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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Film as an ideological process; Karen : women in sport Barling, Marion


1. The Paper: The first part of this paper is an analysis of how ideological images and forms are made. A Marxian concept of the word ideology is used. The paper holds that ideological forms are the product of our material conditions and come into existence by the activities of people. It stresses that it is important to look at what sex as well as what class has control over the material conditions that create the forms of thought under which we live. Therefore special reference is made to the position of women in this process. The primary focus being that a woman's experience in her everyday life is not seen or heard in the dominant ideologies of our time, this includes film and video. This is because women have been withheld from the material and mental means of production as it refers to the ideological process. The second part of this paper deals with the experience of the filmmaker. It outlines how the film was formed in relation to her past life experience, her financial conditions, her knowledge of film production, and her purpose in making the film. This section shows how the material conditions of our lives control the process of making an ideological form. There were two main aims in making the film. The first was to show what society accepted as 'natural' characteristics for females, and then to illuminate the conflicts which arise for females when they step outside of these clearly defined boundaries. The second was to explore methods of presenting a female experience that would leave the audience with an understanding of how sexism takes place in our society. This would mean that the audience's consciousness on the topic of a female's experience would he changed. The film would give them a tool with which to re-evaluate that which they had previously accepted as a 'natural' situation in society. 2. The Film; The content of the film takes the form of a Documentary concerning a young girls' fight to be accepted by her peers and local soccer league. Karen and her mother Nancy talk about the problem they have been confronted with, simply because Karen is a girl playing in an all boys league. Due to lack of budget the film is made as inexpensively as possible. One of the results of this is that 99% of the film is not in lip synchronization; this means that the film is edited together from film footage and audio material that was taken at different times and places. The editing of the film is organized from a feminist perspective. It attempts to interweave the four main speakers in such a fashion as to show that what is believed to be 'scientific facts' about the female physiology and female characteristics act as a restriction on how and where females perform in the world of sports. At the same time it shows that the way in which women are seen as having 'female characteristics' is often in conflict with the calibre of their performance. To do this the film is edited and organized in such a way that the visual material seen over the dialogue often contradicts what is being said. By doing this film creates a tension within the viewer that will both hold her/his attention whilst following the feminist perspective of the filmmaker. The film creates an atmosphere that gives credibility and sympathy to the main female protagonists, Karen and Nancy, whilst discrediting the male speaker who represents the values that society accept as 'normal'. Two levels of consciousness are presented. The first is that of the academic, scientific data and research approach represented by two speakers from a conference held at U.B.C. called, Women in Motion: Health, Sports and Recreation. The second level of consciousness is presented by the actual experience of Karen and her mother in their fight to have Karen accepted in the soccer league. The film footage shows Karen playing in the soccer team, and other of her 'play' activities. This is interspersed with film footage of women active in both traditional and untraditional sports. This is edited in a fashion that the image presented is often in conflict with what is said. The end of the film is intended to leave the audience with the full impact of Karen's situation. The spoken word is dropped and only the creaking of the swing is heard as Karen shimmies up the swing post. At this point one could believe that she is symbolically successful in her fight for acceptance in the world. She reaches the top of the post and grins at us, but at that moment a written message tells us that she has had to drop out of summer soccer school because of sexist remarks about her pubescent figure. The intention of this final scene is to leave the audience with the clear message that guts and individual effort cannot overcome the oppression that she is subjected to. Symbolically she slides down the post into reality and the end of the film.

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