Reflections Around Comic Gaze: From the Female Gaze in the early years of Cinema to the Performance Servitudes, By Jesper Just


This article has as its main objective to reflect on the influences of the female defiant gaze in the early years of cinema history in order to prove its contemporary influence. From the analysis of three irreverent visual gags present in the early years of cinema, in which the woman breaks with the power of the camera by looking directly at the device - Subject for the Rogue ‘s Gallery (A.E. Weed, 1904), Mary Jane’s Mishap [Don’t Fool with the Paraffin] (George Albert Smith, 1903), and One Week (Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline, 1920) -, we propose a theoretical reflection that allows us to define a concept that we call Comic Gaze. This is related to the concerns and proposals of the challenge imposed by the gaze of a woman directly at the camera. We base this problematization on Laura Mulvey’s proposal on the Male Gaze (1975) and bell hooks’ on the Oppositional Gaze (1992), which allow us to advance that this direct gaze of the woman to the cinematographic camera ends up destabilizing the authority of the male perspective on their bodies and works as a logic of visual resistance. Therefore, the central objective of this article is to investigate and contrast this irreverent gaze in order to finally understand if it is still present in contemporary performance Servitudes (Jesper Just), connecting these distinct works despite the temporal distance between them.

Author Biographies

Samantha da Silva Diefenthaeler, Pompeu Fabra

Samantha da Silva Diefenthaeler (Itaituba, Brazil, 1990) holds a double degree in Journalism from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul UFRGS (Brazil) and the Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal), and a Master's degree in Contemporary Film and Audiovisual Studies from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where she is currently developing her Ph.D. thesis, focused on the comic representation of women throughout the history of cinema. She is a pre-doctoral researcher in training at the university departments of the Catalan university system (FI SDUR), linked to the CINEMA research group and the project "Representations of feminine desire in Spanish cinema during the Franco era: the evolution of the actress's gesture in the face of censorship coercion" (CSO2017-83083-P).

Research lines

-History of cinema

-Gender studies; female archetypes

-Humor, comedy and slapstick

Carla Cerqueira, Lusófona University/ CICANT

Carla Cerqueira holds a PhD in Communication Sciences - specialization in Communication Psychology from the University of Minho, Portugal (2012), funded by Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

From 2013 to 2019 she was a Postdoctoral researcher in Communication Sciences at the Communication and Society Research Centre (CECS) and an Assistant Professor at Lusófona University of Porto (ULP). From February 2019 to August 2020 she was a full-time researcher at the CECS and currently, she is an Assistant Professor at Lusófona University and a researcher at CICANT - The Centre for Research in Applied Communication, Culture, and New Technologies.

Her research interests include gender, feminisms, intersectionality, NGOs and media studies. She participated in diverse conferences and integrated scientific committees, projects and events organizations. She integrates COST Action "Women on the Move" (CA19112). She was vice-chair of the Gender and Communication Section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) and Gender and Communication YECREA representative. She has participated as a researcher and consultant in several academic and social funded projects in the area of Gender and Media. In 2012 she was also invited to join the Opinion Board of RTP - Radio and Television of Portugal as a representative of NGOs that are part of the Advisory Board of CIG - Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality.

She is the Research & Policy Committee chair of GAMAG - Global Alliance on Media and Gender. Carla Cerqueira is part of RTP's Opinion Council (mandate 2021-2025) as a member appointed by the NGOs to the Advisory Council of the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality.