Films semiotic analysis

Categories: FilmSemiotics

In every day life we are surrounded with imaginative constructs about gender: magazines, billboards, books, games, TV. They teach us what is natural every day. Which tells us how men and women differ in so many different ways. Creating myths like “ You are not normal, if you won’t find anyone”, “You can’t be good without man”, many variations of “Beauty myths”.

This essay will focus first on the film The Ugly Truth (Luketic, 2009) arguing about gender issues, furthermore the films The Princess Diaries (Marshall, 2001) and Legally Blond (Luketic, 2001) will be analyzed to support the argument in which the heroines portrayed as pathetic beings, not able to do anything without men, even they work on high positions in law, on television and being Princess.

Essay will use Gender perspective and will answer questions like what is to be an woman and what is to be an man.

The Ugly Truth film (Luketic, 2009) offers us whole range of different myth and stereotypes.

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The movie indicates huge difference between main hero-Mike and heroine-Abby. They are presented as a black and white. Abby – not confident, truly believe in love, excited about everything, naïve. Mike –very confident, doesn’t believe in relationship, very skeptic, and extremely arrogant, pretty straight forward. “Many aspects of masculinity myths are concerned with the assertion of toughness, stoicism, courage, and the distinguishing of this form a ‘soft’ feminity that belongs to woman”(Horrocks, 1995, p. 18) (Paraphrase) Mike is very successful, gets promoted and changes jobs few times through the movie.

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Whereas Abby stays at the same job at all the time. Even though she has a high position, her boss is a man. The entire film supports the idea of how important his role is and how Abby’s role is insignificant. Firstly He comments: “You are here to make sure I am ok”. Secondly at the senior management meeting, she tries to introduce her boyfriend. Meanwhile the men are completely oblivious to her and continue to talk about more important things like they support Mike for bringing two girlfriends at the dinner.

Another example is there are two newscasters wife and husband, main hero claims that wife emasculating the husband by earning more money. “In relation to masculinity, it might lead us to expect that the pervasive images of men would be dominance, arrogance, and power.”( Dunlap & Johnson, 2013, p. 4)(Paraphrase)

One of the popular myths is “ You are not normal, if you won’t find anyone”. These myth show the density of messages, many of them are inconsistent, that face women about work and relationships. Hersey claims that Females ambitions at work presented in films are just as important as relationships (2007). She exemplify: “In Legally Blond, sorority girl Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) enrolls in Harvard Law School to win back her boyfriend, only to discover that she would rather be a lawyer than a society wife.

“(Hersey, 2007) But at the end of the film she is dating another lawyer and gets engaged to him. Lets parallel it to The Ugly Truth (Luketic, 2009). The heroine has a very important job, she is a producer, but there is a scene where she waits for her boyfriend to go on a date but then her boss shows up saying they have a very important meeting. Abby answers: ”I can’t, I have a date with Collin”. She puts relationships as her priority. However Kosut says that women are portrayed as desperate for romance. (2012, p.111) Furthermore according to Kosut, women intend to do anything to be in a relationship, because love is represented as the greatest delineation of success. (2012, p.111).

Going back to Legally Blond (Luketic, 2001), Elle Wood changes her whole life to get her boyfriend back. Mia chooses to go to the beach with a guy, leaving her friends when they need her help, because love is more important.

These films reinforcing the ideology that women have to find a partner otherwise you are abnormal. ” Implicit in third myth is that each woman should strive to become the chosen one; and if she does not achieve this, she is considered in some way inherently deficient.” (Worell, 2001, p.190) Romantic comedies genre pushes the ideology of finding someone, Fairytale myth of the couple ending up together and of course final kiss reapets again and again: The Ugly truth (Luketic, 2009), The Princess Diaries (Marshall, 2001), Brigit Jones’s Diary (Maguire, 2001), Pretty Woman (Marshall, 1990), Life As We Know It (Berlanti, 2010). This list can go on and on.

There is no doubt that to find someone, you need to be good-looking. It is bringing up the Beauty myths, which tells us we are never perfect. Hersey has a different opinion; she thinks that the makeover moment in the films helps heroines to find their true identities rather than an effort to attract men. (2007).

However Mia in The Princess Diaries (Marshall, 2001) wants to be attracted by Josh, in The Ugly Truth (Luketic, 2009) Abby agrees to make over just to get attracted by Collin. In the Pretty Women (Marshall, 1990), heroine gets makeover to be socially accepted. Signifiers of the Beauty myth: from the beginning of the films like Pretty Woman (Marshall, 1990), The Ugly Truth (Luketic, 2009), The Princess Diaries (Marshall, 2001), heroines are beautiful but social constructions tells us it would be never enough.

Interesting fact is that all makeovers ruled by males. “Hollywood romantic dramas reinforce the ideology that woman entirely dependent on their male lovers.” (Gill, 2007, p. 79)(Leave quote as is) In the film The Ugly Truth (Luketic, 2009) Abby is shown as ‘a looser’, because she can’t find a boyfriend, she ruins everything on each date she goes. That’s why there is Mike fearless, confident male, who knows everything about relationships helps Abby to get her a boyfriend.

But, it is also interesting to note that these women were also portrayed as dependent “submissive, less intelligent, and were usually cast in the role of homemakers” (Lovdal, 1989, p. 722) (Paraphrase) These women also managed to attend to the cooking, cleaning, house keeping, and other needs of their children and husbands…these tasks were perfomed while remaining immaculately attired, usually and most often in a dress, hells, and perfect make-up. (Toth & Aldoory, 2001, p. 224) (Paraphrase)

For instance Abby is the main character in The Ugly truth (Luketic, 2009), waiting for her boyfriend in the most sexiest outfit, when boyfriend shows up, asking what was she doing, her answer is: “Doing the dishes” “All the beauty myths promote the idea that beauty is the most vital aspect of woman’s being. (Worell, 2001, p.190) Men will do important jobs, will help you with everything. All you have to do is to be beautiful. All gender myths are firmly connected to each other and one myth is the continuation of another one.

A part of beauty myth is presentation of women as sexual objects. Again Hersey doesn’t agree with this “Yvonne Tasker argues that working women in the “New Hollywood” are often linked to sexual availability and prostitution, but these heroines’ work in journalism, international diplomacy, criminal justice and law does not make them more sexually available to men”(2007)

They are portrayed in the movies as sexual objects, for example the film The Ugly Truth (Luketic, 2009), the main hero Mike coaches the heroine Abby into thinking that if she wants to be attractive to man she has to be sexually available ”show your breasts and say good bye”(at the end of her date with a guy she wants to be her boyfriend), at the make over moment the Mike says to Abby : “a man needs something to grab on other than your ass”, ”you have to be two people a librarian and a stripper ”, ”what’s wrong with comfort and efficiency?- nothing, except no one wants to fuck it ”, ”we need a bra for my friend that they can stand up and say hello” In addition Hersey says “Elle is more obviously sexual, but her sexuality is always dignified even when Warner’s fiancée tricks her into attending a party wearing a Playboy Bunny outfit”(2007).

Legally Blond (Luketic, 2001) is filled with sexuality, the entire movie is banter over what is it to be a woman. Worell certifies there are “Media stereotypes that suggest there are expected roles for women including women as sexual objects, women as submissive and less knowledgeable.” (2001, p.703)(Paraphrase) The myth is that women are not able to do anything except be a sexy doll-Barbie. Moreover clothing and hair color are key signifiers, with Elle choosing the colour pink for her clothes and her hair is blonde. Elle is portrayed as ditzy and scatty and that her being selected for Harvard because she is hot and pretty.

“Beauty myths give meaning to women’s beauty as they serve to upholds the importance of attractiveness in women’s lives.” (Worell, 2001, p.190)(Paraphrase) “Ultimately, this conflation of beauty and being fosters the social control of women.” (Worell, 2001, p.190) (Paraphrase)

Many people in daily life watch TV or go to the Cinema to relax and escape from every day routines. Nevertheless the entertainment sends countless messages about gender. One could argue that use of myths create ideology that affect the people in certain ways. Why? Because we see these myths repeating again and again, most of the myths became a cliché.

“Film makers consistently place women in secondary roles, or in positions that emphasize their sexuality, weaknesses, desperation. Men, on the other hand, typically assume roles of great importance and depict characters who are adventurous, charming, and strong. Although exceptions to these patterns exist, for the most part Hollywood films continue to support traditional ideas of gender and cultivate similar ideologies.” (Kosut, 2012, p.113) (Paraphrase)

Reference list: Berlanti, G. (2010). Life As We Know It [Film]. USA: Warner Bros. Pictures Dunlap, R. & Johnson, W.C. (2013). Consuming contradiction: Media, masculinity and (hetero) sexual identity. Leisure : Journal of the Canadian Association for Leisure, 37(1), 69. Gill, R. (2007). Gender and the media. Cambridge, UK: Polity. Hersey, E. (2007). Love and microphones: Romantic comedy heroines as public speakers. Journal of Popular Film & Television, 34(4), 149-158.

Horrocks, R. (1995). Male myths and icons: Masculinity in popular culture. Basingstoke, Hants: St. Martins Press.

Kosut, M. (2012). Encyclopedia of gender in media. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications.

