Dominant vs. Oppositional

Dominant and oppositional gazes can easily be found in anything from a television commercial to a music video. A dominant gaze is usually defined as an object of beauty that is meant to be looked at, but not meant to look back. You will typically find a scantily clad woman trying to seduce the viewer. However, an oppositional gaze usually has the female in an empowering position rather than one where she is just the subject of desire. This type of gaze is less common but is definitely still found in various media. Stars are Blind by Paris Hilton and Stupid Girls by Pink are two music videos with completely different gazes.

Stars are Blind has a completely dominant gaze. It is obvious that this video was made to target a male audience because Paris Hilton spends the entire 3.5 minutes posing for a pretend photo shoot or running around a beach. Her outfits consist of extremely short and very fitted dresses or body suits, high heels and bikinis. They are trying to attract men through her clothing and posing which show her as sexy and desirable. The camera follows her every move and continuously zooms in so we get a clear view of particular body parts (usually of her face or exposed stomach). Although there is a very attractive male model also featured in the video, he is almost completely ignored. The only time we actually get a glimpse of him is when Paris is touching or kissing him because they want the viewer to solely focus on her. This video sends the message that women should be acting and dressing in certain ways to better attract men.

Stupid Girls, on the other hand, has the complete opposite message. Pink is blatantly making fun of how girls change their appearance, and sometimes even personality, to be better liked by boys. The video starts off with a little girl watching TV when suddenly an angel and a devil appear on her shoulder (both played by Pink). Then the camera zooms into the TV where we see various scenes in which Pink is acting like a ditzy blonde walking her dog or getting a tan or even getting plastic surgery. She is constantly saying “maybe if I act like that, that guy will call me back” which further shows how women try to change themselves to fit the standards of men. Then right at the end the camera zooms back out and we once again see the little girl with the two voices on her shoulder. In front of her are a pile of Barbies and a football. The little girl looks back at the angel, then at the TV and finally picks up the football and goes outside to play. This video, as well as the lyrics, has a really good message. It is telling women that they do not have to conform to what has become the “norm”, that it is okay to be yourself and to act how you want, not how you think men want you to act.

It was definitely harder for me to find a video that clearly portrayed an oppositional gaze because the use of dominant gaze is a lot more common. Unfortunately women are still being objectified in modern day America which is why we see these types of videos still being made.


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