Throughout history cinema has been the medium of portrayal of the social issues from the very beginning of the advent of Cinema. It has been the mirror which portrays the good and ugly of the society. It is however the discretion of the directors to decide on what all can be shown on the screen and in what way messages are communicated. There has been many schools and styles of films. “German Expressionism, Italian Neorealism, Soviet Montage and French New Wave” are styles of cinema that are the milestones which revolutionised the way messages are conveyed to the mass. In itself it is an art to communicate the messages of social importance to the viewers of the cinema. Therefore there needs to be precise clarity of thought before the scenes are put together and the sequences are formed. The collection of scenes are known as sequences. The scenes are important in order to form a meaningful sequence. There have been various ways in which the scenes are set in order to form the sequences. In soviet montage here is a use of highly edited smaller scenes which are juxtaposed over one another, which produces a feeling of amazement and surprise. German Expressionism again focuses towards display of grandeur and royalty in each scenes so that the outcome of the sequence is majestic and magnificent, therefore this style is known by the term “Expressionism”.
The women had been playing a very important role in shaping the course of Cinema, be that in terms of acting in the cinema, directing the films or being the centre of the plot. In the late sixties, the films started portraying feminism and its various shades (Lieberman, 2014). The worldwide movement of feminism and the assertion of rights in the process is showcased in cinema throughout the globe. The display of female athletes in cinema is one of the aspects of showcasing feminism in cinema (Domeneghetti, 2017). The genre of sports have been for long dominated by the males of the society, the female players have broken this undisputed dominance in almost all the genres of sports. Post that the films have adopted showcasing of the female athletes in a positive light and their struggle to inspire more female athletes to come out and play. Some of the milestone movies in this regards are “She’s The Man, Fast Girls, Love and Basketball, Whip It, The Next Karate Kid, Girl fight, Bring It On, The Mighty Ducks, Little Giants, Million Dollar baby, A League of Their Own, Bend it Like Beckham, Battle of the Sexes” and many more (Izquierdo Sanchez, Elliott & Simmons, 2016).
This paper describes the incidents in the film Battle of the Sexes in the light of portrayal of women athletes in cinema. This film was released in 2017 and was a biographical work in which the epic game of 1973 Tennis match between the world’s number one male tennis player and the world’s number one female tennis player, in which Billie Jean King the world’s number one female player won defeating Bobby Rigs, the world’s number one male tennis athlete.
Nowadays, female athletes receive more attention in the media and are also as successful as male athletes. However, the media coverage is focused on their body and how to present them in the different media channels even that women have a long history of feminism and fights for their rights. They are still reduced in the media which also has an impact on the cinema industry. Women and especially female athletes were more the second role and shown for their sexuality (Robles, Aranda & Urbistondo, 2017). Since the twenty-one century, female athletes become the primary role in sports films and showing strength and braveness in non-soft activities, as like football, basketball and tennis. This has a positive side effect to the younger generation of girls in the present./
Since they so routinely attribute male contenders, sports films give a basic position to the examination of winning thoughts of masculinity, yet they in like manner show how it has been transformed after some time in light of evolution in American culture. From the 1880s through the whole of the twentieth century, the effects of “industrialization, professionalization, deindustrialization, changing sorts of media outline, and the extended accreditation of women and non-white and gay men” have obliged overwhelming “masculinity” to portray itself in new ways. While endeavouring to depict athletic events in a possible style, the directors of the films of this genre have responded to these social changes in their outlines of masculinity—by indicating its quality through relationship to others ( “The Iron Major 1943, The Rookie” ), by displaying non-white individuals who epitomize its properties ( “Space Jam , Girlfight” ), even by presenting a white masculinity bowed with attributes related with nonwhite contenders ( “White Men Can't Jump , Any Given Sunday 1999”).
A couple of “sports films” show genuinely strong women, most of them are athletes or achievers in their own field, looking for after a ladies' lobbyist necessity for control of their organizations and relationship; in “Pat and Mike , Bull Durham (1987), and Tin Cup (1996)” those tough women vocally deconstruct manliness. A couple of motion pictures about female athletes, for instance, “Personal Best , Pumping Iron II , and A League of Their Own” present a breaking of the sync between scenes in which they exhibit their capability to fitting properties related with masculinity to achieve in sports, and a story that drives them toward exchange off with preservationist contemplations of sexual introduction. Two later movies, “Girlfight and Love and Basketball (2000)”, affect a walk around advance by favouring female contenders who can legitimate the positive characteristics of masculinity, without requiring they deal the slants that they acknowledge from duty in sports.
