Vertigo Made Me Dizzy

Vertigo was an incredibly confusing film for more reasons than one, but what I’d like to draw your attention to is the aspect of love (or lack thereof) in this film. To say the least, it was most certainly eye-opening, but I might’ve preferred my eyes stayed shut.

Before we get into the deep stuff, I’d just like to say that my favorite part of the entire movie was probably the precredits, because the animation was nice and that’s before anyone’s mental health was completely obliterated. It was a peaceful time.

Jumping to the second scene, after John Ferguson (who is, I suppose, our protagonist) has experienced his trauma, we find the first woman to whom he’s had an obvious attraction. An engagement of three weeks with Marjorie “Midge” Wood (Fig. 1) occurred with our protagonist whilst they were still in college, and her presence was quite frankly a little bemusing to me, because the goal of her character is rather unclear.


FIG. 1, Midge and John; Vertigo. Hitchcock, Alfred. Time stamp: (approx.) 00:07:43

The movie then starts to move along, and then a second female is introduced into the life of John Ferguson. This gal, however, is a bit trickier than Midge (who seems to be a bit of a “Plain Jane”). In this light, I might venture to say that Madeleine Elster (Fig. 2) might represent the “wild side” of femininity that darling Midge just didn’t have either the courage or the audacity to sport in the 1950s.

After John and Madeleine spend some quality time together, however, he appears to shift from being interested in the woman to whom he was once engaged, to being infatuated with this new, mysterious woman.


FIG. 2, John and Madeleine; Vertigo. Hitchcock, Alfred. Time stamp: (approx.) 01:16:20.

I think it is also worth mentioning that this is after poor Midge pulls out all the stops for him. She says that she’s “gone back to her first love, painting” (01:07:19), and then displays to him her 50s era photoshop (Fig. 3) of Portrait of Carlotta. Despite her best intentions, John is not amused, and I feel as if the entire audience mourns with her in her obvious despair.


FIG. 3, Portrait of Carlotta, feat. Midge; Vertigo. Hitchcock, Alfred. Time stamp: (approx.) 01:07:40.

Alright, here’s the kicker. We see little Johnny in the asylum, which is understandable, and then we see Midge, taking care of him, putting him on some music. After this, darling Marjorie doesn’t appear onstage again. Very agitating.

Fast-forwarding again to when John is out of asylum and back on his feet. He catches a glimpse of a woman he once claims to have known, and after taking her to dinner, he appears to develop significant interest. Even though it isn’t implied that he and Judy Barton (A.K.A. Madeleine Elster) have any sort of sexual relations, especially considering her hostility (Fig. 4) during their introduction, he is absolutely obsessed with her appearance. I’m confident that he gleans more emotional satisfaction from her looking like the late Madeleine Elster than he would if they actually had intercourse, qualifying this as a full-blown fetish.


FIG. 4, Judy and John; Vertigo. Hitchcock, Alfred. Time stamp: (approx.) 01:34:06.

When I reconciled within myself the later dressing up of Judy to mirror Madeleine’s appearance, something clicked, and it irritates the fire out of me:

When Judy wants to be herself, Johnny boy can’t take it. He refuses to enjoy her until she becomes the Madeleine for whom his heart aches. In lieu of that, she changes, for him, to gain his affection. Now, contrast this with Midge (bless her heart, as my great-grandma would’ve said). Midge changes herself voluntarily in slapping her face on that painting, all for sorry old Johnny. She takes something that she is not, and applies herself to it, presumably in the interest of attracting John. This, however, he does not appreciate, but despises. I think he’s an idiot, but that’s just my opinion.

I have a lot of questions, and here are some of them:

Why is Midge’s change of appearance worth less to John, even though hers is voluntary and Judy’s is not? Shouldn’t hers be more attractive, since she’s wanting to change to please him, and Judy is uncomfortable and apprehensive?

How do these love (or lust) interests relate to one another, to femininity, and to masculinity’s perception of the female appearance?

