The novelty of cinematic romance
The Novelty of Cinematic Romance
The question of whether the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost in the 21st century has raised controversies. As modernity takes over from the traditional society, new things have emerged that suggests that the novelty of the cinematic romance is taking a new turn. Ideally, in the past, cinematic romance exhibited a dominant male who had control over a submissive female (Fausto-Sterling, 2000). In such societies, women were deemed inferior to their male counterparts, and this gave the cinematic romance novelty as roles were clearly defined across the gender lines. Thus, it was possible for the dominant male to use his masculinity to seduce and manipulate a submissive female. This gave the cinematic romance a lot of glimmers. However, the emergence of the modern society gave rise to an empowered woman. She could dictate her actions away from an influential male. This eroded the novelty of the cinematic romance since it is no longer possible to assume the same position and role of women such as those demonstrated in the past films. The radical changes in motherhood, marriage, employment, and self-image of different societies in the 21st century reveals that the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost since it is no longer possible to build the same connotations of the female characters as was evident in the past.
Drawing inferences from the United States, there are several indications that the novelty of the cinematic romance has declined in the 21st century. Often marriage and sex are some of the appeals that characterized the cinematic romance films of the past. The man acted as the provider in the marriage with the role of the women being reduced to childbearing and taking care of the homestead (de Beauvoir, 1956). Motherhood was such important that women held fewer jobs than men. The cinematic romance films demonstrated this by assigning an inferior role to women and only appeared in sexualized episodes which became the source of the novelty in such films. However, the current American society has exemplified the role of women. In particular, women are holding stable and high achieving jobs just as their male counterparts. As such, they are increasingly getting married less. The employment has, in turn, shifted the position of women in society with many wanting to progress their careers and attain more status in society as men. According to a report published by the Chicago Tribune Newspapers, fewer Americans are getting married in the 21st century than before (Stevens, 2014). The report established that one in every five of adult Americans by the age of 25 years has never married which is about 42 million of the population. This is in contrast to the 1960s where just one in every ten adults of 25 years had never been married. Currently, the American women are more empowered and have attained professional independence which they lacked in the past. This has, in turn, shaped the ideas of motherhood, and marriage. Despite still facing a few challenges of prejudice, women can now determine issues relating to their marriage life and childbearing. Consequently, the novelty of the cinematic romance films which portrayed women as inferior beings in society is being weakened.
Besides, the American woman has a better self-image. In the cinematic romance films of the past, women were shown as vulnerable beings who would easily be duped into sexual engagement by their male counterparts. The submissiveness and naivety of women were evident as some easily believed their partners only to be abandoned at the climax of events. These episodes gave a lot of novelty to the cinematic romance films. However, Krook and Mackay (2011) note that the 21st-century woman is a rational thinker. They can make decisions for themselves and determine what is right for them rather that foaling into gendered identities. In some of the American films such as Wonder Woman which was released in 2017, a female is a lead character, indicating the shifting position of women. Consequently, their self-image has improved and the women have an identity to protect and uphold. This change of circumstances has eroded the novelty of cinematic romance which was exemplified under the gendered human era.
Furthermore, the Indian society has also demonstrated why the novelty in the cinematic romance is no longer a recipe in the 21st century. In most of the old Indian films, women have been portrayed as sex objects through their seductive styles. One particular filmmaker that has exemplified this art is Shobha De’s. As an Indian writer, she shows her character’s yearning for sex (Mishra, 2012). On the other hand, the men are deriving pleasure by mistreating the women. However, this representation of women By Shobha is an acknowledgment of the traditional feminist woman in which they were subjected to a patriarchal system that did not allow them to achieve the same goals in life and pursue their sexual life as they wish. In the new era, Shobha acknowledges the fact that women cannot shy away from talking about their sexual rights. This sharply differs from the past when women rights and the voice on matters on sexuality in the Indian society were ignored.
Regarding marriage and motherhood, statistics show changes in the role of women in such institutions. According to statistics by the World Bank, the number of women attaining higher education doubled between 1994 and 2010 (Fletcher, Pande, and Moore, 2017). Consequently, this has changed their role in marriage and motherhood. The report highlights that more Indian women are concentrating on school and career growth than before. This has limited the number that is entering in marriages than the past. According to Fletcher, Pande, and Moore (2017), the Indian woman is now empowered and can make decisions at the household level. Also, the author notes that there has been an increase in the employment of women in the last decade by 10 percent. The changes in the focus on marriage and employment have greatly shaped the role of the Indian women. Given these developments, the novelty of cinematic romance which portray women as sexual objects has significantly shifted.
Additionally, the self-image of the Indian woman has changed in the 21st century. Woman no longer shy away from discussing issues of sexuality that affect them. This has been evidenced by Shobha, an Indian writer who openly uses sexual episodes in her literal work. Although still facing prejudice to some extent, the Indian woman understands the value of participation. They are more aware of their rights on sexual matters and thus, have a voice in their lives. Thus, the novelty of the cinematic romance which portrays them as naïve beings have significantly been eroded as the 21st century welcomes a new era of recognition of gender rights. The increase in the participation of the government through socially oriented programs has been instrumental in bringing change. This has ensured that the voice of the Indian woman is heard and respected.
In South Korea, the demystification of women bodies has been for a long time been employed in films and reality television shows. K-Beauty is one of the most famous buzzwords that has been used to describe the Korean woman makeup trends and skin care. With high regard for flawless skin, the Korean woman has been reduced to a beauty queen with a majority believing that South Korea has the most beautiful women on earth. This was highly captured in the old Korean films which only features gorgeous women. According to the filmmakers, women are supposed to be beautiful all the time to please men. This is in the midst of the research conducted by Frith (2014) which shows that at least 20 percent of women between the ages of 19 to 49 have undergone surgical procedures to make them look good. They are fascinated by the Korean film stars who set the standards of how women look. The emphasis on beauty by the film and reality TV shows of the Koreans stresses the women in that it teaches them that they have to look good. Besides, there are varying misrepresentations of the South Korean with the women being portrayed as sexual objects that allowed men to take advantage of them. This was a form of the subjectivity of the female gender through the film which was used to give novelty to cinematic romance.
Although meaningful change is yet to be achieved in the way South Korean films represent women, there has been some progress to recognize the role of women. In contemporary South Korea, women are taking a higher part in marriage than before. The situation began to change towards the end of the 20th century when the government stepped up initiatives to remove the discriminatory practices. For example, the Equal Employment Act that was passed in 1987 allowed women to attain jobs and promotion opportunities (“Women’s Role in Contemporary Korea”). By 1998, 12.6 percent of women were serving in professional positions in various occupations. This change of status of women allowed them to involve in multiple activities including having a voice in marriage and parenthood. Consequently, the modern South Korean woman is outgoing and has a voice in marriage. This has allowed the emergence of female filmmakers such as Lee Kyoung-mi who was named the best director in the Korean film industry in 2017. The women have been able to fight for their rights in marriage and motherhood. The empowerment of these women has enabled them to have a positive self-image that is based on knowledge rather than beauty. Consequently, the novelty of the cinematic romance in Korean films has been shaped by the new status which women are assigned.
To conclude, the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost with the changes that have occurred in contemporary society. In the 21st century, there has been a more significant role of women in marriage which has eroded the traditional portrayal of women in film as sexual objectives and subject to manipulation. Women take an active role in society and have acquired employment and improved self-image. The identified countries of the USA, India and South Korea have shown why women are no longer inferior beings as much as the film portrays them. Thus, the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost as women continue to take an active role in society.
de Beauvoir, 1956. The Second Sex. Translated and Edited by H.M Parshley. Lowe and Brydone.
Fausto-Sterling, A. 2000. Sexing the Body. Gender politics and the Construction of Sexuality. Basic Books.
Fletcher, E., Pande, R. and Moore, C.M.T., 2017. Women and Work in India: Descriptive Evidence and a Review of Potential Policies.
Frith, K. T. 2014. Globalizing beauty. A cultural history of the global beauty industry. Presentation at the Annual Conference Seattle, WA.
Krook, M. and Mackay, F. eds., 2011. Gender, politics, and institutions: Towards a feminist institutionalism. Palgrave Macmillan.
Mishra, D., 2012. Pleasure: Redefined By Women in Shobha De’s Novels. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (JHSS), 3(4), pp.15-20.
Stevens, H. 2014. Reinventing marriage for the 21st century. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sc-fam-1014-rethinking-marriage-21st-century-20141007-story.html
Women’s Role in Contemporary Korea. Center for Global Education. HYPERLINK “https://asiasociety.org/education/womens-role-contemporary-korea” https://asiasociety.org/education/womens-role-contemporary-korea
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