Lovdal, L. T. (1989). Sex role messages in television commercials: An update. Sex Roles, 21(11/12), 715-724. doi:10.1007/BF00289804 Luketic, R. (2009). The Ugly Truth [Film]. USA: Columbia Pictures. Luketic, R. (2001). Legally Bloned [Film]. USA: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Maguire, S. (2001). Briget Jones’s Diary [Film]. UK: Miramax Films.

Marshall, G. (2001). The Princess Diaries [Film]. USA: Buena Vista Pictures. Marshall, G. (1990). Pretty Woman [Film]. USA: Buena Vista Pictures.

Toth, E. L., & Aldoory, L. (2001). The gender challenge to media: Diverse voices from the field. Cresskill, N.J: Hampton Press. Worell, J. (2001). Encyclopedia of women and gender: Sex similarities and differences and the impact of society on gender. San Diego, Calif: Academic Press.

Blindside Movie Analysis

I am writing an essay that is analyzing the movie The Blind Side and relating it to the essay “Seeking and Making Culture: Representing the Poor” by bell hooks. The issue that is motivating me to write is to show that there is collateral learning in this movie and to show that there are contradictory and stereotypical images of poverty. A writer that has addressed the issue about poverty and the poor class is bell hooks, using her personal experiences to influence her writing in the essay. My working thesis is that there is chances in life that a person may come along that would change our life perspectives. How we approach that change and be courageous enough to do something about it may have a lifelong impact on another person and might make a huge difference. My audience is teenagers, young adults and adults to help them get rid of the stereotypical image of poor people in the world. I think my use of specific details from the movie is working best. The parts of my essay that I am least satisfied with are tying the article from hooks back to the movie. The kinds of feedback that I would like are to make sure I answered all of the questions of WAR and that I was specific enough in my essay.

The Blind Side describes the struggle of a Black man to become part of the White society. Michael Oher, the main character in the story shows the audience how a black man experiences mistreatment and discrimination from his white community that is the common trend of American mainstream. However, the film also wants to deconstruct the traditional perceptions towards White Americans through the Tuohy family. In this movie, the director shows how White Americans like the Tuohy family accepts Michael for who he is and what he wants to be. The Tuohys become Michael’s enduring power, armor, and salvation as he faces his new path of transformation, social acceptance, and immersion. From this sense, it can be perceived that Hancock’s film depicts the notion of popular culture as it emphasizes the different issues of the society such as race, racism, cultural differences, cultural interaction, and other ideas about culture and society. Having an extreme difference in terms of race, lifestyle, social background, and social status, the two races are combined together under one roof to describe the possible repulsion that might occur as well as the attraction that can happen between them.

However, it is not only this internal repulsion or attraction that is presented as a conflict of the film, but also the people within the Tuohys social surroundings. Since Leigh Anne and Sean are influential individuals because of their profession, people around them think that adopting Michael taints their good reputation. This is one of the major struggles of the Tuohy family along with Michael, but they stand up against their foes and prove to these people that Michael is more civilized than those who continue to criticize him. In article “Seeing and Making Culture: Representing the Poor”, bell hooks brings to the surface issues involving people of higher classes compared to those in poverty. In addressing issues like assumptions made about the poor, how the poor are viewed in popular culture and how the poor are represented on television or in movies. One of hooks main arguments is brought into focus throughout the movie. The concept of popular culture emerges in this film in three distinct themes: racism within the football team, the lifestyle of the socialites, and when an upcoming superstar is “made,” people keep an eye on this individual. Logically, racism occurs in television, radio, movies, and other types of media.

Most of the time, these industries use racism as a form of stereotyping. That is why common people utilize these ideals; they think that it is accepted in the society. This is what happened to Michael. He faces discrimination inside his own classroom. Even his teacher demonstrates the differences of how a White teacher interacts with a Black student like him. It is a form of stereotype that the media continues to express towards its audience. Another example of popular culture in this film is when Michael begins his football career. When the football coach, Burt Cotton sees Michael’s potential, he accepts the main character as a student of Wingate Christian School. This is also the beginning of Michael’s popularity. People, even the coaches and owners of different universities, want Michael to become part of their school. That is why despite Michael’s academic records and race, they are interested in him.

People begin to keep their eyes on Michael’s actions and achievements because he becomes popular and he soon becomes part of their lifestyle. In hooks article, one of her main arguments is about false assumptions made about the poor from her life experiences. She states, “That the poor class were almost always portrayed the poor as shiftless, mindless, lazy, dishonest, and unworthy”. This relates to the movie because the Tuohys community has specific sets of moral values. They believe that Black Americans are unacceptable within their community or surroundings because they are the roots of negativities. This is also an example of high culture being looked at as a superior culture.