Is it that Midge is too “easy”, or that Madeleine (not Judy; his fantasy involves one personality, but not the other) is more “eccentric”, and is that why John doesn’t find them equally attractive?

Finally, if they were both Medusa, would John suddenly be equally attracted to them, or would he still prefer the more fantastic (emphasis on fantasy) Madeleine Elster over our beloved Marjorie “Midge” Wood? And yes, this is a totally serious question.

Vertigo. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Kim Novak and James Stewart. Netflix (Argentina). Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

Sexual Objectification

When you look at yourself in the mirror every morning, think about who you’re looking at. You’re looking at you, a person with unique talents, thoughts, feelings, ideas, and so on. The issue with modern advertising is that sexually charged ads often take the “people” aspect out of the people they use to advertise their products. Actors and models are stripped of their personhood and are simply jpegs or mp4s, meant to catalyze the thoughts of viewers and tempt them to buy things they may or may not actually need.

One of the largest equality arguments of our generation takes a serious swing at the sexual objectification that’s in so many ads, all the way from products like website constructors (GoDaddy ads are incredibly sexual in the United States, but not in Canada), to beer, to chocolate (neither of which are very conducive to a sexually attractive body), and other completely random products.

GoDaddy. Advertisement. CBS. 03 Feb. 2013. Television.

GoDaddy. Advertisement. CBS. 03 Feb. 2013. Television.

Yes, that’s a commercial for a web construction group. Yes, they make out. Yes, I almost vomited. This is the year they started pulling back on the sexual reigns of their advertisements, because the wives in the U.S. that only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials flipped completely out when their husbands were looking at these ads.

Snickers: You're Not You When You're Hungry, Sex. Mars Inc. Web. 25 Feb 2016. (Photo created May 2012).

Snickers: You’re Not You When You’re Hungry, Sex. Mars, Inc. Web. 25 Feb 2016.

Apparently, snickers makes it easier to unhook a bra. Who knew?

While we usually think of only women as the subjects of sexual ads, men have slipped into this business without causing all of the sexualization hullabaloo that we get when women are objectified. Consider, for instance, Justin Bieber’s incredibly popular photo campaign, advertising for Calvin Klein’s underwear division:

Calvin Klein Underwear: Justin Bieber, Musician, #MyCalvins. Web. 25 Feb 2016.

Calvin Klein Underwear: Justin Bieber, Musician, #MyCalvins. Web. 25 Feb 2016.

Justin Bieber, admittedly, has a build that many men envy. Of course, having enough money to hire a personal trainer and other such things probably makes a difference. His body and his name, however, are what’s selling the expensive piece of fabric that’s occupying his middle section. Here, Calvin Klein is not doing things like promoting the quality of their product to upsell. No, no. That’d be too basic. They’re using the sexual appeal of a celebrity’s body to reign in customers, as if to say that if I could just wear (or afford) their underwear, I can instantly have that air of sexual alpha that he seems to portray in this photograph. Berger mentions this in his section on ads in Ways of Seeing, saying that these suggest “that if he buys what [the ad] is offering, his life will become better. It offers him an improved alternative to what he is” (Berger 142).

Or, in our case, an augmentation of muscle to what us guys’ve already got.

The existence of incredibly athletic figures in advertisements has plagued women for years. This has led companies like Dove (Unilever, cosmetics division) to hold camps for girls grade school through high school to help shun the unrealistic, photoshopped expectations of the modern female body. I stumbled upon this video this morning, which is another very straightforward rejection of female objectification in women:

Men, however, have not had quite the same support, even though we’ve taken a similar hit. Because of various sociological forces, men (myself, inclusive) often feel pressured to have this amount of muscle mass, this height, this car, etc. If we don’t have all that (and a bag of low-carb chips), then we’re silently shamed. But heaven forbid we should talk about it, because that would imply vulnerability, which is also entirely unacceptable if you aspire to gain any sort of respect.

This is where the fun stuff comes along. This is the advertisement that Axe put out, which was a major win for social equality in terms of backlash against male sexualization in advertisement. Take a gander.

