Heading South: Analysis through the Eyes of Anne Kaplan and Bell Hooks





Heading South: Analysis through the Eyes of Anne Kaplan and Bell Hooks

The central ideal in the narrations of Anne Kaplan is the “feminist theory” where there is a general stereotyping of the feminine gender in film art. The resultant effect of the gender portrayal is a rise in activist movements that gunner for women liberation against the stereotyped image. Bell Hooks, in his narration, presents two ideals, one that there is enjoyment in cultural diversity given acceptance and the other that desires to supersede human preoccupations mostly given that those absorbed in the emotion are present. The three central ideals are will be highlighted in the examination of Heading South. The film is composed of three female characters; Brenda, Ellen, and Sue who are all on the wrong side of forty years, having troublesome love lives and all aiming to let loose and enjoy each other’s company on their Haiti vacation. Haiti is endowed with men who are free to indulge with tourist women and equally who have no moral restrictions whatsoever. Ellen and Brenda pick up a young lad, Legba, from the Haiti streets and simultaneously fall in love with him.

Triumph of Desire in the Physical Form

The three central female characters play the roles of female sex tourists whose desires range from physical to emotional satisfaction. Brenda is a married woman who had earlier made a visit to Haiti with her husband. In this, the character is preoccupied as a wife. Brenda owes her loyalty and faithfulness to her marital partner. Unhappy and unsatisfied with her marital life, she makes the trip to the Caribbean with her female companions and eventually interacts with Legba. The two instantly spark of an aura of intimacy through erratic, wild, and unconstrained behavior. Brenda’s desires for physical satisfaction as a sex tourist are elevated with her admiration of Legba. During a scene where the two characters are together at the beach, Brenda’s desires for physical fulfillment overshadow her preoccupations as a wife. She eventually ends up raping Legba. In addition, Brenda’s desires after she has gone back to her husband in Georgia force her to abandon her marriage and return to Haiti in search for Legba.

Ellen similarly has been frequently visiting Haiti as a sex tourist. The character in every summer of her past six years has been spent in Haiti. Ellen, tired of Boston men, has been making the Caribbean trips in pursuit of sex and companionship. The character and Legba have been intimate ever since they met, having random casual sex whenever they are together. Ellen and Brenda are white colored while Legba is dark colored. Given that the setting of the movie is in the early 70s, there was established racial discrimination. The physical desires of Ellen and Brenda superseded the societal preoccupation as they continuously pursued Legba.

Feminine Stereotyping

Ellen, Brenda, and Sue are stereotyped in their portrayal of the menopausal woman lingering on the odd side of forty to fifty years. It is the ultimate portrayal of the fifty-aged white woman in the late 70’s society. At the time, a woman aged fifty was marked as a fulfilled being in the terms of a career, marriage, and family. Women at this point were highly independent, respected, and admired for their life’s achievements. Flaws associated with the age are dullness, boredom, dissatisfaction, desperation, and routine. There is general lifelessness as women have routine practices, schedules, and activities. Though they have societal superiority, they are stereotyped as unhappy persons.

Ellen, Brenda, and Sue are female sex tourists. First, the characters are stereotyped as sexually dissatisfied. Brenda in her marriage is so lifeless that she leaves her husband for Legba. Ellen similarly is sexually deprived thus her escapades with Legba. Through their role as sex tourists, the three female characters are given an objectified role instead of a subjective one. The central theme in the movie is sex and the females play the role of the objects. They are objectified in the way they pursue Legba in a competitive way. Ellen and Brenda are so desperate that they fight for the young lad’s affection against their friendship and self-respect. The desperation in Ellen and Brenda is another stereotyped portrayal of the feminine gender as according to Kaplan’s theory. Legba as the central focus is content with the pursuit and desperation in the women that he does whatever he wants whenever he wishes with the women. He has no emotional attachment towards them and simply uses them for their economic value and for fun purposes.

Enjoyment in Cultural Diversity

The three central female characters frequently visit Haiti because of their rich cultural values. Men in the region are friendly, unchained, and adventurous. In addition, Haiti men have good communication and intimacy skills because of their open culture in terms of sex and sexes. Brenda and Ellen benefit from this cultural diversity thus their sex tourism. The racial diversity between Ellen, Brenda, and Legba especially in skin color is one of the vital aspects that bond their interactions. By overcoming the standard racial discrimination present in the society on skin color, Ellen and Brenda find happiness in the company of Legba. The female characters understand the free nature of Haiti men in accordance to their culture. They accept the rather biased norms and exist freely with them.

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