· Outlining the vast popularity of American gangster films, now progressing to series such as The Sopranos by HBO, Brotherhood by FX.
· How the director portrays characters through narrative, proppian theory-Gaye Tuchman – women “symbolically annihilated”.
· Women in the gangster genre are more and more being portrayed as fetishized objects of the male gaze. A brief outline the change in portrayal of women from past gangster films and contemporary. Reference to films such as Little Ceaser, Scarface 1932/1983 Goodfellas 1990’s-comparison to-The Sopranos.
· Directors and writers being Male or representation of women being biased, films being portrayed through male perspective so issues of patriarchy in society.
· Seperate paragraph - Add theory of representation and stereotypes (constructed), meaning of stereotypes how they work and purpose ~ audience pleasures also negative impact link to The Sopranos scene; when Dr Melfi’s family are discussing the issues of Italian stereotypes.
Topics: Topic is Housewives/Mothers
· Women such as Carmela is forced undertake the family burden and made to “nurture”- Nature Nurture theory, whilst Tony run runs the organization. The series focuses more on the male characters and the main protagonist forcing the audience to identify with Tony Soprano whether the audience is male or female. The housewives are portrayed as subordinated and are dumb down by the blood money made through killings and extortion.
· Carmela is a “central female role in a genre infamous for it s relegation of women as minor characters – in many ways The Sopranos is at its best when looking at Carmela’s complicity in Tony’s criminal world.
· Additionally the Grandmother/ Tony’s mother subverts from stereotypical representations women and grandmothers in contemporary society. We as the audience link a grandmother to the ideas of them as sweet, feeble caring and especially a family member who gives money to their grandchildren however key quote from “Introduction to Television Studies by Jonathan Bignell” Grandmother Livia Soprano- “she is in some ways tougher than [Tony] and even contracts a killer to murder [him]”
· Theory of Gaye Tuchman from Gauntlet’s - Media Gender & Identity. Women are “Symbolically annihilated” as they are “underrepresented in television fiction life”.
· Representations of housewives have altered from historical gangster texts such as Scarface 1932 as women such as Carmela and Tony’s Mother fight back and rebel against suppression and patriarchy, through having money buying their own properties.
Topic: Working women
· The wave of feminism was a way of liberating female freedom and opportunity for women. Women could work in offices become doctors and so on. Women could make their own money and therefore were not dependant on the male bread winner.
· The sopranos, women such as Dr Melfi and Tony Sopranos daughter Meadow are depicted as intelligent independent women either earning money or working respectable job or are in education being paediatricians or lawyers. This shows how society has changed as an odd 50 years ago science and Law would be perceived as a male profession. This just shows the opportunities women have in contemporary society. Quote - Angela, and Joyce, Mark and Rivers, Danny (1999): Advanced Level Media. Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton Educational“McGuigan employs the concept of chauvinism which is applied to men who show no acknowledgement of the abilities of women””pg11. Dr Melfi is the emotional support for Tony Sopranos who is portrayed as a tough guy persona as made to cry and release his feelings to a women.
· “Double burden”- although Dr Melfi is an independent women workin as a psychiatrist she is a single mother who undertakes roles of cooking at home and other domestic stereotypical roles and is a bread winner. This shows that feminism has given more opportunities however women have more work.
· Gaye Tuchman-“asserts that those women who were shown to be working were portrayed as incompetents and inferiors, as victims or having trivial interests”. This supports the portrayal of the overly fetishized depictions of the strippers that work at the club and in on scene a secretary who works at Tony’s waste management office whos has sex with him.
· Male Backlash in the 90’s The Bada Bing is Symbol of the male backlash in society and a symbol of female annihilation. Women are depicted as the ‘seducer’ or ‘provocateur’.
· Talk about narrative theory how female housewives/independent career women/fetishized objects and male characters are positioned in The Sopranos.
Topic: Women & guns/sex/sexual & domestic Violence
· Whilst Janice and Richie Aprile are have sex Richie Aprile Puts a gun to Janice’s head as form of sexual empowerment, this enforces the ideologies female repression and patriarchy. The male character feels the Janice is castrated and feels anxiety, so even though Janice is not holding the gun it is pointed at her head resolving the anxiety.
· The extensive use of guns in the Sopranos is mostly linked to male characters. However in another case a gun is used as a tool for women’s liberation and freedom. Guns are seen as objects resembling the phallic, relating to the ideologies of male patriarchy and repressors of female freedom. However in Janice Sopranos case with her violent relationship with Richie Aprile the gun is used to kill and penetrate the male character giving the idea of the female penetrating the male.
· Tracee is beaten to death on outside next to bin bags and trash and is left dead next to the trash connotes the representation women as Tracee is compared to “white trash” in society and is worthless and demeaning to men. The long shot portrays her life as meaningless as the mise en scene depicts her class in society.
· Link to Marxism and social class theory.
· Use key quotes from “Violence and the Media” by Cynthia Carter & C. Kay Weaver.
Topic: Male characters also seen by a female gaze
· The Sopranos challenges the ideologies of the series only depicting female objects and enforcing the male gaze as younger male characters such as Jackie Aprile jr and other characters such as Meadow’s previous half Jewish half Afro Caribbean boyfriend, casted by HBO are much more good looking than the older generation of mobsters in The Sopranos.
· This enforces Cortese’s theory of society and the media/film industry employing and women wanting good looking men with “muscular bodies”/“perfectly chiselled abs”. This shows that society and the gangster genre has significantly changed as characters such as Scarface chiselled with deformities and scars are no longer appealing to audiences or the film industry.
· Also link to advertisements in the media.
Topic: Historical Gangster Texts and The Sopranos
· Open with the history of the genre linking to the beginning the change with use of quotes from the Cinema Book.
· Discuss the change in women’s roles and representation in the genre through the 20th century leading to The Sopranos. Add historical texts such as Goodfellas (early 90’s), Godfather trilogy, Scareface 1932.
· Last bullet point also links to this section - Cortese’s theory of society and the media/film industry employing and women wanting good looking men with “muscular bodies”/“perfectly chiselled abs”...
· Texts such as Scarface 1932 portray significant dissimilar issues, debates and society. Women are portrayed as inferior and “more likely than men to be shown as frightened, in need of protection and direction, and offering love and support to the male lead character(s)” from Representation of gender in the past by David Gauntlet.
· Women are greatly fetishized in contemporary texts due especially series or other TV programmes due to Ofcom and laws being passed for a higher degree of sexual content to be aired in the late 20th century and 21st century.
· Moreover women are portrayed either as housewives or sexual objects rather than independent women with recognisable professions.