Royal Holloway Conference Abstracts Monday 18th April 2016


Gender features of the child in Spanish cinema after 1980”, Ralf Junkerjürgen (Universität Regensburg, Germany)



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Gender features of the child in Spanish cinema after 1980”, Ralf Junkerjürgen (Universität Regensburg, Germany)
Though childhood is often regarded as a pre-sexual age, Spanish cinema has taken especial interest in the relationship between child and sexuality and has represented children according to traditional conceptions of gender. While in Franco times the girl was portrayed as a sexual object, like the child-star Marisol, after the democratization of the country there have been several prominent examples of successful films which confront boys with the Freudian primal scene. In contrast to Freud’s preoccupation with its possible traumatic impact, Spanish films show a rather different image and turn the primal scene into voyeuristic pleasure for both the boys in the film and the audience. In Secretos del corazón (1997), La lengua de las mariposas (19998) and Pan negro (2010) childhood seems to get replaced by boyhood, showing boys much more centered on sexual matters than girls. But things are only that simple at first glance. Indeed, the spectators are not only getting a glimpse of a coitus, they are at the same time watching the child watching it. In these moments the big eyes of the boys become the center of the observation and create an ambiguous mise en abyme where gendered images of childhood melt into the spectator’s self reflection. The paper analyzes the gendered vision of childhood in the above mentioned examples among others, taking a critical attitude towards the cinematic reception of scientific theories and their use in mass media. These aspects are especially important in Spain, where the redefinition of sexual identities after 1975 has been a central issue in film. The examples will illustrate how popular movies stick close to traditional representation of gender even when dealing with childhood.



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