Regardless of the extended social regard showed up in some present motion pictures, most preoccupations films made in the last a quarter century have continued relating the stories of white, male individuals, requesting excited work and attestation as the fundamental fixings that issue “for athletic achievement” (Bolton, 2011). The accomplishment of “Rocky in 1976” exhibited a need to expel the uneven characters that the 1960s counter-culture had found in American system, and gave new life to hopeful sports films, for instance, “The Natural (1984), Hoosiers , Field of Dreams (1989), Mr. Baseball (1992), Rudy (1993), Angels in the Outfield (1994), The Air Up There , and The Replacements” . These legendary motion pictures not simply bear in mind the old stories of white male legends, yet additionally reassert the old delineations of non-whites and women as either prevention that depict the favoured individual or immovable supporters of his achievement.
It is through these perilous spaces that we see the climbing of another game plan of boast of womanliness and femininity that frontally upholds ladies as “skilled, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and free sexual subjects”. In spite of the way that an a ton of studies have been made on the sexualisation out of ladies earns back the original investment with in the media (Bruce 2015) little research exists looking sexualisation of female in delighting supporters in visual designs, paying little identity to ladies' making closeness in wear spaces as supporters and fans. Clearing up American football, Thomas Oates characteristics ladies' insignificance as fans to media stories that make ladies out of the envisioned football social occasion of people, arranging them as unengaged "football ladies" rather than related with and given spectators. In this article it is held that the case is not similar anymore and there is a separate band of “fans” of these sports, way women are sexualized in sports also cause distraction to fans, it is to evaluate how provocativeness is credited as an attracting subject position for “women sports” fans.
Dawn Heinicken in his research work “So Tight in the Thighs, So loose in the Weist” concludes “In particular, girls’ practice of “self-branding,” identified by Banet-Weiser, is a form of identity play rooted in a post-feminist media culture that reinforces gender norms and traditional gender relations by linking progressive ideas of freedom and empowerment to gendered consumption practices and the highly sexualized performance of heterosexuality (2011, 283). Meanwhile, Banet-Weiser points to the exclusionary nature of self-branding, as it is a practice available mainly to white, middle-class girls (2011, 288)” (Heinecken, 2015).
According to Toffoletti (2016) the trends of sports fandom and the women have changed over the years and the trend is at its most in the recent days. Women are taking greater roles not only in playing the games but also performing administrative activities in sports like, broadcasting, anchoring, and commentating and being sports journalists for big media houses. This has reflected women as more powerful sexually having more control over the sports world than ever before. However the objectification of women has not changed in spite of all these endeavours. The women remain to be seen by most male sports fans as the objects of visual sexual gratification and the lesser serious players. The short dresses at the tennis courts often drag more eye balls than the original game does when there are two women playing in the court. Lindner (2011) has stated in her research “With particular focus on the potentially “troubling” ?gure of the female athlete within the hetero-normative context of cinematic representation, it explores the ways in which gendered identities are reconstituted within and through depictions of female athleticism”. The research finding has proved that it is a fact that the hetero normative view of sports prevails, however the modern films depicting the women in sports in new light is helping and contributing in the process of change of the hetero normative opinion in sports. Risio (2011) conducted a research on the film “MillionDollarBaby”. In the film the makers have endeavoured in showing the rsie of a woman in more of a male dominated sports, however that is done by the subtlety of a male guiding the endeavour of the woman. Therefore this is not the ideal way in which a complte retribution of the decade’s long gender discrimination can be ensured by the womanhood.
The topic of “women in film” can be duly assessed by understanding the “range of roles played by female characters on- screen familiar from feminist film studies of the 1970s”. However the constant depiction of the women as sexual objects in terms of their perfect appearance, perfect figure and sexually vocal dressing in these films are also debatable and their real purpose may be contemplated. There must be an effort to show the success of women in the sports industry in the way the success of the male athletes is shown, without the overtone of sexuality.
In the past, Billy Jane King, a female tennis player in the 70’ from the United States had changed the position of female athletes significantly. The fought for equality in tennis sports and later on she was part of the feminist movement because of her life situation as a lesbian. She as a person has a significant impact on the sports industry and women rights (Birrell & McDonald, 2012).
