The Liminal Icongraphy : part 3

The Liminal Iconography (若隱若現的身影:下篇)
by Christina Lane

23) Certain photographs in the popular press also play up Foster's ambiguity by showing her features as partially hidden. In one Rolling Stone photograph, Foster stands slightly off-center, wearing a shimmery silver outfit, with shadows dividing her face. She presses her hand up against what appears to be a glass window (Hirshen 35). This photo, in particular, suggests that Foster is pressed under a microscope slide, asking the readers of her image, "Who am I?"The shadows that frame her cause her identity to seem slightly unknowable. One might assume that Foster's refusal to be labeled in interviews or photographs positions her outside the discussion of sexual identity. Indeed, instead she finds herself right in the middle of the discussion, but merely occupying an ambiguous and enigmatic space within it.


24) Foster appears to contribute to the ambiguity of her persona in part by eluding questions in interviews that might reveal too much. One Redbook interviewer says, "Jodie Foster is skilled at avoiding questions and dodging comments on forbidden territory--specifically the realm of two prohibited topics.Prohibited Topic Number One involves everything about her romantic life and inclinations" (Segell 79). The fact that the author brings up her romantic life in terms of "inclinations" provides just one example of how the media throw Foster's sexual identity into question. (The second prohibited topic happens to be John Hinckley Jr.) Foster draws a line on her romantic life, refusing to indulge in the conversation. This same strategy of eluding the public's desire to "know" her -- to categorize her sexually and socially-- can be seen in her choice of film roles. Very rarely does she play a character where the film is allowed to "suture in" a romantic happy ending with Foster riding of into the sunset on the back of Prince Charming's horse.Most of her films conclude atypically for Hollywood, echoing the diasporic characteristic of much of lesbian fiction and film. In Little Man Tate, the first script that Foster chose to direct herself in, her character never finds herself confronted with a love interest, but instead concentrates on her relationship with her son.

福斯特善於避答採訪中可能進一步透露的問題,這顯然是造就她性傾向模糊的原因之一.Redbook的採訪人就提到:茱蒂善於迥避禁忌的問題和評論,特別在兩大議題上.頭條禁忌是任何有關她的感情生活和性傾向.這位作者將她的感情生活和性傾向相提並論,這顯示媒體如何對福斯特性傾向起疑的一例.(第二項禁忌是所有與辛克里相關者) 福斯特在她的感情生活畫一條紅線,不願意多加談論.她在電影角色的選擇也採取同樣策略,消除大眾想要「了解她」的慾望,以免在性傾向還是族群上將她分類.她在影片中很少出現皆大歡喜的愛情結局:就是那種福斯特坐在白馬王子身後一起騎向落日的結局.大部份她的影片是反好萊塢式的結局,比較像是女同小說或電影中的流亡性格.<Little Man Tate 我的天才寶貝(1991) >是她第一部自導自演的作品,她的角色始終沒有遇到心上人,劇本聚焦在她和兒子間的關係.

25) One of the aspects that makes Foster's persona so provocative is that, although she retreats when asked about her own romantic life, as she gains power in Hollywood, she chooses to address sexuality as her major subject of exploration. When asked by Redbook what she wants to do in the film world, she picks "the subject of how absurd -- and false -- Hollywood's renderings of women's sexuality are on screen. She finds it 'laughable' that women in movies can manage a shattering orgasm after about 20 seconds" (Segell 79).


26) I'm waiting to see a movie about the women I know -- a movie that explores the dynamics of why that other person completes you, why you're together. I'd like to explore female sexuality in a way that people don't get to see on screen. (79)


27) Foster's ideas about representing desire and sexuality on screen are most certainly women-centered, and even border on the latest developments in feminist film theory that attempt to radicalize the current masculinist and heterosexist symbolism of women's sexuality in mainstream texts. In other words Foster redefines sexuality as a fluid category -- not merely as a rigid and confining projection of what men want, but instead as an orchestration of female fantasy and desire. The reporter asks how she intends to change contemporary representation.
Foster replies, "I'm fascinated by the idea of putting two people in a room for 20 hours, finding out what they do when no one is around and filming it. I mean people do the weirdest things when they're alone" (Segell 79).


28) So, in interviews, Foster apparently frames her thinking about sexual representation in terms of the boundaries between interior and exterior, public and private, in and out. She makes similar comments to Rolling Stone: "I have this fascination with public personae and private people.There's that juxtaposition of image versus intimacy" (Hirshen 89). This public/private quandary seems to structure Foster's cinematic intentions. Her fascination with public and private can be framed theoretically as well. She is studying the distance between representation and subject.


29) If Foster is ambiguous, then doesn't she use that "space of unknowing" to her advantage -- strategically aligning herself where she sees fit for the time or, better put, intentionally disaligning herself from any static position?


30)The empowerment she receives from the loyalty of numerous camps certainly suggests this. This strategy may be why she is able to take on a role about gang rape, then direct a feature film, and then play a strong but feminine woman of the Reconstruction period.


31) As suggested by the public reaction to her role in The Silence of the Lambs, Foster's liminal status has appeared to be most at stake at the time of that film's release. Thus, Staiger's analysis of this cultural event again becomes paramount to understanding Foster's persona. Staiger insists:


32) Thus, although Starling is a woman, she may not be a "normal" woman. We thus have a quadrant of gender and sexual preferences available in the film: Lecter: heterosexual male; female victims: (heterosexual) female victims; Gumb: homosexual male; Starling: homosexual female... In my analysis of this public discourse, the most apparent danger [as evidenced by social anxieties] was from incorporating or transgressing traditional oppositions.


33)According to Staiger, Foster's guilt by association with (characters) Lecter and, even more so, with Gumb, places her in an extremely problematic place within the conventional world of binary oppositions and rigid categories.


34) This article has been an effort to posit iconic inquiries and address them. As I have shown, Foster's images are constructed not only through her acting roles, nor only through her directorial choices, but also via her iconography that circulates through print media and fashion photography. Of course, in exploring mediations of Foster, one needs to take into account Foster's privileged status as an upper middle- class, ivy-league-educated, white woman. Perhaps, through her iconography, Foster exploits a position of identity.Acknowledging this privilege, I conclude however, with the suggestion that Foster's ambiguous and tenacious "unidentity" may be her public articulation of the problems associated with sexual boundaries and categories.




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