Blame on Nothingness - Vertigo

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mamania
Words 3079
Pages 13
Nia Nguyen

A Blame on Nothing and Nothingness
Abject: A Rereading of Vertigo

“In a male libidinal economy… the only good woman is a dead woman.” Slavoj Zizek, A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema

Robin Wood began his landmark studies, Hitchcock’s Films (1965), with the rhetorical question, “Why should we take Hitchcock seriously?” Yet it was also Wood himself who revised the question in 1983. He asks, “Can Hitchcock be saved for feminism?” While there is no denying the brilliance of Hitchcock’s subjective camera and his skillful manipulation of identification processes, one cannot help but loathe the pungent misogyny prevalent in his works. Vertigo (1958) is arguably no exception. Laura Mulvey, a vocal and influential feminist film critic, contends that Vertigo elucidates an active sadistic voyeurism of the male gaze that subjects the woman, as object-of-desire, to realize his impossible fantasy, time and again at the cost of brutish violence against her body and psychological wellness.[1] Also exploiting Freud’s theory, Tania Modleski deciphers female suffering in Vertigo as a punishment for her inherently close relationship with the mother with which the men envy.[2] In drawing on the phallocentric models of Freud and Lacan, these criticisms bear a blind spot in that they assume certain essentialist sexual development characteristics to formulate the backbone of their analysis, such as Mulvey’s reading of object-of-desire or Modleski’s draw on bisexuality. In order to fairly assess if the nature of violence in Vertigo is misogynistic, I seek a language that is not inherently phallocentric. And while Lacan offers a comparatively more structuralist framework, I find his psychological development theory inadequate to address fully the transition between development stages and the mechanism for regression, for which I perceive as very complex…...

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