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Feminism and women in Dario Argento's films

2022.01.28 00:17 finebeetle Feminism and women in Dario Argento's films

Hello. A while ago I posted on this sub about how I have this constant thought that female characters in Argento's films don't exactly fit in with the stereotypes often seen blatantly in American horror movies. Then recently I've stumbled upon this long thesis that affirms my impression.
It's extensive and scholarly and thus challenging for me, but there's no rush anyway. So far I've been massively enjoying what I learned from this, so I'm excited to share it with you guys.
Basically the main conclusion of this thesis is that the popular "woman in horror = subjects that are sexualized and gazed upon and traumatized/brutalized for thrill" analysis is necessary but simplistic. This thesis argues that Argento's worlds are often (much) more transgressive and contextualized. His women (or just gender relations in general in his works) are, as I have maintained before, so very fascinating. Sometimes spaces in which Argento's characters lived their stories are highly feminized and sympathetic, other times they are just defiant of an absolute meaning no matter 'problematic' or not.
I don't really know how else to convince you guys to read this. I just find that I appreciate 'Suspiria' and other films by Argento a whole lot more as I read on and on. It's very satisfying. Even if you're just looking for a fun, enjoyable, aesthetic horror movie and don't care about these things I'm saying, I would argue that the thrill Argento has mastered in his stories depends a lot on his imaginative framings of women. I'm not trying to bend my point into something like 'Argento is so great and knows best how to treat women' because I cannot know if that is true. I'm also not invalidating mainstream readings. But I'm saying that you can only love an Argento's film more (or any work of art) as you get in touch its multifaceted and even morally ambiguous nature.
My concerns about Argento's so-called misogyny, his so-called patriarchal righteousness, or his so-called perverse sexualization of his daughter Asia--All of these I have revised the more I pay attention to the complex themes and messages in his films (Hell, 'Trauma' is so feminist and sympathetic from my POV). After all Asia is her own person who can make decisions about whether or not she wants to show her bare breasts in front of her father's camera. And this is a stretch because there is no evidence Argento wants to have sex with his daughter, but even if he does: While I think you can destest incest all you want for very sound reasons, different cultures always have had different takes on the morality or even safety of the concept. Always look to learn various ways to interpret something and then decide for your self whether it's right or wrong, for you only. Stay healthy and open-minded. Knowledge is key.
P/S: Please don't readily dismiss his later films (those that were released after 'Opera'). Give them a try or retry. They are great. By convention their plots can sometimes be off (but Argento's plots have always been like that even in his prime era). But I assure you the imagery and messaging work still hit in important and thrilling ways. It's up to you to welcome them or not, but that doesn't change how great they are.
P/S 2: Super hyped for Argento's upcoming film.
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