Isn’t that just a breath of fresh air?

All this to say that I have to disagree with Berger. I honestly think he’s a tad bit sexist, but I’ve not spoken to him, so I can’t confirm. In his chapter on nudes, however, he does make this claim: “One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. … The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed is female. She thus turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight” (Berger 47). I find this very unbalanced. Women have often been accused of being less sexual than men (i.e. they don’t seek it or want it with the same fervor that men have), and it seems that Berger might agree with this. I simply cannot. I think women have just as much drive in terms of sex, and that sexual ads might appeal to them just as much as men. I also think that if that can be equally viewed, so can be the acceptability of natural insecurity, for both women and men.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin, 1972.

The “About Me” that I Never Posted

Despite it being a little late in the game, there’s no such thing as a bad time for a thorough introduction.

My full name is Brandon Graeme (GRAY-um) Geißendorf (GUY-send-ORF), and I was born on November 18th of ’97 to two beautiful, loving, and vertically challenged parents. Yes. They’re both relatively short. (Also, neither are very German; the Geißendorfs moved from a livestock-herding community in the 1800s and into Texas during the 1860s. Unfortunately, no one in my family speaks German anymore.) Anyway. I was born and grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in Texas, and I’m super excited to be in Vancouver. It’s a change in scenery, climate, and political environment, all of which have been eye opening.

I like working, music, social media, food, and reading, in that order.

I always have a job. Always. And they’re usually in kitchens, because I like a challenge and I like working in a fast-paced environment. Funny story, I learned what I call “kitchen Spanish” over the summer, because I was a manager at Little Caesars working six days a week. Half those days, I worked with three beautiful women that didn’t speak a lick of English, so I had to adapt. Since most of what we talked about was food, I learned “kitchen Spanish”.

I listen to all different kinds of music, but not very much of it is heard on the radio. I have been to every imaginable corner of Spotify finding things I like. When I do listen to the radio, anyway, it’s usually to the U.S. version of the CBC, known as NPR, or National Public Radio. I play piano, cello, and I sing, but I’m probably best at singing (which is probably because I’m a Southern boy, but please don’t ask me to sing country because I will not hesitate to say no).

I’m on Tumblr (but I don’t really reblog; I just look at everyone else’s stuff), Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (until my iPod got stolen). My favorite is probably Facebook (lame, I know) because I get to talk to friends from home, and it helps a lot with homesickness. A lot of the other international students also don’t have anything but Facebook, and because that’s my main crew, I use it to keep up with all their beautiful lives.

Food is so amazing. I like anything you can put on a plate. Texas barbecue is beyond your wildest dreams and if you try to debate that you’re unfortunately wrong. If anyone ever wants to try out a new place, I would love to go with you. Eating is always a part of any good adventure.

My favorite books are 20th century utopian government fictions. My favorite book of all time is probably Ayn Rand’s Anthem which takes only a couple hours to read, so you should totally do it. After that, I like reading about mythical worlds, filled with angels, demons, faeries, gargoyles, and the occasional vampire.

Aside from the things I like, I am really in love with Christianity. I am a bruised and broken sinner, saved by the grace of Jesus Christ and his love for me. He knew I would be a sinner before I was born, and knew that he’d love me enough to suffer through a perfect life and excruciating death. His sacrifice is what makes me the person that I am. Without it, I would be a very angry, very hateful, and very hurtful all the time. I don’t think anyone would like that, so I’m glad Jesus could change that for me.

That’s about it. If you ever have a question for me, ask away, and I’ll be totally honest. If I ever hurt your feelings, I probably didn’t mean it, and if you’ll tell me what I did, I’m very quick to apologize. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m very good at keeping secrets, and very good at giving advice in tricky situations, because I’ve been through a lot of bad friendships, so I know what goes down, and I know how to get people out from under it.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my weirdness, and I hope to enjoy all of y’all’s (YES I SAID IT, Y’ALL’S) weirdness, too.



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