The film ‘Battle of the Sexes’ highlights the important match that took place in the career of Billy Jane Kings who was a tennis player. The film represented her personality to be a strong and independent woman. Previously, Billy Jane King was a female tennis player in the 70’ from the United States had being a trend setter in setting the position of female athletes significantly. Her main motive was to fight for gender equality in terms of sports, especially tennis.
The movie depicts the time of 1973 and reveals the tennis match that is considered was quite unusual and attracted thousands when it took place in the year of 1973.The women’s champion Billie Jean King won against Bobby Riggs, who had been men’s world number one in the 1940s. This has been marked as history and the score was quite remarkable and the score was 6-4, 6-3, and 6-3.
According to her Sport needs a cultural change and also in the mindset of people. Even with the heavy psychological burden of negative stereotypes, there are amazing examples of female athleticism, which do not get the attention and the identification that are to be deserved. There are various women who can sprint 100m to within a second of Usain Bolt but have no recognition. The Emma Stone-Steve Carrel movie has immortalized her and made King, the most famous for her “Battle of the Sexes” after straight sets victory over Bobby Riggs in 197. However, the battle for equality began well before that.Later on Billie Jean King was part of the feminist movement because of her life situation as a lesbian. She as a person has a significant impact on the sports industry and women rights.
At present Billy Jane King at the age of 70, being the winner of 39 Grand Slam tennis wants to inspire others to do the same thing that she has done to establish a sport for women and become successful. She has been an inspiration to all.
“This is the greatest generation on inclusion ever. And that gives me hope. We’ve done all kinds of studies and it holds true that young people don’t want to be in a workplace that doesn’t have inclusion. They’ll leave work and go to another company if it has better inclusion. I think the kids that are younger are going to learn from millennials, and pick up on that, too, and I think this could probably save the world.” These words of her clearly reflected the aims and objectives she desired to achieve in her life, establishing gender equality, and utilising sports for that purpose was her greatest strength. She used what she could do best in order to ensure that there is equality and the idea of women being lesser than men in sports is challenged in the strongest way possible (Melo, 2012). She had been working tirelessly to challenge hetero normative narrative of the sports industry and the society in general.
“I was daydreaming about my little tiny universe of tennis, and I thought to myself: ‘Everybody’s wearing white shoes, white socks, white clothes, playing with white balls, everybody who plays is white. Where is everybody else? That was the moment I decided to fight for equality and freedom and equal rights and opportunities for everyone. Everyone. Not just girls. Everyone” This was when the girl was 12 years of age. It can be well understood that from the very beginning of her childhood and adolescence she had the desire to establish equality and work for diversity in various levels. “...everybody who plays is white. Where is everybody else”, this statement holds deep meaning in terms of the social stratification of present times. In the film there is a beautiful depiction of the story of the 1973 match between her and the male number 1 player Bobby Riggs who is also the self-confessed “male chauvinist pig”, thousands of audience were watching the match live in their television sets and in the field. The stadium was filled with 30000 spectators watching every move. In the movie there is a depiction of her personal life in terms of her relationship with her female “hair dresser” and hiding the same fact from her husband and the rest of the world.
The lady had been instrumental in breaking away the dependency of the women team on the administration of the male team in conducting the women’s tour. The men refused to pay money as much as they wanted therefore they set up their own tour. Apart from that she also played an important role in establishing the “Women’s Tennis Association”.
The winning of the 1973 Tennis match turned her fortunes and also immensely helped in establishing her cause of equality in sports and in social life. She is regarded by a large number of people as the greatest tennis players of all times by many tennis enthusiasts (Jakubowska, 2013). A large number of awards and accolades were conferred unto her which included some of the most famous awards such as “International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987, The Fed Cup Award of Excellence in 2010, the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award in 1973, one of the Time Persons of the Year in 1975, Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year lifetime achievement award, in 2006, the USTA National Tennis Centre in New York City was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre.”. These accolades, recognitions and awards has been instrumental in the fame of this woman athlete being internationally recognised and the efforts of her being supported by many number of people across US and around the globe.