The Tuohys do not change this norm, but they create their own values by accepting Michael and believe in him and his capabilities as a person. The Blindside and hooks article helps us learn that there is more to a story then just what is put on the screen. The story line is a lot deeper and has a lot of other meanings then we think. The Tuohys’ ideology is different from the standard culture of the society, but because they are part of their community, they have to express their ideology. It is hard in the beginning to show their different point of view, but they win the battle against their foes because Michael shows that he is different from the stereotypic character of a Black American.

Work Cited
Greene, Stuart, and April Lidinsky. From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A Text and Reader. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2008. 344-49, 358-71. Print.

Hidden Figures Movie Analysis

In the beginning of the movie “Hidden Figures,” three women who are the leading roles appeared together. So at the beginning, we know each character’s name and job. It is not a stiff description, for example, some movies reveal the background information by putting up a subtitle or narrating by a third person. In this movie, we can know everything such as the historical background through this opening scene with four-person conversation.

When the police is approaching these three black women, we can see that the 3 women are feeling afraid and dangerous because they do not belong here. The policeman is white, and they are black. So it is like setting a tone for the Civil Rights Movement about what blacks people are going through. After the policeman knowing their job in NASA, he became much more friendly to them. There is a detail which the police looks up into the sky, symbolizes his change in attitude and respect.

As audience, we are able to understand how important and pungent the space is for the entire country at that time. In total, this scene does three thing: the first one is setting up their character; the second one is to know what their personality are; the last one is to clarify the time, putting the audience into the social context.  This movie is successful because ti does not make the audience feel exaggerated and inaccessible.

Hidden Figures doesn’t try to push many artistic boundaries, but it tells its story so well that it doesn’t really have to. The film also avoids the most glaring missteps of historical movies that deal with race: at no point does it try to give viewers the impression that racism has been “solved,” and its white characters exist on a constantly shifting spectrum of racial enlightenment.

What’s more, the film’s straightforward presentation belies its fairly radical subject matter. Without misleading the audience, this film only focused on the story itself instead of some personal thoughts, so there is right or wrong for this story. As Ghose reveals in her article, “David Neil Rapp, a cognitive psychologist at Northwestern University, has found that when people are told stories that include facts they know are wrong, such as ‘the capitol of Illinois is Chicago,’ they will use that wrong knowledge on a quiz given afterward.”

After watching the movie, I do not feel that I can be biased by the plot of the movie, and I do not think the director is trying to tell us how the race and gender discrimination is like in the society. The movie is just showing the experience of the three women in their work place and how they solve their own problem.

Overall, Hidden Figure is a really successful and informative movie. There are many detail and symbolization which let the audience think through the experience of three black women in Virginia in1961.

Stardust: Movie Analysis

The director uses shots and angle to make the movie more divert. It makes the movie have emotion and thrill. In the movie Stardust Matthew Vaughn uses shots and angles to show emotion, excitement and power in his scenes. He uses a lot of low-angle shots to make the character look powerful, he also uses a lot of medium close-ups to show the expression of the character’s face but at the same time you can also see a bit of their upper shoulders, and he also uses a lot more of extreme long shot to show the different settings from Stormhold to the city of Wall.

An example of when the director uses a low-angle shot to make the character look less powerful is when Tristan is standing outside Victoria’s house throwing a rocks at her window waiting for her to come out while Humphrey comes and throws him on the ground and points his sword at him, when Tristan is on the ground and Humphrey is putting on foot on top of him the director does a low-angle shot and makes Humphrey look powerful and makes Tristan look less powerful.

An example of a medium close-up shot that the director uses to show the expression of the the character’s face including the upper shoulders that gives you a bit of an idea of what the character is doing. In this movie the director decided to use a medium close-up shot when Yvaine comes out of the shower and Tristan asks her if everything she said when he was turned into a rat was true then they kiss and the director does a medium-close up shot to show emotion and perception in this scene, the medium close-up shot is needed in this scene to make it have some charm.

An example of a extreme long-shot is when the star (Yvaine) is traveling in the sky right before she is about to fall into the ditch, we as the audience feel like we are traveling with her during this scene. The director uses the extreme long-shot to show us where she is going,the setting of the place and where she is about to land. Matthew Vaughn uses this to emphasize the setting and it makes you feel like you are in the scene as well.

The director uses a variety of shots and angles in this movie to make it an absorbing feeling, that makes the movie more amusing and sometimes even more suspenseful. Without sound, shots and angles a movie wouldn’t be a good hit or it wouldn’t even be considered a movie because without these things you can barely tell the theme and the feeling of the story, The different types of angles and shots are the extreme long-shot, the full-shot, the medium shot, the medium close-up shot, the extreme close-up shot, the low-angle shot and the high-angle shot, Matthew Vaughn uses all these shots in his movie to add some kind of feeling to the movie, and make us as the audience feel like we are in the scene.

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Films semiotic analysis. (2016, May 19). Retrieved from

Films semiotic analysis

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