MEDIA CENTERED PERSPECTIVE: REBECCA
A naive young lady marries a well-off widower—Maxim de Winter. The lonely widower is still distraught and dejected by the accidental death of his first wife, Rebecca. It appears that Rebecca still rules at Manderley even after her death. Danvers, the faithful housekeeper, makes frequent references to Rebecca in order to keep her memories alive.
I have chosen the movie ‘Rebecca’ (1940) to conduct my media-centred analysis. Media logic focuses on the degree to which viewers tend to take the medium and its social uses for granted and thus, fail to realize how they influence us to believe and behave. (Sellnow, pg162). The movie focuses on typical gender roles Maxim is portrayed as a strong-willed husband who is the authority figure. Mrs. de Winter is portrayed as a weak, timid lady who desperately tries to win her husband’s love. Mrs. de Winter lacks self-assurance and attempts to follow Rebecca’s Mannerism. Rebecca on the other hand, is an exception to the rule. She is smart, independent and domineering. But the dark and sinister side of her personality tarnish her image. We begin to hate her because her behaviour is far from the accepted and desirable norms of behaviour. Maxim’s character supports masculine hegemony and we approve him this way.
‘Commodification’ has to do with advertisement blending with programming (Sellnow, pg 163). The film exhibits commodification on two occasions. At one place Maxim is shown leafing through ‘Time’ magazine and invites Mrs de Winter to read an article about English cricket. On another occasion Mrs de Winter is seen glancing through ‘Beauty’ magazine for smart women in order to have a better understanding about how to carry her.
Amplification and reduction has to do with what is shown and not shown on a TV program/movie. (Sellnow, pg 163). For instance, Rebecca is not shown in the movie but she permeates the entire film in spite of her absence. Mrs de Winter remains on the screen but fails to register her presence. From a feminist perspective it is note-worthy that the young lady who plays the wife is nameless throughout the film implying that she has no identity of her own. The message of masculine hegemony is amplified in the character of Maxim. Mrs de Winter is reduced to a mere object to be gazed at and her only purpose in life is to please her husband.
Social learning theory focuses on how we learn to believe and behave based on observation, imitation and modeling. (Sellnow, pg 164). In fact, we do not learn so much from our own actions as by observing others who model certain behaviour and the consequences of their actions. For example, we will not aspire to follow the model of Rebecca because her actions lead to her tragic end.
Parasocial relationship theory describes one sided relationship where one party know a great deal about the other party, but the other party does not. (Sellnow, pg 165). Parasocial relationship is established when there is a bond of intimacy between the celebrity or character and the viewers. When Rebecca was released in 1940, Rebecca, Maxim, Mrs. de Winter and Danvers became household names as if they were real people, not actors portrayed. Realism contributes on establishing a bond of intimacy with the characters. Mrs de winter is clumsy and nervous she breaks a statue and hides its pieces. She tries to win Maxim’s attention in every possible way. We can relate to her on account of realism attached to her character.
Cultivation theory suggests that repeated exposure to a certain message shape our view about the world. The artefact consistently delivers the message that beauty, brain and breeding is all that matters in a women. Rebecca is shown as a personification of perfection. Mrs. de Winter’s futile attempts to be like Rebecca strengthen the cultivation theory.
The film teaches us about the discrepancy about appearance and reality. Apparently Rebecca is appealing and seductive but in reality, she is deceitful and not loyal. According to the feminist perspective Rebecca challenged masculine hegemony and that is why she is condemned. The movie thus supports patriarchy and masculine hegemony.