Drowning in the Male Gaze: Women’s Bodies ‘Under the Silver Lake’

Read why I think a male filmmaker using women’s bodies to critique a society that a male protagonist is angry at… isn’t all that good!

Screen Queens


As David Robert Mitchell’s Los Angeles neo-noir Under The Silver Lake takes a turn for the paranoid, his male lead passes by a spoken word poet dressed as Rosie the Riveter, reciting from a notebook at a rooftop party:

“All these holy trinities of women, thriving like plants under the heat of the city’s Male Gaze. Three three three, three three three.”

Mitchell knows exactly what he’s doing by naming the feminist term “Male Gaze” a half an hour into his film. By now, Sam (Andrew Garfield) has already used binoculars to spy on his neighbour Sarah (Riley Keough) before she disappears, had sex with an actress who compliments his Kurt Cobain poster, and followed a group of women unstealthily across the city.

With this phrase, the viewer understands that the writer-director will play with Hollywood’s use of female bodies to draw attention to the sinister realities of the…

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