seen, the postfeminist romance cycle has a reliable, known set of conventions that mythologizes the redemptive qualities of love and heterosexual coupling. It is by relying on and adhering to this known formula or structure that it negotiates historically contingent shifts in the Hollywood film industry, and the social and political terrain for women over the last thirty years. In this chapter, we will look more closely at what the postfeminist romance cycle has inherited from the romance film cycles that have preceded it, and what makes it unique. Close case studies of three female-centered films, the...

  7. 2. PRAGMATISM VS. SENTIMENTALITY: AMELIORATION IN THE POSTFEMINIST CYCLE
    (pp. 55-82)

    To get a snapshot of the function of film in the contemporary cultural conversation about women’s relationships consider the following 2012 story featured on the feminist website Jezebel, entitled ‘Meet the so-called nice guys of OK Cupid.’¹ The story discusses a Tumblr blog created by a disenchanted female user of the online dating site OK Cupid that superimposes innocuous quotes from men’s dating profiles over their pictures, highlighting the juxtaposition of words and visuals.² Both the original Tumblr site, and the Jezebel story about it, suggest that men disingenuously describe themselves as ‘nice guys’ on their online dating profiles to...

  8. 3. PAST VS. PRESENT: TEMPORALITY IN THE POSTFEMINIST CYCLE
    (pp. 83-107)

    Katie, the female protagonist played by Barbra Streisand in the 1973 romance filmThe Way We Were, is presumably the subject speaking the lines from the film’s theme song. In the song, she expresses ambivalence about the role of time in the process of making sense of romance. She suggests that events from the past, in this case, a romance from the past, can only be seen via ‘misty water-colored memories,’ which obscure the clarity of the events as they really occurred and diminish the intensity of the emotion that accompanied them. She goes on to question, ‘Could it be...

  9. 4. SEXY VS. FUNNY: SEXUALITY IN THE POSTFEMINIST CYCLE
    (pp. 108-139)

    For those who presume that Hollywood’s ideological inner workings operate at an unconscious level, Peter Guber’s comments regarding sexuality in the above quote, while disturbing, are refreshingly transparent. Sexuality, he contends, has a particular place in contemporary Hollywood films. It must be presented in one of two styles, either comedic or violent, in order to put the audience at ease. However, sex portrayed in a ‘realistic’ manner cannot be represented in mainstream films because it does not sell, particularly, as Guber goes on to say, to a very important segment of the population – men.² This chapter reflects on the implications...

  10. 5. INDEPENDENCE VS. DEPENDENCE: ECONOMICS IN THE POSTFEMINIST CYCLE
    (pp. 140-169)

    A father-daughter shopping scene figures prominently in the 2000 Nancy Meyers filmWhat Women Want.Nick (Mel Gibson), who has been recently endowed with a gift to hear women’s thoughts, takes the teenage Alex (Ashley Johnson) to a brightly lit store filled with colorful clothes in order to embark on what is deemed the second most important shopping experience of a woman’s life: finding the perfect prom dress. Shopping here is a form of bonding between the father and daughter whose relationship has been strained until Nick’s ‘gift’ enables him to hear his daughter’s negative opinion of him. The film...

  11. CONCLUSION: BEGINNINGS VS. ENDINGS: THE FUTURE OF THE POSTFEMINIST CYCLE
    (pp. 170-177)

    Like any conceptual framework, the one I have outlined inAmerican Postfeminist Cinemais not intended to be exhaustive but rather to serve as a jumping off point for future conversations about both romance and postfeminist media. As my breakdown of the structural and discursive elements of the cycle in the Introduction reveals, there are countless texts that have been produced since the beginning of the 1980s that could fall into the binaries that I outline in my case studies, just as there are certainly many other binaries that dominate postfeminist culture that could generate additional case studies. However, I...

  12. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 178-187)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 188-200)