Film Director Michael Bey recently walked off a stage in embarrassment during what was supposedly a talk/promo for a Samsung TV. It’s easy to feel empathy for him, because really, who can’t relate to the embarrassment of wanting to walk away when facing a crowd that is waiting for you to be inspiring, brilliant or at least informative? But mixed in with empathy is also the nagging question: “Why couldn’t he handle facing people to talk about a TV?” The teleprompter was supposedly not working, but many of us have had to improvise in a room full of people with much less (remember your teachers?) and been forced to pull it off.
For anyone who’s missed it, here it is:
What’s interesting here is that with the collective gaze of an audience on him, he shrank away, which is very different from how Bey behaves when he’s the one doing the gazing, as evidenced by his directing.
Take that scene in TRANSFORMERS, when Megan Fox’s character is helping Shia LaBeouf’s character with his car, the camera is on her, and on parts of her. We the audience, then, also end up gazing at her.
John Berger gave voice to the act of “The Gaze” in 1972, as did Laura Mulvey in 1975, both serving to explain that the way women see themselves is through the eyes of men because that’s what culture reinforces. Fox’s character is objectified; her wholeness as a person reduced as the camera focuses on parts of her, or lingering on her beauty as she’s being watched by LaBeouf’s character.
Actors act, and often times, good opportunities come with films that reinforce images of women that most women (and men) would benefit by disregarding, so you can’t blame the actors who are trying to build a career by taking on roles where they are part of the objectified dynamic. Which young actress and actor would or should turn down a movie with as far a reach as TRANSFORMERS?
The big screen makes big statements.
The director who seems not to have any issue with gazing at women in such an objectified way in his films, shrinks away from when the collective gaze is fixated on him (while he’s completely covered up too, unlike Megan Fox in his film), he panics, fails to deliver a few lines about a product he’s supposed to know something about, and runs off stage.
Hopefully, this will serve as a good reminder that when the tables are turned and the one doing the gazing becomes the one receiving the gaze, even when the gaze isn’t objectifying him, but perhaps narrowing in on him and what he is known as an expert in (and you have to admit, he knows how to manage all those special effects), he becomes uncomfortable, embarrassed and flustered enough to flee.
Doesn’t he know that sometimes the effect of his gaze on females has that same effect on his some of his female audience?
Image of Michael Bey courtesy of Joshua the Anarchist.