Within her stint as one of the most successful players in tennis, she had been vocal about several issues and she ensured her activism brought the needed changes within the game in United States of America. She had been vocal about the scenario of United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) paying the top players under the table to ensure the entry of top players into the game. She said about Tennis the following “In America, tennis players are not people. If you are in tennis, you are a cross between a panhandler and a visiting in-law. You're not respected, you're tolerated. In England, you're respected as an artist. In Europe, you're a person of importance. Manuel Santana gets decorated by Franco. The Queen leads the applause. How many times have I been presented at the White House?” She wanted the rights and the interests of the athletes in the United States to be ascertained. She wanted the players to be as much respected as their European counterparts were (Overman & Sagert, 2012). She championed rights of the women, the rights of the players, the rights of the LGBT community and advocated the cause of uprooting discrimination against anyone and everyone. This sets her above her contemporaries. She has not only played but also ascertained her rights by voicing her opinions. In the beginning of the era she had advocated for equal prize money for both men and women.
The ‘Battle of the Sexes’ is a film about the most important match of Billy Jane Kings career as a tennis player. The film documented her persona as a strong and independent woman and shows mostly parallels to the real event them self. This chapter talks about the different but more about the similarity between film and event and how the cinema industry presents female athletes based on a true story. “The Battle of The Sexes” was premiered in “Telluride Film Festival” in the month of September 2017. The film was released by “Fox Searchlight Pictures”. This film has been one of the most positively reviewed by film critiques in the year it was released.
Throughout the film the message that has been portrayed is that female athlete was not limited to sports alone. She had been engaged in all walks of life which made her person as we know today. The success and fame that she received was not only because of the game she played but also because all her humanitarian and social endeavours. The game she played with her male counterpart, it was the war for prestige, the stage of retribution, and it was the “battle for sexes”, where King had to prove her worth. The result of the match would impact all the female athletes throughout the world (Bulte, Tu & List, 2015).
Billie Jean King successfully disrupted the depiction of women in sports films as symbols of sexuality and trivialised individuals. She established herself as the successful female athlete who is self-made and wins the games on her own skills and talents. She does not need a male guide to show her the path towards success. She herself makes way for her cause to success and ascertains her voice in the largely male chauvinistic society through her gameplay and strong personality. The portrayal of the character by Emma Stone is one of a kind where she is successful in bringing the emotions and feelings of the player in the real game of that time. The audience is compelled to go on the journey along with the main character and traverse the various emotional ups and downs of the film’s various moods. The defeat of Riggs in the film has been the climax which makes the audience go through a feeling of satisfaction. Women empowerment being one of the topmost issues of the life of the main character, the film shows represents the same message. The player herself was very happy with the portrayal of the character by the actor. When asked about what she thinks of it, she said, “She did great, are you kidding? For all of us who have seen tennis movies, I think the bar has been pretty low. But I think they did a great job on the tennis, which I think is always one of the challenges.” she added “Our dream was that any girl born in the world would have a place to compete and be appreciated for their accomplishments, not just their looks. If you listen to Howard Cosell, when I walked into the Astrodome, he talked about my looks. Players today are living our dream.”
In the films that display the women athletes, one of the unamicable ingredient is the scenes of “sexual objectification of women” (Wakefield et al., 2017). This film broke the glass ceiling by showcasing her more as a player with various preferences and facets incusing her being lesbian. It is a bold step towards the future where the base is gender equality. Though gay rights movements and gay marriages are talk of the hour these days however in professional sports industry still now people are living under closets because of the hetero normative cultural expression of the sports industry at large, times are changing though.
Thus it can be concluded that the films of the recent times that depict female athletes have more often than not used the help of “sexual objectification” of women in order to sell. There are a section of fans who keep more interest in the female players and their dresses rather than focusing on the games. However there have been very successful female athletes who have successfully engaged in gender stereotypes to overpower such sexist and chauvinist approach and proved their worth in the sports world.
The film named the “Battle of the Sexes” has been one of the milestone films that portrayed some glimpses from the life of the famous female tennis player known as Billie Jean King and the very famous and popular tennis match from 1973 in which the world’s number one male player and the world’s number one female player competed against each other in which Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs. This was not just merely a tennis match but it was about the prestige of the women of that time, the objective was to break the idea that women are not good players. It was indeed the “Battle of the Sexes”. It was about claiming equality from the largely chauvinistic male dominated game. King said in an interview, “There are so many battles that have to be won again and again. Coretta Scott King talked about how freedom is never really won, how every generation has to earn it and win it again and again. It's the same with equality. I think we're right in the middle again. It's up to the ones Emma's age and younger—they have to keep doing this.” This statement accurately sums up the objective of the game and its consequences.
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