The way you look at me, through your male gaze?

“Come mi guardi tu” (The way you look at me) is a dreamy,  tranquil love song by the Italian indie rock band Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti (Three cheerful dead boys). As many of their songs, it has been accompanied by an animated music video by Michele Bernardi, who has directed and illustrated various clips for bands from the Italian indie scene.

In “Come mi guardi tu”, Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti’s lead singer Davide Toffolo sings about the love and comfort he feels when being with his partner:

“Come mi baci tu
Non lo fa nessuna
Che sia sotto il sole o sotto la luna
Come mi abbracci tu
Non l’ha mai fatto nessuna
Come m’hai visto tu
Non m’ha mai visto nessuna”

(The way you kiss me
Nobody else has kissed me before
Whether under the sun or beneath the moon
The way you hug me
Nobody else has ever hugged me
The way you looked at me
Nobody else has ever looked at me)

The way the animator looks at the female protagonist is less unique, though. In fact, Bernardi’s animation at first sight seems to be yet another example of the “male gaze”, a visual representation that depicts women as an object of heterosexual male desire. This key concept of feminist film theory was introduced by scholar and filmmaker Laura Mulvey in her 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”.

During the beginning of the music video, the woman is shown belly dancing in the deep sea surrounded by floating, glowing jellyfish. We then see the protagonist riding a motorcycle through urban landscapes and forests to an abandoned beach where she takes off her clothes and jumps into the water. She dives deeper and deeper, again surrounded by glowing jellyfish, until we see her naked body tucked together in a fetal position in the womb of a giant jellyfish with glaring purple eyes.

Though somewhat objectified one should also consider that the protagonist is portrayed as an independent, determined woman as we follow her on her surrealistic journey to the deep sea.  Besides, she is confidently riding a motorcycle—a stereotypical male object.

Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see how a female animator would have illustrated the scene or how Bernardi would have interpreted the song if the admired protagonist had been male.

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