Hunan TV Slammed for ‘Male Gaze’ Camerawork

Viewers say song and dance performances on Chinese television continue to objectify women.

One of China’s largest state-owned television networks has been lambasted for portraying women in a “salacious” manner during a musical gala program Tuesday. Viewers have accused Hunan TV and its show of disrespecting celebrities from “Sisters Who Make Waves” by focusing less on their performances and more on their appearances.

Screenshots and videos from the gala show the production team using low camera angles while filming the female performers from “Sisters Who Make Waves” — so much so that the footage even revealed their “safety pants,” an additional layer of clothing worn by some women to guard against upskirting. For the performances by men, however, the cameras alternated between wide eye-level shots and close-ups.

Sixth Tone’s phone calls to the network went unanswered Wednesday.

On microblogging platform Weibo, many have criticized the cinematographic tactics for exploiting women, though some argued the lower camera angle benefits the female celebrities by making their legs appear longer and slimmer. A Weibo hashtag about the phenomenon had garnered 360 million views by Tuesday evening.

“As a photographer, I like to study the cinematography while watching films and performances,” read one comment under a related post. “To be honest, they (the producers) did this deliberately — and so do a lot of other shows. For instance, when female dancers twirl, they like to change to a lower-angle shot.”

Xin Ying, a feminist scholar and director of the Beijing LGBT Center, told Sixth Tone that the TV show exemplified the “male gaze” — with the camera viewing women as objects and subjugating them to the audience’s control.

“It suggests a sexualized way of looking that empowers men and objectifies women,” Xin said. “The female performers are positioned to meet the desires of heterosexual males. Their personalities and feelings are less important by comparison.” Continue to read the full article here


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.